And so on.
There is a really neat poster on my wall. I got it the first time I visited Burlington, VT and stayed with Rachel in her dorm. Here is what it says:
For every girl who is tired of acting weak when she is strong, there is a boy tired of appearing strong when he feels vulnerable.
For every boy who is burdened with the constant expectation of knowing everything, there is a girl tired of people not trusting her intelligence.
For every girl who is tired of being called over-sensitive, there is a boy who fears to be gentle, to weep.
For every boy for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity, there is a girl who is called unfeminine when she competes.
For every girl who throws out her E-Z-Bake Oven, there is a boy who wishes to find one.
For every boy struggling not to let advertising dictate his desires, there is a girl facing the ad industry's attacks on her self-esteem.
For every girl who takes a step toward her liberation, there is a boy who finds the way to freedom a little easier.
This poster is so true. I took a class once called "Gender, Crime, & Deviance". It was probably the most interesting class I've taken. We talked a lot about crime and gender, but the more interesting part of the class was just deviance and gender. We talked a lot about masculinity and how boys/men have an extremely hard time acting un- masculine. We talked for a long time whether this was due to biological factors ("must act masculine to attract a mate and reproduce") or whether it was more due to social factors ("I have seen every male human in my life act like this, so I should act like this too")
My mind wanders to PACAA and Leaders. I remember very vividly, before I attended my first PACAA at age 13, that we had a meeting one week and our advisor sat us all down to let us know exactly what PACAA would be like. We would live in dorms, eat at the cafeteria, we would need to bring a fan, notebook, snacks, etc. For a moment, she breezed by the topic that PACAA could get very emotional for some people.
Let me back up for a second. At age 13, my family considered me an emotional wreck. However, I was actually quite outwardly emotionally stunted. I've had interesting conversations with my therapist about this. When I was a kid and preteen, I cried at everything that wasn't worth crying about (I still do this sometimes). However, I specifically remember bad things happening, sad things happening, and I couldn't cry. The tears just never came, even though my body felt like that was what it should be doing.
So back to PACAA. Our advisor was discussing how at PACAA, sometimes it can be very emotionally-charged. I scoffed at this, not understanding why it would be. My advisor mentioned that there are often grown men and teenage boys who cry. I remember the instant that I heard those words - I was shocked! Men crying?! And not at a funeral or otherwise awful event? I left the meeting wondering what in the world could bring grown men to tears at this Y camp that was supposed to be a week of fun. I was embarrassed for them, and I still hadn't even attended yet. (How sad..) I remember telling my mom about our meeting and that she'd have to go in for a parent meeting as well. I told her all about the camp and that THERE WILL BE BOYS CRYING! I still don't understand why it was so weird for me, something I was stuck on.
Of course, I attended PACAA that year and had an amazing time, shed a few tears myself, caught the PACAA Bug and never looked back. I quickly got over my shock at a room full of 140 people showing actual emotion, and began to understand more about boys and people in general as the years went on. Why was it okay for these guys to talk about how they're really feeling at this camp, but not in school or at home, or hanging out with their friends? To this day, when I am at a leaders function, it still baffles me a little bit that our perfect little Leaders world allows for such emotion from both genders. And not only that, but so much love and kindness and willingness to see past differences. I truly would not be the person I am today if it weren't for that program.
I think I may finally be able to fall asleep. The clock struck 3...