Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Manual for a Mechanised Man - Book 1, Entry 3 - Sex and Gender Issues

Introduction: Maybe, Now, You'll Understand
This is most certainly not the way in which I had envisioned doing this. For a long time now, I have wanted to write about sex and gender issues as they have pertained to me and my experience. I have always imagined that I would write a marvellously complex, intertwined and multilayered novel through which I could channel the most personal and guarded aspects of myself and dress them in the veneer of a fictional story.

Of course, the protagonist would be a thinly veiled version of myself and the situations and themes explored in the novel and through the eyes of the protagonist would be carefully designed and contrived to open a window through which to view my world and glimpse many of my thoughts. Once published, I had intended to mail a copy of the work to a number of women from my past. The first page following the cover would be inscribed: Maybe, now, you'll understand...

But, alas, fiction is not my forte and, besides, I've never had the patience to undertake such a project, especially since I knew that my goal was not to produce a novel per se; it was to commit to writing a part of myself that is little understood and always pushed aside.

What follows is my sincere attempt to distil into words many of the hidden but always present influences on my behaviour and motivations behind many of my actions. I am not asking the reader to believe that this illustrates the sole rationale behind every thought or deed I've ever had or done, that would be too simplistic and, indeed, wrong. Instead, what I will share is a further dimension to my personhood that I have never denied, minimised or avoided even when it has seemed that everybody else has.

Frankly, I am surprised I have not developed any strange sexual fetishes given the rather odd manner in which I grew and developed from a boy into a man. I most certainly, however, have a somewhat different perspective on sex and its role and meaning in life. In many ways, I guess I am rather stunted and limited in my sexual development and am probably stuck in a high school mentality but I am beginning to understand the reasons for this which I shall discuss at some length.

I never planned to ever share this information publicly but I see no real reason to keep it all within me anymore. My life now is dramatically different to what it was only a few short years ago, and right now I am in the midst of a period of enormous change and adaptation. For me to have any quality of life moving forward, I need to drop as much of my emotional baggage as I can and recycle myself as a very different entity to what I was in times gone by. 

For a good 12 months now, I have almost totally isolated myself socially but lately I have begun to think more about reintegrating with the world again. I am feeling a little better, physically, than I have for a while and – provided I can surmount the remaining psychological roadblocks in my way – I see no reason why I can't rebuild some of what I once had and, more or less, end this period of enforced seclusion.

Yet what emerges from this process will be different to what existed before as I have a number of 'issues' (for want of a better term) that I have to deal with in order to move forward in my life. I have some baggage I need to drop that my feet and, metaphorically at least, walk away from. To be blunt, there are some things I need to say to the universe at large and some matters I need to get off my chest. Maybe someone reading this finds some areas of commonality and is helped by, at the very least, knowing that they are not alone in having these thoughts. If so, I would be pleased because I never did find any parallels to myself during periods of great turmoil as I looked outwards for someone who spoke or wrote of the things I thought of and felt. 

Also, there is a more selfish part of me that feels that because I have needed to carry this stuff around with me for so long I might find some consolation in externalising it and that maybe people may recognise that things haven't always been easy for me and that there was more going on in my head than perhaps it sometimes seemed. In essence, I feel a need to justify myself and, at times, my actions. I don't want people to pity or feel sorry for me, but I suppose I am searching for some understanding and maybe even some validation. I can't expect other people to accept me unless I am willing to accept myself, right?

Moreover, I don't feel as if I need to fear exposing these thoughts and feelings any longer. There is freedom in my life now that I didn't have before. Of course I hope that most people I encounter like and/or respect me, but I no longer worry or feel badly if that is not the case. I see no adverse consequences to opening myself this way, better said; keeping this stuff bottled up inside of me extracted a terrible toll and so, therefore, releasing it must surely be more healthy. I am already leading the life of a social outcast, even though, largely, this is of my own making. Telling my story or exposing myself to scrutiny or ridicule cannot lead to any greater sense of isolation and alienation than that to which I feel right now.

If this makes you uncomfortable, then I suggest you stop reading. Otherwise, I trust what I write will not be met with too much criticism. I am not trying to tell another how to live their life, I am just describing how I have had to live mine.

The next entry will focus on issues of masculinity, which I hope to have completed in the next couple of days. Following that will be the big one, sexuality. I feel under a lot of pressure, entirely self-imposed, to make this second entry my opus; my pièce de résistance. It may comprise one large, uber-entry or be split into parts; I am still working on the structure.

A final word, no one need worry that I will embarrass them or use this medium as a podium in which is to air grievances, levy accusations or spray invective. I would hope that to those who know me this assurance is unnecessary, nevertheless it doesn't hurt, I suppose, to offer it.

My thanks if you have made it this far, I trust that what is to come will be of some interest.

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