Wait Till You See These Old Photos of Men

These photos are awesome and they will turn the very notion of what men used to be compared to what they are now on its head.

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2012/07/29/bosom-buddies-a-photo-history-of-male-affection/

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The Little Pink Bottle That Could

DSC_3842cThis may look like an ordinary water bottle (I don’t know anything about the bike shop so don’t ask) and you would be correct. However, at one time it’s symbolism extended far beyond its function.

I acquired this sports bottle semi- unintentionally. I had entered a mountain bike race at Kickapoo State Park in Illinois which was put on by a wonderful local group called the Kickapoo Mountain Bike Club. As is part and parcel of mountain bike races (at least in Illinois) the organizers were handing out grab bags for racers part of which was a clear or pink bottle. As you can well imagine, being a guy, I was handed a clear bottle. I took it and began to walk away from the registration table.

Then I stopped and began to think better of my decision. You see, ever since I watched the Giro d’Italia, which is a nearly month long bike race around Italy, I fell in love with pink as a color for cycling. In the Giro the leader’s jersey is called the Maglia Rosa and as the name might suggest to you the color is a brilliant rose pink. The pinkish hue is everywhere; on the cars, billboards, podium, bikes built especially for the occasion and on the confetti that falls precipitously at the finish. Yes, by the end of that twenty-some-odd day race I could never see pink again without seeing it for it’s flashy, race worthy badassery that is on display during that event.

The truth of the matter was I became hooked on the pink bottle as soon as I saw them, but until this very moment I had accepted the clear bottle as a matter of social conditioning even though I didn’t want one. I was about to remedy this. I turned around and asked, “Actually, could I get a pink one instead?”

That’s about all I remember. I don’t really remember the event itself. I think there was a little blood, a shitload of sweat from that good ol Midwest humidity and a mid pack finish for me.

At this point in my life, I had firmly accepted that I was pansexual but it seemed a rather academic point rather than a pragmatic one. I was married so exploring this newly realized identity was not exactly a viable option. I was comfortable with this. Plus, I didn’t solely like guys so being married to a woman didn’t undermine my identity.

If I can offer an aside, It’s important to note that I was also living in a conservative part of the country where being different isn’t exactly accepted. People aren’t wrong when they say the Midwesterners are nice. You can have a conversation with almost anyone on a whim. Just make sure to keep things on a superficial level or you may not like the topic once it shifts from the weather.

I always tell people that the Midwest (at least the rural portion) consists of a thin veneer of nicety concealing a seething cauldron of hatred beneath. At least every other day I had to back someone down from making some kind of horrible statement. Whether it was demonstrating xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, transphobia or what have you. It was tiring to say the least.

In fact, right around this time I remember a coworker/neighbor of mine taking a line of joking, that she started, the wrong way. Through the drags of her cigarette and with a good amount of hatred and disgust she called me a faggot as I parted her company. All of this before anyone aside from my wife at the time even knew that my sexual interest deviated from women.

I should say at this point that there are also some quality people in the Midwest and they deserve their credit. It must be admitted though that the small town mind pervades this geographical area more so than other parts of the country, save for the south perhaps.

I’ve lived in my new home state for almost two years now and I’ve been 100 percent out the entire time and have never had to back anyone down from anything racist, homophobic or the like. It feels like an emotional vacation, but I digress.

So now I had this pink water bottle which I loved, but did I dare use it in rural America? At first I began using it just as a way to haul extra water in my cooler on ride days. So when riding laps at my local trail I could stop by and refill my Camelback. I had to take a few friendly jabs about it but it was easy to say it was my Giro pink bottle even though the color didn’t match the Maglia Rosa. Then I started taking it to work daily as my go to bottle for the day. When anyone said something about it I quickly stated my fondness for it, “Are you kidding? I love pink, that’s my favorite bottle!” All of it was true.

What went unspoken was that in a weird way this became a means for me to push a boundary, admittedly a small one, on gender norms. This was literally the only pink thing I owned because as a man I wasn’t supposed to. If this sounds like bullshit, it is, but I swear to you this dynamic exists and is alive and well. Carrying this bottle was a way for me to signify that I was different.

