Add to that a long-overdue reckoning for millennia of casting women as second class humans, at best, and being male doesn’t feel like a positive thing. And yet, here we are, here I am.
Lately, I feel like I’ve been internalising all this negative stuff about my gender that’s been stirred up by the likes of Donald Trump and an acute awareness of all the ways guys can be real dicks (metaphorically and literally).
While much of the critical sentiment about men is warranted, the males whose behaviour has given rise to it don’t particularly care. Those of us who strive daily to be better representatives of our half of the species wind up being dragged down by the rest.
The downside of that is that it’s difficult not to internalise that negativity. In the process, we surrender our power to have a positive impact in our relationships and on the world around us.
There is a list of reasons
When I noticed I was in that unpleasant space, I decided to address it with a little emotional hacking. I decided to come up with answers to the question, “What’s so great about being a guy?”:
We’re physically stronger
Generally speaking, males tend to be physically stronger than women.
Yes, that is a pretty broad generalisation and it may only really be accurate in terms of brute strength. Most of the women I know are not to be trifled with.
That comes in really handy when there are heavy shopping bags to carry up stairs and children who want to be picked up (and who are, quite frankly, a bit too old to be picked up).
Of course there are often other things that need to be lifted, packed away and otherwise handled. These sorts of tasks may seem menial but they need to be done and, if you have a special lady in your life, she’ll appreciate it.
A subset of this is being the family pack mule. For some reason, family outings almost always result in me carrying not only most of the bags we insisted on leaving our apartment with but also whatever our kids acquired along the way.
I’ve come to regard back pain as an achievement badge of sorts. I wonder if there are achievement levels?
We can be the hero
Eradicating spiders, cockroaches and other creepy crawlies is not just a man’s job but these dastardly creatures give us opportunities to be our family’s hero.
I am not a fan of the bugs that emerge from the depths of wherever they come from in our home. I’m also not ashamed to admit that it took me a little while to learn to suppress a scream and the urge to flee when I saw them emerge from underneath a couch or kitchen counter.
Once I took that Big Boy step, I became pretty efficient at capturing these hellspawn and tossing them out a nearby window. I also earned my wife’s and kids’ respect and admiration.
I still scream with my inside voice at times but, as the saying goes:
Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.
Learning new domestic skills
Women are traditionally expected to deal with all the domestic stuff while men do whatever it is men are supposed to have done while the domestic stuff is being taken care of.
Clearly that is unfair to women who have also been expected to handle that child-rearing stuff and still make themselves useful in the job market.
Thankfully, most of the men I know step up and take on domestic and child-related tasks too. The benefit of being a Modern Guy is that expectations tend to be pretty low (I’m referring to our expectations of ourselves – women have always expected us to do more and have generally been disappointed).
So, increasingly, we do pitch in and do things like laundry (with appropriate amounts of soap and water), dishes, cooking and wiping our children’s bums. When we do, we experience that sense of achievement those other deadbeat guys rarely do.
Cleaning the toilet, for example, is pretty crappy (in all senses of the word). At the same time, that sense of satisfaction at having obsessively cleaned the bathroom and rendered it safe for our families, is almost tangible.
When we do our share of the domestic stuff, we prove to ourselves that we are more than the jerks we are so often compared to.
Being your little girl’s Daddy
One of the biggest advantages of being a guy is the opportunity to be your little girl’s Daddy.
This one is difficult to describe to a guy who isn’t a father to a little girl but it is definitely one of the best things about being a guy. If you’re lucky enough to have an opportunity to be one, of course.
Perhaps this old post will help explain what it’s like a little better:
Teaching your son to be a better man
Women have an important perspective to share with boys when it comes to teaching them how to be better men. At the same time, they learn so much from seeing how their male role models conduct themselves.
This is both a tremendous responsibility for fathers as well as a privilege. Raising a son is an opportunity to shape the future of human relationships in a small way.
If we, the fathers, can figure out how to be better examples of our gender, we will hopefully also produce a new generation of men who are not trapped by the idiocy of their predecessors.
This role reminds me of that saying, “Healer, heal thyself”. As we learn to become better men, we pass on some of the lessons we learn to our sons and give them a better foundation for their relationships.
