Modern times
#1
I was just thinking about how one of the primary differences between men and women is that men are stronger physically.  We have naturally bigger bodies (on average) and naturally more strength and speed (on average).  In the past, throughout history, this difference would easily set women and men apart, and just doing simple things like carrying water or cutting down trees for wood would highlight that difference again and again on a daily basis. 

Today, in our modern times, in our societies with so much technology, there isn't really much of a need for physical strength most of the time. I wonder how much of that has made things confusing for seeing the differences between men and women, and enjoying the difference of strength as men?

There are more differences than this, but let me just try to generalize. In the past, men could enjoy being strong, enjoy that difference as men, enjoy doing physical labor, enjoy protecting their wives and children, etc,. That would all help them to feel like men.  And women could enjoy being the only one who could get pregnant, give birth, breastfeed, etc.  Today, of course women still get to enjoy that mark of womanhood, that men do not get to do. But men don't get to do much that involves their strength, that involves protecting women with their strength.  For protection, strength doesn't matter much, people have guns. For physical labor, we use machines for everything so everything is quite easy.

Anyway, I'm rambling a bit, but I'm wondering if we have lost something enjoyable about being men in our modern times, that has in turn caused more confusion today with all the crossdressing, gender dysphoria, identity confusions, and the whole phenomenon of depressed men, men spending their whole lives in video games, men who are not sure who they are, men who are not fulfilled.

Thoughts?
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 –
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.


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#2
Your generalization makes a lot of sense to me.  It seems like that idea, that men have lost their unique reason for being while women haven't, might likely be true to some point for all crossdressers.  It also fits really well with the post about envy in another thread!
Life is hard, but God is good. 
             - Pam Thum
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#3
I read a claim recently that I've been meaning to research. In a discussion about whether there is any physical trait (apart from the Y chromosome and reproductive organs, of course) that makes men different from women. Someone mentioned physical size and strength, and the counterargument to that was that there are women athletes who excel in feats of strength and endurance, women who perform valiantly in even "hard" military groups like the United States Marines, etc.

One person responded by saying that at no time has the strongest, fastest woman beat the lowest record set by a man. Baseball, track and field -- anything that relies primarily on physical strength rather than, say, agility, the strongest female athletes can't outperform the strongest male athletes.

Obviously that doesn't extend to the entire population: Most of the women I know are so much stronger and more muscular than I am, I wouldn't challenge them to thumb wrestling. But it makes sense in the athletic world, and explains why the more physically demanding sports are still segregated by sex (and why allowing transwomen to compete against biological women is a really bad idea).

All that being said, as a man who has always been smaller and weaker than my peers I'm glad there is less pressure on me to "be a man". You want me to be the spiritual head of the house? I'm on it. You want me to be the disciplinarian to the kids, or at least share that role? Absolutely. You want me to be brave in the face of a threat? Well, I'll do my best. But if you want me to be the caveman hunter or the fierce warrior punching evil in the face... we may have a problem.
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#4
Ralph, thanks for the comment.  That is an interesting perspective, what you said about yourself, and I'm sure it fits a lot of us in this community.

I'm always trying to balance looking at the real factual scientific generalized differences between men and women. We are not the same. To balance that with the reality that each person is also an individual. We are unique. And on any particular trait, there are men and women who don't fit the general schemes. It could be that while every person doesn't fit the general differences on a trait or two, we in this community maybe don't fit the general differences in a great number of traits than is usual. And that makes us feel like we don't fit in with other men sometimes.

One of the things I have come to realize about myself over the last 5 years is this. I used to think I fit most of the stereotypes for women and just didn't fit in well with men. And I thought maybe that is what pushed me into CD, to run away from those expectations of being a man, and want to be a woman. But more and more I realize that I really am like other men in many ways that I hadn't noticed before. There are still some ways that I stand out and am atypical. But in more ways I am like other men. Sometimes those things are not obvious traits. For example, the way that we think and process things, or how we feel emotionally at certain times.  I wonder if that might be true for you also.

There is another aspect that comes to my mind from what you said.  I was always weak and shy and made fun of, and didn't fit in with other boys. I was usually afraid of them. Like you I didn't want to punch anyone, I didn't even know how to punch. But it seems to me that there are two ways to look at that. One way would be to say, "this is who I truly am. I am physically weak and shy." And we become content being like that. And perhaps we retreat into femininity to feel more comfortable.  But another option is to accept the challenge to be different. I say this very carefully because I think gender stereotypes have caused people so much pain, including me, and I don't want to stifle people from being themselves. But at the same time, all of us are always changing and our personalities and bodies are not static.  For me, I have accepted that challenge to be different, and I am different than I was as a kid. I am no longer shy. I am extremely confident before people, before other men, and preaching to a large church. And that is the true me. Though I had to push myself a long time ago to have that confidence in front of people, now it is completely natural. I also pushed myself to get in better physical shape, what I didn't do as a kid. Someone might think I was pushing myself to conform to gender stereotypes, but I found that I really really enjoyed doing sports and exercises that I was always afraid of as a kid. And now I am in good shape, physically strong with toned muscles, and good at the sports I play. 

While gender stereotypes can be really harmful, I believe there is something different about men from women. And sometimes we don't learn the differences completely on our own. Sometimes we need a push. We need good male role models who show us what it means to be a man.  Just to put it real simply.  As a child, I was terrified to play sports. I would rather just have been playing "house" with the girls at recess. But people, friends, and the culture, pushed me to try sports anyway, and now as an adult, with a healthy sense of masculinity and a healthy body, it is one of my absolute favorite things to do to play certain sports with friends and exalt in the body God gave me and what he has enabled me to be able to do. If I had stayed where I was comfortable as a kid, I would never have known this joy and appreciation of my body that God gave me.

Another thing is that I am a leader. I think that is obvious even in this online community. In real life, I am a gifted leader, it's one of my strengths and gifts God gave me. If I had stayed comfortable in my preferences and personality as I started out as a kid, I would never be who I am today. I allowed family, friends, church, and culture to challenge me to become the man God created me to be. Like you mentioned, we need to be a leader in our families as well. For some of us that might come naturally, for some of us it doesn't come naturally, but we need to be encouraged and challenged to live up to that role.

Another example on the flipside could be this. Some women really feel like they aren't nurturing, they are not good around kids, and they don't want kids. But once they have their first child, they realize how God has naturally gifted them in their womanhood, and they fall in love with that child, and they become excellent mothers.

What I'm trying to say is that telling a boy to "man up" can be a terribly harmful thing, and at the same time, a little bit of that idea can be a good thing, said in the right way, with the right words and right tone. With a son, you would never take this too far. If your son likes cooking, there is nothing wrong with that. If he is really sensitive you allow him to be himself while also challenging him to grow in his confidence and leadership.  But we have to challenge boys and men to be what God created them to be, to embrace manhood.

I'm still thinking all this through and don't have everything figured out.  What I know is this.  1. I'm still atypical from other men in many ways.  2. I am similar to other men in many ways. 3. I was hurt at times with insecurity due to not living up to masculine stereotypes in our culture. 4. I appreciated culture and family and friends challenging me to change and be different and learn how to embrace my manhood.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 –
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.


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#5
Interesting your statements about male and female athletes, Ralph. I recently heard an interview with a transgender male athlete, who though born female now competes with men, and is #7 in the world in the bi-athalon (just biking and running, no swimming). So he has beaten many natal males. He's very slight looking, too, not bulked up like some transmen. But, as is often pointed out, we're all on a spectrum somewhere, whether it is the level of our strength, or the level of our social awkwardness, or where we fall on a masculine/feminine range.
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