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Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be with a man again. I really think it won't work, but I still wonder. I think sometimes I just want to have sex, remember what it feels like to be touched.
Lately, my thoughts have been preoccupied with this whole idea of "being a man". I'm growing up, having adventures, managing businesses, working closely with people, and I'm becoming self-conscious about the differences between myself and the other men that I work with on a daily basis.
You see, I'm a dude that was raised almost entirely by women. My father has practically never been part of my life, my older brother was killed before he had a chance to imprint very much on me, and growing up, I generally hung out with girls and didn't get along with other boys. I was left with really no sense of what it means to be a 'man' and I've usually felt at least a little uncomfortable around men that were raised by men to act like men.
So now I'm in situations where I'm helping manage a business and the occasional crisis comes up and shines a spotlight on how different my approach is from the other managers. I can't think of anything that could compel me to get angry and yell and scream like they do. If I speak ill of someone behind their back, it's always with the utmost understanding and compassion, and even then, I'm always self-conscious and a little ashamed and apologize to people for being negative. I can't relate to the other guys when they sit around and talk shit about someone.
I think that the understanding around here is that I'm a pushover because of how much I empathize with people and don't want to disappoint them. And I don't mean to characterize this like I'm right and they're wrong for criticizing me, because I don't honestly know what's right. But the other guys that I work with (and really, most guys that I've known throughout the course of my life) find it easy to emotionally dissociate themselves from other people, and I can't bring myself to ignore someone's feelings. Sure, some people are assholes with unreasonable demands and I feel that I'm good at identifying that when it happens, but I'm always at least mindful of what other people are going through, even if I disagree with them.
I don't claim to understand myself, but I'm always trying to figure myself out. I think that a big part of my unwillingness to blend in with the expected male role is my reaction to some of the main male role models in my life. My father was a cold, uncaring, arrogant man. Any male friends that I had, growing up, were assholes. I can think of no greater disappointment than realizing that I've mistreated someone the way that I've been mistreated in the past, so I don't want to be like any of those men. By my fucked-up psychology and knee-jerk reactions, I've come to the conclusion that I need to dissociate myself from the roles and characteristics of "the man" to be a good person.
But what the hell?
I do like being the protector, the provider, the defender. But I'm too keen on feminist philosophy to be able to take on any of those roles without a nagging feeling that embracing them requires also being patronizing or belittling. Can I be the "strong, protective male" without tacitly implying that the women around me are weak and need me? Can I provide any of my strengths without implying that they're necessitated by the weaknesses of others?
On the same note, I'm conflicted about my polyamorous nature. I have romantic and sexual relationships with anyone that I love. I have two 'girlfriends' at the moment and don't think that it makes any more sense to choose one over the other than it does to choose one sister over the other, or one daughter over the other. One love shouldn't preclude another. But voices nag me with the message that if I have more than one sexual partner at a time, then I'm being a typical promiscuous boy, reaping the carnal rewards of society's double-standard.
I don't like that. It's wrong that societal pressures can characterize love so negatively. It's wrong of people to consider it some "failing" of mine that my girlfriends are out having sex with other people. It's wrong that part of the role of the "man" is to declare women their property. I don't doubt that I have good reason to reject a lot of the male roles that I'm 'supposed' to be fulfilling, but I'm still left feeling awfully unsure of myself.
What does it mean to be a man? Does the question matter at all? Is it something I should worry about? Am I missing out on some important part of my personal development by not having any good male role models?