Sitting in my improv class at the Chicago iO Theater, one of my peers found himself in a scene about manicures. Seeing as how he honestly didn’t know what cuticles were, I figured this was going to get good. He made a comment about how fun it would be to get a facial shave from a barber shop, old-school style. “I figured real men shave with a straight razor.” I laughed.
First, I know no one who gets this kind of treatment; all of my man friends continue to cut themselves with a protected Bic razor, let alone an open blade. Second, because I love the term “real men.”
Typically, “real men” are imagined as dudes ripping meat off of a huge turkey leg with their teeth, speaking in a deep, sultry voice, built like The Rock, break boards for fun, sport a chest full of hair (button it up, Chi-town), chop wood daily and yes, shave with a pocket knife.
Thankfully, we outgrew the cavemen era and this is a bunch of crap. Although any intelligent human being knows this, it became crystal clear to me a couple weekends ago as I furthered my GFB training with self defense guru Bill Kipp and his FAST DEFENSE team, the leaders in adrenal stress scenario based training.
The roll-call included Veterans, Air Force, police force, SWAT team members, ninjas (literally), black belts of all kinds of martial arts, and arguably THE best in self-defense. Yet upon exiting the toughest training I’d ever been through, “The Gauntlet” (that’s a whole other blog), each time I was greeted by these friendly giants with a huge embrace, as was every other woman at the training. Not to mention, the men who were taking my knee to the face multiple times would approach me after with compliments and encouragement.
Not once but twice did a few of these men bring me to tears with in-depth conversations of personal stories, faith and family. I was in awe of these gentle giants. Almost all heroes of some kind of war or an expert in martial arts, yet the kindest of hearts you can imagine.
At the end of the weekend during our reflection time, one of the other women who volunteers for GFB and is an active feminist shared that these tough guys are the ones who define a “real man.” My eyes began to swell because her words rang so true. These men, along side brave women, are our country’s protectors whether through education, across seas or in our backyard. Even though they may be big, burly and carry a mean punch, this is not what makes them real men.
No, it is when the walls are down that we see the true hero. All of these wonderful men, and the men and women who raised them, from self-defense educators, to veterans, to school teachers, to policemen, to dads, brothers, grandpas, best friends, to mentors, to heroes, to the social workers, to the volunteers, and GFB supporters, this one’s for you:
“The bravest are the most tender; the loving are the daring.” – Bayard Taylor, poet.
Thank you to all the real men for leading this country and supporting women not with your pocket-knife-shave or macho puffed out chest, but with your heart.