A MAN-ifesto

Man, do I love being a man. I think cars ought to be fast, music loud, and muscles big. A movie with no explosions is one to forget. I grunt like Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor and agree with Homer J. Simpson that good things end in “-teria” and “-mania.” Super Bowl Sunday is a holy day of obligation, celebrated with offerings from all of the essential food groups: beer, ribs, wings, nachos, pizza, and more wings. Get the picture?

Having shored up my man-cred, let me say this: I find Dr. Pepper’s commercial, hawking its 10 calorie soda completely repulsive. If you haven’t seen it, have a look:

On the surface, the commercial has (almost) everything I need in life: bad guys getting caught, explosions, a chase scene through a rugged jungle. Yet the tagline — “It’s not for women!” — insults not only women but men as well. It turns manly men into misogynist neanderthals, doing guys’ guys like me a great disservice. Just like that, being proud and comfortable in one’s manhood turns into a form of oppression for half the world’s population. Dr. Pepper’s ad isn’t about being a man, it’s about being insecure.

Virility is a great gift of God. It’s one that allows me to be active and strong as a Jesuit, a gift that allows me simultaneously to energize sullen teenagers during Confirmation catechism and be avuncular around 5 year olds at Bible camp. It’s the gift that allows fathers to stay up all night with a crying infant, that helps grandpa teach grandson how to fish, and that allows boyfriends to place a strong and tender arm around a girlfriend. Again, I grunt: I’m proud to be a man. But all of the examples above are done in relationships with others where men are secure in themselves, which in turn allows others to be secure in themselves.

“Real” men are capable of showing that we’re in charge…not of others, but of ourselves. The exhausted dad, the patient grandfather, and the doting boyfriend are each confident enough in their masculinity to hand over the remote and put their beer down. It’s only then that they can seek only the good of the other.

I hope I can be that kind of man.

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