From what I’ve heard about PMS, I am grateful that I only experience the external manifestations of it now and then (and when I do, it seems pretty mild – my wife is awesome that way).
I’m sure that when our daughter reaches puberty (the prospect of a teenage daughter terrifies me), it will be somewhat more interesting.
Either way, I’m glad it isn’t something I am biologically capable of.
Incapable of being pregnant
Pregnancy is a wonderful thing. It is the means by which we have our children.
I appreciate the opportunity of contributing towards a pregnancy and ensuring that some of my more annoying personality traits are preserved in our children. Beyond that, I am happy to be a guy because I don’t have to physically go through pregnancy.
Certainly, I understand that there is much about pregnancy that is wondrous and men will never really appreciate the extent of it.
At the same time, after seeing my wife go through morning (leaning towards general) sickness; massive discomfort; months of having our darling child stamping on her bladder, and other less than blissful pregnancy-related experiences, I am ok being on this side of it.
Pregnancy still strikes me as an odd way of creating children. It probably made a lot of sense, in evolutionary terms, when our species was constantly on the move and had to carry everything.
Bottom line here: I’m grateful that we were able to fall pregnant and have our two children. That women can do this astounds me. It is amazing and should, in itself, be a reason to treat women with orders of magnitude more respect.
Beyond that, I’m glad that being a guy means I don’t have to actually experience it first-hand.
Women seem to be under so much pressure to dress well. From what little I understand about this pressure, it seems to be more about meeting other people’s expectations.
There are certain contexts in which I feel the need to dress better (job interviews and weddings, for example) and I make an effort there. Outside those situations, I have become fairly relaxed about what I wear.
For the most part, pants and a decent shirt tend to cover the basics. I also feel that being a Dad means that dressing like I am still in the 1990s is excusable because fatherhood somehow takes the place of fashion sense for most men.
Now that I think about it, dressing appropriately for situations that require it and not embarrassing my wife are the broad guidelines that dictate what I wear when I go out in public. I also keep telling my wife that the 1990s will come back into fashion but she isn’t convinced.
In short, as a (roughly) middle-aged guy, I’m glad that I get to dress pretty much how I see fit (within the parameters I mentioned already) without feeling the pressure that, I imagine, so many women feel.
On a related note, don’t be so quick to criticize cargo pants. They may seem like a fashion aberration but they are essential to the Dad role of being the family pack mule.
I think there is a gene that controls Dad jokes. It lies dormant until you produce children and they reach the age where they can understand puns and sarcasm.
At that point the gene turns on and you have the dubious ability to not only tell dad jokes, but find them funny too.
Like dressing poorly, this feels like a privilege of being a Dad. I also see it as a form of pre-emptive revenge on our children who, I’m certain, will cause me to go gray and lose my hair far too soon.
Dad jokes are potent weapons of mass embarrassment and their potency only increases the older our kids are (at least until they have kids of their own and the jokes somehow become amusing).
Sure, mothers tell jokes too but there is something special about Dad jokes that makes them especially embarrassing. They’re a kind of guy super-power and I enjoy having them.
Just to name a few reasons
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, being a guy is complicated. There is a joke about lawyers (well, one of bazillions) that goes: “99% of lawyers give the rest of us a bad name”.
It isn’t quite as bad being a guy but there are plenty of males out there who seem to be making a concerted effort to make the rest of us seem like the human equivalents of cheese mould.
We have a responsibility to set better examples for our children and represent our gender in a more positive and constructive light. It isn’t always easy. Even the most sincere of us have an innate tendency to stupid things.
Being a guy is a work in progress. There is always room for improvement and I think it’s important to find that balance between being our flawed selves and striving for something more socially acceptable.
In the meantime, let’s not lose sight of the good things about being a guy and celebrate the small victories. The alternative is to surrender to the air of despondency that chokes us, moment to moment.
Let me know if you have any other reasons to celebrate being a guy in the comments. I’m sure there are loads more.
Featured image credit: Danielle MacInnes
- Feel free to suggest other reasons in the comments or in reply on social media. I’d love to add even better reasons to this post. ↩
- Conventional wisdom suggests pulverizing these creatures but consider the mess you’d need to clean up afterwards. ↩
- See the bit about being physically stronger near the top of this article. ↩