I don’t know much about Doris Day. My parents were too young to appreciate her, and my grandmother enlightened me to actresses like Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, and Audrey Hepburn. I had to do some Googling to find out more about her, and I took some time to listen to the prompt song, A Guy is A Guy. Honestly, it made my stomach turn! I know that it is a depiction from a bygone era, but it sounded really awful! My interpretation could be way off, but she kissed the guy so she had to marry him?!? It makes my skin crawl that her parents were perfectly okay with marrying her off to a total stranger. There seems to be an element of non-consent going on here too. I’m glad that time period has passed and that we are well on our way to forming new ideas about female sexuality, even if we still have a long way to go.
I didn’t really want to write a post about female sexuality or choice or consent even though all of those topics are important to me and relevant in today’s society. Instead, I was inspired by Purple Sole’s post, What it Means to Be a Guy and his take on modern masculinity. I think if you were to ask most people who are attracted to men, a manly man is a desired trait, but what does it mean to be manly? I think that definition has changed; it certainly has for me.
Last night as I was falling asleep, I started a list of qualities that I find attractive in the men I date. These are qualities that anyone can possess and are admirable whether you’re male, female, or non-binary, but I think they are certainly necessary to make any man a good man.
I think a man needs to be kind, to other humans, to animals, to those in need, to those who are thriving. It is even possible to be kind to your surroundings, to the planet, to your shared spaces, to the belongings of others. It’s not hard to offer a smile to the person ringing up your groceries, it feels good to ask people how they are and to wish them a good day, to open a door, to save a turtle in the road.
Being manly doesn’t mean that you can’t show your feelings. I think a lot of men believe that strength means they have to hide when they are hurting or failing, but I think it shows true strength to admit when you need help or that you just need a little space. Help might come in the form of a conversation, medication, therapy, or partner support. Vulnerability is sexy, but it also helps a partnership thrive.
I don’t know what it is about so many older American men, but they just don’t seem comfortable touching other men and this baffles me. I sometimes wonder if spray on sunscreen was invented because of this very reason! Hugging, friendly kisses and holding hands are often off-limits in guy on guy interactions, and these are things that I do with my girlfriends without a second thought. This seems to be a dwindling societal hangup as younger generations are embracing physical contact more and more. I would never feel comfortable in a relationship with a man who couldn’t show affection with his own friends, tell his friends that he loves them, or kiss them on the cheek and embrace them in a big long hug.
Our society used to place the duties of caring for the household solely on women, and I am certainly glad that our way of life has shifted away from this because it’s downright ridiculous. I’m not going to delve into what I think about gender roles here, but I will say that I think it’s manly to do what you like to do, even if it’s not a hobby that is considered “manly”. If you like to sew and you happen to be male, then go for it! My dad taught me how to hand stitch and my mom taught me how to use a machine. My dad also did all the ironing in our home because he enjoyed it.
If you look at Wikipedia for the definition of masculinity, you’ll find all sorts of adjectives depicting a big, strong, virile man, and that’s completely unrealistic. Just as all women aren’t small and meek with sopping wet vaginas ready to be penetrated at a moment’s notice, some women don’t even have vaginas. Sex isn’t about putting Appendage A in Slot B; it’s about a connection between two people. That connection requires attention, attention to a partner’s needs and responses, to their mental and emotional state, and to their desires. I find it sexy when a man, or woman for that matter, reads my body, the pace of my gasps, giving me a greater level of pleasure. I find it validating when someone can tell by the tone of my voice that I’m sad or stressed or just feeling a little off.
A masculine man doesn’t necessarily have to be hard, strong, independent, or aggressive. While I do appreciate the romanticized version of a manly man, that muscly male type that can whisk you off your feet, throw you on the bed, and fuck you all night long, making you come thousands of times, that’s just a fairy tale. I think that true masculinity comes in all shapes and sizes and is embodied in all genders. The modern day manly man isn’t quite so “manly” and that’s exactly how it should be. Masculinity now encompasses all sorts of roles, from bread-winner to care-taker. Society is slowly eliminating boundaries making it easier for people to be who they want, opening doors to those were previously shut out, and the same line of thinking means that men can also be who they want. They can sing and cry and dance, they can hug and kiss, they can clean and cook, they can be emotional and they can celebrate themselves just as they want to be even if it’s not very “manly”.