Masculinity in the Rust Belt

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Rust Wire has previously highlighted the writing of Lorain native Nick Kowalczyk.

Check out his latest essay, on what it means to “be a man” growing up in Lorain:

“The tough times of the 1980s and 1990s unraveled an old Lorain sensibility: you were ‘a man’ if you knew how to build things and repair cars and earned money by working with your hands. Many of those men now were laid-off or tenuously employed, made vulnerable, and economically and psychologically castrated. (If a man can’t provide for his family, than what kind of man is he?) For the first time in a century, a man could no longer be tough, minimally educated, factory-employed, and middle-class. The days of collecting a high school diploma and immediately getting a hardhat and union card were ending. So the male identity shifted in the low-income local economy. Manliness became a distinction belonging to those willing to act hard, not necessarily those willing to work hard, because, after all, what local work was there to be had anyway? And hardness became a trend among the young people.”

I really enjoy how he mixes his personal history in with Lorain’s.

Nick, thanks for sharing.

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