By Aimee Genter-Gilmore, PQ Monthly
Longtime fans of mine (c’mon… there’s gotta be one or two of you) might remember that I have a somewhat complex relationship with straight men. As a butch, I can easily “bro down” with the best of ’em: I like telling dirty jokes and won’t jump down their throats if something offensive slips out of their mouths (hell, I have a few offensive gems slipping of my own mouth on a daily basis… who am I to judge?). Bro time is necessary for me, because I spend the rest of my life getting drooled on by the cutest baby in the world. Bro time is an equal but opposite reaction to being a gay-at-h0me mom.
On the flip side, I am a girl, and when they have sensitive thoughts, they usually come to me before the guys, because they know I won’t accuse them of having a vagina. (Did I mention that I love straight guys?)
Now, lately, I’ve noticed something particularly interesting about straight guys. They seem to be incredibly fragile. A wrench gets thrown into their lives and it just shuts them down. At first I thought it was just a one-time situation, but then more of my beloved straight guys came out of the marshmallow closet. As an armchair anthropologist, I find it fascinating. As an armchair feminist, I might have figured out the root of this over-sensitivity.
Some back story first. I was raised in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. In Minnesota, we all descend directly from Vikings (no lie). I have always been large, and while my ancestors were Vikings, I believe that is the main reason I’m not tough. I have never had to fend off attackers, and it’s gotta be related to my size. My partner, on the other hand, grew up short and small. She got picked on all of her childhood for being wee. People in school would physically attack her (a completely foreign concept to me), and wouldn’t you know it, she could totally kick your ass if you mess with her. (But she won’t, cause she’s a lady.)
As women, we were both raised to walk around the world defensively. Hold on to your purse, don’t walk into abandoned alleyways, if someone is following too closely behind you, go somewhere crowded or let them pass. After awhile, these rules become instinct, meaning we all wander the world superheroes of self-defense. We all have a plan of what to do in case of danger, we come to the aid of another woman at the mere squeak of a scream, and find superhuman strength to save our children. We roll with the punches the world throws at us like the punches are just part of the day-to-day.
But what about the straight white man raised above the poverty line? They were raised to be at the top of the food chain. And without any natural predators, what are they to do when a wrench gets thrown? (Like I said, this is just my armchair theory, and is not the theory of PQ Monthly, so if you’re going to accuse anyone of anything, accuse me.) Life is a series of wrenches being thrown at you, but could you imagine how tedious life would be without them?
My son is white and living above the poverty line. This has placed a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. As a boy, he was born into a privilege that I will never have or even begin to understand. But maybe if I teach him how to roll with the punches and look at the world through other peoples’ eyes, he’ll break the cycle.