Do Real Men Kiss Ferrets?

A Valentine Special by Dr June McNicholas
June McNicholas and friend - 16Kb National Ferret Welfare Society member Bill Beck says it is often men who are reluctant to approach ferrets. There seems to be a real connection between how 'macho' the man appears and his downright refusal to touch a ferret. Bill challenged me to a psychiatrist's analysis on the subject: Do 'Real Men' Kiss Ferrets. Valentine's Day is fast approaching. Ladies, watching how the man you've got in your sights reacts to your ferrets may help you decide if he's worth it.

LET'S START with the image of the 'real man'. We've all met them. The men who won't carry a shopping bag because it offends their sense of masculinity. Or the ones who won't kiss their wife/girlfriend in public; push a pram; drink halves, take the kids to see the Little Mermaid or be seen dead helping to choose the living room curtains. (Yes, I thought so, you do know the sort!) Why? Becuase they like to think of themselves as 'real men'.

It's all part of a self-image people try to aquire for themselves and then project into their behaviour so that it conveys (or so they hope!) their desired image to others. Of course, there are differences in 'masculine' images across different countries and cultures, but here in the dear old stiff-upper-lip UK, masculinity tends to be seen, by men at least, as not appearing 'over emotional', especially in public. More specifically, it means not showing the sort of emotion that could be deemed 'soppyy' by other 'real men'. The fact that most 'real men' aren't sure who the other 'real men' are means that they tend to be very circumspect in their displays of emotion, just in case a 'real man' is watching.

By this token, real men don't kiss ferrets.

But what is a 'real man'? In the eyes of the ordinary folk, I mean. (And here, somewhat surprisingly, I include myself despite being a psychiatrist). Well, for one thing, a 'real man' is not someone who only measures his worth through the eyes of other people. Nor is he someone who is so insecure about his own image he dare not be himself for fear of not meeting other people's standards. He definitely is not someone who is afraid to show his feelings about things or people that matter to him, no matter how tender or potentially 'unmasculine' those feelings might appear.

So what does a real man do? Well, he's secure enough in himself and his own image not to worry about being thought sentimental because he hugs his dog, buys it toys or takes it to the dog groomer. Nor is he afraid to keep a photo of his family/pet/baby in his wallet or cry when his beloved pet is put to sleep. Nor does he need a macho pet to bolster his own flagging ego. Real men aren't bullies, they don't need to yell at their pet, hit it, or be seen to dominate it. In fact, imagine a stereotype of a 'real man' and reverse it - that's a 'real man'. He could make a good partner and friend.

So, if you're footloose and looking for romance, watch carefully how your potential man interacts with your pet, it could tell you more about him than months of dating!

So, do real men kiss ferrets? You bet they do!

A Real Man replies...

Ben Stoodley and friend - 14Kb

As women continue to strive for world domination, they have made it quite clear that the only men who will be permitted to survive the change will be the ones prepared to show their softer, feminine, side. So-called 'real, hard men' will have to conform or be left behind - stop fighting it and accept that you have always been tempted to kiss and cuddle your wife's ferret anyway. I'm not ashamed of the fact that I show these animals affection - living with someone who runs a ferret rescue means that the animals play an important part in our lives.

Most men are quite comfortable with showing affection to their dog, so why would a ferret be any different?

Ben Stoodley

(From Ferrets First Issue no. 4 February/March 2002)

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