Monday, December 11, 2017

On "Boys"

This is a diversion from games but related to my typical work and my current look into masculinity with Posers, and is as-of-now an unpaid post.

Mike Rugnetta wrote two posts on the subject of the McElroy Brothers and the use of the term "boy." I found it by a shared Twitter thread by @RowanGayle who I don't know but said some cool stuff. And reading these things brought me to tears, because I want to talk about why I, personally, consider myself a boy...and why I don't agree that boy must be or necessarily is gender neutral.

My coming out story is freely available on the internet so I'll just say simply: for technical terms I use genderfluid nonbinary-masculine to define myself, but casually I refer to myself as a boy. It started jokingly, but then I felt it more significantly that the word fit me better than anything else, and it ties into these things that Mike and RowanGayle are saying. It is not necessarily about gender, but it is about identity, and it interweaves with gender for me.

When I first became a viewer of the various McElroy properties, Griffin's voice really stuck with me (as a synesthete, to me it is the exact color and feeling of slipping on a banana peel, which makes me giggle). I liked how he talked about the characters they made on Monster Factory, and his enthusiasm. I also appreciated the not-entirely-but-pretty-damn-wholesome vibe the McElroys have thus far been some of the least problematic internet entities I've seen (along with Rugnetta and Mikey Neumann), and fuck if I didn't feel the positivity and enthusiasm pouring out into the world from their media. Even when things were at the point where they could be problematic, they didn't go there, or if they did, they apologized. That is important to me, so much, and that's part of what "boy" is to me because of how it reflects in both the speakers and the subjects who are just trying their damn best - not necessarily good, but trying to be, always trying to be.

I see boy as inherently trying. Trying to be better, which is a common refrain for me, be better, and to be what you want to be. Hopeful is not something I am, but something I think translates well to boy-ness, and I don't talk about how much I want to be hopeful, but I do want that, and I know that's part of why I cling to boy. In the times Griffin used it in Monster Factory, it stuck in my head as this loving "our boy can do anything!" vibe and I loved that these boys, these no-middle-sliders boys who fumbled were still seemingly loved even though they're characters in a damn video game. I have struggled so much with feeling okay with who I am, but every time I heard "boy" it poked a little at me, and I finally just let it in. Griffin doesn't know me and neither do any of these other internet people but boy, boy stuck with me.

There is a playful, loving, hopeful, enthusiastic vibe in the idea of these boys that try so fuckin' hard to just do the thing and to just be boys. That's what I love about it, I think.

I'm not a man and have no desire to be, but the soft masculinity that sits in boy suits me. It's not about men or women, and I think here is the flaw. Not everyone has to be a boy, and it is evident to me by the McElroy use of it that it is not necessarily gendered man or woman, but instead likely an androgynous space where some boys could be - it feels that it could be a soft masculine, but it doesn't have to be.

My complication with the analysis thus far is more that we are only considering man, woman, and agender identities. It isn't destroying the gender binary to take gender away entirely - expanding gender and understanding the complexities and variances of gender identity is what destroying the gender binary is.

What is a person who has a gender that is not necessarily binary but it does exist?

I dunno, I guess what I'm trying to say is, when Griffin used boy, it gave me a simple word for what I am. And that's pretty cool, whatever people end up saying it is later.

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