Masculinity

If before transition I had to define the masculine ideal I was trying for, I would say “Christian gentleman” or even “Boy scout”. I had enjoyed the Scouts.

A Scout is to be trusted.
A Scout is loyal.
A Scout is friendly and considerate.
A Scout belongs to the worldwide family of Scouts.
A Scout has courage in all difficulties.
A Scout makes good use of time and is careful of possessions and property.
A Scout has self-respect and respect for others.

The Prayer of St Francis, not by Francis of Assisi, has some similarity:

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

The similarity is self-reliance. We act, give, create unflinchingly and unswervingly. It is a promise not to be weak, not to be stressed, not to be unable to cope with the burdens on you, which is a promise only a fool makes. At the university Christian Union I changed “Francis”‘s word “seek” to “need”.

The emotions of this man are strong and positive, quiet and undemonstrative: pleasure in service and achievement. Like Arnold Swarzenegger in Commando, first seen carrying a large tree trunk on his shoulder, doing a manly thing because he is a man, getting the pleasure of being entirely himself and fitting his world. Men on the front line of the Somme would go over the top and walk towards the enemy as they were ordered, resolutely because that was simply what men do, even though machine guns made such tactics insane.

A man’s shoulders are broad enough for anything. In that film, Arnie shows intelligence strength and courage thwarting his enemies. He has the task of rescuing his daughter and he does not rest until he accomplishes it. The one joke I remember is cruel.

-You remember I said I would kill you last?
-Yes, yes (the man begins to beg and plead)
-I lied.

But he is provoked, and so the audience of pimply boys completely sympathises with him.

Emotions would be positive, and rarely expressed. Men do not cry: I cried three times in the year following my mother’s death. Ideally, emotion produces motivation. One is enthused by a task, which one chooses rationally. The paterfamilias behaves like the good father, in control for the good of all. A man would fight if he had to, but that would be a last resort.

My problem was that my emotions were not accepted when I was a child, so I did not know what they were. They still affected me and my behaviour, but I was not conscious how. I began to learn to accept emotion after I had decided to transition.

We observe that the violent man who physically abuses his partner expresses emotion- hurt, anger and resentment- easily. Anger and derision, especially for weakness, are emotions men are encouraged to show. That produces the vicious cycle that boys learning to be men show anger and derision at any perceived effeminacy in fellows. Drunk men can become enthusiastic, but their enthusiasm carries the possibility of violence.

That ideal, of the Man capable of all life would demand of him, is not within the individual’s control. I would temper it with resilience at setbacks, clarity in perceiving possibilities and determination in pursuing them. Kipling’s Man is surrounded by knaves, fools and doubters who lose their heads, so this is an ideal many cannot live up to. A Scout is considerate- that is close to “kind”- and that is a feminine virtue seen virtuous in men: in the end, I have an ideal for humans, not for one gender.

7 thoughts on “Masculinity

  1. The scout motto is “Be Prepared.” At the time I was a boy scout, there was little to prepare me for my gender identity and the accompanying dysphoria. I used Scouting as a diversion, along with sports and music, to what have otherwise been a pretty miserable life. I excelled in all of my diversions, because I am a perfectionist, but I still managed to fit in as many cross dressing sessions as I could (I excelled in those, as well). I held every leadership position in my scouting career, from Jr. Patrol Leader all the way to Jr. Asst. Scoutmaster. I was a model Scout! I was trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, brave, clean, and reverent (I think I’m recalling that properly). If nothing else, those are commendable human qualities, and my time in the Boy Scouts was instrumental in my becoming the woman I am today. I wonder what my old scoutmaster would think of that!

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  2. Funny, I was thinking about Tom Lehrer last night, and about his song, ‘Genuflect….’ and wondering, really, that in this day and age such humour is still considered risque or offensive.

    I like reading your posts. xxx

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    • You know, I had not heard that one?

      Is it considered offensive? Ritual is ridiculous, unless you give it meaning. Titus Groan is a fictional exaggeration of ritual to ridiculous lengths, and crossing myself with holy water at the door of a church can bring me back to myself, my core that is God.

      Added: Ah! It only becomes necessary to defend ritual from such gentle satire when you are not sure it has meaning for you yourself. Ritual as a marker of identity drives descendants away, so children leave churches.

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  3. I was a Boy Scout for six years, and became a Catholic at the age of thirty-four. Still,neither of these songs offends me in the least. I have written over 50 song parodies that make light of being a transgender person, and I have never done so to be offensive. The cool kids were never in the Boy Scouts, many Protestants believe I subscribe to a cult, and…well, we know what many people think of trans people. It’s not that I don’t take these things seriously, but there’s a funny side to everything. There is always “confliction with conviction.” It makes life interesting, and I love it!

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      • I was raised to believe in God, and that He had sent Jesus to live among us a couple thousand years earlier. We celebrated Christmas and Easter, but I probably had as much faith in the existence of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny as I did in God and Jesus, early on. My mother would say she was an Episcopalian, but she soured after the death of my father when I was eight-years-old. I was made to attend a Baptist Sunday school for a number of years, because it was within walking distance, and my mother was usually still in bed when my younger brother and I left the house Sunday mornings. I rebelled against the “fire and brimstone” approach, and, more often than not, spent half the class out in the hall. By the time I was ten, my prayers were directed with a questioning of my gender identity. After years of waking up each morning still a boy, though, I figured God’s answer must have been to suppress those feelings,” and I set out to be the man others expected me to be. I was just turning seventeen at that time.

        A few months into my suppression, I met a girl, the fourth child of thirteen in a Catholic family. Because cause my own family situation had become barely tolerable, I began spending more time with hers. We were married in the Catholic Church four years later, after I had received the proper instruction on how to yield to everything Catholic. I had already had a great respect for my wife’s faith, and had never even thought of doing anything that would interfere. I didn’t much care for the way the priest laid down the law, however, and after twelve years of attending Mass with my wife each Sunday as an interloper, I decided to embark on a journey to understand what it was really about. Both of our children had been baptized by then, and I was feeling even more an outsider.

        The required instruction was designed to explain the “whats” more than the “whys.” I was, therefore, again, a difficult student. My first sponsor gave up on me, and I was subsequently blessed with a very intelligent woman to replace him. Along with the help of a liberal-minded priest, there was more time spent in out-of-class discussion than in class instruction. This was far more beneficial than my prior experiences of being sent out to the hall! I came to accept that faith is a gift from God, and it is not enough to accept it without unwrapping it – which I continue to do still.
        The ritual and ceremony are the wrapping, but it is all too easy for them to be the trapping, as well. The fact that it all boils down to a mystery is the intriguing thing to me (I love a good mystery), but I basically live my life by Jesus’ greatest commandment. That is, to love God and others. Forgiveness, to me, is the best way to adhere to that. This is the kind of Catholic I am.

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