Category Archives: Cowboys

Poem: Manly

I have no idea what it means

To really be a man

But if I can come up with some half-good

Answers for all my questions

I’d be halfway to the moon by now

And I guess I ain’t going soon

Because I don’t know anything

 

When I was ten I knew

What being a man was all about

You wore cowboy hats and drove a motorcycle

Or rode a horse in foreboding sunglasses

Or tats of naked women straddling eagles

Or snakes or dragons

And did whatever it takes to keep hold of your dignity

That sort of manliness is something I lack

I certainly don’t look like a buff, bearded lumberjack

 

But these days that idea of masculinity

Holds all the necessity of a bullet in my head

Which mind you, I don’t think I need

So I plead with you, know

That it’s not always men who go into fights

Who are manly

But instead the ones who spend their nights

At home with their families

Working two jobs just to have enough to send his little girl

To college one day

That place he never got to go

Because he’d throw a punch

Every single time his honor was questioned

But now he forgets about that

And instead says “I love you”

Every single chance he can

Because he knows now what it means

To be a man

What is considered UNmanly?

We all know what might be considered manly (Chuck Norris, Daniel Day Lewis, and films about war), but what exactly does it mean to be UNMANLY? Because I am so oft labeled thus, I’d like to explore exactly what that term constitutes.

I could... probably achieve that.

Does it mean that I don’t “lift weights,” but instead attend Pilates classes? (Ok, fine, it’s Yoga…. Ok, FINE! Yoga on Wii Fit… Just leave me alone OKAY! I admit, it’s actually table tennis on Wii Fit, so just stop judging me, please!)

Maybe being unmanly means eating healthy cereal like Special K or some other granola-based barf disaster. Granted, painting my toenails and joining a ballet company… but wait, have you guys SEEN male ballerinas? They’re more fit than Rugby players. So maybe ballet IS manly? Because think about it, you spend all day with beautiful women in tights. Yet society seems to point to other adjectives when describing a male ballet dancer. It doesn’t make much sense.

Okay, maybe plucking your eyebrows still lies in the UNMANLY camp of activities, but other things that used to be considered effeminate have become more… well, manly.

What’s the big deal with being manly, anyways? I mean, so I don’t smoke cigars and wrestle bears, but why should I? I’m sure given the right occasion, I might put a grizzly in a choke-hold, but unless it’s attacking me, why would I ever attempt to do that? The quest to be manly evolved from when men went to war. I mean, all men went to war. There was no military to speak of, so when America needed to fight a war, it enlisted every man. Farmers and merchants and blacksmiths and horse riders. They took boys as young as 14, handed them a gun, and pushed them onto the battlefield.

Think on a Civil War battlefield where these men are strewn across the grass. Every grass blade sports flecks of blood, the corpses piled over each other. You can see by the position of the bodies that the battle lasted long. Three hours. But the boys kept running out, fighting. They kept fighting. And it was not as if either armies harbored disdain for each other– only months before, they had been countrymen. Yet now confronted with what they were told was the enemy, they fought. They killed.

They shot and stabbed each other and kept trying to do so simply because if not, these boys would look unmanly in front of their friends. To not fight was the coward’s way. It was each boy’s duty to fight and if he fled, he could never overcome that act of unmanliness, that betrayal of honor.

It was pointless. Wars fought for the same reason men today still choose to pile more weights onto a barbell if they’re lifting in front of their friends. There is a certain spark in some people that will encourage them to lay down their lives for a war. Others do so because they cannot do otherwise and continue to live with masculinity intact.

 

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