What It Means to Be a Man

It’s hard for me to befriend males. In simplest terms, most guys are douche bags. Women are constantly baffled by this. Let me reaffirm the fact: most guys are douche bags; probably somewhere around 85%. That means I cannot be friends with 85% of guys. Why? Their idea of what it means to be a man is completely wrong. They have no idea and they are out in public right now.

I remember one night working at the tattoo shop before I moved to St. Augustine. I was mopping the floor, our nightly routine before we closed the shop, while the shop owner was tattooing someone. A fat girl sat in one of the barber chairs used for tattooing. The conversation the five the room’s occupants were having led to the discussion of me being a vegetarian. The girl in the chair chimed in:

“I used to be a vegetarian, but I got really sick.”

“That’s funny. I’ve been a vegetarian for a few years and I’ve never felt healthier,” I told her.

The response from the girl who use to substitute her meat with Doritos and Bud Light was, “Why don’t you be a man and eat meat.”

I could have responded with, “Why don’t you be a woman, get on the treadmill, then put on a sexy dress and high heels, then cook that meat for me.”

I didn’t say that because I can handle those situations rationally and because, well, I don’t believe that is what makes a woman. Being a “man” or a “woman,” is not a matter of fulfilling the stereotypes our society provides us, it is a matter of disregarding them and doing your own thing.

I know women who wear a lot of makeup and just generally slutty clothes, but also complain about the draconian pressures imposed on them by our culture that they “have to dress like that.” It seems quite foolish to me that they will complain about those standards while simultaneously upholding, maintaining and reinforcing them, making it harder for the next generation of women to battle.

As a man, I face similar pressures, occasionally drink too much gin or whiskey and complain about them, but I never fall victim to them. Why? Because I’m secure and I don’t really give a shit about them.

That is why when the sick girl in the chair at the tattoo shop tried to lay waste to me in her bout of ignorance, it rolled off my shoulders and I kept on moving.

The point is simple: having a penis does not qualify you to be “a man.” Yes, biologically, someone with a penis is a male, but being a man takes much, much more.

Examine this: I am a man who practices yoga and doesn’t eat meat. I also lift weights and have enough tattoos to convince an old woman I sell drugs and have no moral fabric. Immediately, you probably see a contrast in those first two sentences. The first implying I have traits some self-proclaimed men would deem “gay” (not my words), and the second sentence, traits that make me manly.

While I acknowledge that any yoga class I have been to has primarily consisted of women and few men, and that women are 60% more likely to be vegetarian than men , I argue that calling an activity masculine or feminine is a social construct. Obviously, there is nothing inherent in those activities that make them fall on one side or the other. We assign these social values to them and the secure people, male or female, break them down.

Males will say, “Only women do yoga,” and I will retort, “I do yoga because I care about my body and mind and yoga has great beneficial effects for both.” Males will say, “Only women and/or faggots are vegetarian ,” and I say, “I have well thought-out reasons for not eating meat. You probably eat meat because you think you have to and just because you always have without having given the reasons why careful consideration. Also, you’re a moron.”

If we are going to make choices, we have to have reasons for making those choices, otherwise, we are foolish. Being rational and utilizing our intellect, instead of ignoring it so we can comfortably fit into our niche of what is manly, is what really makes someone a man.

Ask me why I do yoga, lift weights, have tattoos, am a vegetarian, am an atheist, and I’ll tell you why. The reasons I give you will be thought-out, point by point, rational reasons that are a result of using my intellect while you sit on your couch driving McDonald’s chicken nuggets and Mountain Dew down your throat yelling at a television. If that makes you a “man,” I’m sorry our culture has gone astray. I might even finish my argument with a solid “QED” and “Get fucked.”

The things men do because they think it helps to define them as men does not just make them less manly because it conveys a strong sense of insecurity, it also prevents them from getting laid because intelligent women recognize them as knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing troglodytes. Case in point, who is more manly? The guy in a pink polo shirt with tribal tattoos starting fights at bars, or the guy busting his ass all day long at work to support his family?
Of course marketers know how to take advantage of men’s insecurities and while the makers of Axe Body Spray and shirts with foil dragons profit, I lose because I have to deal with the people they profited from. Being around these self-proclaimed men, remind yourself: be aware of your surroundings, pay attention to what is happening, but beware what you will witness, the complete degradation of an entire gender.

It has been a long time since anyone said, or even implied, that I am less manly for doing yoga or am a vegetarian. I don’t think I present the image of someone you can say that to, but if they did, I wouldn’t care. I would say, “I don’t care,” and mean it literally, not like when some people say it and they’re red faced and angry (think commercial rap songs).

I have known males whose very vision of what it means to be a man has literally ruined their lives. If I go to a bar with a guy who points to a woman in the room and says, “Check out that bitch’s ass. It’s so thick and juicy,” you can guarantee I won’t be hanging out with that person again. I have very few male friends whose company I enjoy because of this and other reasons. I don’t want to hang out with guys who say, “Let’s go out tonight and find some chicks.” Unfortunately, these guys are screwing themselves over and they don’t know it. They are victims because they have failed to think.

I want to surround myself with people, male or female, who are intelligent, ambitious, inherently good people and have a sense of humor.

