Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Man Knitting

Yesterday I saw a man knitting in the public library. He seemed to be a man in his fifties, fit as a runner, and totally unfazed by the possibility that he might be observed.

I am always fascinated by the varieties of masculinity. Most of the men I know are like me: acutely sensitive to any failure to live up to the masculine stereotype, crippling though it can be, and aware of the invisible chorus of male critics, to use a term by Dr. Frank Pittman.

Pittman wrote a valuable book about men, "Man Enough," which I assigned to my students when I taught a course in the Literature of Masculinity. Actually, we called it "masculinities," to recognize the various manifestations of the cultural patterns that men learn in various ways to adopt.

I admired that man in the library, publicly doing something counter-cultural and being at peace with who he was. What a shame that I could not say something directly to him. . . .

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