We made it! Through hard work and mostly me subtly cheating by just writing about challenges without actually having to do them, we made it through 30 freakin’ blog posts. To whomever managed to read all 30, I salute your perseverance and I hope everyone else thought the few posts they did read were at the least mildy amusing.
At last! We’ve finally made it to the last day of the 30 Days to a Better Man Challenge. It’s been a tough 30 days. Hopefully, the tasks we came up with helped you stretch, grow, and become a better man. Today’s final task will both complete this process and reward your efforts during the past month. Today’s challenge is to get an old fashioned straight razor shave from a barber.
The reward for the frustration of having to sit through 30 posts from the Art of Manliness has been rewarded with the permission to get a straight razor shave. I do like the gesture since it was a post about straight razor shaving (A CLOSE SHAVE) that got me started on this project in the first place. It was during the so-called research on straight razor shaving that I came across this website called the “Art of Manliness” it was because of that post that I started reading their 30 day challenge.
The barber I go to is a small barbershop on Main Street and is run by a number of auspiciously similarly looking cute blondes. Last time I inquired whether it’d be at all possible to get a straight razor shave but they don’t do that. They practised on a balloon in school, of course (you apply the shaving cream and then shave the balloon without it deflating in your face), but I couldn’t get a shave from a cute blonde.
Instead, they told me to go into town and go to the newly opened shaving parlor where I will be shaven by a hipster with a beard that is slightly too perfectly groomed. He probably has tattoos and maybe one of those piercings that allow you to literally put a pen through your ear. You get whiskey while you wait, apparently. Also, because it is so popular and because they don’t allow people to make appointments, the approximate waiting time is anything from 10 minutes to a few hours. Unless you go early in the morning, but then you don’t get any whiskey, I think.
Which was all very demotivating, to be honest. But I’ve grown used to that by now.
We have made it all the way from identifying our core values to conquering a fear. We have explored what it means to be a man in these modern times, how we can improve this manliness and why we should feel the need to do so. Before I get into analysis-mode, there are a few remarks I’d like to make.
The Art of Manliness is part of an oeuvre. The oeuvre of modern masculinity. There are many chapters, and the Art of Manliness is but one. Anti-feminism or meninism is another. Pick-up artistry is another. Conservative patriarchical think tanks are another. Essentially any place or institution that celebrates masculinity (such as the army) are all part of this narrative.
I chose to analyse the Art of Manliness because of its rather unique feature of holistic representation. There are not many that try to explain and illustrate what they think is or should be the entire narrative of modern masculinity. Most of the oeuvre does not even claim they are in it in the first place. Some only show it indirectly and some only use a part of the narrative in their functional capabilities. The Art of Manliness is an attempt to summarise, if you will, what it means to be a modern man.
The idea that masculinity is a unique and valuable set of characteristics and ideas that are embodied within the human male defines this oeuvre. The power of this oeuvre is expressed both internally and externally: we as man need to conquer our fears. We need to be independent and autonomous. We need to be able to take care of ourselves. We also need to be decisive, and strong. We need to show leadership where necessary. The main challenge of this oeuvre made by feminism is about how these all of these characteristics relate to the other half of humanity.
The argument that masculinity is somehow under threat from change, is therefore quickly made. In a way, it is. After all, patriarchy is but institutionalised masculinity and male privilege, and patriarchy has been under fire for decades now, and for good reasons.
Don’t get me wrong, – I like to make fun of the Art of Manliness with their reinterpretation of the past and their static view on gender roles. However, to say that they merely rehashed the gender roles from more repressive times (say, the 1950s) and gave ’em a whip of moustache wax and a lumberjack shirt buttoned up to the top without a tie, is plainly wrong. They are honestly trying to define masculinity in liquid modernity as sociologist Zygmunt Bauman would say.
Liquid because of the liquidity of modern social life. Because of the constant ripples of change in our identities, the way we define ourselves and the way we relate to other people. They are aware of feminism and the Sexual Revolution. They are most certainly aware that because of those, the way the two main genders relate to one another has fundamentally changed in the last century.
I fundamentally disagree with their conclusions although I do see value in the reasons they started answering them. In the next few posts, I will explain to you why I think so.
Man-meter: I’ll get a straight razor shave.. at some point. When I get tired of my beard.