Manly and Girlie in Parts

Manly and Girlie in Parts

The Daily Mail has indicated that Team GB's Gold-Medal winning divers, Chris Mears and Jack Laugher are “unmanly” because they affectionately hugged when they won, contrasting them mockingly with China’s more emotionally-measured Bronze pair. Twitter – unsurprisingly - is up in arms and rightly so. This is an old-fashioned, homophobic and frankly psychologically-damaging opinion that has no place in 2016.  

Manly: Having or denoting those good qualities traditionally associated with men, such as courage, strength, and spirit.

Obviously, it is laughable to suggest that Olympic Gold Medallists do not have courage, strength and spirit when they embody all these things.  Expressing affection and enthusiasm and love for one another in that winning moment is part of that spirit. Anyone who suggests that men demonstrating physical feelings to other men is unmanly needs to educate themselves.

Additionally, as already noted by many, people seem to have no trouble when this sort of affection is expressed in more classically attired sportsmen such as footballers. Is it fear of the Speedo? Perhaps these journalists have nightmares about an army of skimpily-attired, Adonises infecting solid, MANLY men with hugs.

Joking aside and regardless of the homophobic undertones of this particular instance, for me the problem goes far deeper. It is our use of the word “manly” to describe positive qualities attributed to men or activities traditionally undertaken by men… why are we still using these words in both negative and positive connotations?

There is no equivalent for women, to be called womanly is usually referring to her body or maternal traits. Likewise, if you call a woman 'manly', it is generally an insult despite the wonderful traits that are apparently associated with classic manliness.

There is the same disparities with boyish (charm) and girly (weak/pink) and gentleman (polite, courteous) ladylike (a shackle that basically means sit still, shut up and smile).

My verbose point here is that these words should not have the power or meaning they do anymore to elevate and tear down men and women.  We should be valuing those traits that are seen as classically masculine and feminine in both sexes.

She is strong and sympathetic

He is kind and ambitious

They are intuitive and courageous

He is affectionate and decisive

She is powerful and nurturing

You see to use the old definitions… we are all manly and girlie in parts and those can be both wonderful and terrible regardless of, not because of, gender.

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