Patrick Califia, in his article, Manliness discusses his own ideals of what it means to be a man after transitioning from female to male at the age of 45. Spending the majority of his life as a woman but identifying as a man, he expresses the ways in which he has come to define masculinity.
According to Patrick, his own concept of masculinity is much different than the one in which society has come to know. Even now, Patrick expresses his concern of being a “man.” He explains, “My gender dysphoria has had more to do with feeling that there is something wrong when other people perceived or treated me as if I were a girl. Not wanting to be female, but not having much enthusiasm for the only other option our society offers.” (Califia, 435). He goes on to discuss his relationship with the idea of maleness and the ways in which he had grown up in a way that made him oppose anything that had to do with masculinity. He explains how he almost feels like a “stranger” to either category of man or woman.
This idea of what it truly means to be a man or a woman made me think about what other people think of this concept of “masculinity.” That’s when I found this blog: http://theorizingmasculinity.blogspot.com/
This blog explores the many concepts of masculinity. Many people post all sorts of thoughts, ideas, videos, and other articles all relating to what it must mean to be a man in today’s society. Topics include female masculinity, concepts of masculinity in the media, domestic violence, and all kinds of ideas of what it means to be a particular gender. What struck me most about the blog was the vast array of masculinity being discussed. Some had to do with sexuality, some with violence, some with more feminized versions of masculinity, and some even had to do with the types of food men are supposed to eat to be more “manly.”
Going back to Califia’s article, his own experience of transitioning into a man was extremely complex as well. His father had extremely stereotypical standards of what being a man means which initially drew him away from becoming a man. Califia shares his experience of who he identifies as today as almost a combination of his life experience as others identifying him as a woman as well as his desire to be seen as man today. He also expresses his positive experiences of his father’s masculinity in his life as well.
This blog shares many negative, yet also many positive images of masculinity as well. This just shows that the concept of gender is much more complex than most people imagine. We are all different beings and we all grow up and learn about who we want to be in different ways. There is no actual true “masculine” just like there is no actual true “feminine.” Therefore, using labels to describe ones identify is not enough. Instead, it is important to focus on our own histories to explain who we are.