Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eyes Wide Open: Manhandle

(originally posted 4/09 at

by Talia Jae Potter

–verb (used with object), -dled, -dling.
1. to handle roughly.
2. to move by human strength, without the use of mechanical appliances.

Pronunciation: \ˈman-ˌhan-dəl\
Function: transitive verb
Date: 1851
1 : to handle roughly
2 : to move or manage by human force
(Merriam-Webster dictionary)

Wow. I was just pondering the word manhandle. What does it mean, where does it come from, why do we use it. I have used it. I looked the word up in a few dictionaries and found approximately the same answer in every one. "To handle roughly."

What does this mean? It's a very simple example of ways that society have used a term to consciously, or subconsciously, ingrain the idea of what a man should be. I know it may seem completely ridiculous to look at a word like this and analyze it but I do. This is telling men, yet again, that to be a man you must be rough, strong, dominating, etc... At least this is my perspective of what it is saying in the undertones. The fact that this word has been in the dictionary and used commonly for over 150 years is amazing.

I believe men have so much to live up to in order to fit into society's idea of what a man should be that it is really detrimental to men as much as to women. If a man isn't overtly strong, rough-and-tough, dominating, overt, boastful, then is he not a man? Of course not. But what does that tell men anyway? That in order to be seen as a man in society as well as to women they must fit into this very tight, tiny box.

Sexism is hurting women in so many ways but it is also hurting men just the same. It is a shame.

1 comment:

john said...

Men have few choices when it comes to gender roles. If we're not outwardly masculine, strong and brutish we're seen as weak and worse. There are men, like myself, who believe gender stereotyping holds people back from who they truly are. As an openly submissive [and proud] man who believes in Female Led Relationships and embraces strong assertive Women as role models, I bristle when I hear people make derogatory comments about what a 'man should be'.

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