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Words make the man

Don’t forget your man purse on the way to your man date at the man spa. Modern men are embracing activities formerly the purview of women, and they have their own man slang.


By RODNEY THRASH
Published August 22, 2006


[Times photos: Melissa Lyttle]
Jason Kimbler of Brandon kicks back and relaxes while Stephannie Queirolox exfoliates and hydrates his feet. Nearby, Bucs defensive tackle Anthony McFarland gets a manicure from nail technician Faye Dieu. McFarland says he visits the Difference man spa once every couple of weeks, not enough for his liking.
photo
Corinn Singletary, a certified laser specialist, demonstrates how she would perform laser hair removal on Difference operations manager Mike Hernandez.
Related: A gadget bag is the new man purse

Frankie Mazon  can’t stand the n-word. The other n-word. The one that evokes Jo Frost and naughty chairs, Mary Poppins and strollers.

“If someone calls me a nanny,” said Mazon, 24, “I correct them. I tell them the new word: manny.”

Straight men like Mazon, a San Diego  male nanny, are openly embracing traditionally feminine  things, and as they do, the men — and the media — are changing the way we talk.

A whole dialect has emerged to protect men from jokes, suspicious stares and questions about their manhood.

There’s murse, instead of nurse. Mandals, not sandals. Guyliner, not eyeliner (see the glossary for further explanation). And ever since Britney Spears hired a male nanny, tabloids, TV shows, and even the Washington Post have been abuzz about mannies.

“The man part of these words is designed to reassure men that they won’t lose their largely extraneous bits when they do things that women have traditionally done in the past,” said Mark Simpson , the British journalist who coined the term metrosexual. “Castration anxiety is at the root of much of this.”

Socially, this is a confusing time. More than four decades after Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, the ground-breaking book about seemingly happy housewives feeling trapped and yearning for more, our assumptions of what men and women can and cannot do have changed.

As a recent series in the New York Times suggests, women are catching up with, and in some cases outpacing, men on college campuses and in corporate boardrooms.

Gender roles, once clearly defined, are more blurred than ever.

No longer perceived as the clearly dominant sex, men have
to assert their masculinity in other ways. Language is one way.

At urbandictionary.com, where 1.5-million words have been added since 1999, the number of “man” entries spans 18 pages, three columns per page.

“We’re all struggling with life in an age in which the ancient and traditional gender roles are reversed and commingled,” said Robin Lakoff , a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. “Language, as always, gives evidence of social concerns.”

The feminist movement affected language too, but in a different way. Women didn’t want to make words more feminine, because tacking on “ette” or “ess” makes a word sound diminished and delicate. Instead, they demanded inclusive, gender-neutral titles such as firefighter and police officer.

Now that men want to toughen their glossary, there is no prefix or suffix in the English language that emphasizes masculinity. “Altogether new words have to be created,” Lakoff said.

Are men that insecure, that paranoid about what their buddies may think that they have to assert their masculinity through language?

Yes, said Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield, who earlier this year wrote a book entitled — what else? — Manliness.
“Manliness is real,” he said. “It’s not something cooked up by society. It isn’t a social construction.

“Men really do look down on activities that they consider unmanly.”

Jason Kimbler thought it strange when his friend, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, invited him to the Difference, which bills itself as Tampa’s first man spa. “I am a boy from the South,” he said.

Since that first invitation, Kimbler, 29, has returned to the South Tampa spa twice. In some ways, he still finds the experience odd. Around his boys, he fudges answers to questions about his whereabouts, so as not to seem soft.

“I’m going to get my feet done or my hands done,” he tells them. He makes it clear: “I’m not going to get a pedicure and a manicure.”

If they probe, he sometimes emphasizes the man part of man spa.

“We didn’t start going to the spa,” he said. “We have to put our touch on it.”

Simpson, the British journalist, isn’t sure the growth of man slang is healthy.

“The insistence on the masculinity of handbags and eyeliner or
child care does sound counterproductive,” he said. “Like a kind of denial of the fact that in traditional terms, these things aren’t masculine at all.”

For Mazon, the male nanny, man slang is part bravado, part gimmick.

He uses manny to grab attention on employment Web sites such as Craigslist.com,  where he promises potential families walks through the park, help with homework and warm dinners.

“I like saying manny as opposed to male nanny,” he said. “It is really all a marketing technique.”
But will man slang last? Simpson doesn’t think so.

“This kind of language is faddish and transitory,” he said. “Once people are used to the idea that men and women have less distinct roles and lifestyles than in the past, they will be forgotten.”

 At urbandictionary.com, where 1.5-million words have been added since 1999, the number of “man” entries spans 18 pages, three columns per page.

