The ‘man box’

As a public speaker amongst many other talents, Princess enjoys searching for inspirational talks.  She regularly visits a web site called TED.

She came across a speaker called Tony Porter who, like all TED speakers, gave a very powerful speech called ‘a call to men’.  It was very inspirational but listening to it with transgender women in mind, its message became all the more powerful, but also tragic when you put it in the context of thinking of transgender children growing up.

In my book I talk about the ‘boxes’ we as society use to categorise people and so Tony’s speech resonated with me as its theme was of the ‘man box’, and all the things that traditionally go into the ‘man box’ to make up what men are;

Tough, strong, courageous, they experience no pain, no emotion; except anger.  Men are in charge.  While he expressed that there are a lot of great attributes of men, there is a lot we should challenge.

He explained how when his children were younger if his daughter was upset, he would allow her to sit on his knee and cry, not caring when she snivelled into his shoulder.  But when his son cried he would give him about 30 seconds, and tell him to get himself together and come back when he could talk to his father like he was a man.  He thought he was doing the right thing preparing his son to fit into the ‘man box’.  And one day realised – ‘what’s wrong with me? He’s 5 years old!’

He asked a young boy on the school football team how he would feel if the coach told him in front of all his class mates, he had played like a girl.  The boy replied ‘it would destroy me’.  Tony asked himself if it would ‘destroy’ him, what the hell are we teaching our son’s about what it is to be a girl?

His summing up strongly resonated with much of what I have written in my book, that we live in fear.  In this case men live in fear of getting outside of the man box.  So how the hell do all you trans women out there feel, when you are in the wrong box to start with, that there might not even be a box for who you feel you are, because gender is fluid but you are forced to live in a binary society.

I would wager that any trans woman, particularly if she is ‘out’ is; tougher, stronger, and more courageous that any cowering man hiding in his ‘man box’.

Tony asked a 9 year old boy; ‘what would life be like if you did not have to adhere to the man box.’  And his answer, as a 9-year-old boy was; “I would be free”.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/tony_porter_a_call_to_men.html

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1 Response to The ‘man box’

  1. Davina Legs says:

    I would wager that any trans woman, particularly if she is ‘out’ is; tougher, stronger, and more courageous that any cowering man hiding in his ‘man box’….. also He asked a young boy on the school football team how he would feel if the coach told him in front of all his class mates, he had played like a girl. The boy replied ‘it would destroy me’. Tony asked himself if it would ‘destroy’ him, what the hell are we teaching our son’s about what it is to be a girl?

    I’ve been in that position where a coach has told me i played like a girl … it didnt really resonate in me that it had anything to do with me crossdressing from an early age and i was also hurt but at the same time thought what a stupid and childish bioggoted statement to make and vowed to make him eat his words in the next match which i did scoring 3 goals .. funny how these things stick in the mind.

    Also tough, strong, courageous …blowing my own trumpet but yes those buzz words fit in with my persona as does other words like single minded (sometimes) arrogant, big head, always right, but also friendly, caring, approachable, .im my own person and i know who i am as a person and can make my own views and think through things logically and create a process (hence being a civil engineer).. the last few buzz words are to me nothing to do with the fact i crossdress from time to time and more to do with upbringing and respect… i do get the “man box” tho as were brought up to be tough and strong and expected to show how tough and strong we are yet as a lad growing up show any softer side and expect ridicule – hence so many of us in the closet … and stressed out by having to be in the man box 24/7 as thats whats expected of us…. crossdressing = great escapism from the man box

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