Unitarian Hymnal Sing-along

In which Kathryn attempts to sing a different song everyday from the Unitarian Universalist hymnal, 'Singing the Living Tradition'. Earlier posts are based on songs from the Reader's Digest songbooks she found at yard sales as a child, including: 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Best Loved Songs', 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook', and 'Reader's Digest Family Songbook of Faith and Joy'. Bonus Folk song material from: 'Folk Song USA', by John and Alan Lomax.

11 December 2005

"Stouthearted Men"

I am sure that this song has in many places been discovered by gay men, who have adopted it as one of their anthems. It's quite perfect for that, very manly, very brotherly love. And better than Victor Herbert.

When I was younger, a teenager, I wanted badly to be as strong and as physically capable as any of my male friends. I loved showing off my strength, and luckily, I had some. The boys could still beat me, but I could put up a good fight. (Later, this strength would put me in good stead with my chosen career.)

Probably this was all a result of, predictably, my childhood. When my two younger brothers got physically bigger than me, my father suddenly didn't need me outside the house anymore (usually, he could always conveniently forget this, too, when the need arose), and I was relegated to the kitchen and indoors with my mother. I raged at this, and felt for many many years that I could never gain my father's respect since I was female. All of my arguments were with him, most of them very very loud, and I had quite a foul mouth on me. Nobody got cussed at by me like my dad did. This lasted for about sixteen years, and it was exhausting. Eventually my father and I together built a very different, and amiable relationship, in which we don't talk about whole categories of things. I do know absolutely that I am loved (that was actually never a question), and maybe, just maybe, he respects me, too, but I'm not completely sure. It doesn't matter so much anymore, though.

I still do revel in my strength. I don't pit that strength against men these days, though saying that makes me realize that I miss that good fight, that physicality. There's something so wonderfully basic and direct about using my strength, the power of limb and muscle. Maybe that's another reason why I like running, which comes at that use of strength from another angle. It's certainly related to why I love dancing, moving my body from the inside outward into space, moving against restriction, trying out what power my body has here, and here, and here, and how to control every little nuance of it. That, to me, is one of the ways in which my masculine and feminine selves come completely together, the power and the nuance, the forward motion and the shaping. Maybe that's another part of the definition for the sensation of being at the center of the dance, the center of myself.


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