I consider myself a pretty manly man. I’ve studied manliness. I read the magazines. But, I can’t say anyone ever sat me down and taught me to be a man. I lived with my mom during my childhood. I saw my dad on weekends and lived with him full-time when I was a teen until college. Trust me, I learned a lot about manliness from both of them. But, being raised by a single mom for some period of time also put me in touch with my more sensitive, feminine side.
I am often left to wonder: What is it about me that truly makes me a man?
Who teaches men to be men? I was recently thinking about this question when I stumbled upon a brilliantly funny article by Tom Chiarella in this week’s Esquire called What is a Man? In the article, Tom writes about the time he decided to strip himself of behaviors associated with being a man and see if he still felt manly. He asked for opinions on manliness, he tried out his new behavior in public, on his mom, etc. He gave up porn, quit masturbating, made more eye contact, smiled more. The results were hilarious and insightful. You can read the article HERE.
To be clear: This was not about acting more like a woman. And I wasn’t out to discover my femininity. I’ve got that, and it would stay where it was for the duration. (Which is to say, safely housed in an inexplicable enthusiasm for the movie Notting Hill.) Yeah, yeah, there’s some man in every woman, some woman in every man. I came up with a far simpler equation for finding the essence of a man: Ignore what you’ve learned, leave behind the truths that ride the rungs of the double helix, and give up the pretense that being a man matters. In short, subtract.
You should definitely check out the rest of the article for the full effect. Chiarella’s piece got me thinking: What expectations of me as a man should I strip away? Should I quit porn? Stop opening doors for women? No more steaks? I hear they are bad for me. Eventually, I decided that I’d like to stop cooking and fixing crap for people. Also, I never want to help anyone move apartments/houses again. The rest, no sweat. I like peeing standing up.
Larry Harris, Jr. is Black Bobby — an MC, libertarian political activist, social entrepreneur and the second most interesting man in the world. He lives in Miami but is originally from Washington, DC. Stunt Hard, my friends. blackbobby.com.