What The Heck Does “Manly” Mean?
Standing in the express line at our local Kroger store, I found myself behind an elderly gentleman holding a large, vibrant arrangement of flowers. The line was long so I decided to interrupt his internal conversation and impose upon him my curiosity.
Turning only his head and left shoulder, he quickly stated…
The quickness he used in answering my questions was the same quickness he used while turning his back to me.
Naturally… I kept right on talking.
5.68 seconds past and the gentleman turned around on his own accord in order to inform me that…
To which I replied…
Uncomfortable with my presumed, unspoken assumptions about this gift of man-flowers, he explained…
To which I replied…
Even though my thoughts had been verbalized in the form of praise, he was still insecure that his manhood had been compromised.
So he added…
All I could do was smile my smile and giggle a wee bit.
Why can’t a man be comfortable giving another man flowers?
Men obviously enjoy beautiful things, I mean they enjoy us women and we encapsulate beauty… right?… right! So why wouldn’t they enjoy flowers?
Let me state before I go any farther that I love being a woman and I love being married to my man. I fully embrace… celebrate that women and men are different.
My beef is when a woman enjoys something that our culture finds masculine she is labled “manly”, harsh, or un-feminine. Or, if a man enjoys something that our culture finds feminine he is labeled “girly”, wussy, or un-masculine.
For this post I will focus on the men folk. To add to the story above, I’d like to share a conversation Middle and I had last week.
SCENE: Sitting at the kitchen bar. There is a pink butterfly toy on the bar that is a gift for my neice.
MIDDLE: “I don’t want a toy like that… it’s girly!”
BACKGROUND: Middle loves butterflies. He watches them intently when they come to gather necter from the flowers in the garden boxes outside our back windows.
ME: “Why is the toy girly?”
MIDDLE: “Mom… it’s a but-ter-flllyyyy!”
ME: “Okay, but you like to watch the butterflies outside, right?”
MIDDLE: “Yea, they’re cool.”
ME: “Okay, then why is the butterfly toy girly and not cool?”
MIDDLE: “Well… people would laugh at me if I had that toy.”
BINGO… THERE IT IS!!!!
Culture would laugh at him (damn you culture!!!) because boys shouldn’t play with butterflies even though butterflies are beautiful, wondrous, cool creatures.
A heart-to-heart was needed and it went something like this…
ME: “If you and I go about our lives denying what we enjoy solely based on how others might treat us, well, we will miss out on so many wonderful gifts from God. Not just within nature but within relationships, music, books and so forth and so on! Also, if all we show people is who we think they will like… who we think they want… than they will miss out on the gift for knowing us for who we are and were created to be!!
WHAT I ASSUME MIDDLE HEARD: “BLAH… BLAH… we… BLAH… BLAH… they ”
Regardless if my son heard me or not, this talk hit close to my heart.
This truth I often forget.
Time and time again I waste my limited life doing something I don’t actually enjoy because what I do enjoy might be considered odd. I might be judged… looked down upon… chastised… described as “manly” or laughed at.
Do you know what I do enjoy??
There it is…
my guilty pleasure.
I have to say, I’m well prepared if I go to small claims court. I know to ALWAYS get a detailed, signed contract and never trust anyone who says they’ll pay me back once they get their income tax money!
You’re welcome for the small claims court tips!!
Okay… back to the story.
MIDDLE: “Well…. I do like butterflies so… that’s a boy toy too.”
Curious if the butterfly being covered in swirls of pink would bother him, I asked…
ME: “What about the color?”
MIDDLE: (said nonchalantly) “Ummm… pink’s cool.”
Yeah…. he got it… I think!!
Again, I’m not trying to turn my son into my daughter but from what I understand about men and woman is that we all posses both masculine and feminine traits. Women tend to, but not always, have more feminine traits and men tend to, but not always, have more masculine traits. Science tells us about brain development with all its lobes and stuff and hormones with all its testosterone, estrogen, progesterone and stuff.
Okay… that’s enough science for this post!!!
My daughter and my sons posses whatever mixture of traits they have by nature. My prayer and deepest desire is to help cultivate their natual likes, desires, talents, strengths, etc.
My Dear Sons,
If you delight in playing with baby dolls, soccer balls, swords, play food, trucks, dress-up clothes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or butterflies… then enjoy them to the fullest!
If you desire to be a chef, a hairdresser, a dancer, a plumber, a banker, an interior designer, a fireman or a teacher… follow your natural desires, interests and talents.
SIDENOTE: Go be who you are just don’t plan on moving back in with me and your daddy when you’re 30… we’ll be on a long vacation… ALONE!!
So… no matter what you delight in, no matter what your future career will be, it’s your characture that makes you a man. You’re both strong, loving, nurturing, flawed, silly, able, trustworthy, wild boys who will become men I’ll proudly proclaim as my own.
And if someday you find yourself, prompted by love, in the express checkout line at your local Kroger store buying flowers for a male friend who needs to know he is loved… thought about and cared for, then hold your head high. For a truly secure, manly man loves deeply… recklessly and beyond the limits set up by his culture!
It’s Been A (Manly) Pleasure,
Your Moderate Mama