Quick post, because I’ve got 80-plus pages of reading to do before 9:05am tomorrow and it’s already late into the evening and aw shoot looks like another night of homework into the early-a.m. But I want to share this, as any of my friends who’ve spoken to me in person within the last month can probably attest. A friend of mine recently shared a link to a website called The Good Men Project, a site hosting a series of articles on gender, family, masculinity, femininity, lifestyle, and many, many more topics.
The Project, obviously, is primarily about men, but it’s certainly not only “for men” — men and women alike contribute to and comment on the site’s offerings.
I clicked on the link to the article my friend posted, then kept clicking from there, eventually perusing articles from nearly every category on The Good Men Project.
Because this stuff is freaking. Fascinating.
I didn’t really get interested in gender issues until my first semester of college. I didn’t consider myself a feminist, because the image of “feminist” I had in my head was one of Angry Woman determined to fend for herself at all costs and turn all gender roles upside-down, justified or otherwise, in the name of equality. I, on the other hand, had no real problem with my expectations (or lack thereof) as a woman. I was comfortable with accepting or rejecting “stereotypic” female roles as I chose, but felt no great pressure to have to fit into any of them. And, on the flip side, I had few qualms about joining the guys in their “boyish” activities. The biggest sex hang-up I remember happened during a childhood road trip, when I developed a raging (but temporary) jealousy of my male counterpart’s ability to simply pee out the car door while I had to choose between making a stall for myself out of the car doors and squatting (humiliating) or waiting until the next rest stop (excruciating).
I was, I now realize, hugely blessed by peers, teachers and family members who encouraged me to live as I pleased, based not on my status as a female, but on my desires as a person.
But not everyone — male or female — has been that lucky. Or even if they have, there’s still a whole other side of sex and gender that any single person will never get to experience or understand first-hand. And that’s why discussions like the ones on The Good Men Project are important.
Because being aware of those expectations, whether you personally feel them or not, is an extremely useful means of better understanding your world and yourself. And because realizing the opposite sex experiences the same types of pressures and insecurities as you do is hugely (and in my case, almost embarrassingly) enlightening.
Some of the articles from the Project are specifically about the gender discussion. Others hit on topics not limited to gender at all. Each article is interesting, thoughtful and, I think, pretty important.
I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from articles on The Good Men Project is that most issues don’t come down to “male problems” or “female problems.” They come down to human problems. The “male” quest for strength and the “female” quest for beauty, for example, both come out of much larger, shared quests for admiration, affirmation and respect. Realizing this has affected my understanding of (and, I hope, my interactions with) the people around me significantly.
Not every article on The Good Men Project has won me over to its individual argument, but every single article I’ve read so far has made me think, and think hard. Some of my favorites are below. Read them when you get the chance, and let me know what you think! AND, if anyone knows of a good women-focused counterpart to (equivalent of?) The Good Men Project, please share it. If this site has proven so useful, I’m sure an additional one can only help.
(Upon a quick Google search, I just discovered there is a goodwomenproject.com. I’ll peruse it and see what’s up.)
The Good Men Project: Annica’s Picks