Being a man does not mean you can win a drinking contest, beat someone up, or be proud of the fact you don’t know what a troglodyte is. It does not mean you eat meat three times a day and have had a lot of sexual partners.

To be a man, you have to be yourself, make your own decisions with rational, thought-out reasons and have personal accountability. It means you are secure in who you are. It means you can make a decision, stick to it and deal with the consequences whether they are good or bad.

Until more guys understand this, my circle of friends is going to stay incredibly small.

15 thoughts on “What It Means to Be a Man

  1. You know, Phil, I wasn’t sure what a troglodyte is, but I looked it up. My Webster’s Dictionary didn’t have it, so I googled it.

    1. Haha, a troglodyte is a cave dweller. When I first heard it, I had to look it up as well. Certainly not one of those words that you hear and think, “Oh, that must be a cave dweller!”

  2. This is SO me –>> “I want to surround myself with people, male or female, who are intelligent, ambitious, inherently good people and have a sense of humor.” Let’s go to Ann O’Malleys and have a blueberry ale or two.

  3. Let me play Devil’s advocate and ask you this; you talk of how others judge you for doing yoga and being a vegitarian, do you in return judge people for chosing to eat meat and let’s say play a sport as a form of exercise and stress relief?

    Either way I enjoyed reading this. And you are right, these “men” only screw themselves over as more and more women are deciding to refrain from dating over dating useless “men.”

  4. Is it fair to condemn those who have been bombarded with the social standard of what it is to be a man (or woman) since infancy? Shouldn’t the subject of our contempt be those who knowingly perpetuate the social norm in order to make a profit?

    1. Yes, it is fair. As consumers in this culture, it’s importance for us to be aware of these things so we don’t fall prey to them. I’d love to invoke Plato’s cave allegory here, but I think it might be too cliche (no matter how appropriate).

  5. I gave myself a nights sleep before commenting on your hypocritical blog. My first thoughts were why are you dumping on men when the first half of the column mainly consisted of a young female twit who attacked your masculinity?
    This article was sent to me by my girlfriend, of course, who you once bought a bottle of vodka and a pack of cigarettes for at a time when she was very distraught and depressed. A very sensitive gesture indeed. She ended up locking herself in the bedroom with a handgun.
    Now, most women like sensitivity in a man and men know this. In fact they use it as a setup to get laid, right Phil? Or is this just about who you like or dislike, or who you will buy a bottle of vodka for or won’t?
    For every woman that likes sensitive there are those who like their men bold and daring. Agressive and masculine.
    As for me, I really don’t give a crap what you think of me, or if I’m in your small circle of friends. I have absolutley no problem getting laid and I guess I was born to be a pig.
    Too bad you won’t have the balls to publish this. Everyone should hear both sides of an argument.

    1. Wow! I’ve received a lot of angry responses before, many of which usually involve someone completely misinterpreting my words and getting angry instead of rational, but you by far take the cake. Where to start?

      1) Regarding your last statement, looks like I have the balls to publish this.
      2) I cannot recall a time when I bought a bottle of vodka and cigarettes for a girl. Can you remind who you are speaking about? Of course, to imply I am responsible for either the problems that made her distraught or for her hypothetical, eventual suicide, you are wrong. Perhaps you should have a better understanding of cause and effect. Furthermore, whoever you are speaking about, I did not know she had a handgun.
      3) It sounds like you’re upset because I once bought a bottle of vodka for your girlfriend. Get the fuck over it. Obviously I wasn’t interested in pursuing anything if we did not spend any time together that night.
      4) You are correct about this being about who I dislike (no need for your tautological questions). Reading comprehension passed. Good job.
      5) I don’t care that you don’t care what I think of you. I mean that sincerely. I really don’t care.
      6) You are a moron. You called my blog hypocritical. One, it’s not a blog. Two, you have failed to demonstrate why it is hypocritical. The first half of the column consisted of a young female twit who attacked my masculinity to demonstrate the societal constructs people adhere to and then use to attack others. How was that hard to understand?
      7) QED.

  6. No anger here Phil, nor am I upset. She wasn’t my girl at the time. While you won’t befriend males that come right out and say what’s on their mind, you prefer people that are not fothcoming and tend to hide their true intentions through stimulis. Whether it’s being sensitive or being brash, the resolve is the same.
    There’s no wishy washy with me. You will always know where I stand, because I will tell you. If that’s a problem for you then I guess we won’t be having a Jameson together. Thanks.
    Oh and it’s QED MF.

    1. I’m glad you’re not angry or upset. If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you’d know I prefer people to be forthcoming and completely honest, regardless of the thought. The closest male friends I have are my closest male friends because they’ve been completely honest with me, put me in my place when it was necessary and told me what was up when I had no idea. But perhaps you have confused what I said.

      I don’t want to hang out with guys who, when we go to a bar, spend the entire time talking about who they want to fuck, looking around the bar objectifying women. Naturally, we will see someone we are attracted to and look, which is ok. I do that. Women are gorgeous. If I’m at a bar though, I’d rather be having a good conversation.

      I actually think this conversation would go down better over a Jameson. That way, the conversation would be easier, there would be few or no misinterpretations, and most importantly, we could be completely honest with each other.

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