This entire post was inspired by the amazing and talented Karina Cooper. Not only is she a fabulous writer, she is also a beautiful person inside and out. After she wrote this post, I told her she had a beautiful soul. She laughed at me, but it's true. What she wrote was so powerful and true, it inspired me to write my own.
And like her post, this post is about me and it's about you. I hope it affects you as it affects me.
To many times we spend wasting talking about labels.
You/Me. Tall/Short. Fat/Skinny. Man/Woman. Ugly/Beautiful.
We need to define/label things to know where to put them and how to feel about them. But labels are just that. Nothing. Constructs of the mind to organize and inhibit. Pigeon holes. Forcing a conformity on the unconventional. Round holes and square pegs.
Too often these labels get put on without thought to the person underneath.
Man/Woman. Strong/Weak. Able/Unable. Good/Bad. Master/Slave.
Society claims that there are only two--Man/Woman. There is no Other. You have to be one and not step outside the lines. Color your squares and circles and dot your I's. Cross your T's if you please.
But aren't we all Other? Unique like the snowflake? Each of us different and undefined? Unrestricted except in our minds? Society demands conformity. Toe the line. Stand up, don't slouch. Be good and don't pout. You get what you get, so don't throw a fit.
Too often we take the label and define ourselves. Put ourselves in a tiny box and make our minds a slave to society's assumptions. A pawn to the dictators that say what we should think, what we should do, whom we should love. What's the norm and the clothes on our back.
Step outside it and you are nothing, a loser, weak, stupid. An object to be ridiculed and abused.
As a man, I was taught to think like a man, be like a man, talk like a man, walk like a man. Be Strong/Able/Good/Master. The hunter, the gatherer. Protect and enslave the weak, the woman.
These thoughts were defined by colors and toys, games, movies, parents, teachers. I am man. I am strong. I have to like blue, and army men, wars, and fighting. Football/Basketball. Sports. Tough. Manly. Walk it off. Rub some dirt in it. Don't let them push you around. Show them whose boss, applesauce. Don't wear your heart on your shirtsleeves. You're nothing if you aren't tough and strong and can prove it to everyone.
What I wasn't taught by my patriarch/my master/my sire/my father, was it was ok to be different. That it was ok to like different things. Ok not to be athletic/strong/tough/master/dominant. That it was ok to like happy endings and fairy tales, unicorns and dolls.
See, I wasn't a normal boy. I liked unicorns and romance, happy endings and fairy tales. I even had a doll I slept with up until I was five, six, maybe seven. Even after that, I had a bed full of stuffed animals. Each one named. Each one with a story. Each with it's own life. There when I needed a friend, a shoulder to cry on. I wasn't all that tough. I wore my heart on my shirtsleeves. I struggled and failed, but I never gave up.
I could have ended it all, but I didn't.
What I wasn't taught until much later was that a man didn't have to be the master/hunter/subjugator/warrior to be a man. It took strength of mind/soul/heart/self to be powerful. The only fighting I needed to do was against my own fear. The only subjugation was for my baser instincts that society expected. The small boy with the big stick. Walk softly and speak your mind. For words, spoken truthfully, are a powerful thing. Stronger than a fist. You may strike me down, but you will not defeat me.
My heart and my soul are mine and mine alone to share as I see fit with the ones I love and cherish. I can love and be loved and everything is right. I can be gentle and humble and know I have NOTHING to prove. For I am a Man. A man who knows that it's ok to be different and to feel different and to love different. To do things outside the tiny box that society gives you. The tiny cell that enslaves you into an expectation. An expectation that those who are different are nothing and those who don't fit the narrow-minded doctrine of the world, are nothing. And as nothing should be treated as lesser, unequal--undeserving of compassion, love, help, joy.
See? This isn't about Man/Woman. Gay/straight. Weak/Strong. Able/Unable. Master/Slave.
It's about You and Me. It's about loving ourselves and loving others. It's about rising above and stepping outside. It's about destroying stereotypes that say one is better than another. That one is better by definition of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. That for some reason the color of their skin/hair/eyes exalts them above all. That their genitalia defines their worth. That who they love and cherish makes them better.
Think about it. Speak about it. Silence isn't golden.