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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

“What’s in Your Cup?”: Masculinity in Drink Form

Have you ever lost your “man card”?

Apparently I did and didn’t even realize it….

As many of you probably know, men strive to be “real men” via a variety of behaviors. This results from years of conditioning of them as boys and men by a variety of sources. Of course, this is not true of all circumstances but is an idea that appears to be prevalent among many groups of individuals. Men and boys who deviate from normal masculinity are considered to be societal deviants, to be abnormal or weird, and are still (even in 2011) often considered to be gay or “effeminate”. This relates to the “man card” in a sense that “losing it” is the equivalent to being gay or to being abnormal. This appears to be true of bar culture specifically, with which I have quite a bit of experience given I am employed by a restaurant/bar.

When I order a drink at a bar or restaurant, I generally don’t decide what I want based on what is “manly” but on what sounds good. One time, I ordered a cosmopolitan at a bar. An acquaintance of mine was nearby (though not really hanging out with me), and interjected, “Those pink drinks are for b-----s. Why the hell would you order that s---, man?” I was appalled, as I would not have thought he would talk to me like that, nor did I see a problem with the drink I chose.

Another time, I ordered a dirty martini, for which I was chastised by a coworker. He poked fun at my “marteenee” and continued to drink his beer. In a sense, he implied it was a delicate, light drink for wimps. Unfortunately, this type of commentary is common in the bar context, and continues to be present when men do not interrogate the social norms that dictate what beverages they “should” order. This is true of their behavior as well, as they should be willing to contradict social expectations of normativity but are often unable to do so due to peer pressure.

On, there is currently a list of the “Top 10 manly summer drinks”. The caption reads, “You’re a man, so sipping on a drink that’s garnished with an umbrella or a small tropical forest is not an option.” What does that mean? How does a drink with a miniature paper umbrella connote femininity?!? Furthermore, why does it matter? When we have expectations of men to behave in certain ways, we tell them that other behaviors are wrong or inappropriate. This causes them to view such behaviors as weak and less than equal to their own.

In regards to the list of drinks, what about them is “manly”? Sure, there are “strong drinks” including whiskey sour and Moscow Mule. Among them, though, is the vodka martini. Perhaps the culture allows drinks of this sort to be considered “manly” once an “expert” like claims they are.

At present, who decides that such behaviors (and drinks) are manly? The answer: We do! “Snips and snails and puppy dog tails” and “Boys will be boys” are two common expressions that relate to gender, with the latter being more relevant to this post. Why do we as a society consistently adhere to the ideals that gender is a “natural” concept? Likewise, why do we not allow individuals to deviate from such “natural” behaviors? I'm still not sure. Maybe because it is just easier that way.

So, if I order a martini, does that make me lose my man card? I don’t think so—James Bond drinks martinis, and is in some ways the epitome of masculinity. And yes, I consistently prefer mine shaken, not stirred.

Mark Halastik

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