Joanna Schroeder doesn’t care if Senator Rouzer thinks President Obama sucks, she just wishes he wouldn’t use the term “Real Man” to exclude those he disagrees with from masculinity.
I want to talk for a moment about what it means to be a “Real Man”…
Yeah, I know that some dingbat who is running for office in North Carolina blamed the issues in the Middle East on the fact that Obama isn’t a “Real Man”. When his audience shouted back “No girly men” he confirmed that they were correct—if Mitt Romney is elected there will be no more girly men, according to Sen. David Rouzer (R).
What a mess. But I don’t want to talk about Senator Rouzer’s gaffe. I want to talk about the mess that is the way we talk about sex and gender in this country.
It’s a mess because the phrase “girly men” is problematic in nearly every way imaginable. It’s anti-woman, it’s anti-man, it’s transphobic, it’s homophobic… it’s ridiculous. What’s even more problematic is that most people don’t even stop to think twice about the phrase.
Maybe he thinks President Obama is weak or a poor Commander In Chief. Maybe he thinks President Obama is trying to please too many people and not being firm enough. I don’t know exactly what he meant, but all of those things are good guesses.
In the end, let’s not pretend we’re shocked by this name-calling. You probably have uncles or brothers or even sisters or wives who talk about masculinity like it’s something you either have or don’t. You’re in or you’re out. You’re a steer-lassoing, beer-drinking dude who can change the oil himself or you’re not a Real Man.
The problem isn’t that Sen. Rouzner thinks Obama is weak on foreign policy, the problem is with society as a whole that still thinks “Girly Man” is an acceptable phrase to sling around. Beyond that, the idea that anyone presumes to be able to define what makes a man “real” is one of the root challenges facing men of any stripe today.
Real men are everything. If you identify as a man, you’re a man. You shouldn’t have to prove it—even if you’re the president.