The Edge is often accused of being a bit, well, male oriented, isn’t it. There’s no query mark after that opening sentence because it’s not a question, it’s a statement. It’s not entirely true, of course, because there have been umpteen contributors of the female persuasion over the years, and indeed some of the best ones have come from the distaff side.
By and large, this column has tried to steer clear of gender related controversy, on the basis that very few things in life are black and white, and that it’s really only the degrees of greyness that we ought to be arguing over. However, sometimes things do just have to split along male/female lines and there’s no point in trying to pretend otherwise.
So for this month only, we’re going to tread a dangerous path and look at a few things that define and differentiate the male of the species. Hopefully it will not only allow the men to nod in self-recognition, but it may also, should they be so inclined, give a brief insight into the male psyche to any women who may chance upon And it. It has to be said, it won’t leave us men in a particularly good light, but hey-ho, the truth sometimes hurts.
What we’ll look at is the things that give us males a little glow of manly satisfaction deep down inside, and we’re going to exclude specifically sport, sex and alcohol, because those are too obvious and not necessarily male traits.
An example to kick us off. Power Tools. The bigger the better. We men get a buzz out of wielding an industrial sized electric thingumy. We might shuffle papers and stare at a screen for a living, but come the weekend and there’s a bit of DIY to be done, it takes a real man with a real power tool to get the job done. And you are that man.
Having a scar is a big deal too. Ideally it shouldn’t be from an operation, but caused by a really bad accident, incident or youthful bar-room brawl. That scene in Jaws where Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss are comparing scars exists in every man’s memory because he too would like to be able to boast of dodging a bullet or being bitten by a shark. Women will go to any lengths to hide such blemishes, whilst men will have an arrow tattooed onto their body pointing at it.
Then there are a few mundane things that are nonetheless absolutely the domain of alpha men. Going to the tip, for example, is where us men get to show how strong we are by driving to a place that isn’t very nice and having the strength to heave all the old rubbish into a skip. Proper man’s work. We might not tell our partners that, in fact, we just dumped that spectacularly heavy box of books outside the bin when nobody was looking, hop- ing that a real man, with real muscles, would finish the job for us.
Then there’s using one of those wine waiter corkscrews. Women can’t manage those things, so it’s a case of, “Here, let me do that, love”. Men struggle too, because they are terribly designed – the angles are all wrong – but by holding it between your legs and simply using brute force you get that deeply satisfying ‘plop’ as the cork emerges. The sweet sound of success and that inner glow of satisfaction at proving your worth.
Talking of physical strength, when you’re off on your holidays, real men don’t need a poncey wheeled suit- case. Oh no – a carrying strap is all that’s required as we hump the bag the two miles it is from lounge to gate. Our arms might be an inch longer at the end of it, and our muscles screaming in agony, but we will not succumb to the trolley-case. Wheeled bags are for girls.
The male attitude to illness is a strange phenomenon though. We do tend to overreact if we get a bit of a sniffle and make sure everyone else knows we have pneumonia. But should you actually have a serious accident and be hospitalised, well, we’ll play it down remorselessly. Like the Black Knight in the Monty Python film, should you be laid up with broken bones, then it’s just a flesh wound and you’re absolutely fine and why is everyone making such a fuss. You are a man, after all.
For another example of maleness, let’s go back to the toolbox. We like to believe that only a man knows the difference between mole grips and a monkey wrench. Or whether you need a countersunk or cheesehead screw. It’s just so satisfying to be able to use such terms in the absolute certainty that you are speaking a language unknown to women, and it makes you look so manly as well, doesn’t it?
Now, having listed all that lot, it’s a fair bet that any women reading this will be going, “Yep, stupid little boys the lot of them, no matter how old they are”. It’s hard to argue with that summary, but there is an answer ladies.
Er. Actually, no, there’s isn’t.