Dear men, it’s time to rethink manliness

By: Kai Teo
Cover photo: Helena Poneli

Manly much? Photo: Helena Poneli

Manly much? Photo: Helena Poneli

Women’s liberation from the stupidity of patriarchy has come a long way. Of course, there’s a lot more work to do in this area, but there’s been good progress.

But what about men? It seems that while many support the fight for women’s equality, a majority of us are still stuck in the archaic patriarchal mindset that men have to be manly, do manly shit, drink manly drinks and wear manly clothes.

You see, when humanity decided that everyone should have equal rights and freedom, we saw it as “women should be able to do the things that men do”, instead of “every human being should be given equal opportunities to achieve their maximum potential”.

So we still look to the man for the yardstick. That’s where we limit ourselves. Women have long questioned the notion that they should wear dresses and makeup and be housewives and serve the man. They gave a big “fuck you” to that, and today, they basically wear whatever the fuck they want (subject to the judgment of slut-shaming Neanderthals, and the narrow minded internet).

Men though, haven’t done very well in the department of questioning manliness. We agree that women should wear pants whenever they want, but when it comes to a man wearing a dress, we immediately assume this person is either a drag queen or a transgender. We never go, “He’s just another dude doing his thing.”

Why? Because men’s bodies are shaped in a certain way, and men’s clothes are made to accentuate these lines? Wrong answer.

If you look ugly in a dress, it’s because you’re ugly, not because you’re a man.

To the majority of men, we have never even entertained the idea of turning up in a floral dress to the office, or a date. “If I dress like a woman, people might get the wrong idea.” Another wrong answer. That’s the same argument as justifying rape or molest because a woman is dressed like a “slut”.

I mean, who came up with the idea that shirts and suits are the standard for a man looking good anyway? Nope, there is definitely no evolutionary, biological explanation to this. We just got stuck to it. A well-fitted shirt with cuff links has been one of the most impractical things I’ve worn in my life. You can’t wave wildly to someone, you can’t raise your fists in triumph, and you can’t even bend down to pick up money from the ground.

And yet we stuck to it. The men’s department of every clothing store is its most uninspiring area. “We have a wide selection of polo t-shirts! There’s white, black, grey, and if you’re the more adventurous sort, we recommend the bold dark blue. And they all come with a big fucking horse embroidered on the front and back!” We settled for this bullshit. We never dared venture into the women’s section and pick out stuff to try, for fear of being ridiculed.

They have brighter colours, cooler designs, prettier cuttings, but we just don’t have the balls to do it.

Me! Man! Shark! You die! Photo:

Me! Man! Shark! You die!

Big muscles = manly = women love me

If we lived in a society where we’d constantly have to fight off lions with our bare hands, I can see how muscles like Jay Cutler’s would come in handy, or tasty. In barbarian times, the man with the muscles was perceived to have better genes and a greater ability to protect his offspring. And that’s why this man was desired.

Today, many heavy gym buffs still rely on this instinct to fool potential mates into thinking that they have good genes. So you go to the gym a lot, and you’re drinking this fucked up protein shake thingy, you don’t ever fucking run, and you drive a car in this tiny city where you could walk anywhere. This doesn’t sound very healthy.

Thing is, we’ve been continuously challenging the unrealistic standards set for women in our societies, but the ideals of what defines a man largely goes uncontested.

I see teenage boys running around all wearing the same clothes, sporting the same kind of macho behaviour: wolf-whistling, cat-calling, dropping snide remarks in the presence of their boisterous friends. And we make up excuses to defend this stupid behaviour, saying, “Boys will be boys”.

If we really want true equality, boys should stop being boys, and be whoever the fuck they want. Stop having men’s and women’s section in stores, let’s just call them all clothes. Stop charging men and women differently for haircuts, charge us based on how much time the hairdresser takes.

You don’t have to be “manly” to be a man. You have a penis. Nothing you do changes it, unless you cut it off (freedom of choice yo). And when we set man/woman standards in whatever forms in our society, we will never truly be equal, we will never truly be free, and we will forever be slaves to a set of rules that someone else set.

The women have shown us what it’s like to be liberated. Now men, let us free ourselves from the shackles of manliness and just be.

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