Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Freedom to let loose...

Talking to a friend recently about the ability to be childish, or rather, the freedom to be so. One of the things I've missed in my ranting about all things creative and male is the fact that guys are allowed to be childish in certain dimensions that aren't allowed on the feminine side.

Specifically, if you're a guy, you can, if you wish:

  • Act like you've recently just discovered puberty.
  • Drive a monster truck.
  • Play soldier, football or any other contact sport.
  • Get all muddy.
  • Shoot things (don't tell me all you hunters are seriously doing this because it's work, I'll laugh).
  • Do things that are dangerous, without regard to your well being (stuff like drinking games, wild off-roading, skydiving and high mountain climbing fall into this category)

Society allows men to be "boys". Women are expected to "grow up" at some point -- although this is showing signs of change, it's generally more frowned upon still. For example, people tend to shrug their shoulders when a man drops his fatherly duties and runs out on his wife. If the wife does it to the man, there's a lot of character questioning and eyebrow raising. The guy just wasn't ready to settle down, while the woman clearly has issues -- I mean, what kind of mother leaves her kids for crying out loud?

Yeah, it's one-sided, that's my point.

Guys are allowed to be childish, but only within similar confines of what I've outlined above.

Remember how Rosie Greer (he was a famous football player) loved needlepoint? Much noise was made about his hobby -- not because he was good at it (who knows, I never saw an example), but because he was a guy. God forbid he be creative with his hands here. Probably some people would question his sexual orientation -- outside of the room. Rosie looks like you don't really want to piss him off in this photo of the cover of his book.

Now, if Rosie's hobby had been lobbing sticks of dynamite at small animals, there would have been no story at all. That's a story about a real man there, not some pansy with needles that's probably making a scarf for his pet poodle.

But my friend had a point -- guys are really allowed more freedom to cut loose in our society. If you're female, you're allowed to cut loose along a reciprocating set of lines. You're allowed such things as:

  • Ability to dress creatively, within limits.
  • Make-up (see the hunting reference above).
  • Do Crafts and cooking (See Rosie, you crossed the line here).
  • The freedom to have a bubbly personality.
  • Artistic expression (What -- guys are allowed to do this?)
  • The ability to dance unimpeded by social norm. Don't tell me you recently saw a guy doing creative dance outside of a musical somewhere.
The lines get blurry when any of the above are crossed. Find a woman that likes to hunt deer or enjoys a good game of football, and you've probably got a gal that can chew tobacco with the best of em' -- it's simply frowned upon.

And what's so bad about a gal who does dip anyway? I have a neighbor who's daughter-in-law dips. It seriously bums her out. Her son dips too, but she's never mentioned it to me being an issue. Why? Because as a guy, you're allowed to spit all you want. It's "un-lady-like" for her daughter-in-law to spit, so she crossed the line.

Why I'm blathering on about all of this, I'll never know ;)

Okay, I know why, and if you've been reading here, so do you. You know that I'm making a point of some of the gender lines in our society. More to this point, my issues isn't with what I'm allowed to do -- it's with the constraints. There are too many constraints on what you're allowed to do for one gender or another -- and it makes for friction at times.

Closing this argument with a small story.

About 15 years ago we had some friends with a son and daughter who were within a year or so of age. The son was in a baseball league, as was the daughter. Turns out that the daughter was a better ball player (and she was younger, to boot), so the parents were forced to act quickly to resolve the issue.

What they did fixed the problem, although the daughter wasn't too happy about it, hearing my wife describe all of the problems that were created as part of the solution. The motivations described here are not inferred at all -- the parents were blatant about their reasons for doing all of it, and completely missed the obvious sense of inequity they were creating.

They didn't want little Johnny to have an inferiority complex, so, you guessed it, they pulled the daughter out of the league -- and put her on the junior cheerleader team.

Yeah, I'm sure that didn't affect the daughters' sense of self at all.

Just for thoughts,

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