Manuary and Meat

31 Jan

I’ve recently discovered “Manuary.”  According to folks I (Ashley) know, I was the only one in America who didn’t know that the month of January has been dedicated to all things “man.”  Now, I work against violence against women, so of course the reference to “unadulterated violence” in the following definition from is disturbing:

The month of January, whereby men partake in a month long celebration of masculinity with activities enshrining masculinity: Unadulterated violence, booze, meat, and chivalry.

Numerous activists, scholars, and community members have pointed out the harmful impact of linking violence to masculinity.  People like Byron Hurt and Jackson Katz and organizations like MensworkMen Can Stop Rape, and A Call to Men are just some of the powerful examples of men working to end violence against women and challenge traditional, stereotypical notions of masculinity.  This narrow definition of masculinity purports that normative masculinity, that to which all boys and men are taught to work towards, includes violence.

What I think will not receive the same degree of attention as the references to violence, however, is what follows – “meat.”  When I first read this definition, I was immediately reminded of the groundbreaking work of Carol J. Adams.  Why is it that “meat is manly”?  Why is it that it is tied to sexism, an ism that is indisputably the core of “Manuary”  (for an example, visit 101 KUFO’s Manuary site) ?

Many who read the above definition are struck by the fact that unadulterated violence and chivalry are linked in this definition.  How can someone be violent and chivalrous at the same time?  Well, if you look up the definition of chivalry, you’ll find a lot of references to knights.  When I think of knights, once I get past the iconic movie images of beautiful men covered in shiny metal, I remember learning that these fellows were supposed to be the ultimate fighters.  Their purpose was fighting and training others for combat.  And when they weren’t doing that, they were protecting peasants who swore fidelity to them and worked their land.  I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to get a clear picture here – this is about power.  This is about dominance.

What better way to prove your dominance than to be violent?  What better way to show your “manly” strength than by killing “the other”?  This is one of the places in which I think meat comes in – it makes sense that meat is in this ridiculous and dangerous definition of manhood.  Meat represents an act of violence that culminates in the literal consumption of the victim.

If you continue reading the definition of Manuary on urban dictionary, you’ll see that this is not simply about consuming meat, but about The consumption of meat and/or beer (bonus points for both) with/as every meal. This unadulterated consumption of the flesh of purportedly “lesser, weaker beings” translates into the very unadulterated violence that is encouraged.

Wow, what an ideal men have to live up to.  How can you possibly do this all in one month?  And what a world we have to look forward to if Manuary succeeds in producing its version of real men.  I’m not sure I can handle a world run by Maxim and Carl’s Junior.


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