Last night I had the most wonderful experience.
I went to the opening night of ‘A Boy’s Own Story’, the exhibition that has included my hand sewn shirts.
During the speeches the curator, Louis Le Vaillant, spoke of the long tradition of men making with their hands. Specifically sewing, knitting, lace making, crochet…hand crafts. How the men, whose work was in the exhibition, had been handed theses skills from the mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers in their lives…but also from the fathers, uncles, brothers and grandfathers.
He highlighted that it is, and has always been completely normal for anyone, of any gender, to be drawn to this kind of making. That it is a recent phenomenon that we consider a ‘man’ doing these kinds of things as unusual or unexpected, which is really ‘code’ for ‘unmanly’.
I find gender a difficult thing.
I don’t often feel like I identify with ‘men’ as a category. Not because I see myself as a different gender, I’m very comfortable with my ‘maleness’…I just don’t identify with most of what society tells me about what being ‘a man’ means.
For a moment, during Louis speech I felt like I was a man standing amongst other men. And that this was something I could feel proud of. These skills, this knowledge and craft and deep time spent making – that these were all ‘manly’ acts because I/we identify as men and we do them.
Perhaps I felt less alone?
Yes, yes. I did.
I felt like I was with other men who I shared something special with.
A sense of belonging.
A man amongst men.
Ps: When I say ‘men or man or male’ – that’s anyone who identifies as such…FYI.
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