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Stratton Smith

Defining Manliness

by Stratton Smith | Sep 23, 2016

I wanted to write about a subject that I thought people could connect to and actually respond to. More than anything, I want to create a conversation that no one ever talks about. Manhood or manliness has been a sense of pride since the beginning of the species. Men have traditionally made their own roles within society and/or communities, then picked different roles for women, and unfortunately they have just stuck that way ever since. One thing I hear a lot of people say is, “that’s just the way it is.” I think that is crap. Ask WHY! WHY is something the way it is? The more often you do that, and are honest with yourself, the more you’ll develop as a human-being... but back to the subject of “being a man.”

“Boys have their bathroom. Girls have theirs.” Why?

“Women are better parents than men.” Why?

“Two men can’t get married.” Why? “Well, because a book written 200 years ago said so.” Oh... cool. Why? “Uhh... I dunno, it just did.” THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! FIND ANSWERS TO THOSE “why” QUESTIONS! Challenge your OWN logic!

Let’s get on the subject of body obsession. Oh, I’m sorry, I mean, working out and lifting weights. I’m here to tell you that muscles don’t matter, and especially not a Manchester. There are a crazy amount of students who would rather spend their time sculpting their bodies, rather than sculpt their minds. An argument I will hear is, “I work out so I can feel healthy and love how I look.” Loving how you look is really important, but it doesn’t start at the gym. Loving yourself is AAAAAALL brain, baby! The gym is great for developing strength, both for your mind and body, but it’s useless unless you continue to develop your mind and use the things you learn OUTSIDE of the gym. GUYS IN THE GYM! Dude, skip one day in the gym and just open a book to save your life! Also, if working out’s only mental benefit to you is, “lifting teaches me to never give up and keep moving forward.” That logic can be used in ANY sense! “Working in the drive-thru taught me to just keep pushing through and to never give up.” Same thing. “Pokemon hunting teaches me to never give up in finding the BEST Pokémon and to keep moving forward if I don’t find them.” It’s a bold statement, but I’ll make it. I think you can get more value out of playing Pokemon Go than lifting weights. Interpret that however you’d like, and I won’t explain myself, but think about things like that.

So then we have a huge debate/argument waiting to happen when talking about intelligence. CAUTION: I will NEVER say that men who lift weights are less intelligent than men who decide to do other things. BUT in contrast to that, I will NEVER say that men with muscles are manlier than men who read books. So we must define manliness. Since this is my blog (he said while overwhelmed with power), I’m going to tell you guys what I think a man is.

BIG MUSCLES MEAN NOTHING. Cool. You can pick things up and put them down. Here’s a heavy question, but if you’re honest with yourself, you can come to some really crazy conclusions: Does going to the gym make YOU smarter? If not, then why do you go to the gym? Why did men suddenly stop caring about their brains and how they treated people, rather than how big their biceps could get? Physical health is overwhelmingly important, but I’m here to say that it is not as important as your mental and psychological health. Another question! What’re you doing to make yourself smarter OTHER than going to class and doing homework? For me, it is being involved in things outside athletics. I challenge myself. THERE ARE ONE HUNDRED FOOTBALL AND BASEBALL PLAYERS THAT ONLY FOCUS ON BASEBALL/FOOTBALL AND DON’T JOIN ANOTHER CLUB/ACADEMIC GROUP THE REST OF THE YEAR. I just want to know WHY? Being a man is not surrounding yourself with people and always being comfortable. Being a man is emerging your mind into other dimensions of thought and doing things as an individual. How many people are out there who won’t do something because their friend won’t do it with them? It’s sad.

I’m a little everywhere with this rant, but let’s play Love Doctor for a minute. A lot of my friends come to me for relationship advice because I usually have the right/realest answers about things. GUYS! I’m here to tell you that muscles DO NOT matter to quality women. The best women are the ones who are attracted to intelligence. I’m not saying that a less intelligent person would be a bad spouse (Forrest Gump was pretty great), but for my personal taste, I look for intelligence. Someone who challenges their own thoughts and beliefs. So GUYS! Spend more time with your mind, rather than your muscles. Now, I’m overwhelmingly single, so you don’t have to take my advice, but I have been in relationships that I’m proud of and that were extremely healthy. I’ve also been on the opposite end of that.

So here is some assurance to those guys reading that are weak and scrawny like me! I’d like to stress to you that what you can do with your thoughts, ideas, and words is 10x more powerful than what someone could do with their fists. Yeah, getting punched in the face sucks... but so does roasting someone with a quote from Shakespeare and seeing the look on their face when they have no idea what is going on. I PROMISE being the smartest person in the room is more valuable than being able to lift the couch the highest/longest in the room. So everybody! Develop your morals, ethics, faith, political views, EVERYTHING, before developing your body. Think about what order of value things are in your life, then that is when you start going through the motions of finding out who you are and what makes you special.

Stratton Smith ’17 is an English major, hailing from a small town just east of Indianapolis. Stratton is the captain of the tennis team, co-founder of Academic Probation, Manchester's improv troupe, and Vice President of the Theatre & Society club.