The other day I was walking down the street when I saw a man with the perfect amount of scruff. He looked like the type of guy who could knock back a whisky and nail a lewd joke. He was wearing one of those hipster flannel shirts and looked incredibly masculine. He was also wearing a baby, and looked totally captivated by his child. Looking at this man, I thought how far we have come (in some regards) in terms of gender equality and cultural open-mindedness.
Men can be men (meaning they can do all the stereotypically "masculine" things) — and also rear children. Men can watch the game and drink beers with their friends, and also proudly go to a yoga class. In fact, I think owning the fact that nothing at all is a threat to one's gender identity is the most empowering thing you can do. A man owning the fact that carrying a child, going to yoga class, or learning to knit are NOT threats to his masculinity: that's the "manliest" thing he can do.
In this spirit, here is what I love about you, the modern, enlightened dude:
1. Your workout moves
You know that you are strong. Perhaps you can bicep curl like no one else. You can deadlift like a badass…you get the point. Yet sometimes we have to do the exercises that we aren't naturally good at in order to build a more balanced body. Enlightened dudes work their weaker muscles and aren't afraid to quiver in downward facing dog. Yet they keep trying, because they know it is for the good of their health. Being "good at it" isn't the point.
2. Your self-care
In the same theme, it is amazing how enlightened dudes don't have to wait for their loved ones to gasp, "Hey, it looks like your ear is about to fall off!" before they do something about it. They go to the doctor and make their own appointments. They take responsibility for their health and happiness. They rock a Movember mustache because they appreciate the value of a prostate. We love you for it (even if we are super glad when December 1 rolls around).
3. Your unapologetic interests
You love what you love, regardless of how it is perceived or labels by others. "But guys don't do X" doesn't play an important role in your vocabulary. Sure, we all have our stereotypes and expectations of what is normal. But enlightened dudes blow this out of the water. They knit. They love a good fancy cocktail. They hold their children close. Let me tell you, dudes: that is seriously sexy.
4. Your affection
Enlightened dudes are not confined to a life of stiff handshakes and paltry hugs. They pull in the people that have meaning to them. They hug with their whole torso. They cuddle their partners. They spoon their cats. They know the value of physical contact and affection, whatever it may be. Hey, whatever works.
5. Your views on gender
Free of labels in your own gender, you allow women to live the way they want, without raising an eyebrow. You encourage your girlfriend to learn about the mechanics of her car. You don't laugh when she doesn't understand something right away, because everyone is a beginner at some point in time, regardless of gender. You know when she is better than you, because sometimes you are better than her. We all have our chance to shine.