As society rethinks and reshapes the use of gender roles, both sexes (and everywhere in-between) are finding more opportunities to explore previously repressed aspects of themselves. It often feels like the Wild West of gender identity—an exciting new time to break through tired paradigms in search for something that is a better fit. We can see this on both a macro and micro scale, from something as widespread as more countries legalizing same sex marriage to something as simple as a man rocking a pencil skirt and heels. Each are radical in their own way.
A Reddit user asked men to name some “unmanly” things they did that they weren’t ashamed of. Their answers, though fun to read, also have an interesting through line, one of embracing sensitivity. Or, rather, their femininity. From self-care, to arts and crafts, to crying during Disney movies, each of these activities challenges the long accepted—and often problematic—belief of what makes a man a "man."
Psychology Today contributor Tyger Latham, Psy.D. writes that “Most of us immediately identify with the adage that to be a man often means: being tough, staying in control, never crying, working through physical pain, providing for your family, and never backing down from a fight. While such roles provide men with an operational model in which to exist, they can also be extremely restrictive.” He even described a condition known as alexithymia, quite literally meaning “without words for emotions,” that many male clients encounter while trying to express what’s happening on the inside.
But what if the pursuit of happiness includes the pursuit of wholeness? Some would argue that the latter is more important altogether. Men—and women, for that matter—should be able to go fishing, knit while they wait on the pond, come home and throw on an exfoliating face mask while watching a rom-com. So yes, while these answers do serve as a lighthearted digital romp through the internet, they are also symbols of small, yet significant victories.
Without further ado, here are 18 “unmanly” things that are good for the soul, no matter the gender:
“I think it is helpful for spatial reasoning, attention to detail, and creativity. It is basically construction out of a very thin, flexible material that requires the builder to create the object inside-out."
2. Bubble baths
“I don't take baths much but if I do you best believe there's gonna be bubbles galore in that bath.”
“Bath bombs rule, my favorite one turns the water black and sparkly and smells like peppermint.”
3. Cute voices for animals
“In high school there was a video shown in class, and when puppies came on screen I yelled 'PUPPIES!' in a ridiculous falsetto. I still have that reaction regularly when I see puppies.”
“I do this with puppies...kittens...cats...any cute animal…”
4. Prioritizing fashion … to the point of indecision
“There are literally a few minutes where I am stressed out wondering 'I wore that a few days ago; this is too similar to what I wore yesterday' and so on. This is mostly when getting ready for work, which is business casual. I have a dozen or so button-down shirts, but I still can't make up my damn mind.”
5. A love of all things hygge
“I love fuzzy socks, fuzzy blankets, fuzzy anything.”
“I love blankets. My birthday, Christmas, valentines day; just give me more blankets. Let me make a cave of blankets and hibernate straight through until spring.”
6. A fondness for stuffed animals
“I sleep with two stuffed animals. It would be three, but Pete the polar bear is now with my girlfriend in the Netherlands.”
“I still sleep with a teddy bear I got when I was 4. I'm 30 now. I hope to give it to my daughter when she is born/old enough.”
7. Checking out other guys
"I can tell when a guy is attractive, I have no sexual desire for dudes but I can tell if I find one good looking, i'd even go as far to say I have a type."
8. Enjoying domestic chores
"I love looking doing things for my wife...coffee and breakfast in bed everyday, I wash up, I pack her a lunch to take to work everyday, spoil her with little surprises a few times a month etc. Turns out my friends and my father all think I am whipped. They think she has me under her thumb. I guess they don't know that we split house chores in a number of ways but I chose to do extra things as I have some extra time since I don't have to commute - it feels fair to me.They also don't understand that when I lost my job my wife encouraged me to do my own thing and that she supported both of us for a long time to allow me to follow my dream. In short, my mates and father just don't understand or want to be with a woman who is a partner and equal in the relationship.”
9. Being the little spoon
"I'm nearly a foot taller than my girlfriend, but if we're cuddling in bed I like to be the little spoon, it's hilarious and comfy."
"I once was sitting on the floor and my girlfriend at the time was sitting on the couch giving me a back rub. She eventually wrapped her arms around me from behind and asked how it felt. 'Like this room is the only thing in the entire world.'"
“Sleeping as the little spoon is really nice because it makes you feel needed on a physical level which is really comforting."
“Personally, I think that it takes a lot more bravery to open yourself up to something special, such as love for a pet, than to keep everything around you at arms length to numb your own sensitivity (or vulnerability if you will) to anything. You display a willingness to express yourself, knowing full well that it could get you hurt, and then bear any resulting pain, ultimately overcoming it. What the hell could be more manly?”“I will cry at any movie where a dog dies. Every, Single. Time. A Dog’s Purpose was a very unpleasant movie for me.”
“It’s great being able to grow things from just seeds."
“Everyone needs a little bit of therapy. Even if you’re perfectly fine, everyone needs someone to talk to.”
13. Sharing feelings with the kids
"Hugging my kids, apologizing to them when I’m wrong ('sorry I accused you of making a mess outside, I just learned it was the neighbors’ kid'), and showing them it’s okay to have and express feelings. Yes, daddy can get teary eyed too when watching a sad movie. Also as an extension of apologizing for having done wrong, being able to back down. When in an argument and find out you’re wrong, it’s not weak to say 'I didn’t know that. Sorry, I was wrong.'”
14. Complimenting guy friends
"A lot of people feel it's not manly to do so but I think it's important and it feels great having a group of guys that doesn’t just bash each other all the time."
15. Interior decorating
“I spend a ridiculous amount of time looking up furniture/wall art/etc. just fantasizing about how I'm going to decorate it when I finally get my own place.”
“I just donned a pink apron with strawberries on it to help my girlfriend make a pie. Her family razzed me about it... but hey, no pie for them.”
“I bake and listen to Adele. Sometimes at the same time.”
17. Afternoon tea
“I don't care who you are. You haven't lived until you've eaten tiny cucumber sandwiches and scones off a three-story silver party platter.”
18. Self-careChristian Bale Face Mask GIF by PeacockTVGiphy
“Manicures and pedicures, obviously no nail polish, but my hands and feet are usually a horrendous pile of dead skin and callouses from working out and my job. It makes me feel a little better about people seeing them, they don’t get all of them, but it definitely makes them look closer to normal.”
“I love doing a facial cleanse, tone and moisturize, makes your face feel awesome."
“I go full-on Bateman. Have multiple face masks, skin creams and hair products. Started as a way to bond with my sisters, ended up being something that centers me in the mornings and a comforting ritual a couple of times a night.”
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