Amidst the beer can-crushing chauvinist, the dead beat dad, the neurotic Michael Scott type of boss, the wimpy emo kid, and every other kind of negative or less-than-positively-masculine stereotype of a what a man can be, there is actually a realistic collection of males that serve as the standard of what most men truly are or at least should be. They are not necessarily heroes or saints. They are still full of flaws. But they are sincere.
And misunderstood. And given a bad name as they are often judged by their worst specimens. To make things more complicated, when a man tries to explain his feelings he often enters a territory of being seen as “sensitive”. And that word has a negative connotation these days for men. He wants to be a good man, but if he wanders too close to the edge of being of safe, he may be labeled as boring. Or a lover of musicals.
Being a man means having to constantly find the balance in between double standards, paradoxes, and damning extremes.
If a man is too aggressive, he’s a tyrant. If a man is too passive, he’s a pushover. If he’s too understanding of others, then he may become The Good Guy or “Mr. Perfect”, and is ironically considered sub-par compared to the dangerous, adventurous, and often offensive men of society. Where does a man end up? As the Bad Boy or as the Good Guy? Both have negative and positive qualities. What does the balance look like?
What started as a two page article on the importance of a man speaking has oddly evolved into a shot at understanding this ultimate balance of what society truly wants, needs, and is looking for in men. I laughed when it got to the point I finished my 10th volume in the series, as I thought to myself, “Of all people, how am I qualified to write about manhood?”
I don’t know much at all about cars, sports, hunting, or home repairs. I hold no specialized degree in psychology. All I am is a writer who is trying to materialize how I, as a man, think and act. And what I have learned so far is that I am simple and often clueless.
That’s when it hit me. I AM qualified. Because I am simple and clueless.
I don’t know who won the Super Bowl in 1997 or how to install a hardwood floor. I don’t claim to understand women. But I do have an understanding of what excites me, what motivates me, what insults me, what confuses me, what baffles me, what hurts me, and what helps me. While I have always been a little off-beat, that doesn’t change my hard-wiring. I’m still a guy.
One thing I can do is express myself through writing. And on behalf of men everywhere, provide a voice for them, since honestly speaking about our feelings is both difficult and dangerous. What’s most ironic is that in actuality, I have learned that more women read my Manspeak series than men. And I am honored to be the official spokesman for the Average Joe. Not a professional. Just qualified by default.
Men need to see an end in sight. They need to know when the story will end. When I am doing household chores, I have to have a list I can check off as I go. I can’t simply “straighten up the house”. Otherwise I am overwhelmed and nothing really gets done.
I figured Manspeak would never up end being more than 10 volumes. But I realize now that this is an open-ended series. It could end after 20 volumes. Maybe 50. It could eventually become a published book. But even then, I feel like I will still keep coming up with one more volume. For every week that goes by, I realize another quirky aspect about myself. And that new truth usually translates over to most men.
But maybe one day I’ll actually finish the final volume of Manspeak. If men really are as simple and easy to figure out as I say they are, I should be finishing up any minute now…
All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:
Manspeak Table of Contents
Volume -1: Boyspeak: http://wp.me/pxqBU-9d
Volume 0: Introduction http://wp.me/pxqBU-8G
Volume 1: Humor http://wp.me/pxqBU-1i
Volume 2: Heroism http://wp.me/pxqBU-1m
Volume 3: Filtration http://wp.me/pxqBU-1p
Volume 4: Stance http://wp.me/pxqBU-1s
Volume 5: Movement http://wp.me/pxqBU-1v
Volume 6: Law http://wp.me/pxqBU-3h
Volume 7: Bromance http://wp.me/pxqBU-3W
Volume 8: Relaxation http://wp.me/pxqBU-6a
Volume 9: Appearance http://wp.me/pxqBU-6f
Volume 10: Exploration http://wp.me/pxqBU-6O
Volume 11: Responsibility http://wp.me/pxqBU-8v
Volume 12: Transparency http://wp.me/pxqBU-8J
Volume 13: Composure http://wp.me/pxqBU-8N