I got asked this question and I had a fun time dissecting it.
What makes a man manly? (And the guise of the Lumber Sexual, or is it a woman’s dreamt up, make believe ideal?)
Well, I could certainly tell you what makes a man not manly, but I’d like to keep this on the up and up, so I will stay focused on the actual question. What is manly?
I suppose we would need to first recognize a Lumber Sexual. Most people, having now just read the words “Lumber Sexual,” have an image in their head of who this person is. When I think of Lumber Sexual, and indeed, there is an immediate attraction to this aesthetic though not limited to men as there are plenty of lesbian Lumber Sexual’s out there, too, I think of a natural man, a man with true grit and just the right amount of fucks to give. A man that looks good in everything because the man wears the clothes, the clothes don’t wear the man! That Lumber Man. The general head-to-toe look of a Lumber Sexual consists of a minimum of these 5 key components:
1. The Beard. You cannot be Lumber Sexual if you cannot grow a beard, the exception only being if you’re a lesbian. In San Francisco, it is probable that in any trendy coffee shop serving $5 drip coffee, you will hear a beard-centric conversation pertaining to the amount of time it took to grow that beard. Very, very interesting… The juvenile in me thinks of Roald Dahl’s crude depiction of the beard.
“…a hairy jungle around his mouth, he was always able to find a tasty morsel here and there to nibble on.”
Alas, I am a dirty girl and a huge fan of them. I find The Great Beard incredibly manly. I love to sink my fingers into a man’s beard and pull him toward me for a kiss. Every man has a signature musk in his whiskers. Some are beautiful, filled with so many colors and patterns. For me, beards turn me feral and growly. They make me more sexual and I want to rub my most womanly scents into them. I worship the beard.
Sooooo, Fella’s, when you don the Great Beard and you don’t make me feel like a cat in heat, it’s such a bummer. Those are the moments when I feel bamboozled, when I realize that I was attracted to an aesthetic that had nothing to do with who the person is, and that is what makes it a disappointment.
2. The Hair. Honestly, it’s a 90’s throw back with more grease and pomade. Long on top with some sort of product worked into it, clipped down short on the sides, and that one pendulum of hair that, not by accident, swings between his eyebrows. It’s like a 1950’s, sexier version of Zack Morris from Saved By The Bell.
I can take it or leave it. I can pull your hair or I can lick and bite your head, doesn’t matter to me at all. If a man has kind eyes that can hold my gaze and tell a thousand playful thoughts without saying a word, that is manly.
3. The Flannel. This is not to be confused with the type of flannel that Kurt Cobain wore, loose and thrifted, and covered in cigarette holes and stale nicotine. These flannels are crafted and made of fine wool. They can be worn under a 3 piece suit, and probably have. These flannels have never touched a grain of sawdust, let alone covered the back of a man who has cut down a tree. These are sensible shirts to keep men warm. They are no longer outback to me, they are universal, practical, classic tartan that have no association with nature.
What I love to see is the broad curve of a man’s shoulders under his shirt. That beautiful shape of a man who still holds himself up. But this is a man who looks best in a white t-shirt, or nothing at all. This is a man who still lifts me up when he gives me a hug because he likes the weight of my entire body on him, which sends a deeper message that he’s strong enough to hold the weight of my world and can keep me safe, at least for 5 seconds. It’s not the flannel that keeps this man warm, it is the abundance of love he allows in.
4. The Denim. A Lumber Sexual wears quality materials, less is more which is a sign of maturity, refinement, and financial stability. Often this denim is $400 Japanese selvage, zero stretch, cuffed about 1.5”-2″ above the boot exposing an intentionally colorful sock beneath. If this Lumber Sexual is a true denim connoisseur, then he never washes them. Instead he spot cleans and freezes them to kill any bacteria and scent, then hangs them outside to freshen up, so to preserve the physical idiosyncrasies of the man inside them; the wallet imprint, the shift bulge, the whiskering in all the creases, and the faded highlights of his leg muscles.
I absolutely approve these jeans for men. This can only be done with a well made pair of quality denim. I rather love the idea that no man could wear another man’s pants. Women are generally softer, so our fade marks don’t have the same definition that men have. Women need the stretch in denim to keep their squishy parts from looking flattened. I secretly want denim that I can wear almost every day without washing, that bear my womanly essence; but sadly that essence can also be known as the all too infamous “crotch rot” (which is an embarrassing combination consisting of dried up pussy juice and possible menstrual tracks…for those that didn’t know, now you do…sorry.) So, I am envious of the relationship men have with their denim, just as I am of their ability to write their name in the snow.
5. The Boots. The boots are typically qualified the same way the flannel and denim are; something of the hand made variety, sewn together with industrial thread, soft hide, and stacked wood. They are usually about ankle high and worn with colorful or printed socks. They’re meant to last and be resoled again and again, his foot so embedded in the shoe that you could cast a mold of his foot out of it.
I, myself, love boots. As a woman, one shoe does not cover the spectrum of moods I present myself in. I could never be satisfied with one image. But, if you are going to commit to a look, then I think, at the very least, own it. I can respect anyone that breaks in a boot, because they can’t just be any boot, they have to be “the one”. You get a gut feeling when you know you’ve found the perfect pair, and there is always a grievance period when it is truly time to replace them. You don’t have to be Lumber Sexual to have this kind of relationship with your shoe, this exists with lots of people and lots of types of shoes; the same can be said for a trusty pair of Chuck Taylor’s or Vans Half Cabs.
But a lovely pair of leather boots age and wrinkle with the man, they can reveal a thousand miles of life, they are an extension of the walk he walks. The boots I am attracted to are not the steadfast boots that stayed the course, creating a seamless and smoothed out route leading to clear destinations and boundaries. And mind you, there is nothing wrong with this pair of boots, they are by no means less honorable, but I would grow tired of the trench they have created. Okay, so what does that mean? Does a man with boots covered in nicks and dings in the leather, and soles caked in mud and grease really live a more ruthless and carefree life? Do these boots really will him to step into any situation and toe the line no matter what obstacles are put before him? Probably not.
And if I haven’t confused you with so many metaphors, then you might find yourself wondering how many other expectations we have placed on someone just by the trend they got onboard with, or the ideas we’ve created around that image. Just the same that a man dressed as a lumberjack should be strong and rugged, self-assured without a need for validation, to smell of eucalyptus and cedar (and maybe a touch of pipe smoke), and to embody a calm and warm spirit that puts my restlessness at ease; it can be equally assumed, at this rate, that a woman dressed with done up hair, flawless make-up, a body hugging dress, and stiletto heels is an excellent lover, body confident, witty, flirty, and sexually diverse.
Sometimes liking what you see isn’t really seeing what you like. As I grow older, I find myself more deeply attracted to traits that cannot be bought. Traits like humility, a sense of humor, patience, an open mind, and kindness. If you possess these in addition to a rugged aesthetic, then you are winning, otherwise, you’re just another trend representative with some explaining to do.