Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Change in Perspective, 20 Years Later

In 1987 I was completely into Boston, the rock band. They were vegetarian, can you imagine it, and seemed so sensitive in the liner notes for Third Stage (1986). My emerging feminist self reveled in the lyrics to To Be A Man:

What does it take to be a man?
What does it take to see
It's all heart and soul
A gentle hand?
So easy to want and so hard to give
How can you be a man
'till you see beyond the life you live?
Oh, what does it take to be a man?

We can be blind, but a man tries to see
It takes tenderness
For a man to be what he can be
And what does it mean
If you're weak or strong?
A gentle feelin'
Can make it right or make it wrong
What does it take to be a man?

The will to give and not receive
The strength to say what you believe
The heart to feel what others feel inside
To see what they can see

A man is somethin' that's real
It's not what you are
It's what you can feel
It can't be too late
To look through the hate and see
I know that's what a man can be

Of course, at the time I was thinking that women had it all figured out, and this song was all about men and how they needed to find their sensitive sides and stop behaving like the men I grew up around. Later I was thrilled to have married the man that I loved, who I really felt embodied all of the qualities in the song. If the 15 year-old me was interested in a boyfriend who was intelligent, handsome, and a smart dresser (yes, the 15 year-old me made a long list of qualities that I wanted in a boyfriend, and that list is both hysterical and relevatory), the 18 year-old me wanted a young man who could be everything in this song (and the fact that he sang and played guitar was even more attractive).

I hadn't thought about this song, really thought about it, since then. I have listened to it many times, sung along, and admired it, but I never really stopped to revise my perspective. Then last week the song lyrics were brought to me again, and suddenly everything shifted.

The song isn't about men. It's about people. It is as relevant to me as a woman, mother, friend, lover, human being as it is to any other person living on this planet.


No comments:

Post a Comment