About two months ago I started working on something to voice my displeasure with the expectations of being a man in today’s society. Not a rant against women, not a plea for mercy from society, but just my personal thoughts about what bullshit things we encourage guys to say, think, and do. What masculinity really means and why I think people have it all wrong. Perhaps tellingly I was never able to go anywhere with it. Maybe I’m just not in a position to judge what it is to be a man. After all I was guilty of many of the things that I wanted to criticize my gender for, and after nearly 3 decades of manhood I have yet to master any of the qualities that I admire in other men. But for some reason I could not let it go; somewhere in my mind I knew I would tackle this post and it would be fantastic. It wouldn’t be a silly diatribe full of f-bombs and self depreciating dicks jokes, but an introspective, heartfelt message that I would hope might make some men think for a second. And hopefully it would change the way people think about me as writer. Yeah, it would be that good. I’d win the Pulitzer of blogging (what’s that amount to 4 or 5 Facebook likes?).
And then I read this article. Son of a bitch. I try to make a habit of not looking online for topics that I’m writing about, to not get influenced in any way. But when you drag your feet for week after week, it’s inevitable that you will stumble upon something that tackles the same issues. And when your writing is…what’s the level below “mediocre at best”?.. they’re likely to do a much better job of expressing your point of view than you could. The general idea of this piece is that almost all the things that people try to convince you are important about being a man are in fact bullshit. You may enjoy going to Home Depot and you may also frequent the tanning salon. Doesn’t matter. We don’t have to hold onto the old ideals of previous generations; whether simple things like attitudes toward facial hair and cars, or larger scale items like men as the breadwinner and what emotions are acceptable to express. Just be a good person, don’t treat women like shit, and don’t stress so much about gender roles. That’s it in a nut shell.
Which was my original conclusion in a nutshell. Bollocks. But oh no, a long-winded asshole like me won’t give up that easy. There’s always more to rant about. So while this post will no longer be a moving piece about the state of masculinity in today’s society, it will be a poorly written rant full of f-bombs, and in all likelihood, some dick jokes. Because how can you talk about how ridiculous men are without discussing the frequency in which we talk about dicks. Vaginas, not so much. Even the word itself still kinda sounds gross. Vagina. Ew. (Shudders) But dicks? And balls?! That probably makes up 72% (all numbers approximate) of male conversations. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that I’m offended. But all the dick talk makes me think we’re all mentally functioning on a pretty low level. What should I talk about? Well, my dick’s right there. And I seem to like it a lot. Who wants to talk about it?! Dick conversations are the “How’s the weather?” conversations of the masculine world. And guys can do better.
But we can also do worse. Like Fantasy Football. There’s something we can’t shut the fuck up about. We love it. It gives us a reason to waste an entire Sunday watching games that we shouldn’t care about. It gives us something to talk about at the water cooler (or urinal for the no personal space crowd). And it’s a great way to get rid of girls from your circle of friends. I don’t think it’s intentional. It’s not like we say “Ah fuck Kim is coming over, start talking about how Adrian Peterson ran all over you last week” and then after she turns back we start talking about politics or girls. Nope, we just blather on about every bad beat in our league and every insufferable story about how we needed just one play to win. And the worst part is that not even other guys really give a shit what you’re saying. They’re just waiting their turn so they can bitch about their fantasy team. It’s like sharing work stories with someone who doesn’t work with you. No one gives a fuck. This isn’t being a man; this is needing a life.
Guys are frankly assholes when it comes to sports in general. If you’re a casual observer they’ll make you feel like an idiot for not knowing all the rules. Or wearing the wrong jersey. Or not having the athletic ability to play any of them. Damn you bad genes, you gave me a penis but no hand-eye coordination. How could you? Now I should have gender confusion. Of course, it’s worse for girls. Even when they try to keep up watching the game most of them are patronized. (yes I realize that phrasing was patronizing) Or they’re relegated to snack duty. In the kitchen. I guess because most girls don’t have the time or societal encouragement to follow sports as closely as men they should be kept out of the boys club for their comparative ignorance. Sports are for men, so if you’re guy who doesn’t like sports or can’t play them then you sir are a pussy. But if you’re a girl who likes sports and can play them, then well, you’re either a lesbian or you just don’t matter. It’s homophobic, misogynistic, and embarrassing. Poor female athletes. Try getting a group of guys to watch Womens’ sports (even the name sounds condescending). Seriously, give it a shot. I’m sure you don’t hear enough complaints from men. Fact: Womens’ sports lower masculinity levels ten fold. It’s science. Yes, it’s not enough to exclude women, but berating them must be the manly thing to do instead. If you think guys are dullards for their inability to stop talking about their dicks, trying listening to the same jokes about the WNBA over the last 15 years.
