Man up

2011. The year of the manly man? “Man up!” How many times did we hear this phrase? About every time Sarah Palin showed up on Fox News, it seemed. It was the catch phrase of the year. When people weren’t being what people wanted them to be, they had to “Man up!” And then, Christie Blatchford takes to the National Post, talking about “sissies,” complaining about how men in Toronto are just not manly enough for her liking these days. Damn us men, and our not all living up to the stereotypical expectations of what a man should be! Apparently, men who hug their friends just aren’t manly enough, and it’s sickening, isn’t it? Showing emotion? Blah! Who needs emotion? No, we must be MEN. True men. Grunting men! Cigar smoking men! We must have hair on our chests. We must smell of Old Spice. We must drink whiskey, or whatever it is real men drink.

One day, I was talking to a lady from the neighbourhood, and she said, “Where do you live?” I told her, and she said, “Oh, the place with the grand windows?” which made no sense to me because I wouldn’t describe our windows as being grand. I didn’t know what to say, and then she said, “Of course you wouldn’t notice, because you are a man.” What? Run that by me again? Because I’m a man I wouldn’t notice something that wasn’t actually what she said it was anyway? That makes no sense whatsoever. What kind of stereotype is this, exactly? Do we as men not notice things? Are we blind? Or are we just stupid? Is that what she was saying? To answer your question: yes, I was insulted.

I went to a store. They offered gift wrapping. I said, “Sure.” The cashier, who was a woman, said, “Of course, men always do.” We do? What is this? Is this saying that men cannot wrap gifts? Do women not take advantage of this free service that is being offered? It’s only men? What kind of stereotype is this one? I mean, I did say yes. And why? Because I liked the look of the wrapping paper, actually. But, being a man, I was probably not expected to care about that and would have no preference over whether they slapped it into a paper sack or they wrapped it up nice.

Earlier in the year, I remember reading a great article on CBC’s website about how studies have shown that men can suffer from a form of post-partum depression. I thought it was great that this was acknowledged. It only makes sense that the birth of a child, a major life event, can have a significant impact on a father. However, this is a perspective that is rarely discussed or heard in the media.

The television is a wonderful place to see stereotypes thrust upon males. We’re just not very bright, it seems. We like tools that make noises. We like barbecues with big steaks. We like beer, especially while watching half naked women. We’re slovenly. We love football and have no time for our significant others when it is on. We are obsessed with cars, sex, alcohol, sports, toys and being not too bright. We like our trucks tough and manly. We like our tools rugged and ready. We like our soup meaty. We like our cars shiny. We are men, after all.

Yes, men are not meant to be diverse. We are meant to be all the same. We shouldn’t be multi-dimensional, when one dimension will work just fine. There is no reason to want to be different, because that is just not what men are about. We roam in packs and packs have uniformity. We must maintain this uniformity at all costs. To do anything else leaves us open to being seen as just not manly enough and apparently there is nothing in this world worse than not living up to your stereotype.


Chris Hearn thinks stereotypes are unmanly.