I May Be a Man

What is UP with the drama? Look, I don’t need any. See me over here sitting quietly on the end of the girly, feminine spectrum? I hate shopping, don’t do eyeliner, clip these nails the moment they’re long enough to go. If you want to torture me, force me to endure a bridal or baby shower and make me play the games – your idea of fun. I have nothing to add to inane talks about your favorite TV shows because I’m a bore who doesn’t watch TV or movies. I’d rather be writing my book on the meaning of life. Are you getting this? I’m not a busybody, don’t know pop culture, don’t gossip. And I still attract drama.

Because I am a woman.

Oh, to be a man! When life is as simple as the pork juice on your chin and the beer bite on your tongue. To be able to hear yes and no without translating no and no. To enjoy the peace of mind that a few minutes of exchange will not spin into a saga. Why in the world did I spend those months investigating the sport of fighting, wondering why men punched one another and then hugged? Oh, if I could upper cut a woman who pushes me over the edge, shake her hand, and call it good with some honest fun in a mean game on the court. Only with women could a BFFship of years dissolve in one hard acid day.

And how do you men take your nice, strong arm and sweep the clutter of To Dos off your mental table? It’s a gift – the amazing ability to check in with yourself, distill competing voices down to your need in the moment. Why did I ever complain of your one-track mind? Food, sex, game that’s on, sleep. You just roll over, close those eyes, and…”Honey? Honey? I was saying –” You’re gone. Way off in a deep sea of sweet nothingness. I’m jealous. I’m stupid. I mean, why wouldn’t I want sex or sleep? Ah, but I carry within the million-dollar answer. Hostage to hormones. People say that time of the month like it’s one day. It can run a week, people. And that’s all just the merry prelude to the bloody show. Did you know many of us also feel discomfort and get emotional when we ovulate? How many clear and free days does that leave us in the month? I’m pleased not to be one of those women who can call up tears at will. But catch me on the right days, and I’m a bawling mess. Weeks like this, I’m not sure which is worse. To be a woman or to have to live with one.

 

The Race Around The World

I am launching an interactive series on race and identity, a mosaic of cultural autobiographies. It was inspired by the exchange over my posts on slavery and on black Santa. Race Around The World will offer a glimpse of our diverse stories so that we can achieve a panorama of our racial topography around the globe. Slavery lingers in the human heart in the form of racism and bigotry. With the differences between living in a community and living in community, I’d like to examine how community is possible as people engage one another across racial lines. I am most fascinated with the tension we internalize that makes us conscious of our color and ethnicity. These are two things that give us a sense of belonging, and it will be interesting to look together at the circumstances that make us feel displaced and impel us to locate our roots.

GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPATION POSTED 2014

Though race refers to biological attributes like color, and ethnicity to sociological factors such as culture and beliefs, feel free to use the terms as they are meaningful to you.

1) How do you define yourself racially or ethnically and why is it important to you? Please tell us about the racial makeup of your family if you were adopted or come from a colorful family.

2) Where do you live? If you have ever moved, whether to another city or the other side of the world, please tell us when and where, and the ways the cultural differences between the places shaped or made you think about your identity.

3) How diverse was the neighborhood and school you grew up in?

4) When did you first become conscious of your race or ethnicity? Please describe the context or a moment when you noticed you were different in color or language. It could be a scene with strangers, the park, school, work. Could have been subtle feelings you recognized or a blatant attack of bigotry. If it was a season or chapter in your life, tell us the impact it had on your sense of self, confidence, or emotional development. Can you share a bit about the fear, loneliness, longing for acceptance?

5) Do you consciously gravitate to certain company? Are you more comfortable, more at home around people of your own ethnicity? Have you observed a social or behavioral tendency in your own people group you would rather not perpetuate?

6) Are your most meaningful relationships with people of your own ethnicity?

7) How much does racial affinity give you a sense of belonging compared to a shared faith or interest? Think about the groups you are part of: writers, homeschoolers, mothers, hobbyist, artists, colleagues, church. Would you rather spend time with those who share your cultural food, tradition, and values or those who share your interest or mission? Where do you feel the greatest ease and connection?

8) Do you consciously try to keep yourself or your family active in diverse circles?

9) Optional. Children seem color-blind. How have you explained color and culture to your children or grandchildren as they got older? Did you ever have to handle a situation where they were a victim of racial slight or slur?

10) How did you set out to secure a sense of acceptance and belonging in social contexts, especially if you have faced hurtful experiences?

11) Do you feel it is not fully possible or even imperative to shed all racial stereotypes and judgments?

12) What has struck you the most in working through this exercise? Any closing thoughts on race and identity you would like to share?