I can't think of anything more manly than fly fishing. A fly fisher is a provider, an outdoorsman, a naturalist, a nomad, a sophisticant, a romantic. As for myself, I once received the Elenor Longman Batchelder Award for Industry, Loyalty and Manliness. I am the VI, of VI. I travel, eat meat, wear bow ties, hold doors and call my mother on Sundays. And fly fish.
These are the glorified images of manliness. What being manly really is is far bigger than diet or hobby. In fact,
manliness is changing, and in a way reverting to a lost definition. American manliness was defined during the industrial revolution when iron workers were hundreds of feet in the air building our nation's cities, when coal miners were buried working to power or needs, when car manufacturers we men, when soldiers were men, when men smoked Marlboros. In that time men were building American, not because it was manly, but because that's what was needed. As manliness increasingly feels lost in our society images of the antique man are becoming more prevalent. Advertisements for Kettle One Vodka, Dos Equis, Monday Night Football, and shows like Swamp Loggers, Biker Build Off, Survivor Man, Man vs. Wild, and so many more target the absence of manliness in the society. Building has become Chinese, Vodka makes be think of high school girls, and tv is for the bored and lonely. But we don't want it so, and these are some of the things that make us think manliness is something other than doing what has to be done; they make us think the old manliness is still around. In fact manliness is not here. Doing the dirty work, the inglorious tasks the make the societal clock tick are not getting done. What if that was seen as manly?
So, Yes, Fly Fishing is manly, as long as you do what must get done at home, in your community, the dirty stuff that early men did in the early days. It wasn't glorious then and isn't glorious now. As long as you do what has to get done, on your own time go fly fishing.
To be of use
by Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who stand in the line and haul in their places,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
"To be of use" by Marge Piercy © 1973, 1982.
From CIRCLES ON THE WATER © 1982 by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc