The Dryden Observer

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The rebirth of machismo

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

And thus ends Movember, with a collective sigh of relief from the community’s female inhabitants.

I would theorize that an examination of the birth records at Dryden Regional Health Centre in the months of August over the past few years would show a distinct drop in the number of babies born in that period — those who were of course being among the rare few conceived during the month of Movember (perhaps explained by a spike in wine sales for that period)

We can’t all be Tom Selleck, circa 1982, or John Kitt. But these past four weeks let a man dream of Ferraris, Hawaiian shirts and handguns. We can stand in front of the bathroom mirror and stroke our hairy upper lips and enjoy the lingering aroma of our morning coffee.

This masculine movement of competitive moustache growing, which raises awareness and funds for prostate cancer research, has something that is hard to put your finger into… er… ‘on’. The campaign’s brilliance is the way it taps into something far more powerful and complex than it appears to be on its surface.

Like a prostate exam, I venture now into the kind of territory from which many men recoil, a place of which we do not speak, but is known without knowing — encoded in the chemical signature of the hormone testosterone.

Men of Canada, we have buried a part of ourselves deep inside…er

The expression of this ‘maleness’ — machismo — is a concept more often subject to ridicule than admiration in modern Canadian society. We have arrived at a point where the simple act of growing a moustache seems novel, ironic, maybe even a bit rebellious.

Nostalgia is a powerful lever too. Driving through the streets of downtown is like walking through the halls of Dryden Hall School past the graduates of the late 1970s and early ’80s. Are we pining for the days long before the conspiracy to place ‘doing the dishes or laundry’ in every magazine’s top-ten list of women’s turn-ons? (It’s a myth, by the way)

I think most men, at least those of my generation, would agree that the death of machismo is a small concession in a continuing trend towards gender equality in our society. The two have never played nicely together.

It’s hard to discount the role of the women in our lives, especially considering the events of the past decade in Dryden. The near collapse of the forest industry, accompanied by massive job losses, shifted family dynamics and very often established women as the primary breadwinners of hundreds of local families.

In this post-testosterone society in which many men share more or less equal roles in parenting and providing, there is less and less square-footage available for pure, unrestrained maleness. We carve out our niches — a shack on the ice road, or a carpeted bunker wallpapered with hockey jerseys, a wet bar from the ’70s and a violent spectacle on television.

You call it a ‘mancave’. You could also call it a cage.

Nonetheless it’s a cage that must exist for the betterment of our families and our species. Throughout time philosophers have recognized the need of man to tame his passions and sculpt humanity’s crude form towards a moral ideal — the discipline to do so becoming the true benchmark of masculinity.

But for one month, the appearance of hair on the faces of those Dryden men who wish it should stand as a reminder and celebration of the beast within us.


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