I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of Chuck Palahnuik and Fight Club is one of my favs if not for its magical metaphor*, then for its social commentary. It’s also one of my favorite movies and because I can separate mediums and accept multiple versions of reality, I can appreciate both the analysis of consumer identity (more from the book) and challenge to certain definitions of masculinity (more from the movie). And all of this is just a long-winded, self-congratulatory way of explaining that the rest of this post, in my mind, has absolutely everything to do with the movie quote, “Is that what a man looks like?”
It’s that kid again. That white upper-middle class kid chock full of privilege and being raised by the kind of morally ambiguous, somewhat narcissistic, empathy-lacking people who unpack their privilege about as often as the “good China” they registered for because all the old people told them it was expected.
I’ve written about this kid before, too.
Recently, after a physically grueling activity wherein the participants did much in the way of sweating (preteens. yuck.), we suggested to our students that they take a breath, get a drink, and let their bodies recover before we moved on to the next activity. The kid politely declined. Oh but that wasn’t the end of that. Because as all of his (male) classmates stood around the water cooler, taking adequate care of their meat sacks, this kid tacked on a snarky, “because I’m a man” comment.
Because I’ve decided recently that I’m done letting things go that need to be addressed, I said, “Think about what you just said. Think about why you said it. Is it true?”
“No,” he lowered his head and pouted. You know, like a man.
“Then why say it? Why say that all of your classmates are somehow less than you because they’re being responsible with their health? Because they’re drinking water? That’s ridiculous.”
That’s when the other kids chimed in.
“What did he say?” they wanted to know.
So I told them. And rather than getting all puffed up and insulted–LIKE A MAN–they got all … thoughtful and, “Aaaactually, your body needs to replenish its fluids after a workout.”
Good kids. Good, smart, not stereotypical in thought or action kids. They’re the ones I like to take credit for, even though, obviously, having decent caring parents is how they got to be so good.
That kid shut his mouth after that. Kept his nonsense to himself for once. There’s something to be said for peer pressure that keeps the garbage-minded children from spewing their hatred all over the damn place.
But the thing is, again, I know exactly where that thought can from. To quote myself, “the bigotry that surrounds him at home.” I have, actually, heard one of his family members rant incessantly about how giving kids water breaks turns them into pansies and whiners.
Right. Let me just state, for the record, that of all the kids in attendance that day, there was exactly one who whined or complained or made excuses for his shortcomings instead of owning up to them and vowing to improve. It was the one who didn’t drink water. You know, because he’s a MAN.
Update your definition, child.