One of the things that has most surprised me about Spain is the difference concerning masculinity. I know there is a stereotype about Spanish men being macho, but in my experience has been pretty much untrue. What instead has, and continues to shock (and delight) me, is the degree to which Spanish men (and boys) will do things, without batting an eye, that their counterparts in the states wouldn’t be caught dead doing because “that’s so gay”, or as their more pc counterparts would say: “….” (nothing, but you don’t see any American men doing these things). It’s so great to see a culture that is not hung up on this sort of thing.
Wait, before I get to the examples, I am already thinking of the awesomely weird and varied set of friends, male and female, that I have in the States. And how they’re probably going to read this and say “Hey! I know guys who wear pink!” or “I’ve even worn a dress before!”. So maybe this doesn’t apply as well when compared to my years at the Quite Liberal College, or living in Portland. This very well might not apply to you. So here’s my disclaimer to hopefully bolster my claims of shock and delight: the dudes I know here in Spain are pretty damn normal. Not the type you would look at and say “I could convince him to put a dress on for Halloween”. They climb mountains. They drink, smoke, curse up a storm….. a lot. They work construction. They drive trucks. They scream in punk bands (all my friends have screamy punk bands, but you’d never know it by looking at them). My city is, unfortunately, rather normal. If you dress even slightly freaky, you will get gawked at.
That being said, here are the things I gawk at that guys do, though are perfectly normal here:
*Purple and pink, while apparently went through/is going through a fashion phase in the States, has always been in fashion here for guys. T-shirts, socks, underwear, pants, jackets, hiking boots (!), I’ve seen guys sporting it in many forms. And again, I emphasize, non-ironically! (Irony doesn’t exist here, more to come on that later if I can ever wrap my head about that). It’s one of my friend’s self-proclaimed favorite colors, and the color of his room some of his clothes/socks (yes, you heard me, socks).
*Man purses are totally acceptable. So are fanny packs, though that’s more of a punk or hippy thing. I was once on a trip with a guy and he forgot his purse. So we went and bought another one at the start of a trip.
*Itty-bitty coffee cups – probably the reason that wonderful European coffee hasn’t caught on in the same way in the States (take that shot and dump it into my giant cup of coffee, please) is that besides the fact that everything that both American men and women drink has to be huge, men wouldn’t be caught dead drinking from a tiny ceramic cup. I just couldn’t picture it! I think the biggest mind-trip I had regarding this subject, was at a bar with my friend after a hike. There he was across from me, wearing a purple t-shirt and delicately sipping from his teeny coffee cup. If he was in middle America, he’d be toast. Yet this is one of the most hardcore dudes I know – not long after that he ran a marathon. In the mountains. Which was his first. That he didn’t train for. He got caught up talking to a friend and started to race late. He got seventh place, then proceeded to party till 5am.
* Physical/verbal affection among male friends is also commonplace. General proximity and even hugs are more common here, and there is no Spanish equivalent for “no homo”. Typical in all conversations, Spanish men will often send a verbal “hug” to their friend when hanging up the phone. My heart just about melted when, during a class outside during summer camp, two 12 year old boys made themselves comfortable on the grass with one of them laying their head on the others lap. Nobody said a word, nobody pointed/laughed/teased like would have happened. Nobody made judgments about their sexuality. I LOVE SPAIN!