I Voted for a Man with a Seam-Splitting Man Lance

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To the nation that elected the Governator, we present the battalion of “man-upping” women. Of course, there’s no glaring irony in female politicians telling their male opponents to “man up” over and over and over.

As Stephen Colbert puts it:

Folks, vote for whichever candidate has a rock-hard, seam-splitting man lance, a steel-trussed load-bearing Dong Quixote the length of a champion summer squash, the girth of a Costco can of chickpeas with an iron core so dense it throws off compasses.

Hilarious, and also 100 percent on target. Masculinity is to politics as American Eagle is to middle school: essential to your image and way overhyped. Political pundits and opponents alike go gaga questioning male candidates’ military experience—ah, Swiftboat justice—but when was the last time you saw a woman called out on her lack of army time?

Then there are the lowbrow attempts to masculinize politics. MTV put together this less than educated list of the Manliest Politicians Ever. Their primary measuring stick? How often the guy got laid (JFK, and the womanizing Berlusconi) and how much military experience he had (Colin Powell). Other jewels include George W. Bush (because he’s great at partying) and for some reason, Mayor Quimby from the Simpsons.

Is this really how we want to measure a guy’s masculinity, let alone a politician’s?

Here’s Jacob Bronsther, from “Manliness in Politics”:

It’s unclear whether a manly person merely takes challenges as they come or actively seeks them out. This tension dovetails the difference between real cowboys, who are a rather quiet and meticulous bunch who keep to themselves, and movie cowboys, who often hunt for peril, hungry to put their honor on the line. To the extent that manly politicians seek out conflict, danger, and war for their own sake or without sufficient caution, manliness is detrimental, often coming with the high cost of bloodshed.

Too often we mistake bullheadedness and misogyny for the courage and strength of traditional masculinity. It’s all right for kicks (see video below), but when it comes to actually voting, I worry that too many of us are asking our candidates to “man up” without knowing exactly what a real man is.

About Lu Fong

Lu Fong was a staff writer and blog editor for the Good Men Project in its formative years. As the requisite woman on staff, her hobbies included cleaning, cooking, knitting, fainting, and childbearing. Follow her on Twitter @lufong.


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  2. David Wise says:

    This new sexism is so unfair. Can imagine if Obama had told Hillary Clinton to “woman up?” I could never happen.

    • True, it could never happen, but not for the reason you’re implying. In American society, womanhood is always framed as lesser, weaker, less intelligent, etc. There are also aspects of tenderness that come with womanhood, but as the author pointed out, in the world of politics tenderness is only sought out in very specific circumstances. Masculinity is still the rule. Therefore, you can’t tell someone to ‘woman up’ in the world of masculinized-politics because that would be the exact opposite of what everyone is unconsciously talking about here. If anything, other politicians also tell Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, et al. to “man up”–as if their being a woman, and the ‘natural’ characteristics that come with that, automatically make them insufficiently manly for politics.

      It’s not reverse sexism; it’s still just as sexist as before.

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