Disclaimer: MWG had the TV on while I was watching this so I got distracted by the cheesiness of The Lizzie McGuire movie, so forgive me if this goes astray.
On Sunday night, to celebrate my birthday MWG took me to a rather fancy hotel. It was four stars and probably the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, having checked in we went for food and decided on Nando’s, I think in part to cancel out the poshness of the hotel.
For those unfamiliar with Nando’s it’s a chain of chicken restaurants that serve food with peri-peri sauce and have a Mozambican/Portuguese theme according to Wikipedia. The food’s pretty decent and it’s got a relaxed atmosphere, so it’s a pretty cool place all in all, apart from that some idiots go in there and use terms like “cheeky Nando’s”.
Whatever, as we sat down I decided on my order- a double burger. And as you can choose your spice level, from Plain(ish) to Extra Extra Hot, I opted for Lemon and Herb, which is towards the low end of the spectrum. If I’m having just one burger I’d go for medium, but with two I decided to take it down a notch, and the Lemon and Herb is actually pretty tasty.
While MWG placed the order I sat at the table and remembered something I’d read once, a quick Google found the same thing, via the Cosmopolitan website, where a Nando’s staff member confessed:
You wouldn’t believe how many guys order ‘weak’ chicken and quietly ask you to change the flag so it makes it looks like they ordered hot chicken. It happens ALL the time.
That is hands down one of the most pathetic things I’ve ever heard. And one of the most pointless.
If you don’t want spicy, don’t order spicy. There’s nothing wrong with not liking hot food, it’s just a personal taste thing.
I suspect it’s some kind of bollocks macho thing, where they don’t want to look weak or girly, which is a little bit depressing. And I’d argue it’s kinda weak to pretend to be eating Extra Extra Hot when it’s just a Medium, just be open about it, you are who you are, don’t pretend to be something you’re not.
The fact that these dudes feel the need to mask it shows how stupid this whole masculinity concept is in our society. It’s a vague concept at the best of times, that someone is somehow more “manly” than another guy. That there’s a checklist you have to tick off in order to be a “real man”.
Stephen Fry. Tommy Lee. Bear Grylls. David Cameron. Russell Brand. Mike Tyson. Prince. The Rock.
All of these are men. Is one more of a man than the others? No.
Masculinity shouldn’t exist, or at least shouldn’t be a big deal. Why not just do what you want, rather than worrying about how it looks to other people?
I’m not the most macho of guys, and I regularly get grief from people about liking stuff which isn’t traditionally manly- rom coms, Eurovision, shirts with flowers on, Made in Chelsea, Lady Gaga etc. I get told I need to stop being “girly”.
This is annoying because (a) is being like a girl really an insult? I don’t think so and (b) what the hell is wrong with liking what I like? Does it hurt others that I like blaring Born This Way on my iPod? Or that I think When Harry Met Sally is a quality movie?
Does it matter that I don’t give a toss about cars or the size of their engine? That I scream when I see a spider? That I order a Korma sometimes?
There’s this pressure on dudes to be “manly”, and it’s not good. It’s making people insecure about who they are, and that’s never good.
It’s also not healthy, and potentially dangerous, making men less likely to open up about their emotions, or seek help for problems, because that’s not seen as being a manly thing to do. They bottle things up, but sooner or later something’s gotta give, and talking it out early on might save everyone a lot of bother and misery.
That’s the serious end of the spectrum, but it bleeds through into regular life for dudes. They worry about how they look to others, they can’t be open about what they like and who they are. It even ruins their trips out for some chicken, because they’re worried about being exposed as a Lemon and Herb eater.
And even more depressingly it’s continuing this view that feminine things are lesser, or bad. That the worst thing a man can be is like a woman, as if women are inherently a bad thing. Which I think we all know is utter bollocks.
You like what you like. Don’t worry about whether it’s traditionally aimed at the other gender, it speaks to you, so embrace it. Trying to stick to what society expects of your gender limits your opportunities and choices, and you’ll never match all the expectations and standards, and you shouldn’t try to.
You’re an individual, not some daft list of characteristics that people can’t even agree on fully.
You’re a man because you’re a man, not because of what you like or how spicy your food is.
Be who you are, and when you make peace with that, you’ll feel a whole lot better, and won’t have to switch flags in your chicken.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.