“We’re all struggling with life in an age in which the ancient and traditional gender roles are reversed and commingled,” said Robin Lakoff , a linguistics professor at the University of California at Berkeley. “Language, as always, gives evidence of social concerns.”

The feminist movement affected language too, but in a different way. Women didn’t want to make words more feminine, because tacking on “ette” or “ess” makes a word sound diminished and delicate. Instead, they demanded inclusive, gender-neutral titles such as firefighter and police officer.

Now that men want to toughen their glossary, there is no prefix or suffix in the English language that emphasizes masculinity. “Altogether new words have to be created,” Lakoff said.

Are men that insecure, that paranoid about what their buddies may think that they have to assert their masculinity through language?

Yes, said Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield, who earlier this year wrote a book entitled — what else? — Manliness.
“Manliness is real,” he said. “It’s not something cooked up by society. It isn’t a social construction.

“Men really do look down on activities that they consider unmanly.”

Jason Kimbler thought it strange when his friend, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Anthony McFarland, invited him to the Difference, which bills itself as Tampa’s first man spa.

“I am a boy from the South,” he said.

Since that first invitation, Kimbler, 29, has returned to the South Tampa spa twice. In some ways, he still finds the experience odd. Around his boys, he fudges answers to questions about his whereabouts, so as not to seem soft.

“I’m going to get my feet done or my hands done,” he tells them. He makes it clear: “I’m not going to get a pedicure and a manicure.”

If they probe, he sometimes emphasizes the man part of man spa.

“We didn’t start going to the spa,” he said. “We have to put our touch on it.”

Simpson, the British journalist, isn’t sure the growth of man slang is healthy.

“The insistence on the masculinity of handbags and eyeliner or child care does sound counterproductive,” he said.

“Like a kind of denial of the fact that in traditional terms, these things aren’t masculine at all.”

For Mazon, the male nanny, man slang is part bravado, part gimmick.

He uses manny to grab attention on employment Web sites such as Craigslist.com,  where he promises potential families walks through the park, help with homework and warm dinners.

“I like saying manny as opposed to male nanny,” he said. “It is really all a marketing technique.”

But will man slang last? Simpson doesn’t think so.

“This kind of language is faddish and transitory,” he said. “Once people are used to the idea that men and women have less distinct roles and lifestyles than in the past, they will be forgotten.”


Rodney Thrash can be reached at (727) 893-8352 or rthrash@sptimes.com.

Man Glossary

Guyliner: Eyeliner applied on a man. Known wearers include Sam Endicott of the alternative band the Bravery and Brandon Flowers of Las Vegas rock band the Killers. Non-rock stars should still expect stares.

Himbo: A male bimbo.

Manbag, manpurse: A purse with a strap worn by a man, often carried by someone who is metrosexual.

Man bling: Jewelry that isn't overly glitzy or feminine. In Ocean's Twelve, Brad Pitt wore a silver pendant and cuff links from Tiffany's.

Man blouse: A buttoned-down shirt with a pattern or style that gives it a feminine quality.

Mandals, manflops: Man sandals or flip-flops.

Man crush: Hero worship; a man who has a crush on another man without sexual attraction. In Seinfeld, Jerry had one for a Mets first baseman.

Man dolls: Dolls for men; action figures.

Manogram: What men give themselves when they examine their pectoral muscles in the mirror for an extended period of time. Often seen in gyms, done as an act of vanity.

Manpal: The guy version of girlfriends.

Manny: Male nanny.

Manscaping: Landscaping the male body by shaving, trimming, waxing or brushing the body hair.

Mansitive: Used to describe a man who is extremely sensitive.

Manstress: A woman's man-on-the-side.

Manswer: A very manly answer.

Mansy: A man who is not a complete wimp, but he does have his moments.

Mantality: A phrase used to describe the mentality of men.

Mantastic: Feeling fantastic after the successful completion of a particularly macho feat.

Mantastrophe: An activity that takes a negative turn involving a group of men. Example: The bachelor party became a mantastrophe when the groom missed his wedding.

Manthem: Aggressively male chant-song. Example: Burger King's I Am Man ad campaign for the Texas Double Whopper, which uses a 60-second parody of the Helen Reddy song I Am Woman.

Manties: A pair of very brief, tight-fitting men's underpants.

Mantivity: Having a strong grasp on your manhood.

Manwash: Body wash designed specifically for men.

Murse: Male nurse (or purse).

Sources: urbandictionary.com; wordspy.com; cbsnews.com.


 

[Last modified August 22, 2006, 11:10:06]


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