What happened to my manhood?

November 5, 2012 6:00 pm

I’m sitting in a dark room, gluttony sapped by litres of fizzy drink and enormous chunks of chocolate, eyes strained by the white glare of a laptop screen, buttocks gone numb against the (now somewhat sticky) leather of my chair. This, to my great sense of wonderment, is what post-graduation life looks like. It is a fetid, futile and almost entirely loathsome existence. I was watching The Thick of It today (all the episodes, ever, beginning to end) and I recall one quite poignant scene where Glen Cullen has a spectacular emotional breakdown in which he exclaims with striking passion, over and over, ‘I am a man!’ In the darkness of my room, I, too, was roused, and exclaimed in unison, ‘I am a man!’- at least, until my dad told me that I should shut up and sit down. Nevertheless, the protest was a valid one: one against a feeling of emasculation. If any one word sums up post-graduation life, it is definitely emasculation.

Glen Cullen: All Man

How did it come to this? Either there was a conspiracy to engender a sense of false hope in me, or I can blame myself for a poor work ethic. On the one hand I’m tempted to believe that my (comprehensive school) teachers believed they were performing a beneficent deed by telling me that flawless academic performance would be the ticket to a golden future, whilst omitting to mention that in the same world there were parallel universes like Eton and Harrow and Westminster and Oxbridge. That Boris knows George and George knows Dave and that Dave and his ilk would spunk their inbred progeny all over the seats of power and fortune. On the other hand, I can very well understand how I might also be culpable for my predicament, having developed a degree of slothfulness during my student days. In fact, if I’m going to put my sensible hat on, then I would say that it has nothing really to do with those spunking elites, but everything to do with my own wastefulness.

So now, here I am, approaching six months after graduation, feeling very acutely a sense of emasculation. I can’t pretend I’m a boy anymore because I have beard-growth and pubic hair. Not being able to work means I don’t often leave my house, which means I feel like a zoo animal – except its worse because, unlike an animal, I’m self-conscious. Which means I can look in the mirror and think ‘goodness me, that’s pathetic, just euthanize it’. Zoo animals should bloody well read this and realise that, by comparison, they have very little cause to feel aggrieved. Out of sheer instinct I have to jog every day, so long and so hard that my lungs feel like they’ll explode. I have to try to kill myself just to feel alive. Unfortunately, this is counterproductive, because it stimulates virility, which in turn makes it even harder to be sat at home.

A few weeks ago I came across an advert on Gumtree targeted at young men for a job mining in the jungles of South America, described as ‘very tough manual labour’. It felt like I had just glimpsed a bit of heaven. But then I realised I would have to be gone for a whole year, which would throw my long-term life plan to become a lawyer off-course. As much as I’d like to grind rock in tropical heat and feel sweet sweat pour down my brow, I also want to live a normal life as soon as possible. So I have to quarantine my caveman thoughts.

This leaves me burdened with a horrible feeling of impotence and tension. Looking for jobs is such an emphatically demoralizing

Man vs Food

task: every day you send off a dozen CVs and every day your email inbox defiantly reads (0) and mocks your beady, eager, expectant little eyes. Every day you have to eat food, but it becomes tasteless and you eat more of it only as a strategy for coping with crushing boredom. Every day you watch listlessly that omni-freak on Man v Food on channel Dave, as he shovels quantities of food into his mouth that could feed an entire African village for a month because you want to feel sick, and that programme and his stupid fucking face does the job.

So that’s my life. I don’t wish to tempt fate, but I’m sure it would be easier to be suffering from chronic incontinence. I can’t imagine that that would be a particularly boring ailment to have (I am truly sorry for anyone who is suffering from both.) But boredom isn’t really the same main issue. The main issue, as I’ve mentioned, is that I feel emasculated. Incapable. Incapacitated. And I shouldn’t. Not now, not in the bloom of youth, when the world is meant to be a place of possibility and adventure. What use will it be to have lots to do when my hairs are grey and joints rickety? What use will it be to have lots of money when there’s nothing I can do with it? I suppose I can only join Glen Cullen in his defiant exclamation that ‘I am a man!’ and hope that the world pays attention.

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