Y’know, I think I resent the implication in our culture today that an artistic man must be, at the very least, a closet homosexual. For whatever reason people can’t seem to grasp the notion that even the most masculine men can still be in touch with those things that are considered ‘soft’ and ‘sensitive’. The reason I think of this is because I was listening to a woman on the radio this morning talk about her very artistic husband. The interviewers immediately asked if she was sure he wasn’t gay. At some point in the discussion, she stated that her husband is a gay man who likes women.

I’m not so much offended by this state of mind in our culture as much as I find it mildly disturbing. I guess I’m wondering where we got the idea that ‘true men’ don’t have a clue about art. (It is a further sign of the neutering of the male gender in our society, in my opinion.) I don’t know about you, but I know quite a few men who are as masculine as they come who are also some of the most artistic people I know.

What society defines as a ‘true man’ seems to me to be only half the picture. True men are defined as being brawny, red-meat-and-potatoes, heavy-weapon-wielding oafs who swoop in to save the maiden by violently destroying all enemies. They are the guys with the biggest muscles, the flashiest vehicles, and the ability to seemingly hold the world together through sheer force of will. I would suggest that this is not really what it means to be a man.

I’ve seen a lot of guys who fit the stereotypical definition of manliness who are oafish, selfish, brutal, and lazy. In fact, the more men I see who fit the stereotype, the more I see guys who disgust me because they almost always have those vices. The thing of it is that they don’t even bother to try hiding those traits because somehow those are part of society’s definition of what a man is supposed to look and act like. I truly believe that a true man is one that has the characteristics of strength that our society so admires but also encompasses ‘softer’ traits, like compassion and love and selflessness. It appears to me that so many of the traits that are considered to be feminine are forsaken by men who want to be as manly as possible. But it is many of those same traits that I think unlock the artistic abilities and talents of so many who are gifted in the arts.

It seems to me that a true man is one who has an almost perfect balance of both masculinity and femininity, who can be both strong and compassionate at the exact same time. It doesn’t mean that the guy is gay, or even that he leans that direction. It simply means that he is tapping into _all_ the built-in resources that God gave him. He is able to look at just about anything and see beauty – and _appreciate_ that beauty for what it is by expressing it in a way that is in itself beautiful and inspiring.

Of course, maybe I’m a little biased; I’m an artist. I love my music, and I love my writing, and I have a high appreciation for art and dance and dozens of other forms of artistic expression. I definitely have those strong, masculine traits that our culture uses to define true manhood, but I also have the softer, more emotional traits that are viewed as weak if found in men. But it is those emotional traits that allow me to appreciate and to express art in my own way. I’m not gay, nor do I even remotely lean that way (just the mere thought is enough to make me ill). Rather, I see it as having the best (and some of the worst) of both worlds of masculinity and femininity, and it is not something I am ashamed of. It does, in fact, make me stronger because it is part of who I am and closer to what I believe a true man should look like. More men need to tune in to their softer sides, I believe, and not just because it will allow them to appreciate art more. I believe that men who are both strong and sensitive are ones who are able to have richer, deeper, and more meaningful relationships with others because it opens up their ability to empathize and sympathize, both of which, again, are great tools in the appreciation and expression of art.

One thought on “Balance”

  1. Three Cheers, Jim. You are so right! Our society is pushing stereotypes to the very edges. Women must be thin and busty. Men must be muscled and forceful. Anyone not fitting within this pidgeonholing is deficient and needs improvement.
    My husband is an artist, scientist, and teacher. Luckily he’s never felt the need to wedge himself into the mold of “a real man”. I knew there were others like him out there. I’m glad to have found one.

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