Frank Bill has an interesting piece over at the Daily Beast about whether masculine writing is dead. It’s a good piece and raises some interesting questions, but his description of masculine writing set something off inside me I wasn’t quite aware was there and I posted the manifesto of a comment below to his Facebook link. I’ve long struggled with traditional definitions of masculinity because I don’t meet the minimum requirements for most of them. But I’ve never doubted my masculinity when it comes to providing for or protecting my family.
I don’t know that you have to be rough and rugged to be a survivor. My dad made a good living bolting doors on cars for GM and while other kids dads got them into the shop for summer jobs he never wanted me to be a part of it because he hated it so much and wanted something better for me.
I learned a trade, but my trade was typing and filing. Right out of high school I got a job pulling wire for an electrical company that paid okay but was miserable, hot work. I left that job for a temp job with Kelly Services that paid twice as much. That job led to more high paying office jobs that I took while my other friends were mowing lawns or roofing or landscaping. They all lost their jobs along the way while I found myself working for a state university with great benefits, good pay, and virtually guaranteed job security.
I don’t hunt or fish because my dad didn’t care for it and never taught me. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t survive if I had to. Survival skills are part of a man’s personality if he hones them, regardless of what his career is. I don’t know how to fight, but I’d punch and kick until I died to protect my family if I had to. I’ve put myself in a situation with my skills and personality where, hopefully, survival skills like this aren’t necessary.
And this is the world I write from. It may not be about fighting and rough labor, but it’s about failure, and great expectations, and searching for meaning in life. Most importantly it’s drawn from my life and I’m a man and that makes it masculine.