The Truth About My Masculinity
Because my Jewishness is a little too obvious. But this I never really talk about.
- •As far as I can tell, I am completely cis and straight. And white. As vanilla as it gets.
- •But I am also remarkably, powerfully, and unapologetically un-masculine.
- •I had two sisters growing up. One brother, but he was a good bit older and not as present. I got used to being around girls.
- •In the very Jewish-y community in which I grew up, "being a man" was not so much a thing. A little, sure, but there's a rich history of the emasculation of Jewish men (on which see Daniel Boyarin's insane, brilliant book, Unheroic Conduct).
- •Still, in grade school, middle school, and high school, my best friends were guys. They played and watched sports all the time. I spent a lot of time pretending to like sports to fit in, but I could never see the point, and I never bothered to try to play basketball, which was the big sport.
- •When, in high school, I figured out I could be friends with girls, that was really amazing.
- •Since deciding to major in English in college, I've been surrounded by women and gay men in almost every part of my life. Most of my mentors have been women.
- •The classes I teach now are usually about 80% female. I really like this. And not, I hope, because I'm some sort of creep.
- •Now that I'm married, and we live in a (bizarrely) traditional suburb, we make friends with couples and most of the time I'd much rather talk to the wife rather than the husband. But it seems I can't go out to coffee with the wife, even if I'd like to. That would weird everybody out.
- •Happily, none of this has been a problem with my son, who's almost 5 and doesn't seem to have any hang-ups about gender yet. But I'm a little nervous about what'll happen as he gets older and his friends get more into asserting their gender.
- •I never, ever pretend to care about sports anymore, which is fine unless I go to a barber who is not an immigrant. (I made that mistake exactly once.)
- •A lesbian couple we're friends with once said I'm the straight guy who they feel most comfortable with. Which I really loved.