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All the Girly-Men

December 20, 2010

man, woman, masculinity, femininity, gender relationships, cuddle

Hard, soft, brave, vulnerable, passive, aggressive, pursuant, waiting -- who wants what and who is who?

“I’m sick of men copping out by saying things like ‘the ball is in your court.’ You’re the man, you’re supposed to be the one with the balls.”

— Crystal, Facebook, Friday night

I don’t have a very coherent or incredibly deep post for today, but over the past few weeks things have been happening that have caused my thought processes to develop a theme of sorts. There are ideas swirling around in my head all about masculinity and femininity and I can’t help but wonder where have all the cowboys gone?

And I don’t mean cowboys literally because I live in South Dakota so I could find a man who works on a ranch pretty quickly if I needed one. In fact, I think I have one on speed-dial. And heck, the stock show is happening in a few weeks. If I needed a cowboy I could just wait until then and go hang out at the Civic Center.

What I want to know is where are all the manly men?

I mean a guy who is truly masculine and strong and brave and courageous enough to be direct and say what he means and how he feels. Maybe a guy who is ambitious and driven and has the stones to ask me a straightforward question like, “Can I take you to dinner?”

Hell, I’m more manly than most of the fellas I know and really I’m a pretty girly girl.

It occurs to me that men are becoming less and less masculine in our society, but it isn’t like they are really becoming more feminine. Or, if they are, they aren’t en masse adopting any positive feminine traits like empathy, compassion and a nurturing way. No, they are just becoming passive. Or worse, passive aggressive.

I actually had a text conversation this week with someone who said at least three times (in one night) something to the effect of, “I’ll just leave that up to you.” Or, “the ball’s in your court.” And those were just the times he actually managed a declarative sentence about it. He implied the same thing about 50 other times.

He even said I could ask him out on a date if I wanted to.

Duh, of course I can ask if I want. Are you saying you would say yes if I asked? Great. I’m not going to ask.

He also implied that if I tried I could convince him to take me out for drinks.

Oh, that’s better I’ll beg you to take me out and then make you pay. Well that definitely makes you the masculine one in this relationship.

Maybe if you want to meet up for dinner with me you can ask. Maybe if you want to take me out for drinks you can say, “I’d like to take you out for drinks.”

Another friend was telling me about some of the ways he was strong and I asked him for examples and they were both rather feminine attributes. I know a lot of you are going to freak out here about this topic and just say there is no such think as feminine and masculine attributes. So I’m just going to tell you now that you aren’t going to win that argument with me.

I think masculinity and femininity are both aspects of God that he bestowed on humanity in a way of completely expressing himself. Beyond that I think that they need each other. The masculine needs the feminine to complete it with the attributes it lacks and vice versa. We need it in nature and we need it in society. We even need it within ourselves and within our families.

And me, I need a man. Or I’m not going to bother.

34 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2010 12:06 pm

    Of course there are masculine and feminine attributes. Possessing a penis would be a masculine attribute. Possessing a vagina would be a feminine attribute. Sheesh.


    • December 20, 2010 12:10 pm

      LOL…I know, right?

      You know I meant something beyond the physical attributes. I’d love to know what you think about this one D-man.


  2. December 20, 2010 12:10 pm

    I have read more than once that anger and frustration are feelings that come from unmet needs. How true. Some of us learn to express these things without sin-without hurting others in the process of expressing such feelings. Good for you to come out in the open and shed some light on what your feeling about the written topic. Maybe you are simply living in a part of the country where the guys you are looking for just don’t exist. Like you said, you just might have to move on to other things for a while. What is wrong with embracing that? People in general can do a better job at just being themselves and learn to say what they feel about anything. We live in a society where, especially the younger generation, seeks approval from social outlets much larger than those when I was a teen thirty years ago. Ex. Why would a guy approach a girl asking a question that clearly gives her a message he is looking for approval or direction? Get that stuff together before you go looking for a relationship.


    • December 20, 2010 12:26 pm

      Well, this seems a bit off topic, but I guess I think it comes down to honesty. If you know what you need tell the other person. If you need something but you don’t know what, tell the other person. No matter what, tell the other person.

      I had a revelation a few years ago when I was dating a very sweet man who was also very dense. He didn’t know what I was getting at when I hinted about things. He didn’t just know what I wanted and needed. It was a hard lesson to learn because at the time my fantasy man would know. But I realized that it didn’t mean he didn’t love me if he wasn’t able to anticipate what I would need or if he couldn’t read my mind when something was wrong or I wanted something. It wasn’t fair for me to hold him responsible for something I hadn’t been careful to make him aware of. And it wasn’t fair for me not to make him aware of it. And vice versa.

