Which got me thinking: If I'm not "a man's man", then what the heck am I? I've never really given much thought to the varying types of masculinity; I've merely accepted them for what they are, and accepted the people I know for who they are. But guys really are very different from each other in many ways.*
In researching this post online, I found an article written by a guy named Luigi Di Serio entitled, "What It Takes To Be A Real Man." In it, Di Serio lists the four types of males as he sees them – he calls it the Male Matrix.
First of all, there's The Wussy (or alternately The Geek). This type of male is described as being "so reserved and self-loathing that he has essentially 'given up' and is neither driven nor passionate." The Wussy is "very needy" and "fueled by insecurity". In relation to the opposite sex, Di Serio says that "women are seldom attracted to The Wussy and men rarely respect them."
Then you have The Metrosexual. This relatively new moniker for heterosexual males is used to describe a man who has "decided that conforming to women's demands and behaviors is the easiest way to win them over." This type of guy has been "adversely affected by social pressures and Unisexification" (whatever that means). He lacks "normal masculine interests" and is perceived to "act gay" even though he isn't.
Next comes The Macho Man. This guy "has a lot of qualities that can be attractive to women, but only because they are usually opposite qualities than women have." Like The Wussy, The Macho Man is motivated by insecurity. However, The Macho Man's insecurity is manifested not by being a pushover, but by maintaining "a tough exterior to protect his weak, apprehensive self." The Macho Man is often abusive and extremely selfish; but because he doesn't behave this way all the time (only when it's to his advantage), he is often perceived to be just a "regular guy."
The Real Man is described by Di Serio as a confident male who believes in himself and stands up for what he believes in, while allowing others to do the same. The Real Man is able to enjoy himself, but is "not controlled by emotional impulses." He is "in control, but [is] not controlling."
While the article doesn't ever use the phrase "a man's man", my general understanding of that term seems to peg it somewhere between The Macho Man and The Real Man.
So where does all this leave me?
Fortunately, Di Serio includes a chart which demonstrates how various characteristics and traits typically manifest themselves in the behavior of each type of male. It's sort of a checkoff list where you can easily identify which kind of guy you are (if you're a guy), or which kind of guy your significant other is (if you're a lady). Of course, like any personality test, it's not foolproof. But it is interesting nonetheless to self-evaluate based on specific qualities (or lack thereof).
The actual chart can be found at the site linked at the end of this post. I won't reproduce it here, but I will highlight each category mentioned by Di Serio.
PERSONALITY: The Wussy is passive, while The Metrosexual is flaky. The Macho Man is aggressive, whereas The Real Man is stern.
BRAVERY: The Wussy is cowardly (no surprise there!), whereas The Metrosexual is worrisome. The Macho Man is reckless, while The Real Man is courageous.
SOCIAL SKILLS: The Wussy is timid, The Metrosexual is relaxed, the Macho Man is obnoxious, and The Real Man is approachable.
WORK ETHIC: The Wussy is a workaholic, while The Metrosexual is only working for the money. The Macho Man is lazy, whereas The Real Man gets the job done.
GENEROSITY: The Wussy is a giver (to excess), whereas The Metrosexual tends to be cheap or exhibits selective generosity. The Macho Man is a taker, while The Real Man makes compromises.
PHYSICAL PROWESS: The Wussy is (not surprisingly) a pushover, while The Metrosexual tends to be more reactive than proactive. The Macho Man is aggressive, whereas The Real Man is honorable.
SEXUALITY: The Wussy is restrained, the Metrosexual is eager to please, the Macho Man is dominant, and The Real Man is in control.
SENSE OF FREEDOM: The Wussy is oppressed, while The Metrosexual is very liberal. The Macho Man is exploitive, whereas The Real Man is respectful.
EXPRESSION OF DESIRES: The Wussy is repressed, whereas The Metrosexual is rash. The Macho Man is obsessive, while The Real Man is moderate.
HONESTY: The Wussy is transparent, while The Metrosexual is ambiguous. The Macho Man is outright deceptive, while The Real Man is fair.
REASON: The Wussy is data-driven, whereas The Metrosexual is plain ignorant. The Macho Man is arrogant, while The Real Man is wise.
HUMOR: The Wussy tends to have a nerdy sense of humor, while The Metrosexual's is more silly or absurd. The Macho Man's sense of humor is rude and offensive, while The Real Man's is tasteful.
I went through each of these traits evaluating myself, but ultimately found the results to be inconclusive. While I'm fairly timid, repressed, and data-driven like The Wussy, I'm also flaky, worrisome, cheap, reactive, and ambiguous like The Metrosexual. Sometimes I'm lazy like The Macho Man, and sometimes I get the job done like The Real Man.
Di Serio concedes that many guys don't fit neatly into any one of these categories. For the guys like myself who possess "a variety of traits and virtues from each", there's the fifth and probably most common type of guy: The Average Male.
I'm good with that one. I've never aspired to be (nor been successful in being) extraordinary in anything; nor have I attempted to be (or succeeded at being) nothing at all. I'm somewhere in between. I think we all are.
So go ahead and call me a Wussy, but be prepared – the Macho Man in me just might kick your butt. Call me a Metrosexual, and I might stand up for what I believe and respectfully tell you that you're wrong. Call me Average, and I'll answer to it every time.
* I know, I know: ladies are very different from each other also, but that discussion will be saved for a later date, if I ever venture to tackle it at all.