About-Face Blog has this really excellent post about the "Manliest City" competition. Created by Combos snacks, otherwise known as "the meal that's not a meal" (then what the hell is it?), Combos not only creates delicious, savory health foods, but also helps men discover the ideal place for them to live via the Manliest City Competition.
Wow, that resemblance is UNCANNY.
Might I add, if a product has to announce it has real cheese, it can't be very good.
If you're a real man, looking for a place to NOT settle down (because you're a man, and men don't settle down), you should consider Charlotte, North Carolina. I've attained a journal (not diary) entry from a really manly man in Charlotte, willing to disclose his routine to us. If this sounds like the life you should be living, Charlotte could be the place for you! Here it is, written by the ever-so-manly John "Biceps" McBuff (and you should know, John is a little crass):
A Day in Charlotte
Woke up. Had the woman make me potato flapjacks, six raw eggs, and a protein drink.
Went to Lowe's. Bought a power drill, power saw, power logsplitter, gas power pressure washer, power pavement breaker, power sander, high vibration demolition hammer, speed floor saw, and the Husqvarna 23-HP V-Twin Hydrostatic 48" Riding Mower. Smacked a girl's butt on the way out.
Got pulled over by a police officer for doing 20 over. Did the secret manly man handshake and was let off the hook.
Went back to my place, had the woman on her knees, her eyes begging for my body. Turned her down and had her make me a sandwich. We got it on afterward. Tired her out, left her on the bed.
Took a sledgehammer to the shed out back just so I could rebuild it.
Worked out at the gym. Bench pressed ten million pounds. Weak, considering I normally press ten million, five hundred thousand pounds. Didn't break a sweat. Did 800 crunches and 1000 push-ups. Saw the ladies checking me out.
Went to the steakhouse for dinner. Ordered the spicy BBQ chicken wings, garlic mashed potatos, and a big fucking steak. The woman ordered a salad and ate half of it.
Threw a huge mother fucking party, like it was the playboy mansion or something. Woman went to sewing circle with other womans. Hooked up with two girls who strip downtown. Two hos are better than one.
Went to the bar after and drank with a bunch of firemen. Drank some vodka straight from the bottle and played pool. Watched football and pounded my chest frequently. Got into a fight with another guy 'cause he looked at me funny. Turns out he has a lazy eye. Now it's a black eye.
Drove home really wasted. Pulled over again. Did the manly man handshake with the cop and went on my way. Ran over the mailbox again. Will have to fix it in the morning.
Tough day. Hit the sack at 8 am.
Sometimes, satire can be the most effective way to make a point.
Humor aside -- is this really what it means to be a man? There's some truth to that satire as far as Combos is concerned, as they champion much of this lifestyle in the sexist stereotypes used in their competition.
Combos uses criteria such as number of team sports in city, number of motorcycles registered, number of home improvement stores, and even the number of police officers (as if women can't dish out justice). It's horrifying to me that such blatantly sexist stereotypes are the grounds for a competition which supposes itself (according to the website) to be based on empirical "research." It takes on the air of scientific research when, in fact, it's just a bunch of bull.
I'm still surprised they didn't use number of strip clubs or "gentleman's clubs." Then again, I don't think they're THAT self-destructive.
Everything from sushi bars to cafes is considered feminine, and cities lost points if they possessed such GIRLY~ locations. In other words, anything even minutely feminine is BAD. It isn't much of a stretch to say that the "manly lifestyle" Combos alludes to has deemed women and their activities inferior -- this competition is simply following the status quo. Although, I have to admit, it's certainly new to me that sushi is feminine. You'd think RAW FISH sounds manly, but apparently not. If we're following this line of thought (pun intended), fishing will soon be out of style. Men, sell your tacklebox on Craig's List while you still can!
Rigid gender roles such as these are harmful to men as well as women, and yet they are considered to be the norm by many. This resonates with an earlier post in which I critiqued an AlterNet article regarding sexist stereotypes about men. The idea that men can't go into a sushi bar and women can't be firemen is, perhaps, nothing new -- but the consequences are real and part of our everyday lives.
Challenging these roles is an essential part of inciting real change, but until we as a culture have a fundamental shift in how we perceive and present gender, I don't foresee a genuine change in attitudes like these anytime soon. Don't ask me how. I just want a revolution so we can start from ground zero.
But hey, feel free to make some noise in the meantime. Combos Snacks have other offenses that should upset you, too. They use Palm Oil in their snacks, which destroys rainforest habitat, and directly kills off Orangutans. If you feel like yelling at them about their sexism and Orangutan killing, or about how crappy their snacks taste, go to their website and select the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of the screen.