Fucking sports. I know that I’m not a true man because I can’t stand golf. I don’t have any interest in playing it, watching it, or reading about it. When I was younger other guys felt the same way, but somewhere along the line the man-passion developed. Like your testicles dropping or a new found fondness for one’s lawn, golf becomes a membership into the the world of men. Maybe it’s the tradition, maybe it’s an excuse to get away from our women as all real men hate their wives apparently, or maybe it’s an excuse to drink, gamble, and trash talk about about our exaggerated athletic abilities all at the same time. A troika of male stereotypes converging during 18 glorious holes of male bliss. I’d rather stay home and talk about my dick. Hell, I’d rather stay home and play with my dick. What the hell happened to everyone? Golf? Fucking golf? When did being a guy become so boring? If I ever ask someone how’d they shoot, please just shoot me in the fucking head. But at least it’s great for the environment (shifts eyes back and forth).
Of course masculinity isn’t just about sports. It’s about all sorts of dumb shit. When you become a man you need to drink scotch. Equally important is talking about what kind of scotch with other men. If you don’t drink scotch do not remind them that it’s just a type of whiskey. They won’t hear it. Before you can become a man you need to have a favorite brand, your own way of imbibing it (don’t be afraid to be specific Mr. One Cube), and an elevated sense of self worth for drinking it instead of other alcohols like rum or vodka. When you and that pansy friend who drank G & T’s all night are puking next to each other the next morning, remember that before you both got obliterated and sang Elton John songs to each other, remember that you were drinking Scotch. You masculine bastard, you. That other guy is a bitch.
With enough booze “Tiny Dancer” is fine by men, but typically the music you listen to is a prime target for the “real man” police. You might lose your man card if you listen to something too soft, poppy, or dance friendly. Also often frowned upon is female singers. Inexplicably it is more manly to listen to a love song sung by another man, than by an attractive woman. Chick singers are for girls only apparently. Not exclusive to music, girls can’t be funny or write movies either. Female writer/director: men beware, automatic chick flick. Sure guys aren’t only all about movies with guns and explosions like previous generations. I still have no idea how my Dad watched more than 1 Steven Seagal movie. But Michael Bay still makes millions upon millions so maybe we haven’t really progressed too far after all. It still needs to be a story written by a guy, directed by some dude, staring some bros. Even movies and TV shows with female lead characters are rarely embraced by men. Unless they show a lot of the boobs. Boobs are always A-OK with the men folk. They’re almost as cool as dicks. Of course, I’ve always been more of an ass guy. Apparently, I’m failing the male standard more and more each day.
Of course people will say they don’t do these things because they are trying to prove their masculinity, it’s because they like them. But what if you don’t like them? Well, then someone will tell you that you’re not a real man. I like football but if a guy tells me that they don’t , I won’t say that they’re not a real man. UN-American? Maybe. But I don’t think it can fundamentally change what gender they belong to. Nor can the booze they drink, the food (or quantity of food) they eat, the films they enjoy, or whether they like fucking cigars. I mean seriously people, you realize Barney Stinson is a caricature, right? Yeah everyone looks better in a suit, but judging other guys clothing is not too fucking mainly either. It’s the kind of bullshit you hate on women for. Girls are so catty, criticizing each others clothing, hair, makeup, etc. But hey, dude, where the fuck did you get that suit? You want to make fun of my shoes while you’re at it? Grow up.
According to all these wise and mighty rules I’m not man. Something you could have found out more easily by just asking me to drop my pants (there’s the self depreciating dick joke). But according to my own principles I’m not a man yet either. I can’t support a family financially or emotionally. I’ve let my self doubts ruin my own career success and bring down the spirits of those depending on me. I’m still terribly selfish and often put my own wants and desires in front of those of the girlfriend, friends, and family that I love. These are the things that I know I need to work on. These are the qualities that if I’m lucky and try hard, that I’ll improve upon. As Tracy Moore wrote, we have the luxury of being able to define what it is to be a man however we best see fit. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It’s all bullshit.