#FeministFriday No. 6

Real men don’t rape.

Real men don’t hit.

Real men don’t buy girls.

Real men don’t eat quiche.

Real men don’t — Stop it.

What, exactly, is a real man? I see this concept everywhere, particularly in testosterone fueled advertising campaigns, and it creates an interesting question of gender roles, as well as raises an important matter:

Real men are a real issue.

The assertion that “real men don’t” needs to stop because the last time I checked, the men who are abusing women and breaking the law and eating delicious cheese pie things aren’t fictional characters.

According to pop culture and marketing, a real man

  • Can defend himself
  • Is the head of his household
  • Doesn’t settle for handouts
  • Is chivalrous
  • Lifts
  • Grows thick facial hair
  • Eats meat. Lots of meat
  • Like almost a ridiculous amount of meat
  • Is athletic
  • Mainly cares about sex
  • Drinks beer
  • Enjoys using power tools
  • Hunts or fishes to assert his dominance over nature
  • Needs male branded soap in order to clean himself

Even if you don’t take into consideration that by this default anything feminine is inherently weak, this idea of a real man is ridiculous. We are told collectively from the time we are small that men and maleness are strong and tough and resilient, but apparently masculinity is so fragile that it can be shattered with a plate of quinoa.

real men

This Google search was wild.

As a result, I see men not only react defensively towards perceived “unmanly” things, but also towards people identifying as women or other genders “encroaching” in their manly territory. It’s a common, sometimes angry rhetoric, that being a man doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to — back when men were MEN! Yes, because a woman can learn to use a power drill and become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, men can no longer be men.

Toxic masculinity, everyone. As far as anyone should be concerned, if you identify as male, congratulations, you’re a real man.

Yes, a man can have a majestic beard and make all of his furniture by hand, but a man can be the survivor of abuse. A man can crave chocolate and drink daiquiris. A man can have a vagina. A man can be an amazing human being. A man can be a monster. None of those things make him any less “real”, or mean that society should write him off as a fluke or a phony.

All men are real, and so are their problems. Ignoring them doesn’t solve anything, it just allows other people to feel superior because they’re different.

Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

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