Manly-Men and the Con



We spent this weekend at the Phoenix Comicon and had a lovely time. I got to see many friends, tons of fantastic costumes, and we felt as though we had a grand adventure.

One of the things I love about Comicon is that while it exists to promote comics, film, games, etc., it has evolved to be all about people embracing exactly the things that got them beat up for on the school playground. An extreme celebration of everything geek. A minority group struggling for acceptance that is coming into it’s own.

Gendered and genderless themes abound here, as they often do. The problem of well defined gender roles and gender identification has always been a bug of mine. Raised during the period of FREE TO BE YOU AND ME my childhood was mix of tradition and breaking tradition. (Sesame Street was AWESOME too.) Or as I like to think of it; moving towards the light and evolving.

Yes, men have always had the power, but in this game of strict gender roles the only thing equal is the screwing over that we all get–men included. I attended a panel on bullying that was given by Kids Need To Read. A great organization that promotes literacy. One of the things that was said contributes to bullying is the absence of the father in the house. The way I see it, what contributes greatly to bullying and the absence of the father is those damned gender definitions. As a society we are groomed to reject anyone who does not fit into the defined roles of man and woman. Scared that our kids won’t be accepted, we criticize them in order to shape them into acceptable human beings. Because it is important, often survival depends on being accepted by the societal group. However, this is bullying pure and simple.

I watched a show on television about a tribe of people in the South American jungle. They are fierce warriors. This training starts at birth. The parents and older siblings tease the small child and poke them with sticks until they cry and then they ridicule them in order to make them tough. I see no difference between this and what we do to our children at times.

A while ago when I was standing in line at a convenience store, a boy was reacting to being told ‘no’ by his father for something he’d asked for–as children often do. The father turned to him with a fierce expression and said; “You sound like a woman!”

“You (insert any verb here) like a girl!” Holy emasculation Batman! ANYTHING BUT BEING LIKE A GIRL!!!

I have had conversations about the differences of male VS female with people. I get that there are people who are masculine and feminine and it’s a good thing too. But for the love of everything emotionally healthy, there is little difference. We are all human and men are just as emotionally angsty as women. Oh yes they are, and it’s all good.

We have such strict standards for the men in our lives. Who can blame them for giving up and leaving?

This is another thing I love about the comicon; gender freedom. Whee! But it isn’t complete, there was plenty of porno-misogynistic bullshit to go around. Lots of women offering themselves up as idolized body parts coupled with the men that love to hate and exploit them. Much more creepy than any creeping soul sucker from a nether dimension bent on killing off the human race from the latest video game who was also crawling around the conference hall. I would rather hang with the zombies than the hooter-seekers.

In one of the break-out sessions, two of my author/illustrator friendso were talking about illustrating. As I listened to these two beautiful men speak on the heels of the bullying presentation, I realized that here were two great examples of people who have survived and transcended that damned male gender gauntlet.

Adam Rex who is a brilliant artist and author infuses humor and emotion into his work. With gentle affection, fearless creativity, and dry humor that’s relentless with spot-on hilarity. As I sat and listened to him, I could him leading Peter out of Neverland and then watching Adventure Time with the Lost Boys. This man always inspires me, but his connection to his readers is solid and essential.

James Owen who has a wicked sense of humor, insane business ethic, and is also brilliant and creative. James has taken up motivational speaking in addition to the reams of art and writing he puts out. I’ve seen grown men weep at his talks.

I know the reason for the tears. FREEDOM. As a woman, I understand this intimately. Men are long due societal freedom from the oppression of terms like “manly man”, “a good man”, “boys will be boys”, and that oldie but nauseating “don’t be such a girl.”

There is an importance for boys to see that a man can also be a fully-formed functioning human who is openly emotional and creative and confidant. Both of these men are fantastic examples of this. I want to clone them and send them to every school around the globe. Fortunately, they aren’t the only ones and I’m hoping that one day soon our society will shift over to the place where men don’t feel as though they must flee, drink/drug themselves into oblivion, or commit suicide.

Another “good man” and resource for putting a stop to bullying and/or supporting your child who is struggling with bullying or their school work is Rick LaVoie. The man has a ton of educational experience and is fantastic as what he does.

I’m looking forward to next year’s comicon and a brighter, gender liberating, future.

posted under Miscellany

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