What makes a man, a man? Is there a solid definition…should there be? I don’t know really! After all, I rarely refer to myself as a man…in fact I don’t think of myself as one. That, err…yeah, that came out wrong! I don’t mean that I don’t think of myself as male, and instead prance around in ladies’ underwear every evening, whilst applying red lipstick…well never say never…ahem, but NO! I just mean that I am not too comfortable with referring to myself in that way. I think of a man as a finished article, and in no way am I there yet…a man is a grown up…a man has confidence in himself, and his mustache. A man is fearless, and can drink whiskey without being sick in a nearby gutter. A man…
Well the truth is the modern man isn’t shackled with the same stereotypical constraints that he was a few years ago, so the definition of man is a lot more obtuse these days, thankfully. Not to say I haven’t always longed to slap someone with a glove, thus challenging them to a duel…but yeah, those days are long gone.
You’re probably wondering what made me begin this slightly waffling, and vaguely ranty type of writing. Well one of my brothers recently told me a story – he was walking down a corridor in one of his university’s buildings, and as he was going through – two ladies approached, and he held the door open for them rather than bursting through, or shoving past them. Pretty normal. I would like to think we have been brought up well, my Father used to always say “manners make the man” when teaching us little lessons, and when my sisters would inevitably complain, he would chuckle, and chime “manners make the wo-man, too!”
What one of the two ladies did next, was somewhat bizarre. She refused to go through the door – instead, she left my brother standing there like a buffoon holding the door open for no one. Apparently she then screamed, “you know I can actually open a door myself, I don’t need YOU to do it for me!” and remained standing, holding back her friend at the same time.
Naturally my brother was shocked, stunned in fact…I mean, his whole world had just came crashing down – after all he was sure, up until that moment, that no woman could open a door themselves, because how can any woman manage to work out the intricate push/pull mechanism of those tricky things…instead all they can do is wait, like damsels in distress, hoping, wishing, praying for a knight in shining armor to come on through, and release them to freedom.*
OBVIOUSLY, I jest (felt I needed to state that so people don’t get it twisted)*
But people are strange. My brothers and I were not taught one-sided chivalry rules; “open the door for ladies, but anyone else – fuck ’em! They have arms after all!” We were just taught common rules of decency, like I don’t know…“it’s nice to be nice!” It sounds oversimplified to state that the world would be a better place if people lived by that little motto, but it really would. Small things like giving your seat up on the bus for the elderly, dropping change in a homeless person’s cup…whatever…they should be encouraged, and it honestly upsets me to see that it is A LOT less common these days.
I don’t know…have I got it wrong? I hope so.
83 Replies to “Manliness”
Meh. I’m a feminist and think your brother’s actions are part of the bigger solution to racism, sexism, and other bla-ism. Like you write – be kind to one another. Treat others as the human beings they are, regardless of height, piercings, hairdo, tattoos, nationality, gender, smell (that’s the most difficult I think), etc. etc.etc. Opening or holding doors is an easy way to be kind and end -isms. Smiling and going about your day after someone acts like those girls without holding animosity – that’s one of the more difficult ways.
Your dad did a great job, am a wo man but sometimes hold the door open for others, it makes me feel good but real reason, we would get stuck in the door if went thru at same time