      I’ve been dealing with a guy lately who, despite my telling him that I am straightforward about things and I say what I mean, still reads into everything I say and do and tries to apply it to our relationship in some way. I absolutely feel like the man in our relationship. There is all this subtext and it’s infuriating. I don’t let my girlfriends get away with that — and I hope they don’t do it to their boyfriends — so I’m certainly not going to let him get away with it.

      He communicates like a girl — an immature on at that. Declarative statements are rare, he’s constantly qualifying his opinions and he even speaks in passive voice most of the time. So frustrating! I want to be the girl and I want to date a man!


      • December 20, 2010 12:43 pm

        Keep thinking through and being simple and direct with the communication. If the person you are interested in does not click in due time, it might be time to consider things are not working out beyond what is already there. We are all different you know.
        Analyzing too much will just give you a headache. Who wants that?


        • December 20, 2010 12:46 pm

          Thanks for the advice, Andy. But honestly, I’m not interested in this guy because of these communication issues.


  3. December 20, 2010 12:30 pm

    Okay, this is what I’ve found myself doing in the past:

    If I meet a girl whom I’m really into, I will be decisive. I will ask her out, and I will do my best to impress her.

    On the other hand, if I meet a girl whom I’m attracted to, but not really all that into, I’ll probably be less decisive. I’ve had many a female friend express frustration when a guy pursues them hard, wins them over, then all of a sudden lose interest, so I guess this ends up being my way of not doing that.

    So maybe that’s what’s going on with these guys you’re meeting?


    • December 20, 2010 12:42 pm

      I agree with your girlfriends. I don’t like it when a guy wins me over and then suddenly disappears. I would probably take that as him having a conquest complex. I was the mountain to be climbed and he climbed it so he’s done. It would be hard, but I would try not to take it personally. In general, if a guy doesn’t ask me out I do assume that he just isn’t that into me. But generally when that happens the guy isn’t telling me that I can ask him to take me out. That is just bizarre.

      And I’m not worried about making things work with that guy. Or any of the guys I was referring to in this particular post. Mostly I’m just commiserating about the profound lack of masculinity in my life. I don’t want to be the toughest guy I know — especially considering what a wussy girl I am.


      • December 23, 2010 10:36 am

        I think I’m the guy of which you both speak of… haha! Seriously though, I saw myself in what you said Dennis. Maybe I can call you D-Man…? For me its not a matter of being chicken though. I recognize there are areas in my life that are extremely loaded with baggage from the past hurts. Its not the person I’m seeing’s job to deal with all of that. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I fall for someone because I’m human, then I realize its not smart for the other person involved. So maybe in an act of courage, I disconnect to save the other from impending danger.

        …..Or….. maybe I’m just chicken. You decide! 😀


        • December 23, 2010 9:06 pm

          Hey DB, thankf fo rthe comment. Let me suggest something to you. When you withdraw for any reason other than because you don’t want to be involved with that person or because you personally need to be single, (to protect the other person or whatever) you are usurping the other person’s ability to make their own choices and taking that opportunity away from them. And as such it is really a passive way to control the situation. You are taking the choice away from the other person and just deciding how it is going to be without allowing the other person to even know the whole story.


        • December 23, 2010 9:44 pm

          Hey, no prob. I like the sound of “D-Man,” anyway. 😉

          In all seriousness, though, I think it’s way more complicated than people here are making it out to be.

          Truth be known, my most serious girlfriend–the one I ended up with for five years, the one who’s written a post on my blog (actually, hehe, there are two girlfriends who’ve written posts on my blog… I’ll let you guess which ones)–I was actually pretty nonchalant about when we first got together.

          Still, I was somewhat interested in her (gasp, such commitment, I know). She evidently saw something in me, though, because she didn’t just give up on me, and lo and behold, I ended up falling head over heals in love with her.

          My point is, you just don’t know. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, and as I will continue to stick vehemently to, everyone is different, and every relationship is a brand new experience.

          And the minute we start making blanket statements about what “real men” do or don’t do, or what “real women” do or don’t do, is the minute we expose our own prejudices.

          My point is, yes, you may have met some noncommittal men. And yes, that may be an indication that they’re not all that interested. But no, this doesn’t mean that they’re spineless weaklings. And no, it may not even mean that they’re not worth pursuing.

