Shook to the Core, Probing the Weakest Parts of White Masculinity

by Brett Hamil

Toting my six-month-old boy around on my belly in a baby carrier has made me acutely aware of all the little core muscles in my legs and abdomen that I never knew existed, muscles I’m only becoming acquainted with now as a 41-year-old man.

Years ago in another life, I used to attend an early morning core yoga class. Every other student in that class was a middle aged woman, and I found it remarkable how asanas that left me straining and trembling didn’t even faze the women because they’ve got that core strength men don’t have, the hallmark of open hips and cramps and childbirth and maternal exertion. I saw my preferred type of masculine physical culture, geared toward definition and display, toward getting “yoked” or “ripped” at the gym, shown to be utter weakness in this class.

What makes me most ashamed of myself and my white male brethren these days is how weak we’ve grown in the parts of us we’ve never had to use, the parts our status has left unchallenged, unexercised, atrophied.

 We’re so easily reduced to shaking, sputtering impotence when confronted with the occasion to use the muscles required for compassion, forbearance, support, patience, submission, quiet.

This is why I believe that the election of a seething bully is a sign of utter weakness, not strength. White men have been confronted in the most vulnerable places our status system was designed to protect. We’re just now discovering the muscles that women, people of color, refugees, queer people and religious minorities depend on just to stand upright every day of their lives. And it’s got us shook.

Featured image is a creative common licensed photo attributed to Neil Moralee/via Flickr

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