Written by Anthony Burch
There are many things that will always be manly, like stubble, red meat, and being angry. Other things tend to change as time goes on – tend to lose their manliness factor as the world changes. Before you know it, the manliest thing on the planet has been reduced to an effeminate, useless version of its former self. In the interest of protecting our readers from all things formerly-manly, we begrudgingly present a short list of those things which used to be manly, but now aren’t.
Once the symbol of nonconformity in a hopelessly conservative political landscape, the tattoo has now become the exact opposite – total conformity posing as nonconformity. Like when emo kids pretend they’re all total individuals that nobody understands, but they all somehow manage to look, sound, and act the same. Tattoos have taken on many different meanings in modern society: men with any sort of oriental symbol tattooed on their arms or torso are generally pretentious, pseudo-political douchebags. Guys with barbed wire circling their arms tend to be insecure assholes who probably work out a lot, refer to themselves as “badasses,” and secretly hate everything about who they are. Granted, there are still those older men who got tattoos back when they actually meant something, but they are a dying breed in the face of this new wave of tattooed douchebaggery – the men who were getting inked back in the day are forced to watch, horrified, as an entire generation of neo-yuppies singlehandedly steals one of their generational symbols and perverts it beyond all recognition.
There was a time when a man could get a bull ring pierced into his septum and get a little respect. Those days are over. Piercings of any sort have become the method of self-expression to use for emos, Goths, and faux-punk kids all over the planet; it appears that the more boring and self-involved one is, the more piercings must result. Jesus, even women are getting piercings en masse: you find me a chick who doesn’t at least have her belly button pierced yet, and I’ll show you a chick who hasn’t yet reached her eighth birthday.
In the good old days, one guy would get into an argument with another guy, the words would turn into fists, and the fists would turn into a few inches of cold steel getting mercilessly plunged into the eye socket of the weaker guy. Men would stop, and stare, and as the killer was dragged away by the cops, muttering something about unpaid debts, people would look on in awe – that dude stabbed someone. What a badass. But in a time of so-called intellectualism, fraught with political liberalism and progressive ideals, stabbing people isn’t “cool” anymore. Not only is violent crime now frowned upon, but stabbing people generally appears to be the gayest way to shuffle someone off their mortal coil: years of horror movies and bearded historians have established the blade as the number one phallic symbol of violence on earth (the gun is number two, if only because you can’t kill someone simply by forcing a gun up one of their orifices), and so it now appears that stabbing people no longer has the manly connotation it once had – and pretty soon, shooting people won’t be all that neat either. The only other option left for the violence-loving man is to either not kill people (an unacceptable decision, in every way) or to beat people to death with his bare hands.
Like the tattoo, the motorcycle used to be a counterculture icon – thanks to Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda (two actors who have also lost a significant amount of manliness), the motorcycle was a symbol of freedom, independence, and rebellion. Nowadays, it represents one of two things:
-The fact that your mom bought you a Yamaha, which you will almost immediately crash
-You’re a middle-aged marketing guy who joined a motorcycle club, rides your bike on the weekends, and secretly puts “Born to be Wild” or “Bad to the Bone” on repeat on your iPod Nano whilst cruising down 6th street at 41 miles an hour next to other similarly repressed middle-aged marketing guys.
Today, the motorcycle has lost literally all of its meaning. While the Hells Angels still run around raping men and women all over the countryside (and God bless ’em for it), the motorcycle has completely lost its status as an icon of masculinity, given that those most likely to own them today are either vapid, mid-40’s men trying to channel the spirit of Easy Rider without getting more than a few miles away from home, or spoiled preppy kids who stupidly race their crotch-rockets and end up totaling them once they actually have to turn.
Whether you like it or not, gone are the days of roses, hastily scrawled love poems, and sweet serenades crooned lovingly outside a fair maiden’s window. Today, women may pretend like they want to be courted by a chivalrous gentleman, but in reality the chivalrous man has about as much chance of netting the girl of his dreams as Helen Keller has of winning a darts competition. Women want a good-looking, arrogant asshole to treat them like crap. You may think that’s overly-misogynistic, but it’s a scientifically proven fact* that once a woman finds out you are attracted to her, her level of attraction towards you drops by at least 50%. Chivalry, in all its forms, focuses on the man professing his endless love for the woman whilst doing quasi-romantic deeds – deeds that, today, immediately drive women away. It’s an unfortunate trend, to be sure, but an unavoidable one: the chivalrous romantic can write all the love songs and give all the gifts he wants, but outside circumstances aside (in this case, “outside circumstances” means “money”), the chivalrous man will end up with nothing more than his dick in his hands by the end of the day, while the cocky asshole who lifts weights and/or plays guitar chokes the girl of your dreams to death with his penis.
This article is not meant to suggest that any man who might have tattoos or piercings or leather or a motorcycle are immediately unmanly: we simply wish to suggest that the things, the objects themselves, have lost their intrinsic worth as objects of manliness. If we were to see a 300 pound guy with tattoos and piercings, wearing a leather jacket and holding a knife, we’d still be very, very scared of him, and would certainly be in no position to doubt his manliness. One can possess all these pseudo-manly traits and still be the baddest motherfucker around – it’s just that the actual objects themselves no longer mean what they used to.
*No it isn’t