July 23, 2008

Is This Manly?

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Why the long face?"

Jokes are over.

OK, Gang, Uncle Bob is feeling a bit philosophical. Not the "meaning of life" kind of stuff. These questions are more immediate and, dare I say, relevant. This post is mainly for men. I'm sure women will read it and chime in with the comments button, too, and that's fine.

Over at The Art of Manliness, questions have been raised about, "Is (activity) manly?" The problem is, the term "manly" means different things to different people. Does an activity make you a better man? Maybe, and maybe not. I'm hoping that the guys at TAOM read this and give some input.

An assumption that can be made is that, if something is not "manly", it is somehow "un-manly". What does that mean, then? That it diminishes your manhood? Careful with that six-gun, Tex, you can shoot yourself in the foot with that assumption.

Worse yet, there's the assumption that if an activity is not "manly", then, by default, it's effeminate. Whoa there, Big Fella! That's a big leap. And an unwarranted assumption. (Yeah, big words. Told you I was philosophical today.) An activity could be considered "not manly" and be just an activity, nothing more.

A question posted at The Art of Manliness was: "Are video games 'manly'"? I don't really care. Does playing them make you a better man, somehow? Not bloody likely. Does playing them make you effeminate? Only if you spend too much time playing some kind of Dress-Up Dolly thing.

I'm making this a two-in-one discussion. First, I pointed out that certain terms mean different things to different people. That should be a given. Now, for something more difficult, yet related.

Is it "manly" to hit a woman? Is it "unmanly"?

My own feeling is that it's dead wrong ninety nine percent of the time. Ever hear the joke, "What do you say to a woman with two black eyes? Nothing! You already told her twice"? Not laughing? Me, neither. Sure, she annoys you. Yes, maybe she hit you, too. When I think about one of my favorite goomahs that is five foot two and thin as a rail, she could do almost anything to me and I'd let her get away with it. If someone raised a hand to her in my presence, he'd pay a big price, I promise you that. If it's someone that you love or care about that is having a tantrum, walk away. In that case, I think that taking it is a manly thing to do.

I was talking to a guy the other day and asked, "What if a woman starts beating you in the face?"

He replied, "I don't care who you are, man or woman, I'll take you down." I've also had women say the same thing.

But what if a woman is powerful enough to inflict harm, and she hits you first? Hey, if your safety is in jeopardy, I feel that all bets are off.

Part of this is because of Neil's problem (related in the previous post). He had someone treating him like crap for years, despite all he'd done for her. When she got physical with him on another occasion, he took it. When she tried again (face punching, that is), he hit back. This dame meant him harm.

Would he be a man for walking away and taking it? Most people would say, "Yes". He felt that he had to take a stand, and put the bully in her place because she would only get worse. (And she's not some tiny, frail thing that happened to have a bad day.) Is he somehow less of a man because he hit her back? (The key word is back. She hit him before, remember, and he took it. She hit him first in this instance, too.)

I don't think so.

But I promise you this, Neil isn't happy with himself, the situation or his actions. He felt it had to be done, but he didn't like it in the least.

Were his actions manly? Unmanly? A different category? I'd like to know what people think. Hit the comments button. You have to hit it first. You have my permission.

Addendum 7-29-2008: AoM seems to have missed some of what I'm trying to say:
"...wants to know what AoM means when they ask if something is manly or not. Really, the purpose of the survey question is to make it as open-ended as possible. Commenters are free to define “manliness” in their own way. (Isn't that pretty much what I said?) I personally envision it to mean, is this item or activity befitting of a grown man...believes that the opposite of manly is effeminate. (He did not read the article closely. I indicated that this is one possible conclusion, but I do not think it is necessarily true)This is not necessarily the case, although it could be. But the opposite of “manly” could just as well be “boyish.” Thus, to say video games are not manly is not to say they are effeminate, but instead to say they are childish."

In addition, he missed the bigger point, that the "manliness" discussion and the video game example was a springboard for a more important question. Those of you who have read this far will already know what that is.

Addendum 12-12-2009: I expanded on this subject here. Trust me, it's worth your time!
Addendum 8-03-2008:
Found out that this post is linked to here. Good reading on the subject of manliness.

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