Pete, from Sensitive Guys, by MJ Kaufman

PETE. (gender non-conforming) I’m from wheat fields. Cattails. Rows and rows of trees. Long bus rides into the night. I’m from Dunkin Donuts Coffee Trees that lose all their leaves at once. No one ever said to me, what kind of man do you want to be when you grow up, I mean what kind of a MAN? I thought there was only one kind of man to be. That was my father. Who worked outside with power tools all day and wore plaid shirts. He and my mother would yell angrily and loud at each other and I really thought that was marriage. A symphony of yelling voices. My father would push and push and never let up and I thought that was being a man. A constant pushing. There was no one coming around to kindergartens saying this is how to be a sensitive man, someone who doesn’t push, who is not afraid to lose at a game or be small.  No one ever said that.No one. Ever. Except for you guys. Guys. Except for you guys. Oh man how I love you guys.  And Jordan, man. It was mostly Jordan who said it. Who said- what was it that you said that first day, man? Oh yeah. It was like it’s okay to be small. Like we are so small. And I’m still getting into that.  Really understanding that. Especially when I’m in a room with girls. Women, I mean. Women. When I’m in a room with women. I wanna impress them. I get like one of those birds with my feathers all puffed up. Those peacock-type guys? Yeah. I wanna show off all my colors. And I always make a bastard fool of myself  when I do that.

Context: Will is a freshman at Watson college. Jordan is a senior film major. Tyler is writing a novel for his thesis. They are all members of the Men’s Peer Education group. At meetings they spend hours unpacking questions like: “what is male privilege? And what can we do about it?” They love each other and the group. Until some accusatory posters start appearing around campus suggesting that a member of the group committed sexual assault. Could it be that even sensitive guys, guys working on their privilege sometimes turn violent or aggressive? In this play women and gender non-conforming people play men trying to understand the intricacies of masculinity and violence.

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