Phillip Chesnut is a cup-cake decorating guy who cares about his kids—not a bearded mountain man. Can he get his man card back?
Two recent events in my life led me to feeling the need, no, the urge, to share my thoughts on being a “man” in the 21st century. The first was the constant barrage of Dr. Pepper “Mountain Man” commercials for their 10 calorie soda. I’m not angry at Dr. Pepper. The commercials, I must admit, are funny and entertaining. My frustration lies with this image of what is “manly”. I guess I share in the frustration that many women are feeling in that I don’t feel that I am welcome to enjoy this particular drink because I don’t technically fit the commercial’s image of “manly”. I fit more into the Bounty Quicker Picker Upper commercials as a frustrated mom who is so happy to be cleaning up their child’s juice spill with only one sheet versus a whole roll of paper towels.
I will interject a short bio here so that you can judge my man status for yourself. I am a 34 year old electrical engineer and a father of two boys (Carson, 5 and Miles, 2). I am also a happy husband of 10 years to my wife, Amy. I was born, raised and currently live in Western Kentucky. As an electrical engineer who does not fish or hunt (yes, I live in Kentucky and don’t fish or hunt), I had my man card pulled a while ago and am trying relentlessly to redefine the term “man” so I can get it back someday. I also devote my free time to community volunteerism. I serve on the board of directors of two local non-profits, I am a deacon at my church and my family and I are currently in the process of adopting our soon-to-be daughter from China.
This is where the second event comes into play. A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were at our church preparing for our youngest son’s second birthday. The theme of the birthday party was dogs, so I was happily preparing cupcakes that were decorated like a dog’s face. One of the congregation members passed by me, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “It’s so nice to see a father take an active role in his children’s life.” I know that this ladies comment had a lot of heart and compassion behind it so I smiled and said “Thank you” and went about my cupcake decorating. This comment truly troubled me though. What this comment said to me was this: “You know, before I had a chance to meet you, I assumed that, as a man, you did not take an active, compassionate role in your children’s life. I am greatly surprised to see a man decorating cupcakes for his own child’s birthday party. I figured you would be at home on a Saturday watching football and having a beer while your wife decorated for this party.” Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but this, to me, is the major problem we are facing today as men.
When are people going to look away from the bearded “Mountain Man” of the Dr. Pepper commercials and look to the thin, slightly nerdy (see attached biography picture) dad who is decorating cupcakes and devoting his time to community needs and say “Wow, now that is a man.” I want to help make this new “man” image a reality. Besides, I want my man card back.