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Black Lamb

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Archive for the 'All Men Issue' Category

February 2011 in Black Lamb

Volume 9, Number 2 — February 2011

February 1st, 2011

The All-Men Issue

In this issue devoted to the subject of Men, Terry Ross lists some of the things that were expected of a boy and man when he was growing up. In our page 2 feature, It’s the language barrier, boys, Beren deMotier, a lesbian wife and mother, admits that she started liking men much better when she stopped dating them. John M. Daniel remembers a botched trip he took On the road to manhood.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Men Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

The All-Men Issue

Four lessons for boys who want to become men

February 1st, 2011

BY TERRY ROSS

Today I am a
man. On Monday I return
to the seventh grade.

— Jewish bar mitzvah haiku

For this All-Men Issue of Black Lamb, I received a typically various bunch of essays from our columnists. In our page 2 feature, Beren deMotier admits — no, affirms — how much more she began liking men once she had stopped dating them. On page 3 John M. Daniel narrates a young man’s rite of passage, a failed attempt to savor the masculine world of a would-be Jack Kerouac out On the Road. Dean Suess (p. 4) remembers his penitentiary days and the bizarre attempt of one fellow inmate to get in touch with his true manhood. On the same page, Benjamin Feliciano paints a partial yet affecting portrait of contemporary young men. Ed Goldberg (p. 5) reflects on the differences, real and imagined, between men and women, as does Toby Tompkins in his essay entitled What is a man? (p. 7). Elizabeth Fournier (p. 6) takes a page or two from her book on blind dating to describe some of the sorry slobs she encountered in her quest for true love. Greg Roberts urges men to get out and be hunters — literally or figuratively — if they hope to win fair maidens. A passage from Lorentz Lossius’s Turkey diaries (p. 6) shows us men of a culture different from ours in the West, and Dan Peterson recalls an Italian man among men.

All of these essays, with the exception of John’s and Ben’s, are, in a way, almost as much about women as about men. (We’ll have an All-Women Issue in April.) They consider men, and men’s abilities and responsibilities, in relation to women. Which makes perfect sense. But in my own essay below, speaking as man, I’ve chosen to focus on a few things that in the past fifty or sixty years, at least in America, have pertained chiefly to males, young and old.

Lesson No. 1: You’ve Gotta Be Tough.

Physically tough. Tough enough to take a jab in the nose or a whack on the ear and not cry. Tough enough to mix it up, lick the blood off your lip, and punch someone in the face. Tough enough to endure pain in order to administer pain. To make that crunching tackle on the football field, to use your elbows on the basketball court. To hold your place in line when people try to cut in. To hang onto your stuff when others want to take it.

Skinny and underweight? Tough titty. Suck it up, kid. I remember being a skinny and underweight boy and being in more or less perpetual low-level fear of bullies. In my fantasy world, I was a tough boxer; I used to lie on my bed manipulating toy soldiers and cowboys in extended punch-outs. But on the street and in school, it was a different story.

And it didn’t change very much once I got into high school, either. There, the sadistic physical education teachers seemed to get a kick out of trying to toughen up the boys, like me, who didn’t like sports where you’re always bumping into people: football and wrestling, especially. It wasn’t until I was out of high school that the daily anxiety disappeared, but even then there was always the background hum of violence: tough guys looking for trouble, angry people spoiling for a fight. As a male, you were expected to be able to hold your own, to want to hold your own.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Men Issue, Ross | Link to this Entry

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