by Steve Stevenson

As a dude, I sometimes look at women and think; wow, that looks like so much hard work. They must spend a couple of hours at least, daily, just doing the things that seem required of women to do. Makeup? Gossip? Infinite shoes? Other stereotypes? So much work.

Here in the West, we’re all offered a great deal of freedom to be who we want to be; and yet, there are still certain arbitrary things that it seems a woman must do in order to earn her woman card. The world doesn’t bat an eyelid if I shave my head, grow a beard and wear sneakers with a tuxedo, but if a woman tries the same thing, she’s regarded as an eccentric, an oddity, or a circus attraction.

Of course, while I’m busy shaking my head in wonder and bemusement at these painty-faced not-men, they are in turn looking back with the same kind of puzzlement, because there are of course certain things a man must be seen to do if he wants to earn his man card. And a lot of these things, on closer inspection, are kind of silly as gender qualifiers.

Knowing/Caring About Sports

“I’d normally tell you all to have fun out there, but you have to know that this is the most important thing you’ll ever do and that failure will scar you forever.”

“I’d normally tell you all to have fun out there, but you have to know that this is the most important thing you’ll ever do and that failure will scar you forever.”

Sports is big business, and the playing of and watching of sports is a perfectly healthy and acceptable pastime. But so’s cooking, and nobody calls you a wimp if you don’t rock a perfect soufflé.

The playing, watching, understanding and discussion of sports is one of the most common modern markers of masculinity, and I guess this is perfectly harmless until that Invasion of the Body Snatchers moment when the room slowly figures out that you’re the only guy present who could not care less about sports. “It’s just a game!” You say, shrugging. “Shraaaaaaaaaaa!” say the sports fans, before holding you down and assimilating you.

So why is sports appreciation considered manly? It starts when we’re kids, when the playing of sports is a nice safe way to sort out and rank the physically superior. As we get older, we assert our masculinity by proxy through the knowledge of the game, and then reassure our contemporaries of our masculinity by discussing our knowledge of the game. Any man who says “Aren’t we paying a little too much attention to these mutant bear men in body armor running into each other?” makes a mockery of a carefully constructed, meticulously maintained social agreement instilled in us since our first experience with a community of peers.

It is, though, just a game, and anybody who questions your sexuality based on your knowledge of said game has left his soul on the playground, frightened, alone, and desperate to fit in.

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