Being a female that isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, I spend plenty of time outside helping my friend with his farm chores: mucking stalls, mending fences, feeding the animals, catching runaway goats (those are some sneaky bastards), and helping tend to his neighbor’s farm while she recovers from a wrist injury inflicted by non other than a billy goat (once again, sneaky bastard).
His neighbor, Susan, has an 11 year old son, Josh, who has grown up around animals all his life and has gained the skills needed in order to help assist his injured mother, but because of his small size he is unable to wrestle the animals and chase after cows and horses like his mother could–which is where my friend and I come in.
We come to Susan’s farm a few times a week to care for the pushed over fence boards or throwing hay and straw down from the top level of the barn into the stalls, and right along side us would always be Josh, eager faced and determined to work at our speed and strength while wearing his oversized camo coat and tall green muck boots. The kid may be small but he’s smart enough to find a way around his size to be able to keep up with us through the hours of never ending chores.
It wasn’t until reading a magazine article about masculinity did I come to realize that the word that is so regularly referred to as a male quality, is one that means so much more than that of a strong man.
The article spoke about raising a son to be a “real man” which made me question what is a REAL man? It there one type of man that ALL men have to be? Why is this the only option for men? And why is it only MEN can be masculine?
Josh’s mother and father got a divorce while Josh was very young and has since grown up with his mother on her farm. He never had a male father figure there to teach him how to fish, gut a deer, or change a flat tire, instead those were taught to him by his mom–yes, a woman.
So what does it really mean to be masculine? Dictionary.com mentions aggressivness and stregnth to be masculine quality primarily associated with the male gender and sex. Little do they know women have the ability to be quite aggressive, and strength? Come on.
I have pondered over this idea and come to the conclusion that masculinity does not and should not be associated with aggressive behavior or strength because the woman who has been the primary caretaker for this young boy has taught him every quality needed for him to grow up to be an independent gentlemen.
This young boy has learned masculinity from the most important woman in his life… That’s right, a woman! And let’s be honest, everything she has taught him are things that many men will never come to understand.
If masculinity is a quality only a man can possess then I will gladly rise in defense for all the women and gender fluid individuals who have the qualities that prove their masculinity above the stereotypical definition that has become so prevalent and dry in our society.
I may be one to wear the occasional floral dress with makeup on her face and hair decorated with a flower, but that does not make me less than my male friends. I am not as delicate as our society has set me out to be. Yes I may be smaller or less physically strong, but my wit is what allows me to succeed among many strong farm-hands.
I’ve grown up with two brothers. All of us have an artistic side, a quality that many associate with women, and I’ve always been the one to end up in my dad’s workshop, building strange contraptions and hammering nails into random pieces of wood just because I liked being like a “boy.”
There are so many everyday activities that women do that men can learn from but don’t because somehow it will diminish their masculinity. The simple task of putting a daughter’s hair in a ponytail is a feat that gets so much praise and recognition as an activity that men don’t normally take part in… It’s a ponytail, women do it all the time and isn’t that impressive.
Men may have the upper hand when it comes to strength, however, women have the ability to work around that and can still find a way to keep up with them and it doesn’t matter if we look less like a women and more like a man.
So in other words, men could learn a thing or two about masculinity from a woman. Leave behind the gender roles and begin understanding the strengths of all people and how our own individual strength is what makes us powerful, not the predetermined qualities that we have been assigned at birth.