This is our truth, tell us yours
One of the things I like about Twitter is the way it lets me eavesdrop on conversations that I might not otherwise hear.
Thanks to Tai Crimson I have ended up following Rage Fyre. Both of them show me worlds that I don’t remember existing when I was their age but which are congruent with aspects of who I might have been.
Rage was having a rant about the impact fragile masculinities can have on queer and age difference relationships.
Fragile masculinity is a phrase that makes me wince. It answers very few questions, and asks a lot more. Masculinity is a social construct, or rather a set of social constructs that we adopt. It has to be that way, because if you believe, as I do, you can opt out of the toxic elements of some masculinities, then you must believe the flavour of masculinity you adopt is a choice.
When I talked about this with Jem the metaphor that came to mind was a Biblical one about the house built on sand, not rock. There are many houses in the community of masculinity, and inevitably, they each have their own ideal foundations. The strength of a house depends upon the foundations it is built upon, and choosing the right house for the foundations you’re got to use is part of the skill of the architect. To be your own architect, as I believe we all should be, you need to know what your foundations are, and how much each design of house might suit you.
So when I hear other men citing fragile masculinity as an explanation of their behaviour, I want to ask them ‘Why did you choose that masculinity?’ Similarly, I want to ask them if they thought about the foundations they built their masculinity upon.
Sometimes, when I’m discussing who I am with Jem, I have to explain myelf, how it is that I chose the masculinity I have. Part of me wishes I had had the courage to be queerer sooner, to embrace a more fluid masculinity. Instead I chose to begin with a masculinity that was solid and dense that enabled me to cope with the fractures in my foundations that come from my childhood, pinning the unstable material together, and which I could be secure in. If that masculinity has become a hermitage, where others are less welcome not because of who they are, but because of the effort of maintaining and managing this fortress, I try to be aware of it.
Tell me that your masculinity is fragile, and I will ask why you chose that masculinity, and how you intend to fix it.