Hello fellow Protagonists.
When creating a character for your new dungeon crawler, or fighting game, who do you tend to build? Is it a Goliath of a man, over 7 feet tall with the largest weapon you can select? This would probably be a bastard sword. An interesting name for a weapon when you think about it.
This was certainly my selection for a character growing up as a child and into my teens. The bigger the better surely. Taking names and crushing skulls.
It's only a game.
Or is it.
A book I have read recently has got me thinking. I heard about it on the radio on a typical drive to work. It was not one of my usual style books. I bought the book on standard delivery (never buy next day delivery unless you are about to miss a birthday), and was not disappointed.
The book was "For the Love of Men" by Liz Plank.
As soon as I had ingested it I instantly wanted to write about this book, not a summary of key points, but what I have personally taken from it.
In a nutshell it is a book on Mindful Masculinity.
The thing that stood out the most for me was that I believe this book is aimed at a male audience. It also does a great job of informing, even supporting men, rather than taking a tone that is intended to undermine men; something I think people, including myself, worry about when reading anything based on masculinity. An underpinning concept is to not see masculinity as a bad thing, just about being aware of what it means to you and the impact that it can have on yourself and those around you; but importantly on yourself.
So here are some key bits I took.
Earning the right to be a real man
Being a "real man" is something that some see as needing to be earned. Even when you earn this, you then have to maintain it. But how do you know when you have earned it? Does someone give you a certificate of authenticity? Do they need to be a registered "real man" to offer it to you?
As if we all don't already have enough on our plates. Trying to make the right decisions. Working towards our goals. Finding purpose in our lives.
Would you frame this certificate alongside your "Runner up Nobel Prize 2014" hanging up in your office. Which section does it go under on your CV?
Speaking of CVs...
Am I providing the bread
It is a good thing that men and women both work and either could potentially be earning more than the other. The stress relief of not being the sole person responsible for our entire finances is immense. Just thinking about my situation for a second. If one of us is made redundant it would hurt, but wouldn't destroy us. If it was all on me and I lost my job, the pressure would be huge.
The fact that so much is at stake when finances rely on the man would also prevent us from looking around for other jobs, or trying out a personal venture/business, as we could not afford to. I hope you love your job and feel fulfilled.
An honest days work
An honest days work can be made in any occupation.
Many jobs that have historically seen men fill, are disappearing and adapting faster than other lines of work. Think of jobs that can now be completed 24/7 with no lunch breaks, sickness, or complaining. It is machines that are taking these jobs off people, not other people.
There has been a large rise in the service sector in the UK. To be successful in roles within this sector requires skills like compassion, communication skills, and humility. It is difficult for a machine to take these jobs, and when they do it can annoy customers so this is good news for humanity!
Most of us are looking for a job in an area that interests us and also has a market. If that does mean you move into the health or social care sectors, sounds smart to me.
Now that we are sharing the winning of the bread, to keep things balanced it would make sense to be willing to take our half share of any caring needs as well. Isn't caring also providing? If you wash, dress, feed, teach and entertain a child, you have just provided them with an increased quality of life. There is a mathematical way to working this out. Count the number of adults in your house, times it by 3, then divide it by 3, that's how many main providers are in your house.
Also if enough men got involved in active paternity, who knows, one day the government might extend the paternity leave that is currently given to us. Two weeks is a poor effort. Take a look at Denmark.
Bromancing the stone
Bromances are important. The book made a good point about men who finally decide to open up to their partners. There is a tidal wave of previously bottled discussions that pour out, so much so that we can overwhelm our significant others as they have now become the only person we offload on. So sharing some of that baggage with friends helps both you and those you are close to.
We need to keep our Bromances, especially in this time when we are isolating. We can't just expect people to be there waiting for us when we need them, keep ties good so that you know they will be there.
Did you know some men have said that they had gone weeks without any physical contact? After all this social isolating, make sure to pat more backs, offer more handshakes, hugs and cheek taps. Even better, take your mate out for an evening dinner... And offer to pay!
Would you take a male friend for an evening meal and pay for it?
This book made an interesting point about whether or not we would act differently to a male and female, and if so, why are we acting differently? What are we after?
Similarly, If you are holding doors for women, make sure you are holding them for men too. You are either a door holder or not.
Are you, or are you not, a door holder? (The Daily Buff 2020)
Something else more personal I have taken away from this book is on my thoughts around trying to build a family. If we are fortunate enough to be expecting children in the future, my partner and I have decided to not find out the sex of the child before birth. I am seeing this as a test to myself to avoid making any assumptions based solely on the sex of the child. Initially I had thought about knowing the sex, so I can prepare the room well in advance. Then it got me thinking; who cares if it is a girl or a boy, we can just pick a design and colour scheme we think will be nice.
I am not saying this is any more right than finding out, it is just something I want to do.
A few here to pick from if you wish.
When we are all free from this social isolation and places open up, take your friend out for a meal, and offer to pay.
Call a mate and see how they are doing. Not the usual "You alright?" Ask how are they really doing.
Give Liz Plank's book a read. See what you can take from it.
This is not an ad for this book, I am not being paid for talking about it.
If you are male, next time you pick up a new game, select a female character on your first run. Go on, you just might like it.