Hunting for Masculinity

Two white tailed deer grazed contentedly among the wildflowers in a southern Oregon field. Watching them, my friend breathed deeply enjoying the serenity of nature’s perfection, her busy mind soothed by their soft brown eyes, their innocence. Her heart opened, her body relaxed.

Steady footsteps on the path in front of her interrupted this peaceful moment. Upon seeing the deer, the young man raised his arms simulating a rifle and took aim. “Blam!” he shot one, “Blam!” then the other. Lowering his imaginary gun, he continued his hike. My friend observed that the young man now walked more upright, shoulders squared. Clearly he felt stronger and more powerful after his “kill.”

Many years ago I could have been that young man. Like him, I was not hunting for food, I was hunting for masculinity within myself, and this, I thought at the time, was a matter of my survival. Re-establishing my masculinity was a task I would need to repeat over and over until I’d gained some awareness as to how I’d been socialized and began to break free. Like him, I’d have been unaware of the deep programming of men:
To dominate, to kill is what defines us as real men.

My friend told me of her experience while we were discussing a recent hate crime perpetrated by some young men in Ashland, Oregon. Please feel free to use this story (with acknowledgment) to promote gender violence prevention.
Pip Cornall Voice Male Magazine 2005