I have never been, nor will I ever be, a stereotypical manly man.
When I use the term “stereotypical manly man,” I’m referring to that lumberjack build, works with his hands, drinks beer, handyman, stoic, overly masculine, afraid of feminine activities and emotions manly man.
There is nothing wrong with being masculine. I have many qualities that would be considered masculine but embracing qualities and activities that are typically associated with being feminine have made me a much more well-rounded person.
As a man, much of society expects me to be a handyman who can fix anything around the house and diagnose and fix problems with my car. I grew up with a father who had those traits but sometimes the apple does fall far from the tree. I don’t know a thing about fixing cars or household repairs.
I did grow up fixing relationships though. Even though I am a straight man, I was the person almost all of my female friends came to for advice about their relationship problems and friendship problems, and I was good at it. There is nothing traditionally masculine about dealing with women’s relationship problems but I embraced the role and made a lot of close friends that way.
Those traits have carried over into my relationship with my wife; we have attended Planned Parenthood rallies together and frequently discuss feminist issues and empowering women. In our home, we have tried to eliminate gender roles. We both cook, clean and shop together and we both shovel snow and do small home repairs.
Being controlled by gender norms is toxic in a society that prides itself on individualism. I remember being picked on in middle school for caring about how I dressed and hanging out with girls on trips to the mall. All of those feminine activities made me exactly who I am.
I am a man who is unapologetically non-conforming to gender expectations. I love shopping and home decorating and I won’t touch a beer but I love “girly” drinks. I also love sports, hiking and camping.
I don’t need society to tell me what I’m supposed to enjoy or what I need to be good at in order to be a man. The next time you don’t want to do something because it’s too feminine or masculine, do it anyway. Embrace that there is far more to life than gender roles suggest.
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