Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Make a Man Out of You

Dear No One in Particular,

I love gentlemen. True, old-fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool chivalrous gentlemen who dress well, hold doors open, refer to women as "ladies" and not as "bitches" -- true men.

You see, the majority of young men I know are ... well, gay, but that's beside the point. The straight ones tend to be more concerned with how they impress their male peers than their female peers. And unfortunately, with the befuddling popularity of gangsta rap, masculinity has become synonymous with acting like a hoodlum.** Young men puff themselves up, in hopes of appearing agressive and therefore hyper-masculine; god forbid they show respect to women, or have a genuine moment -- they might be labelled feminine! No, they have to be "hard", put their "bros before hoes"blah blah bullshit. God forbid they give up their seat on the bus for an elderly woman, lest they be labelled a "pussy".***
Of course, there's the whole boys-in-eyeliner, emo movement to consider, but even that is troublesome and far from the old-fashioned gentleman I hold so close to my heart.

There's something about a well-groomed, sharply dressed man who speaks with all the charm of Sinatra and has the manners of Leopold that makes me go weak in the knees. You know those books Porno for Women and Porn for New Moms? Yeah, that's what The Art of Manliness is for me.

I refuse to believe that the gentleman is a dying breed, romanticized figureheads of a bygone era. Luckily, the geniuses at The Art of Manliness agree with me, and better yet, are working to transform the schlubby young American male into dashing gentlemen.
I found the website while cruising the 2008 Weblog polls (TAoM is up for a Best Culture Blog) and was drawn to the name, wondering if it was tongue-in-cheek. I fully expected blog posts
laden with sarcasm and praise for how bad-ass WFC is -- like this website*, but with more violence.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that The Art of Manliness is entirely genuine, but not without humour or self-awareness. Their articles are fun to read, educational, and just make my heart swell with romance and hope for a new league of 21st century gentlemen.

Their two best posts, in my opinion, are "The Mechanics of a Man Hug" and "Teaching My Son to Be a Man". The former exhibits just how genuinely funny the site is, while the latter is more sentimental, but deeply genuine and poignant.

I'm particularly smitten with their style tips; like Barney Stinson, I am firmly pro-suit. I've been known to demand that the Boy "suit up!" and as we're approaching graduation from university, with adulthood looming larger than ever on the horizon, the Boy's aggressively casual uniform of a t-shirt and jeans is slowly morphing into dress shirts and blazers, much to my delight.

Their relationship articles are also particularly poignant, reasserting the importance of romance and chivalry, especially in a (post-)feminist age. Some of my favourite articles include "How to Save a Marriage", a guide to spicing up a long-term relationship with romance, and "The Virtuous Life", a series based on Ben Franklin's quest to "man up".

Of course, no site is perfect, and my one large criticism of the site is that it is rather hetero-normative. Which, I suppose, is reflective of American society at large, but c'mon. We all know that gay men can be manly men too, and not just in the "butch vs. femme" way, either . Granted, I haven't scoured the website from top to bottom, but really, there's a disturbing lack of discussion of homosexual lifeways.****

I adore this website, and highly recommend it. Pass it along to the men in your life! I did.


*The first time I saw this website, I laughed so hard I fell off my bed. True story.
**I'm aware that I sound like a granny, all "kids these days!" But bear with me here, folks.
***I'm also aware that I'm speaking in what appear to be cliches, but trust me, these are deeply rooted in personal experience. I wish they weren't, but god knows they are.
****In the sense that the relationships advice covers only male-female romantic relationships, never male-male.


mighty jo said...

thanks for the recommendation. you can't tell by the men i date & marry, but i do love the sharp dressed & smelling good man. i will check out the website. my heart was broken recently when i asked my husband--for the first time ever--to dress up & he didn't do it. worse than that, it was my brother's funeral. i like a man who knows how to dress. its one of my guilty pleasures.

amanda said...

I'm 100% with you on sharply dressed men as a guilty pleasure.

I'm very sorry for your loss.