To describe how I’ve been socialized into being “masculine,” being raised in the south as a “gentleman” and “southern boy” I feel brought me up to be masculine. In any day in Tennessee young men are required to do some kind of work, play some kind of sport, or do “boyish” things to keep themselves busy. For example some boyish activities might include racing bikes, blowing stuff up with firecrackers, or even going as far as ding dong ditch, as opposed to what most girls do; playing with dolls, pampering themselves (painting fingernails), at cheer practice, or shopping. As a boy I learned to be more masculine by not only what I saw and learned at home but also what I learned from my peers at school. The time I spent in elementary school I learned that doing contact sports, being sweaty, and having no problem with being dirty was the “social norm” for boys and it gave us a sense of masculinity. As I would sit through class I would hear stories of some of the other boys participating in sports such as football, hockey, wrestling, and typically sports that females don’t participate in for the most part. This would continue as I would come home from school and watch more than less “intense” television programs with my grandfather. After I would finish my homework I would spend time watching things like W.W.F. wrestling, NASCAR, football, and other sports shows that had high intensity, insane action, and every time I would watch football I would hear players like Ray Lewis chanting, “This is a man’s game!” At this point I (along with most of my friends) would take things like this to heart, hearing such pregame chants and watching highflying action brought a sense of boys and men are tough, they work all day, and when the work is over then they can play. Yet what I learned from my peers and watching television didn’t only affect my socialization of masculinity. It was very important to my grandfather and father that I learn the ways of “becoming a man.” Growing up in the south the main traditions was to raise the boys as the men who work all day to put food on the table and to provide any means necessary to the family. Whenever I had a day off from school I would work in fields all day doing such things as pulling tobacco, bailing hay, and growing more crops. The job of any person who was considered male (by sex) was to do all the heavy lifting (sort of speak) and the job of the women was to raise the children, and keep a stable household.
I would consider myself to be a classic liberal feminist in many ways. When I look at how I was raised, to be a gentleman, to respect women, and to be provide for them I believe that it’s essential for women to have individual rights and opportunities. As a young boy, my father would be deploying more than 3 times a year, for 90 days, for the first ten years of my life. Now this left my mother to decide how she was going to help provide for her and I, she could stay home and find housework to do while living off of my father’s living assistance from the ARMY (which at the time was typically inadequate for a family of 3), or find a job, and work hard to take the place of my father while he was away. She choose to find a job, work her way back into the work force (which she hadn’t worked since her and my…