LabRat on masculinity.
For as long as I’ve known him, [Stingray] has always acted as though it were a long-since forgone conclusion that his testicles came factory-equipped and were, are, and ever shall be firmly attached to his body, no matter what happens short of a purely literal castration event.
He doesn’t feel the need to check and see if they are still there, or re-bolt them back on later if he is served an egg pie. The presence of homosexual men within his zip code, or even living room, does not cause him to curl into the fetal position and cradle them lest they scamper off over the horizon. He can wash his face with something gentler and more scented than a bar of lava soap and still rest so secure in the assumption that the testosterone-producing apparatus that will still require him to shave it the next morning is still hanging in there that he needn’t even make a few precautionary laps around the block in a pickup. Likewise he seems entirely capable of trying new and different things without needing to look up their gendered implications in a checklist or guide before deciding whether he enjoyed it or not.
I agree completely. I've always thought it was weird when people feel a need to (or urge others to) "prove" their gender. I'm a woman no matter what I do, aren't I? I think the problem is that "woman" and "man" each have two very different definitions:
1. A person who has [female/male] physical characteristics.
2. A person who is [nurturing/tough] and wears [dresses/pants] and likes [ponies!/muscle cars].
A person who fits only one of these definitions creates a weird dissonance in some people. It's not that simple, though, because it's not just overtly masculine women or feminine men who get shit about this--you can be female, be nurturing, wear dresses, and like muscle cars... and certain people will be unable to accept the muscle car thing, or you will feel like you have to suppress it and try to like ponies. As if a dress-wearing vagina-owning person could become disastrously male by that single drop of impurity.
Stingray's no one's girly-man (that's very clear if you read any of his posts...). He's just not a MANLY MAN MAN MAN in everything he does. Rejecting the full package deal that supposedly comes with your gender doesn't mean you're rejecting your gender. Just that you're, y'know, a normal person.
Secondly, even though it's a little embarrassing, I've found Succeed Socially to be surprisingly useful reading. There's a bunch of articles on social skills, pitched at a borderline-Asperger's audience; a lot of it is the guy saying (in more polite words) "other people don't want to hear a four-hour lecture on your model train collection." But a lot of it is really good, thought-through, well-written advice on how to meet and make friends and treat them well.
It's easy for someone like me, who's somewhat awkward but definitely not at the train-collection level of social disaster, to brush this off as something they don't need. Or even to feel a bit humiliated to be looking at it, an admission of dorkness second only to wearing Pull-Ups to bed. But a lot of it has been very helpful for me. I have a lot of bad social habits--"everyone listen to me!"; "I'm only making cruel fun of you because I like you"; "screw it, I'm going back to my cave"--that this site has helped with.
And more than anything, it has a good attitude. The guy's outlook on life is that most people are worth knowing and that the best thing you can do is genuinely like other people. If you're interested in someone and want to spend time with them, you should basically just say so. The site doesn't directly address dating at all, but I'd say it's the best dating-advice site I've ever seen.
If you're wondering why this post is tagged "PUA," that's a hint. (Well, okay, it's really just a cue for Eurosabra--oh lord, I said his name, he's like Candlejack--to appear and explain why he doesn't find this "treating people decently technique" nearly as effective as the Performatively Masculine Half-Neg Strength Word of +2 CHA.)