Roy Green: Comfortable in my male skin
Men with facial hair and attitude. Primordial man? The poster boys/men for the American Psychological Association‘s foray into stamping out toxic man?
Depends on who you ask.
Facial hair and male dominance attitude aplenty will prowl the NFL sidelines this weekend as four teams, survivors of a season punctuated by broken bones, torn ligaments and jumbled brain cells, attempt for the privilege of doing it all one more time in this year’s Super Bowl.
I’ve heard the question, and not just in 2019: Is there an example more illustrative of traditional masculinity than a few dozen football teams engaging in a months-long series of combative physicality?
Absent broadswords and clanking armour, in a word, no. I’ll grant you that much.
And so here we are, crowding the end of a week which began with two minutes of hectoring male sensitivity training by a shaving company, a week during which literally billions of dollars are being bet on whether the grizzled warrior (Tom Brady) will slay the kid (Patrick Mahomes) and whether the grizzled veteran (Drew Brees) will slay the kid (Jared Goff), with their various supporting and villainous casts doing their bit in the mayhem pit of course.
Watch: Gillette under fire for new ad
“Harmful?” Appears the APA would reply “yes.” “Balderdash,” replies I.
Competitiveness is what drives many, perhaps most boys. At least it did when I was bridging adolescence and teenage years shouting my support for the self-declared “greatest of all time” (and he was) Muhammad Ali.
Yup, I cheered the bench-clearing dust-ups in the NHL featuring the likes of John Ferguson and Eddie Shack.
The issue of boy-tears has been raised by the APA’s “masculinity ideology.”
I didn’t cry when my dad died two weeks before my 13th birthday and not because I’d been instructed crying displays weakness. I distinctly though remember thinking I was about to grow up very quickly and had best direct my focus there, as well as toward supporting my mother.
Eventually a new country beckoned. New schools, new kids, new rules. There were fights with those who decided to test the new kid, but I also experienced support and friendship from other kids who just didn’t like the odds I was dealing with. Overall, a win for me.
Perhaps the APA would suggest my experiences and reactions to them are exactly what must be changed about the growing up experience for boys.
WATCH: American Psychological Association guidelines for men and boys
Segue to cliché: “Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.”
I’ve turned out to be a good guy and am comfortable in my own skin.
Like my male friends I abhor the slugs who abuse women, children and animals. No forgiveness, whatever their backgrounds, life experiences and excuses may be.
My male friends, whose opinions I’ve canvassed this week, and I are looking forward to the gridiron competitions this weekend. We believe competition serves a valuable purpose and we do not support playing a game without keeping score, or having participation trophies for everyone.
Among us the perhaps most valued assessment of another man is simply “he’s a good guy.”