How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?

42?

Or none. To be honest, you already called him a man before you knew how many roads he walked down, the whole question kind of makes itself redundant. There’s a word for that, but I’m feelin ill and so can’t be bothered to look it up. Sorry.

Manhood’s a funny one.

It’s interesting that it’s talked of in terms of exploration and wandering. And worth bearing in mind that many definitions of transitions to womanhood refer to either bodily changes, sexual experiences, or being tied by contract to a man.

Of course, male rights of passage are also skewed towards sexual understandings. Even the library conflates the age of sexual consent with the day you get your adult card (and start paying fines).

I’ve walked down many roads, and walked down some a thousand times or more. I don’t know if any of this makes me more manly.

And it’s not as if that’s what I’m really struggling for these days.

You can call anything a man. It’s all just labels and names and markings and definitions. It kind of doesn’t make any sense.

I am a man, by some definitions, and I am clearly so much more than that. And say someone with female genitalia wanted to be called a man. Would we need to send her on a pilgrimage down x number of roads before the transition was complete, and we started using the pronoun him?

This is a sensitive topic, of course, but a relevant one for definitions of manhood.

We tend to define people by their bodies as much as their actions. Realistically, society seems to refer to a man as a man on account of his penis, hairy face and lack of prominent mammary glands.

This is why one of those defining characteristics is referred to as someone’s ‘manhood’.

But some people don’t feel comfortable being pigeonholed by their physicality, and in extreme cases feel the need to change their bodies to fit in with societies expectations.

I think it’s amazing that we’re capable of allowing this, but I’m also concerned that gender roles are so strong in our society that someone can feel it necessary to change their body so dramatically in order to feel they are accurately themself.

This bothers me a lot.

Because apparently it doesn’t matter how many roads someone’s walked down, or what life they’ve lived, it’s all about what hangs off the body. All about hair and skin and muscle and so forth.

When really, it could just be about how you label yourself.

What you choose to be called?

And maybe, once that was the case, people could drop the labels.

I’d rather be called Alex than a man.

I’m not a representative of some random split of society. I’m not indicative of everyone with a penis. I’m not an accurate sample of people capable of growing facial hair.

I’m barely even an accurate representation of myself.

But I try.

No matter how many roads I’ve stumbled down.

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About Alabaster Crippens

Joiner of Dots. Player of Games. Unreliable Narrator. Dancing Fool.
This entry was posted in Illustrations by Lucy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How many roads must a man walk down, before you can call him a man?

  1. jeff mcphee says:

    Just get a job!

  2. Pingback: What is the best question ever? | Unstruck

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