Male Strength Should Be Celebrated, Not Replaced With Girly Men

A recent article from Yahoo celebrating the decline of “muscular, classically chiseled male models” for men who are thinner with sunken chests and “beautiful faces” made me squirm.

Call me old-fashioned, but I like men who look like men. I like men who act like men, walk like men, feel like men. I like the brawn, the scruff, the musty scent, the power they exude when muscles ripple. That doesn’t mean they all have to look like a body builder, but they need to be a man who exudes strength.

I’ll never forget when I was in high school in the eighties, and I studied abroad in Germany. Not to knock the German men, but I noticed how scrawny and frail most of the guys were. Even as a 17-year-old girl, I found something inherently unattractive about it.

At the end of the summer, when I gathered with other American students before heading home, I was struck by the muscular stature of the young men, and something about them made me feel a sense of relief, as if I were truly coming home where I was safe. I could finally breathe.

I was reminded of this recently when I went to visit my daughter at UNC Chapel Hill. I couldn’t help but notice how the men had changed since I attended college there years ago. So many looked skinny and soft.

“Where are all the real men? Where are the muscles?” I asked my daughter. Surprisingly, she knew exactly what I was commenting on. “They’re all athletes or they’re basic bros in the gym.”

Don’t get me wrong. I know there have always been scrawny guys among us. Nothing against them. But there is something more to this younger generation that was absent even among the less-developed men of days past. They’re not just smaller (because small guys can still be masculine). They’re girly, more feminized. They exude fragility. They remind me of some of the German guys I met back in the eighties.

As I read the article about the rise of girly men in fashion, I realized what it was about these men that made me feel so uncomfortable. It’s because they’re weak -- and, yes, I know I’m going against the feminist code to say I’m comfortable with strong men. Women are supposed to find them threatening, a danger, a wild force to be tamed or caged. Right?

Wrong. As a woman who is already physically weak (comparatively), I appreciate a man’s strength for protection. No woman, no matter how strong she might be, compares to a man -- a manly man, not a feminized ghost of a man. It is in men that women find physical reassurance and comfort, not in one another.

The Ya Ya Sisterhood won’t keep you safe when your life is threatened.