Tag Archives: male ego

Reader question: “Do you feel like less of a man?”

pose-to-show-off-your-back

A while back, I received a message from a guy who had read sa couple of posts on this blog. He asked me if my wife’s martial arts expertise and the fact that she can easily “kick my butt” in any way made me feel like less of a man in my relationship with her.

I can see where he is coming from and why he would pose this question. I know that for many men, getting your butt kicked “by a girl” is a huge embarrassment and basically means that you should “turn in your man card”. On the other hand, for many others, the whole thing is a total non-issue because martial arts is a skill like any other and relationships aren’t about two people beating each other up anyway, so obviously it doesn’t make a guy any less of a man.

So does my wife’s martial arts expertise and training make me feel like less of a man? No, it doesn’t. But it has challenged how I think of manliness and what it means to be a man (hence, one of the reasons I started this blog two years ago).

Even though I have been in a relationship with my wife for quite a long time now and years have passed since she first gave me a first hand demonstration of her martial arts skills and the effectiveness of hapkido techniques, I can still feel a certain level of embarrassment thinking and talking about it. It still “hurts my pride” to some extent and there is a sense of frustration that I, as a man with a significant size, weight and strength “advantage” over her, am not able to simply overpower her in a physical contest. But none of these feelings really affect me in my day to day life. To sum it up, I would say that it’s basically just a fact of life that I accept. Besides, the positive sides of my wife’s martial arts training (mostly for her of course, but also for me) are so much bigger and more important than any annoying feelings or stereotypes that I may sometimes experience.

However, I do think that to some extent I really would have felt less of a man if I hadn’t be able to admit that – because of her years of martial arts practice and natural talent for that – my wife is way better than me at fighting and self defence. I mean if I had tried to make up excuses or if I had been lying to others and maybe to myself about it. So I would say my advice to other men in a similar situation is to simply be honest, accept it and give the woman credit for the talent and hard work she has put down to achieve these skills. Be proud of her!

A moment of “bruised male pride”

1As I’ve made clear on this blog, I generally have only positive feelings about my wife being a martial arts professional and a self defence instructor and I am very proud over her achievements. However, there are some occasional – rather random – moments when I guess my “inner caveman” emerges and I feel a bit frustrated or even embarrassed. One such moment happened this summer. Not at all as a result of any dramatic or unusual event, but a simple comment “triggered” my ego and “male pride”.

Me and Leticia (my wife) were at the beach together with another couple about our age, who are friends of ours. We were having a nice time in the sun doing some catching up and talking about everything and nothing. At one point the other woman brought up the subject of Leticia’s martial arts training, asking about how her practice was going, if she was having a lot of students etc. After discussing that a bit with Leticia, she looked at us guys and said “wouldn’t it be great to know hapkido too and be able to kick butt like Leticia?”. We both laughed and agreed, but I felt I was blushing a bit and I could tell my fellow male at the table was blushing too. We looked at each other for a second and though neither of us said anything it was obvious we both felt about the same – slightly embarrassed and “uncomfortable”. Just because of that simple statement implying that Leticia is better than us at fighting and self defence.

Her comment was perfectly innocent and well meaning. Leticia is obviously by far the best fighter of us four, as she is the only one of us who has any hand to hand combat training – and she is an expert at that, with a 4th level black belt and having practiced since childhood. Yet there we were, two guys blushing as if some embarrassing secret had just been exposed. I guess that just goes to show how deeply gender roles – in this case the expectations that men should be the “protectors” – and the norms of society are imprinted in (most of ) us humans.