I’m in the middle of two stories right now, both related, I suppose, to the idea of manhood. One more explicitly than the other. The first is my new book, To Raise a Boy, by Emma Brown, she of I-broke-the-Brett-Kavanaugh-Christine-Blasey-Ford-story fame. Brown worked on the book as she navigated two worlds, the #MeToo movement (and her position, sort of at a forefront of it), and raising a young boy herself. (Her son was born in 2017 just as the movement began.) Basically, how does one teach a young boy not to be a sexual predator, and, related, how to live in a world in which others imagine you as a potential threat, based only on your maleness. (I know, I know, it’s so unfair to be a white male, but Brown at least approaches the subject with sensitivity.)
Speaking of sensitivity, or being “woke,” or New Age, or whatever our definition of non-traditional maleness may be these days, there is the documentary I just began. It’s Ken Burns’s Hemingway, and details the life and work of a man and era when “woke” meant something you did every morning, not something you blogged about.
Is there any more traditional American tough guy male than Ernest Hemingway? (John Wayne? Theodore Roosevelt?) That’s where the film starts of course. But if you’ve ever seen or read anything about Hemingway–who hasn’t?–you know that his biographers have identified soft spots in Papa’s behavior, sometimes looking no further than his own writing.
I’ve only just begun both pieces. If either or both are worthy of further comment rest assured it will find its way here.
How to raise a sensitive Hemingway in a world in which every man is feared as the brutish Hemingway. Might be an impossible dream.
But isn’t it pretty to think so?