For the fourth time this week, I have been called a real man. Apparently the reddish beard, broad shoulders, mean (but charming) demeanor and natural leadership style is very appealing to the four people complimenting me. But really? Is looks all there is to being called a “real man”? And let me be clear, I’m not complaining, I don’t feel insulted or proud about it, nor do I feel especially arrogant. Mostly I just feel confused. I work in an office, wear business casual and generally hang out at my desk doing desky stuff. Its not like I’m fighting my way through a horde of Orc’s to get coffee or traverse dangerous waters filled with sharks to ensure my project gets moved forward or even dress in a way that is especially adventurous (think zombie fighting space marine chic). By default its a shallow assessment on the observers part. A bit of limited conversation and then being observed throughout the day. Seems insufficient for such a grand statement.
I would expect the person to take my lifestyle into consideration. What do I do to have fun? What are my interests? Where have I been and will I go to? What about my beliefs, ethics and morals? How about how I treat women and children? How I cope to everyday office stress and boredom? What about my political standing and how I defend it? What stories do I tell at the Christmas dinner? How do I support or not-support friends and loved ones, etc, etc.
In all fairness, the time spent interacting in a professional environment only provides a limited potential to delve deeper into these kind of considerations, but it still begs the question? Why is “a real man”, “manliness” or “masculinity” really something to work towards? Is there a set parameter to measure up to? To me its a gender specific description, that is supposedly opposite that of being “feminine”. So what is it to be feminine? What is a real woman? What does that phrase even imply?
In all fairness, we do need and should use the terms, but they are shallow and unimportant, and to describe anyone as being either a “real man” or a “real woman” is folly. I would rather be described with terms that add value and points to a specific sphere of life or subject. Something useful and descriptive, rather than empty and general. What being a man is, is arbitrary and subjective. Your opinion and definition is a good as mine.
But since the title said something about how a real man dies, then let me rack my brain for a sec… Yes… Here we go:
- Loosing a showdown with a ninja whale on a sinking oil platform, while wielding a bear trap, covered in black motorcycle armor and singing “Born to be Wild”!
- Dying from a paper cut (that doesn’t sound extreme, but the paper in question was the sharpest response ever written on paper to the question “do you feel lucky, punk?”, and the paper cut went across and through his neck) illicited from a disgruntled extremist feminist.
- Falling as part of the human legions fighting The Dark Lord, the abomination known as Sauron, at the end of the Second Age, when hit directly by the Dark Lord himself. And nicking his armor with your bones.
- Laying down your life for your fellow soldiers in any war or conflict that mankind has had to suffer through.
- Single-handedly saves the Titanic by placing his body between the Iceberg and the ship, instead of senselessly drowning/freezing to death in the tepid waters of the Atlantic to save one inept girl.