I’ve come to the conclusionthat men these days can’t seem to stop obsessing over what it means to be a man, and I believewe’re becoming less manly because of it. I was browsingthe internet the other day, and I came across a generic site directed toward men andmen’s interests. Or so I thought. No, this site greeted me with anarticle expounding upon the benefits of shaving with a safety razor, like one from the‘50s. Further down the page, there was an entry calling for the rebirth of the practice of carrying and leaving calling cards. I was searching for some point to all ofthis, but I realized there wasn’t one. This was simply a site about being a man,full stop. This site and, particularly, the people in the comments were trying theirdamndest to practice masculinityfor masculinity’s sake. It was around thetime I read a comment that suggested that “real men carry a gun on a first dateto ensure they can protect the woman” that I realized something: Thisself-conscious brand of masculinity was nothing new. Rather, it’s simply reachedcritical mass. Our masculinity, like so many other things in our lives, has finallybecome a commodity. And we’re buying it. Male-oriented media is not a recent phenomenon. In fact, it’s been aroundfor as long as there have been products to sell. Men bought Brylcreem and shaved withGillette razors because the ads told them that slick hair and smooth skin would help themwith the ladies. Men have been reading publications like Field andStream, Golf Digest and Motor Trend fordecades because a lot of men happen to like fishing, golf and cars. Even today we havesites like AskMen that cater to the interests of modern men. The difference is, in thosedays men bought the razor because they thought it would help get them laid -- a noblepursuit. There were tons of male-fetishizing ads in the 1950s and ‘60s, but they were selling a product as a means to an end, rather than selling masculinity by way of aproduct. Nowadays, fast-food restaurants can take an existing food product, double itssize, call it “man food,” and we will buy itfor this reason alone. Watch an episode of MANswers on Spike TV and count howmany times you see an image of beer, guns or ninjas in the opening sequence. We shouldget excited by those things. We’re supposed to getexcited by those things, because we’re men and ninjas are manly. Go to the myriad“lifestyle” websites directed at men and spend some time browsing thearticles outlining the things real men do or do not do (yes, even this one). Therearen’t enough hours in the day. Where did this obsession with maleidentity come from? Ian Lang explains after the break... Continue Reading

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