          As with everything else in life… there are simply no simple answers.

          And… ahem. On that note, I think I need to go rile some shit up….


  4. Just Saying permalink
    December 20, 2010 2:21 pm

    THANK YOU for writting this!
    I couldn’t agree more!

    I also think a lot of men confuse sensitivity as feminine.

    I like a man who takes charge without being bossy or pushy. Yes there is such a thing.
    I’m finding less and less men are into sports or of the outdoor type.

    I think “they” who ever “they” are, need to bring back etittique classes for both sexes.
    Too many people are losing character in their sex.

    There is nothing wrong with being independant, strong, opinionated, and girlie at the same time. Same with men. Nothing wrong with being kind, sensitive, strong and taking charge and still keep your balls in tack, while occasionally grunting like a man.

    Excellent post! Bring back Manly Men!


    • December 20, 2010 3:24 pm

      Femininity and masculinity are both such difficult concepts because neither one exists without it’s counterpart.

      And I think defining each is difficult because we don’t want to limit ourselves or the opposite sex. But the truth is there is a difference and we need both masculine and feminine energy. Beyond that at different points in history so many aspects of each gender have been demonized to the point that people are thoroughly confused. All of the sexism and the attempts to equalize the sexes have had the effect of taking away the power that either gender had in itself. As a result negative connotations have been added to words that are neither negative or positive.

      Sensitive doesn’t mean passive. Strong doesn’t mean emotionless. Aggressive doesn’t mean abusive. Vulnerable doesn’t mean victim.

      And I think men in America today really are confused about what it means to be a man. As a group, for some reason, I’m not sure women are equally confused. If this is true then American culture/society is failing our men.


  5. Keep Your Woman permalink
    December 20, 2010 7:00 pm

    Me reading this post = grin on my face. There are a lot of men out there who are ABSOLUTELY confused.. Social programming is severely hindering the up and coming male’s ability to be a MAN. Watch any TV show or movie where the passive push over ends up getting the girl. Everybody Loves Raymond is the worst example. Point out a woman who’s the “man” in the relationship and you’ll see the definition of RESENTMENT.

    REAL men are leaders. They think before they act, making sure all the details and specifics are in order so when the DO make a move, it’s a BOLD and DECISIVE one. They MAKE decision, and consider a woman’s input, and VALUE it. REAL men are assertive in the way that they STAND UP for what they believe in, behind their convictions, AND their word. They do not seek approval, supplicate, or beg. (Damn, I’m on a roll here and will be using this in one of my posts!) Men, if you’re reading this, write it down, learn it and live it. Women, pass it along to a guy you know who needs it.

    It sounds like this guy is trying to play the pick up game with you and to put it bluntly, if he’s pussyfooting around the subject – ask yourself if this guy is a) worth YOUR time, and b) someone you’d want to be with anyway. I’m placing my chips on NO. Putting the ball in someone’s court (figuratively) is a real way for a person to not take on the responsibility of others, or their stress- ACTUALLY saying it, especially to a woman, in respect to decisions, is flat out wussy. If he can’t decide on what to do on Friday night, what happens when a REAL problem crops up? I’ll tell you – he folds and a real man takes his place.

    There out there, trust me, they are…


    • December 20, 2010 8:23 pm

      Well thank you for agreeing and thank you for assuring me that there are real men out there. Are these real men single? Because most of the real men I know are married — or from my father’s generation and I’m not doing that.

      And as I said in an earlier reply, as things stand right now, I’m not interested in having a relationship with any of the fellas I was referrign to in this post. So you would have won your bet. If a guy can’t nut up and ask me out in an assertive way then I’m not interested.

      You’re a new reader so you probably missed my last rant in regard to this issue. So here you go:


    • December 23, 2010 9:49 pm

      Thank you for gracing us with that drivel.

      Do you know what else REAL MEN do? REAL MEN lead by example. REAL MEN don’t need to go around spewing blanket statements and lecturing others on what they should or shouldn’t be doing.


  6. December 21, 2010 6:04 am

    I love the opening quote of this post. So true!

    I always find myself saying, “But you’re the guy! You’re supposed to do that!”


    • December 21, 2010 8:10 am

      Feel free to use the quote, of course I’d prefer you let people know where you got it. 😉


  7. Logan permalink
    December 21, 2010 9:37 am

    The next time you have this problem, just send the guy to this website:
    Might not do any good, but maybe it’ll point out their character flaws, and they can learn something from it.


