A few days ago I was replying to a blog comment. The post, Real Men, and the photo of Gabriel Aubry were visible on the screen. My two older daughters (D¹ and D²) happened to look at the computer, and D² asked who it was. I told her, then commented on his remarkable good-looks.
To my surprise and complete dismay, both girls laughed. “He could be a girl except for the scruff,” and “Any man that conditions his scruff is not a manly man.”
D¹ even had the audacity to say, “Mom, he looks like a Barbie. And I don’t mean Ken. I mean Barbie.”
At first I was mortified. How could I write a post on “real men”, and use an effeminate man as an example? Then I was offended. I was right; he is attractive. They were wrong; he is not girly. Then: “AAAAAAAAAAAA!” Had these girls learned nothing about men from me?
The three of us went back and forth with suggestions for manly men. One of us would say, “So and So’s a manly man.” The other two would laugh— or gag. Of course, I think my husband is very manly, but for obvious reason, we took him off the table.
After literally a hundred suggestions, the three of us agreed on only two examples of “manly men”.
But something didn’t feel right. After some thought and discussion with my husband, it became head-slappingly obvious. The girls and I were basing our opinions on appearance. How furious do we, as women, get when men base their opinions on our appearance? Will I never learn?
When I told D¹ I was going to write a post about our disagreement, she insisted on posting someone she thought was a manly man. She didn’t want only the photo to be posted; she wanted to write a few lines to explain her reasoning. I asked her why she needed to explain.
“Well, it occurred to me that we’re just basing our opinion on looks and there’s more to it than that. Take Mel Gibson, for example. He looks like a manly man, but he doesn’t act like one.”
Maybe they had learned something from me after all. Or they had known it all along, and I’m the one beginning to learn it.
D¹’s explanation and pictures:
One of the things I’ve always known on an instinctual level that I’ve never really had cause to consciously consider until now was this: what sort of person someone is has a hell of a lot more to do with THEM than it does with their LOOKS (or anything else). Deciding who is, and who is not, a manly man based solely on a male’s appearance is wholly impossible if you know the least little thing about him. Take Mel Gibson, for example— there’s a guy who, especially twenty years ago, looked quite manly. However, at the moment I wouldn’t even venture to call him a man, much less a manly man. Then there are people on the other end of the spectrum, like Dr. Reid (Matthew Gray Gubler’s character in Criminal Minds). He’s a VERY manly man— but he also happens to look like a falling leaf could break him in half.
What to do? How to prove to my insane mother that I do, in fact, know what a manly man looks like, when even my friends meet my every example with arguments based on his voice, or clothes, or intelligence? How to prove to my insane mother’s friends that I’m RIGHT about what a manly man looks like, when it’s impossible to divorce one’s opinion of someone from their physical appearance?
More than that: how to prove to all and sundry that the only way to judge whether a guy looks like a manly man is to not know anything at all about him?
There was only one answer: I’d have to choose a picture of a man who few, if any, readers of this blog would have the slightest recognition of. Ladies (and possibly gentlemen, but I’m guessing mostly ladies), I give you a manly man:
And, to prove that knowing something about a guy’s actions and personality does influence whether or not they look like a manly man. . . I give you the actions of manly men, in a picture of the crew of the Time Bandit (and, let’s be honest here, Whatsisface of the Red Sweatshirt is NOT hard on the eyes):