At the moment I’m writing a novel. The protagonist is a teenage boy. His name is Anthony and he’s dealing with a lot of things in his life, one of which is the underlying current of societal expectations of masculinity. This isn’t exactly a huge theme in the book, but I think it’s probably an important part of any boy’s upbringing, so I want to get it right. I decided therefore to read some things about what it’s like to grow up male.
I am not, and nor have I ever been, male. However I have always empathised with expectations of masculinity. I’ve been the breadwinner in every household I’ve lived in since a young age, and I’ve been surrounded by people and situations that made showing any kind of emotion discouraged. Growing up, I felt pressured to swallow whatever I might have been feeling and essentially ‘man up and get on with it.’ Despite not knowing what it’s like to be a boy, therefore, I have perhaps an above-average level of empathy for the challenges brought on by society’s expectations of masculinity.
Enter Webb’s autobiography.