  8. December 22, 2010 4:43 am

    I think that in some ways it boils down to game playing and not wanting to be rejected. I consider myself fairly bold, but I doubt i would ever ask a man out. I think it’s fine if women do, but I just do not see myself doing it. What I will do is make it absolutely clear that I am interested. No games, no guile, no coyness. Since you mentioned texting, I will also add that I think it is a fabulous technology, but can lead to a cop-out as far as really talking about feelings. Maybe that is just my experience, but so be it. Thanks for making me thing (even though it is dangerous for me to think this early in the morning.)


  9. December 22, 2010 10:55 am

    Great post, Crystal! As far as cowboys, after reading this post I now have a strange urge to date a cowboy! Didn’t realize what I was missing living in Virginia… can I come visit for the stock show?? 🙂

    There is something to be said for the “masculine” traits that I find most attractive about a man. They way they make me feel safe, hold doors for me, fix things around the house, provide a sort of physical dominance that I find incredibly attractive (nothing better than feeling small compared to your man, I think, physically, that is). As far as who initiates dates, etc, I don’t mind initiating times to hang out. As long as I’m not the one doing all the chasing. But these text conversations you are describing sound incredibly annoying. I feel like this person should man up – if they want to take you out, they should ask you out. You should not ask them to take you out. That’s just incredibly silly.

    I believe there are plenty of masculine, manly men out there – perhaps you aren’t hanging out or looking in the right places? I personally don’t find it to be an epidemic, because I have met plenty myself… the epidemic, I think, is LAZY men who don’t put forth enough effort. For too long women have done all the work for them.

    Love the site Logan shared – that would be very helpful 🙂


    • December 22, 2010 11:00 am

      You are totally welcome to visit for the stock show, but I should warn you, most of the cowboys are old, married or actual rodeo guys who are likely to be injured by the end of the rodeo. Other than that, the bars are crazy fun during the stock show. They make me wish I owned a pair of cowboy boots.


  10. December 23, 2010 10:29 am

    Thank you for explaining what masculinity means to you. I like how you didn’t stereotype the typical “girly man” against the “cowboy”. I believe true masculinity comes from the heart, and virtues like patience, strength, courage, and valor.


  11. January 3, 2011 1:19 pm

    Here, Here! I like a man who takes charge! The feminists might attack me, but I don’t want a balls in your court kind of guy either!


  12. John permalink
    January 26, 2011 4:53 pm

    All sounds fair enough. You want what you want. The guy sounds like a teenage boy without much confidence. If so it’s a bit unfair to expect a teenage boy to be a man. Kinda like people expecting your Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton to be a role model. She’s a young chick with heaps of money and (UNDERSTANDABLY) not the maturity to deal with it. Such is life. People mature at different speeds and she never signed p to be a role model.

    Anyway, I think I’m in a state of shock with a lot of the sentiments here. Conventional contemporary thought must have been so influenced by feminism that these kind of comments and attitudes are rarely seen these days.

    I do agree with the comments about the demonisation of a lot of gendered attributes, particularly the male ones.

    Who would have thought women like a man to take charge:-) Ah you traitors to the sisterhood!


  13. January 26, 2011 10:26 pm

    The guy was actually a decade older than me and I think that made it all the more frustrating. As far as a man taking charge I guess I know that I need a partner who is capable of taking charge. He doesn’t always have to be the one taking action. And he doesn’t need to be the boss. But it has become kind of a qualifying issue at this point for me. I just don’t feel like a man who can’t manage a simple declarative sentence is equal to the task of loving me. And it is a big task. I know that. And I’m not going to minimize that anymore — not like I have in the past. But the truth is I love back in a big way. It is my personal goal to make it more than worth it for the man who is up to the task.

    As for traitors to the sisterhood, I have mixed emotions about feminisim. I feel that lot of “feminist” sentiments actually take away from femininity and encourage women to be masculine — or worse, sexless. My idea of equality is to even things up. Not to force women to give up their gendered attributes. Equality. I’m for appreciating femininity and masculinity and rewarding both.

    In a lot of ways I feel the modern feminist movement (beyond the striving for equal rights) has not helped women as much as it has just punished men. Rather than glorifying the beautiful parts of being a woman we have just demonized being a man. I mourn this. I still feel there are ways that women are oppressed in America. Our culture sends a pretty clear message that we aren’t worth much unless men like the way we look, for example. But men are being told they aren’t worth much either.

    I don’t know the answer. I wish I did. But I do see the problem(s).


  14. March 18, 2011 3:57 am

    made me think of this. happy friday!!


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