After watching a trailer for the documentary “My Own Man”, Doug Zeigler shares how much he can relate to the star’s fears about manhood and fatherhood.
Today I watched a trailer for a documentary called “My Own Man,” done by David Sampliner and produced by Ed Norton. It’s a view of a man who doesn’t see himself as much of man at all. He also happens to have a son on the way. His fear that he won’t be able to teach his son how to be a man drives him to try to find his manhood in traditional ways: firing guns and boxing, to name a few.
We also meet his father and brothers, all of which are alpha-type males, which only makes him feel even less manly.
I can relate so well to his worries. My dad can build furniture and fix damn near anything in his house. One of my brothers can repair anything with an engine. My other brother is an avid hunter and fisherman and can rattle off stats for sports at a clip that’s astonishing.
Me? I am certainly a basketball nut, which is the extent of my stereotypical “manliness.” I felt very much like Mr. Sampliner when I found out I was going to be a father. Worried and frightened that I wouldn’t be able to help my son (and later on, my youngest son) be “real” men. Over time, I’ve learned that being a real man is however you define it, not what others or even a society thinks it is.
A few phrases that stood out to me and other parts that really stood out for me:
1) “You didn’t strike me as a ‘dude’. You were warm and open, almost like a chick.” This is stereotypical male macho nonsense. Still, I felt this alot when I was waiting for my oldest son to arrive, especially because I am in no way handy or able to fix much outside of computers. It’s scary because you feel like you’re not strong enough to protect and care for your kids.
2) “Outside I’m this sweet nice guy…and inside of me is this person fucking mad that I’m that guy.” I can totally relate to this when I was an expectant father. It took me a long time to realize that I was a great dad as myself, not as someone else perceived what a great dad should be.
3) I love that they showed his girlfriend/wife questioning what it says about her if he doesn’t think he’s “man enough.” That sort of emotion gets swept under the proverbial carpet too much. When men continuously put themselves down, it’s essentially a middle finger to the person we love and are spending the rest of our lives with. We are basically telling them, “You have really shitty taste in men.”
Lastly…this feels generational. His dad appears to be the super driven alpha male (as does his brother), and he’s clearly not that. He fits more into what modern masculinity is slowly morphing into. More involved, sensitive to his children’s and his partner’s needs and feelings. This is newer approach to parenting and newness for older generations can be off-putting and even scary. But you know what? Times change, and being our most authentic version of our manly selves is exactly what our kids need. So let your freak flag fly, and let your sons and daughters fly their own flags and be proud.
My Own Man will premiere March 6, 2015 on Netflix.