Monday, April 19, 2010

The Emo Age

c. David Grim (taken 4/5/08)

I'd guess that my generation is the first to hear the term "new male". Obviously, it's fall-out from the women's rights movement of the 20th Century. If the ladies define themselves according to different criteria, and take on a number of new roles, I guess it's only fitting that men revise their own definitions about what it means to be part of their own gender.

I know for a fact that some guys my age have a problem with even considering alterations to the conventional ideas. I work with kids every day, and I see differences between what boys allow themselves, and what would have been considered acceptable when I was a teenager. I've seen them embracing in the hall, and others massaging each others' shoulders. There is nothing to indicate that these particular teens are gay either. And no one stops to berate them as they do these things.

We are running an anti-bullying program at work, and we have weekly sessions. One activity involved reading off a list of statements and asking the kids to cross a line when one of the statements applied to them. When I read, "I have cried within the last year", I never expected that the boys would cross the line. But without exception, they all did. When I was fourteen, any male youth that admitted to that would have opened themselves up to a torrent of abuse. It just wasn't done. I was actually kind of proud of that bunch. Still, I did find it pretty surreal.

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