Monday, July 21, 2014

Love Deferred

This began as a Facebook post, but since I've done nothing but post Cally here for some time, I figured this would be the best place to express it.

Maybe I've been blind, but I've never really felt "male privilege." Maybe that's because I've always felt that to assert anything like male privilege is to be a schmuck. What I have felt is the inability to express my love for anyone but my closest friends and family. I have felt stifled. When that part of me is put aside (much as I love him, since that persona was created to be the kind of person I could stand to be and has a capacity for goofiness and "Mr. Chips" pedantry), I feel the freedom to spread that love much further afield and to express it more openly. I cannot speak for all straight, white males, but there was always an awkwardness in reaching out to other straight white males. I wouldn't call it homophobia. Perhaps it was idiosyncratic, perhaps familial, I don't know. Whatever the reason, my expression of affection was restricted. Opening this more visceral part of myself has made me more demonstrative. I am freer with hugs than I have ever been. I feel no compunction about holding the hand of a dear friend and expressing my joy at being in their company. I have kissed more people in the past few years than I ever have in my life. And, needless to say, none of this physicality has anything to do with the sensual. (Though that would be nice as well.)

So what has happened? I have lost inhibitions. I have opened myself to my emotions, and they are overwhelmingly positive. I have come into my womanhood at a time when most genetic women are grandmothers, and I find myself becoming like the women I have most admired - voluminous women who engulf all about them with affection. I'm the older aunt who hugged you to the point of annoyance and got lipstick all over you when you were five. But these were also strong women - these women I've admired - and artsy and literate and funny and maybe too loud. They were my teachers, my colleagues, my relatives.

I fear sometimes that I am merely emulating. That perhaps, as some have suggested, that this aspect of me is not authentic. That I am delusional.  If this is a delusion, then I prefer it to the gray reality, and if I am, indeed, emulating, then I cannot think of better people to emulate, and the result, while it may be a little sloppy and may take one or two people aback, is the most wonderful freedom I have ever felt. I'm still not sure about male privilege, but this ability to express affection seems a female one.

Today, by the way, President Barack Obama signed an executive order banning discrimination based on sexual or gender orientation by government contractors. I really never thought I'd see an action like this.


Anonymous said...

It is social fact that in our cultural realms we can afford more expression as women. There are several factors but AGE even with nothing else in combination to it, is a major factor. Consider what if you were a 30 year old woman and were being as demonstrative as She can now be with another adult woman? Consider being 16 or 18 and touching or kissing the cheek in greeting a 35 year old male in the same warm fashion She could now? In those scenarios it is very easy for others to misread what those gesture might be communicating!

The "Schmuck" we both know expresses love as gently as a mouse, as fumbling as a puppy and more fearful than a butterfly in a windstorm. HE may not have the freedom of permissions of social touch as you and I do now a days but he deeply believes in and needs love despite all the pain He has endured in the guise of it. He disappears in the isolation of your social shadow and loves you more than himself though I suspect you are hardest of anyone on him. He carries two lives, loves his children, his ex-wife and the rude ex-girlfriend who writes this stuff to him. He in short, is a HERO.

Gillian said...

I think you've blown your cover... You are right, of course.

Gillian said...

With the caveat that I didn't include the "him" in question in the schmuckdom described.

Anonymous said...

Priceless! "to assert anything like male privilege is to be a schmuck", how true.

They cut themselves off from the warmth of close friendship with their stupid bravado.

In all the years that I was mistaken for male I never felt any privilege but I do now, the privilege of being accepted.

Being true to yourself is a joy.