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Manly

February 7, 2010

I’m not the most manly man.  I’ve never been into cars or sports.  I do not own any tools, and I cannot fix things.  The great outdoors has little appeal to me.  And I am very satisfied with my monogamous marriage.

That is not to say I do not have any manly interests.  I have always enjoyed action movies, and will watch just about anything with Bruce Willis (another handsome bald man).  Videogames have been a part of my life since the invention of the Atari 2600.  And I have never picked up an issue of Playboy for the articles.

Truth be told these are the few exceptions in an otherwise not-so-manly lifestyle.

So perhaps I’m not the best person to be declaring what should or should not be manly.  But that’s not going to stop me.

The only time I watch sports on television is the Super Bowl.  And while, for me, it is about the food first and the commercials second, but it is also about the game.  This is the one day a year I do something I considered to be truly manly.  I choose a team to root for, and I root with gusto and passion.  I eat things that on the other 364 days I don’t consider food.  And I eat them in significant quantity.

And when I watch the game, I drink beer.

In many ways I’m a realist.  I know that in America beer is masculine and wine is feminine.  Wine may even be considered un-American, especially during the Super Bowl.  Just ask Gisele Bündchen.

But this should not be the case.  And I do not quite understand how wine has been emasculated.

Wine is not anti-American.  The forefathers of this nation drank wine, dammit.  Thomas Jefferson was a great wine lover, and he made sure there was good wine in the cellars of our first few presidents.  Good wine is produced in almost every state, and it’s not limited to the coasts either.  Gruet in New Mexico is just one winery out of the major production zones that has a significant national following.

Wine is also not fundamentally feminine.  Winemaking is basically glorified farming.  And it’s mostly the purview of rugged men.  Tools are manly, and one needs a specialized tool and some brute force to open a wine bottle.  Certainly there is a part of wine culture that supports the manly ideal.  The big cabernet with the big rare porterhouse is a snapshot of classic male gastronomy.

Maybe the problem is that most people who drink wine like to drink it from stemmed glasses.  Gone are the days when wine would be transported in skins, and manly men could drink straight from their pouches.  Perhaps it has something to do with the surprising popularity of white zinfandel.  If most people think of this simple sweet pink drink when they think of wine, this could easily be the answer.

Regardless, even knowing these things about wine today I’m still drinking beer.

For me it’s about communing with America.  Today I will put aside my usual persnickety food prejudices.  I will eat unhappy meat and heavily processed foods filled with GMOs.  I will put a shameful number of calories into my mouth with no other thought than, “I hope someone’s getting more wings.”  I will watch several hours of television and pay rapt attention to the commercials.  I will yell at a TV screen as I cheer for large men in tight uniforms.

I will drink beer out of a bottle and maybe even from a can.

Today, I am manly.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Ellie permalink
    February 7, 2010 11:10 am

    I think that gender stereotypes are often distorted and not very useful. For example, I would consider my father a model of manliness, but he will prefer a rich red wine over a beer, especially a domestic non-microbrew. I’m a great deal like my father, pretty unemotional, a lover of sorts, a scotch drinker… get into my other hobbies like computers and science fiction and every internet “Can I guess your gender” quiz puts me solidly in the male. Except that I’m taking the quiz in a pretty womanly outfit.

    So I sympathize and say that let’s be manly or not on our own terms. I’m wearing a dress to the superbowl party, but only because it expands as I drink more and more beer.

  2. February 7, 2010 11:43 am

    Maybe this year I will watch it for the commercials. I just find football to take way too long (too many pauses, etc), which does nothing for my incredibly short attention span. Maybe I could increase that span if I were also fed delicious wings and beer (I’ll drink just about any beer).

  3. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    February 7, 2010 12:17 pm

    Yeah, try bellying up to the bar in, say, a sports bar, and ordering a glass of white wine. Not manly. I don’t associate movies with popcorn and I don’t associate football with eating any differently from how I would normally eat, which means after dinner–no food until tomorrow. I will fire up a doob, though. This year I am as uninterested in the SB as I have ever been because the teams have no relevance for me. Watching football just for football’s sake, i.e., without really being a fan for one of the teams, seems pointless to me.

  4. February 7, 2010 2:57 pm

    Narrowly defining manliness vs. femininity is limiting. If we had to strictly adhere to stereotypical versions of masculine/feminine I would be up shit’s creek because while on the surface I may seem pretty feminine; if we are going to define femininity as staying home with the kids, owning lots of makeup and push up bras and baking cookies; in my relationship I am the more dominant force and my partner is way more sensitive than I. Also more likely to cry. Does that make him less of a man? He doesn’t drink either. But he does own guns. And tools. Lots and lots of tools. Now where does he stand? Where do I?

  5. February 8, 2010 10:22 am

    Can I suggest my absolute drop down favorite beer, Gordon from Oskar Blues. It is canned. It is hoppy. It is malty. It is godly.

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