Sunday, August 24, 2008

TC Luoma - Defining the T-Man

Over at Testosterone Nation, one of my favorite sites for nearly ten years now, they aren't just about lifting weights and being strong. No, they actually have a philosophy, one that isn't incompatible with my intentions here. In fact, considering their main audience, they are positively enlightened.

This is from the new Atomic Dog column by TC Luoma, managing editor.
T-Man Defined, 2008

All of us who come to this place lift weights for some purpose, whether it be for sport, the artistic pursuit of an esthetic body, to gain strength, or to look better naked so that bedding women is a little less daunting. But there are other places you can go to gather info about lifting weights and eating better and turning yourself into a badass mofo. Granted, I don't think any of them come close to us in quality and depth, but that may a biased opinion.

None that I've seen have an underlying life philosophy. Most have the intellectual depth of a toilet seat. They have function, but no life lessons to teach or share. They are as soulless as the Tupperware site.

Likewise, those who visit remind me pretty much of a group of wandering village idiots who gathered around a dim light bulb because they couldn't figure out how to build a fire. While they feature the occasional quality article, their core members generally represent every meathead stereotype that makes most of us want to lie about the fact we lift weights.

But I think we're different. We not only want to build your body, but we want to build your mind, and at the risk of sounding pretty lofty and presumptuous, we want to make you (along with ourselves) better all-around men, too. Of course, we have our own fairly unique idea of what the modern man is and is not.

Maybe you've heard the term "T-Man" bandied about on the site. It doesn't just refer to the members of the site. Instead, it refers to men who've adopted the T-man philosophy.

And get this straight: just having muscles or just being a bad ass doesn't automatically make you a card-carrying member. You have to be equally committed to building your mind — spending as much time building it as you do your body — and you've got to have integrity.

And I'm certainly not talking about being an oversized Boy Scout who scolds people who curse and who helps old ladies cross the street. Oh, we might help ladies cross the street, but we might do a double take at the lovely little lady lumps, in the back and in the front, of the short-skirted thing that passed us going the other way.

And while we're on the sweet subject, women are hugely respected by T-men. Equal pay, equal rights, equal everything, and when they say "no" it carries the same weight as when the 300-pound bouncer says "no" when you ask him if you can get your under-age cousin Stuey into the club.

That doesn't mean we're not picturing you women naked, doing unspeakable things to you, every time we look at you. That doesn't mean we don't want to make soup out of your panties and grow strong from the nurturing broth. As we often say, we make no apology for our biology.

And screw that gender-neutral stuff that by law permeates practically every institution. The worst thing that ever happened to American business was the death or, more accurately, the denial of sexuality in the workplace.

Hell, I'll go one step beyond that: I think all progress has come from the innate desire to show off for the opposite sex. Neuter us and we all go back to the caves.

And here is another cool passage:

And just to be clear, the brains and integrity part are even more important to the notion of a T-man than the physical part because with brains, you can build brawn, and that's what this company has invested heavily in.

But I sure can't diminish the iron. We all come to T-Nation because of a mutual love of iron. Maybe we all share in common a specific genomic sequence on some lonely chromosome. I've read that most of the world's population can be traced back to any one of probably five or six conquerors throughout history, so it's possible we're all related to Genghis Khan's weightlifting cousin, Manny "Big Guns" Khan.

There's just something about the iron, maybe it's the feel of the bar, or maybe the sound; talk about the music of the spheres, what sounds better than 45-pound plates jangling against one another? Maybe it's the feel of hoisting something overhead that most people can't budge. Maybe it's the ache that indicates a workout well done, or maybe it's the looks of muscle and sinew that's synonymous with some ancient and fleeting definition of heroism.

That trait might not be essential in defining a man, but it's sure a hell essential in defining a T-Man.

Then there's the question of demeanor. Gone, hopefully, are the days of swaggering around in cut-off shirtsleeves. Have you ever seen a well-pedigreed pit bull walk down the street? The other dogs bark or yap ceaselessly, but the pit bull is generally indifferent. It knows its power and is confident in it.


Similarly, a "well-pedigreed" T-Man displays the same type of quiet confidence. Unprovoked displays of machismo or violence aren't cool and only denote weak character.

Of course there are times when you need to use the muscles you've cultivated. Sometimes there isn't a way out; sometimes somebody needs help. That's when you cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

T-Man is Batman, not Superman. He didn't just show up with powers, he had to train his brain and his body and his skills. He gets dirty along the way. His character might be a little less sunny but it's bulletproof.

It's a funny thing, being a man. Women are born women, but men have to be made. Blame it on culture, biology, or endocrinology, but a man is expected to be much more than his anatomy. There are, or at least there used to be, great expectations placed on the brow of a male. These are the things I'm writing about; the old, maybe antiquated notions of maleness.

I don't know why I care if men aspire to these same ideals, but I do. I don't know why I want to improve myself in every way, but I do. It's probably pretty sad that I even have to talk about such things, but these masculine ideals sure as hell seem to be in decline.

Maybe this whole column comes off as cornball to some, but I hope not too many. I need to think that this mindset is shared or appreciated by at least a few; I need it for my sanity.

You can read the whole column at the site -- but beware, what I posted here is tame compared to some of what I didn't post.


Anonymous said...

good lord, bill. this article could make a gal cross-eyed. seriously: where are these men? these real men? maybe when i climb out from under this fat i've been hiding in the past couple of years i'll have the radar to see such men, yeah? :)

william harryman said...

These men DO exist -- my girlfriend would tell you that I am one, despite my protests otherwise.

Many of us are working at becoming balanced and whole -- fully masculine and still emotionally intelligent and soulful. I think for many of us the hard part isn't in doing that, but in overriding the voices in our heads telling us we're sissies if we don't act like John Wayne on steroids.

I also see a lot of younger men getting "in touch with their feminine sides," but they have gone too far and lost what, for lack of a better term, I'd call "manliness." Maybe they'll figure it out.

Hang in there. Much like the teacher coming when the student is ready, so too does the lover come.


Moira said...

Do you happen to know who took the Pitbull photograph you use in this post? I borrowed it for my blog today and would like to give credit....

Thank you.

william harryman said...

Hi Moira,

My guess is that it's TC's dog, just credit the blog post it's from. I don't think he'd mind.