FILM – Shaft and Manliness

I’ve decided to do a series of articles in between to bitch about a movie now and then. Either bitching or raving, we shall see;) Yesterday I’ve watched the latest Shaft movie with my partner. I haven’t laughed this hard in a while! But obviously I’m not going to go into cinematic details of how well it was filmed or directed, let’s look at the central topic of the movie which is the embodiement of manliness and why that is – perfect for our discussions.

Spoiler alert from now on, so don’t read if you intend to watch.

You have the 20 something year old son, a typical new male, decent, eager to prove himself, always trying to do the right thing by his mother or female friend. One day, he sees himself forced to ask his father, who he hasn’t seen all his life, for help investigating the death of his best friend. He wasn’t able to learn any of the typical male stereotipical behaviour before and at first he doesn’t care for it how his father behaves, obviously disregarding all rules of decency. Neither does his female doctor friend who he knew since they were little. But things get heated, him and his father have been prodding way too deeply into the hornet’s nest, so at dinner…

Well, this is my absolutely favourite part! In a beautifully lit modern restaurant, Junior and his friend Sasha get shot at from all sides. Now junior hates guns. He throws them out the window, he holds a shotgun like a baby, total pansy you’d think. But Sasha has a gun with her in her purse but doesn’t know how to use it. Junior takes it off her, stands up…and here is where the song from Dirty Dancing starts to play, no other than “Be My Baby” and the whole scene happens in slow motion, Junior standing there without flinching, shooting fearlessly at the three or four agressors who now have to hide for their life because they have a brilliant marksman cornering them. And aaaaaalll the while, Sasha (who looks disturbingly like a beautiful darker version of Scarlett Johanson, right?:), Sasha is all big eyes, you can see the admiration in them for Junior, suddenly grasping that her oh so innocent and awkward friend is anything but! She falls in love with him right there and then and it helped hugely of course that he rescues her at the end of the movie, after the criminals have kidnapped her. 

Let’s stop at this point just a bit for a discussion. Well, I’ll talk, you can comment later. I challenge all of you to say, the concept of manliness in this movie is bullshit. It’s ok if you think so but I’m sure the majority will just silently nodd. Look, we’ve invented the concept of manliness: the toughness, the silent endurance of pain, the slightly macho approach to women, being strong, knowing how to handle weapons. Maybe that’s why ladies tend to fall for the ‘bad’ guy. 

So what’s bad about falling for a ‘bad’ guy? Well, lots of these guys with bad boy attitudes don’t have any decency and substance. What such guys forget to do, is to pair up their attitude with some actual skills and moral values. 

Look at Shaft. He acts all tough – with the other guys, because that’s the male world he has to deal with and it only responds to and respects force. But to his lady he is always soft, protective. He doesn’t lie and he doesn’t deceive (unlike the character of Charlie Sheen in 2 and a Half Men). Shaft has real substance and he loves the ladies and enjoys them too. He understands that a woman likes for a man to take the lead, to ask her out. He literally has to push his son to ask Sasha out to that dinner or even to kiss her. 

Yes, perhaps Shaft could have been just a LITTLE bit less of a dick at times when there is a deep moment happening but that’s him. He is good at what he does and in order to protect his newborn son, he had to let his woman go and let her leave and he couldn’t follow his family because those criminals would have probably followed him. That’s how I saw and understood the movie anyway. 

Being sensitive as a man is hugely appreciated by women. Well, it should be. But unless a man is comfortable to be asked out by a woman and let her lead all the time, it is also appreciated he goes and risks getting shot down by a woman when he asks her out. Hey, we are not talking real bullets here. Shaft wasn’t afraid of any danger and he wasn’t afraid to show his interest in a woman. Do these two things go hand in hand? Perhaps. Courage is courage. I’m just saying – if any man is looking for a challenge to prove himself and show his courage, it’s right there in asking a girl for a dance or to a dinner. He might not be leaping infront of bullets and no one is asking him to, but a bit of taking the lead, that still goes a looooooong way when it comes to a woman’s heart and especially her panties. 

I’m sometimes tempted to say to my own partner, for crying out loud, be less considerate with me in bed. Take charge! Flip me around, take me! Not all the freaking time but mix it up! Gentle is great! But so is feeling that male force – mmmmmmm humanahamanahamana! Nothing excites me more than HIS orgasm because it’s that moment where he loses himself, is selfish for that split second and doesn’t give a damn about me. Why is that a good thing? 