Yes, I loved the color and I would have used it regardless of my sexual orientation. Even though the color pink has nothing definitive to do with being queer, it became a secret symbol of my queerness. It was a way for me to take that part of me out into public even if no one else knew what was going on. This gender-bending symbolism slowly gave me confidence.

Before I left the Midwest I came out to a few people close to me. It was the next step in my evolution and as weird as it may sound that pink bottle played a role.

Recently, I noticed this bottle was missing from my collection. I had long chalked it up as lost and had forgotten about it until my ex-wife walked into my place with it the other night. I had left it in her car and so it had remained for months.

As I washed it and placed it in the dish rack I realized that I still loved the color. A pink bike or team kit? Yes please. However, the bottle itself had lost it’s hold on me. I still like it but it’s no longer my favorite. It’s a bottle now, nothing more than a utilitarian object with a symbolic past.

I’m out! I’m queer, bisexual, and/or pansexual. I’m a faggot, whatever you want to call it I don’t really care. I paint my fingernails and toenails, I cross dress for myself and for my partners. You see, I don’t have to deal in hidden symbolism anymore. I am my own living symbol and that feels better than carrying around that pink bottle ever did.

 

Men and the Culture We Create

In talking to women I’ve been able to notice a few common threads when it comes to their dealings with men. One in particular has troubled me from the moment I realized the implication.

Usually we’re talking about dating and the horrible behavior that people bring into that sphere of interaction. Too often women tell me things men have said to them or done to them that were truly abysmal and then passed it off as being normal.

While I am appalled by the behavior of the men, I’m equally if not even more horrified by the culture we have created in which this behavior is deemed normal or expected and goes unchallenged. Whether it be guys that feel entitled to grope women or the actual site of women walking with their keys in their hand ready to use it as a weapon against men, we have created a environment where toxic masculinity is just thought of as normal. This social construct disturbs me to my very core.

This article and the author’s experiences brought the horrors of guy culture to the forefront of my mind.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/what-i-wish-men-knew-about-that-creepy-guy-at-starbucks_us_572b6ddde4b016f37894e05d?

Man Writes Letter to His Cock

As I get a little older I find a lot of wisdom in what this guy is saying. I’ve found that my cock is influenced not only by my biological state but my mind as well. In fact, guys tend to view their dick as a separate entity all together. If you don’t believe me ask yourself what names you, or someone else, has called your cock by over the years. There has to be a healthier way to regard this sensual part of the male anatomy.  Give this a read and tell me what you think.

http://www.jaysongaddis.com/a-letter-to-my-cck/

The Reason Trans Men Are Less Visible Than Trans Women

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sidney-chase/why-doesnt-america-want-t_1_b_8972858.html

What the author talks about here is not new information, but it’s information worth knowing.

Considering gender norms in sociology there is a theory about power relations and public angst. It’s that men have power and privileged in American by virtue of our patriarchal society. So if a woman becomes a man then it is generally understood that it is a means to some power and privilege that was not accessible to him as a woman.

What people have a harder time understanding is why a man would become a woman because it is a relinquishing of that power and privilege. I think it is this dynamic that causes people to feel like trans women are somehow more reprehensible (sorry but we’re not talking about evolved thought here) than trans men and even women. The gender/sexual transition is not really the problem, it’s the rejection of masculinity in favor of femininity.

This is why trans men fly under the radar. They are less visible than trans women because wanting to be male is something our culture understands. Trans women buck the norm to a greater degree than trans men.

This is why the trans and feminist movements desperately need each other. That intersectionalism is needed to get to the root of the problem and help us realize what’s really going on here. Of course, we’re all beautiful people; we just need the tools to help everybody realize it.

Masculinity As A Crutch

“I think the white-knuckled grip some men keep on what defines a man” is “clinging to an old idea of the world, one they can control, one that isn’t new or different or equal or, let’s just say it, actually happening.”

One of my ideas for writing has been to do something like this article by David Greenwald. Until that is penned (and even after) you should really read this.

https://medium.com/@davidegreenwald/against-masculinity-498339cb8f42#.msue0qrsc

Note: I took a few liberties with the quote above such as splicing two sentences and removing a question mark, but I think it is the essence of the paragraph from which it was pulled. I just thought you should know in the spirit of honesty.