Ask Marc Van Driessche about a recent vacation, and he will describe an adrenaline-charged shark-diving expedition off the Mexico coast with two menfriends. While he enjoyed his up-close encounter with Bruce, a great white shark the size of a bus, the family stayed home."Menfriends"—seriously?
There were two spinster sisters who lived in the first floor apartment of my grandmother's rowhouse in Queens; Clara and Marie had lived in that apartment since their childhood, and neither of them had ever married or ever had children. When Clara died, Marie, then in her 80s, suddenly started going grocery shopping and on dinner dates with a man named Frank. Frank was referred to as Marie's "gentleman friend."
When I worked at a real estate office on the weekends in high school, back when Jesus was still riding dinosaurs, there was a realtor who everyone (except the boss) knew was gay. Fred's roommate and BFF sometimes came into the office with him on Saturdays, while I was there working the phones and dying of boredom. He was introduced to me as Fred's "gentleman friend."
Basically, what I'm saying is that "manfriend" reminds me of the antiquated term that was used for the boyfriends of old ladies and queers, by people who squirmed at the idea of ladies and queers doin' it.
But I digress. Back to the mancations with your menfriends.
Pop culture has a term for it: the mancation.No, pop culture does not have a term for it. Spike TV and Men's Insecurity Weekly might have a term for it, but Lady Gaga's next single isn't going to be about mancations. I don't make many predictions, but I'm pretty confident about that one.
More men are getting away from family, work and household duties…All the various Things That Suck, then.
…for trips with male friends who will watch your back, push you if you lose your nerve, and take care of themselves if they get seasick, Dr. Van Driessche says."Let's get one thing straight, Bob: I ain't holding your hair if you puke over the side of this here boat!"
They are departing from traditional male golf outings or fishing trips to engage in extreme sports, from off-road racing to machine-gun training.Machine-gun training is my favorite sport. I like it almost as much as xxxtreme machete flinging.
Also, more men are heading to destinations long regarded as more alluring to women—many with added "man caves" and other mancation-style amenities, such as poker tables and cigar bars.AND TITTAYS!!! Oh, sorry, I got carried away there. My apologies. The upstanding men of mancationing are interested in looking only at other men; that's why their wives aren't there.
The trend shouldn't be confused with the bachelor-party stereotype of drunken bar crawls or partying at casinos, says James Hills, founder of mantripping.com, a two-year-old Web site that helps men plan their trips. Nor are they "singles trips" aimed at finding partners, he says.Fair enough. I mean, hell, women are even taking over the English language, creating absurd portmanteaus that lay their feminine claim on gender-neutral words. Get a load of these broads sullying "mancation" by mashing it with "vagina." I mean, what the fuck is a "vacation"?!
Instead, more men are using trips to deepen friendships, teach each other skills or push each other into adrenaline-charged activities that their families prefer to sit out. Others want to recapture the camaraderie of high school or college sports, or escape what they regard as an increasingly female-dominated world.
"My wife does girls' trips and she does stuff I wouldn't want to do. They go off and see 'Sex and the City' and get manicures. For me, that's not fun," Mr. Seligson says. "For me, there's just something great about being able to let loose and be a macho idiot with a bunch of other guys."To get serious for a moment, there's nothing wrong with women doing something they want to do with their female friends, or men doing something they want to do with their male friends, but this rigid binary is just absurd to me. There are stereotypical female things I like to do with female friends, and there are stereotypical male things Iain likes to do with male friends, but that's coincidence, by virtue of the other people we know who happen to share that particular interest.
When I saw Brazil play the US at Soldier Field, that was an outing organized by my best girlfriend. When Iain's best mate last visited from Scotland, they went clothes shopping together. The last long videogaming session I had was with my mom. Iain's watching the World Cup with a girl! Many of my favorite activities typically associated with either gender are done with dudes—and I've been on holiday with male friends, straight and gay—because many of my closest friends are male.
My favorite person to do anything with is Iain, because he's my best friend. I wager he'd say the same about me. But there are some things he doesn't enjoy that I do, and some things I don't enjoy that he does, so we do them with someone else (or alone). Sometimes that's with other women, and sometimes with other men. And it's never because we feel some uncontrollable need to "let loose and be a [gendered stereotype] with a bunch of other [people of the same sex]."
There's a line between enjoying the company of other wo/men in an affirmative and celebratory way, and enjoying the void of wo/men because you define your wo/manhood in contradistinction to its opposite, and the line is not all that fine. Men who can't really feel "like a man" except in the absence of women have notions of what constitutes both manhood and womanhood so rigid and narrow that the only way to defend those boundaries is gender segregation; the slightest evidence of a woman behaving in a "masculine" way (enjoying the fine sport of machine-gun training, say) is a threat to their masculinity.
Which, really, is pretty tragic. I'd be sad for them if these buttholes weren't the jack-booted enforcers of the Patriarchy.
But I digress. Again.
Travel providers are tailoring offerings to male groups. Mancation Nation opened last year in Parker, Ariz., on the Colorado River, offering wake-boarding, golf, fishing, simulated dog-fighting in vintage airplanes, tactical-weapons training and a no-women-allowed residence. Visitor Don Ashforth, Escondido, Calif., says wake-boarding there with other guys was "kind of a primal thing. The camaraderie was incredible."It's interesting, ahem, how many of these mancation activities are centered around weapons training, violence, and/or killing animals. These are men who feel powerless in their everyday lives, threatened by the slow erosion of limitless male privilege, and instead of embracing a new role in their families and at their jobs and in their lives, the power of a different sort of strength—the strength of compassion, of listening, of empathy, of being present and engaged, of loving hard and boundlessly—they are eking by with mancations where they restore their macho mojo with chest-beating male-bonding that has no place in a modern egalitarian world.
These guys don't need a vacation; they need a time machine.