The first time I was confronted by a guy who wasn’t hyper-masculine or insecure about his identity as a man was in high school by my high school sweetheart. I vaguely remember the first time I saw him cry. My first thoughts about this activity had nothing to do with his masculinity. There was no place in my brain that lessened my opinion of him due to this visible show of his emotions.
In reality, I’m an emotional bitch. Just thinking about things that upset me can bring tears to my eyeballs. Watching other people cry generally makes me want to cry too, so having to witness his emotional pain did not sit well with me at all, because crying is supposed to be for girls. A myth that most Americans are brought up on. So, I think one of the first things I felt when seeing his tears was confusion. Boy + tears = what? I had no real idea because I’d never seen a guy cry before.
Besides “dating” (a word used very loosely) an emotionally abusive asshole who frequently cried when he finally got over being mad at me about some shit I didn’t even do and actually felt bad about calling me a whole host of bad words to the general theme of “slut”, my second encounter with men who were unburdened by the American taboo of insensitive, aggressive, alpha-male–expected to be strong all the time and hold in all of their feelings man syndrome was in Paris.
It was a little more than baffling to have a man wait on me hand and foot, bring me coffee in bed, and cook for me. If this royal treatment weren’t enough, the physical appearance of the gorgeous man I was sleeping with at the time really iced my cake. He had long, curly hair, wore very fitted clothing, and was definitely not afraid to use his hips during the salsa. Of course, being an untrusting American girl absolutely entranced by the strength of the feelings I had for a man who made it all the way to the allusive third date, I was totally skeptical of the heterosexuality of a man who not only wore shorts that stopped above his knees, but also wore t-shirts as tight as mine, participated in foreplay, exhibited patience, and appreciated my high sex drive.
That last bit may come as a bit of a surprise because of the readily accepted reality that men should be praised for bedding many bodies while women should be shamed for that same behavior. And I have been shamed many times while living in this very sexually repressed country that loves to sexualize women when it lines their own pockets and is convenient for them.