Posts Tagged ‘manliness’

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Final Post of Men on the Moon

30 June 2014

If my grandfather were still alive today, he would have turned 100 this month. Raymond Hitchcock made it to 88, having lived a generous, courageous life. There were the remarkable occupational elements of his career: he exercised considerable skill in farming, automobile repair, business management, and real estate. He did everything with great determination. He was and is an icon of manly strength to me. All importantly, Raymond was known for his kindness. He showed tenderness to his family, friends, and neighbors. He demonstrated sacrificial integrity. He told great stories. He was famous as the designated hugger at his local Methodist church.

I mention Raymond Hitchcock as I close shop on this long-standing blog. It was started six years ago as a way to explore aspects of masculinity in the modern world. So often manliness is understood as a kind of oppressive imperative, some kind of social conduct which burdens men with high, even unrealistic, expectations. This blog has tried to show that masculinity can affirm many of the great traditions for men without demanding of them exact codes of conduct and being. Men can walk on the moon.

I close this season of my e-life with gratitude for the men in my life who instilled in me a solid core. My father, my pastors, friends like Mark and Travis and the guys from the Round Table and MKP. Men like Raymond Hitchcock. They affirmed that men can strive to be true men – from a starting point of real manhood. My grandfather had a center, and from that center he lived joyfully.

I wish the same for you, friends and strangers. May you be free men.

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Anonymous Editor Commenting on the Rev. John Wesley (1827)

23 February 2011

His style was nervous, clear, and manly; his preaching was pathetic and persuasive; his Journals are artless and interesting; and his compositions and compilations to promote knowledge and piety, were almost innumerable.

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Facial Hair in the News (November 2009)

22 November 2009

Yesterday Visanthe Shiancoe of the Minnesota Vikings chalked up the extension of coach Brad Childress’s contract to his new beard.  And his leadership skills in producing an 8-1 record thus far, of course.

In an attempt to comfort readers of Us Magazine worried about Brad Pitt, Dr. Alan Peterkin assured them that Pitt’s beard is simply a developmental issue that will resolve itself.  “Most men growing facial hair around his age are being ironic. It’s a bit of a wink of the eye; ‘I’m not taking this too seriously and nor should you.'”

In an unrelated development, glittery pop starlet Mariah Carey has played a frumpy social worker in the upcoming move, Precious.  “I had to lose all vanity,’’ Carey said. “I had to change my demeanor, my inside, layers of who I am, to become that woman.’’  Most shocking of all was her willingness to sport a mini moustache, which some working on the set claimed was genuine.  Carey has vehemently denied the accusation, as has her lawyer.

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Presidential Manliness, part 1

24 September 2008

The 2008 presidential race presents all sorts of opportunities for examining masculinities in America. This has been the case in every election, viz., that the public judges the criteria for being “the man.” Does the candidate have a confidence and charisma, perhaps a little swagger? Is he a warrior, someone who can strike fear into America’s enemies? Does he have a professionalness to him? Does he look manly? Is he strong and assertive, sensitive and affective in the right combination?

Of course, this election year has some especially notable elements.
– A black man is running for president.
– A woman is running for vice-president.
– The candidates seek to replace a wildly unpopular president, a man despised largely on account of his public image.

Media news groups are churning out all sorts of highly gendered images. Here are a couple banner ads from Newsmax.com I feel are comment-worthy.

Here I want to point out how McCain, for all his professional demeanor and military identity, is portrayed as jovial. He is serious, but not so much as to lose his sense of humor. Grandfatherly, perhaps. Maybe (if we read the picture negatively) too happy, almost saccharine. Palin seems like a strange complement to the would-be president. Placed in McCain’s background, she looks nervous, even scared. She holds out her hand in a defensive, sort of explanatory posture. Is she leading a meeting – or does she have some explaining to do? Or are we to read the two portraits together: the president keeps on smiling no matter what, and the exculpating, codependent woman tries to cover up the family dysfunctions?

Obama and (especially) Biden strike more traditional, manly poses. Both are stalwart and serious, though Obama in particular has a look of ease on his face. Though dressed formally and clean shaven, they exude a sense of disarming self-confidence. Biden’s hand gesture is remarkable: he points out to the future, to the frontier. He is purposeful and, in contrast to Palin, right beside the presidential nominee.

In this case at least, the banner ads clearly favor the Democratic team, if only because their picture matches up with the tried-and-true archetypes for manliness in election years: they are the cowboys, the pioneers, the businessmen, the generals, “the man.” More to come on this.