Real men don’t eat quiche

Does masculinity hide the real man?

Real men don’t eat quiche

Real men don’t eat quiche; we’ve all heard this phrase before, but how did it originate?

A quick Internet search led me to find it was the title of a bestselling tongue-in-cheek book published in 1982 satirising stereotypes of masculinity. It popularized the term quiche-eater, referring to a man who is a bit of a trend-chaser, one who tries to stay up with or ahead of fashionable forms of lifestyle, socially correct behaviours and opinions, and one who abstains from the traditional masculine virtue of tough self-assurance.

I must admit I have seldom heard the term quiche-eater used over the last few decades, however the term ‘Real men don’t eat quiche’ lives on, not surprisingly so too does masculinity in all its stereotypical forms.

When does masculinity start and why is it still so prevalent today?

From a very early age boys are groomed to be ‘men’; we are issued our blue fatigues and told to toughen up whenever we show any sign of weakness. During our teens we are ostracised if we don’t conform to one of the many peer groups that exist. From here we then enter into adulthood taking all the baggage previously dumped on us in our adolescent years, along with all the skills we have acquired along the way to cope with it. These skills are nothing more than the imaginary veil of masculinity.

What exactly is masculinity ? It is a state of being men revert to as a form of protection. It can be used as an offensive or defensive strategy, to shut others down if we feel threatened, or as a way to hide our feelings and mask our vulnerability. It is a measure by which we constantly compare ourselves against others and adjust how we are perceived so that we appear bigger, stronger or more knowledgeable.

In essence to live a masculine life is to live a life of competition and comparison that clouds us from understanding or feeling who we truly are.

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Could the reason we resort to our masculine strategies be because this is how we have been programmed? Everything around us as we grow and during our adult years forces us to resort to it, for if we don’t we can be assured we will not be accepted by our peers or those we respect. We know that by conforming we will be accepted, which is a far better outcome than to suffer the pain of being ostracised or ridiculed as we were when we were younger. Masculinity is by far the most common form of protection we as men use to keep ourselves safe from the hurts we have accumulated over the years. But even then this form of protection has massive holes in it as our masculinity is forever being questioned, like when we decide to eat a certain type of bacon and egg pie, as a light-hearted example.

Masculinity is a choice or an alignment to something that we innately are not. It is a form of hardness that does not allow us to be tender or gentle, the very traits we need to be able to enter into a true relationship with another: please note the deliberate use of the words gentle and tender as opposed to weak or soft. As men, we can hold an air of strength yet still be tender and gentle, which can be accomplished by simply claiming who we are rather than what society dictates we should be.

Obviously the phrase ‘Real men don’t eat quiche’ has nothing to do with our choice of food yet everything to do with our choice of being.

Will we choose to be a man moulded by society, or will we drop the stereotypical 'Real Man' label and choose instead to be the True Man that we know we are deep within but very seldom expose?

This man doesn’t need comparison or competitiveness in his life to help him measure his successes or failures. He is a man that is strong enough to show the world everything that he is and feels, one who knows and loves his true self, however that may look to the outside world.

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  • By James Stanfield, Qualified Cartographer, Survey Draftsman, Small Business owner for over 25 years

    I do not blindly follow, I need to feel and discern everything for myself before making a decision about my life. I have a huge desire for fairness and equality.

  • Photography: Matt Paul