It’s not that women like the actual bad treatment. We love the SHOW of male energy. It’s primal, not just an invention of society. If men appreciate the female energy, the softness, the gentleness, the emotions, then we women appreciate the show of strength. Only SHOW, not abuse! Huge difference. Grabbing me passionately is yes yes yes! Slapping me over the face is no no no! 

Why do we like a show of strength? Because where there is strength, there is the chance of protection and nothing relaxes a woman more than when she knows she is in good hands, protected, cared for. I certainly function like that, I don’t know of one woman who doesn’t, but hey, there might be exceptions. 

Seeing a man with lots of muscles, sure, that catches the eye but I’m also weary of that because it’s no actual proof of his values. Would he use those muscles to protect someone? But seeing a skinny man stand up to an agressor in order to defend a girl… Oh my! Now that’s 100% sexy! It just is. No further thought or contemplation needed.

A clever woman won’t care about the flashy car or the expensive suit. If it’s not Batman wearing that suit, I wouldn’t care a dime for someone like that. He gets his confidence from money and that’s weak. It’s something perhaps, but not everything. Confidence is always attractive of course, no matter what, I get that, but careful! 

Not everyone can have those big amounts of money, but anyone can go and learn some real fighting skills. It also gives confidence and it’s something no one can ever take from you. One stupid economic crisis and that car is gone. But skills like that let you protect and impress a woman forever. 

There, that’s why I would love to see a return of chivalry – because it showed that men were there and cared, were there to protect us. 

Why did that have to disappear just because women needed to be equal? Was the logic – oh, if women want to be equal, they don’t need a man any more, so why bother? Well, it is true, women could learn to need a man a bit more in general but perhaps in new ways. We still need to figure a lot of things out in our modern world. 

But being aroused by a strong man who cares for you is never going to go away or change in any way. Nor will a man’s need for the softness of a female body and her emotions. We are stuck with each other. Why not re-write and combine the old beautiful values of chivalry, our (sexual) need for each other, with the beauty of a happy and accomplished woman who had the chance to create her own path by the rules of equality?

Equality should have been a given from the start anyway. This should have never changed in the first place, no one should have been on top in society, only on top of each other perhaps in bed. The beautiful dance of the male and the female should have never been forgotten but instead now we have to re-learn something basic as having the balls to ask a girl out or to appreciate when a man opens a door for you. Ah well:) People, ha?

I know only one thing – a real man sure as hell isn’t what they portray in GQ magazines. Real men are right there, sitting next to us on the couch or in the pub. They are great! Maybe they would see it for themselves more if we told them they are. I can’t imagine how tough it must be to feel like a real man, whatever that is these days. Especially if one has to compare himself with images of well groomed and well dressed pretty men, loaded with cash. That’s not the reality. Role models like John Wayne are very old and the new ones are Superheroes (yeah, that’s realistic and achievable jee) or John Wick. There is no need for extremes for a man to be seen as a real man, at least in my eyes. Have some great values, do the right thing, take responsibility – that’s manly as hell:) You want to raise the bar, throw in some martial arts training or boxing, sure, why not, but not a must. Whatever helps him to feel more confident. 

Maybe that’s why John Wick is so popular. He gave up his criminal life for the woman he loved. He did the right thing, took responsibility. But after she died and he lost the last reminder of her, we see he had a whole set of skills. Those killer skills were always there. Meaning, while they were still together, you KNEW he was very protective of her. It’s sexy. It’s old school. It appeals to all sorts of basic instincts in us and that’s why a fictional character as his did so well in the movies. Men want to be him, women want to be with him, am I right?:) Whenever we admire something, we have to ask ourselves, why. It touches something very basic in us. It’s no use ignoring it. If we find such portrayal of manliness appealing, then let’s not just talk about it like fans talk about football. The difference is, not everyone can become a professional football player – but everyone can embrace those great values, learn to use his strength for good and impress a lady with a simple thing like my man does – he will never let me walk near the street, he will always push me to the inside of the pavement. Always! How does that make me feel? You guessed right – when I’m with him walking down a street, my panties are constantly wet;)

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