Hey! Men! Do you question your own masculinity when you drink hard apple cider? Should you be? Does the sweet taste make you secretly and shamefully feel totally unable to one-rep max your weight on bench? These may sound like trivial questions, but they’re not. Since apple cider is being marketed to men like never before — see this ad that totally targets the Male Demographic, as indicated by the gravel-voiced narrator as well as, more subtly, the bikini-clad Sofia Vegra doing a shimmy with “drink this product, men!” written in diaphanous icing across her breasts — it is imperative for us guys to know if imbibing cider is socially acceptable.
Arguing one side will be my nameless friend, who is totally real and not a construct of my imagination and/or straw. Since he isn’t here to actually defend himself, I’ll be paraphrasing his arguments as best as I can remember them from our drunken debate last week. His rationale, logic, and insights will be presented faithfully and objectively, unless it’s in my advantage not to do so. I’ll be arguing the other side, in case that wasn’t obvious.
(And yes, yes, I know: the labeling of an activity as “girly” or “manly” is a perpetration of the harmful and outdated notion of a “gender binary,” a reinforcement of the oppressive hierarchical division of existence into two and only two unequal, socially prescribed labels. Stop sending me hate mail, FanSided Feminists! What if we compromise and next week I interpret some in-game stills of Richard Sherman as if they were Cindy Sherman photographs?)
Now according to my friend, the alcohol content of cider is irrelevant. What renders cider “girly” is the flavor.
Alcohol for men shouldn’t taste like juice; fruit flavors were defined as intrinsically “feminine” when Eve scarfed down that apple while Adam was BBQing bratwursts and earning all the family income. In my buddy’s opinion, cider is just a short hop/skip/jump from Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Ice, the ultimate signifiers of beta male-ness, more so than even the shuffle-foot mumbly awkwardness around women or using Billy Bibbit-y, fluttery hand gestures while talking. Apple cider being potentially high in ABV doesn’t justify it; a cosmo can be strong, but you wouldn’t see Ndamukong Suh aggressively tossing one of ‘em back. Fruit and men just don’t mix unless you’re in the Munch Bunch.
Seems reasonable, right? Well he’s wrong and so are you if you’re in agreement with him.
Let’s ignore the argument about fruity flavors being feminine — because it’s alliterative and therefore axiomatic — and focus on the manliest thing about hard apple cider: you can make it. You! Yes you! That’s so damn self-reliant that Ralph Waldo Emerson would weep in approval, and he was a man’s man (I’ve always picture him looking like a pioneer, all wrapped up in raccoon pelts or martin). It’s not even expensive to make, and saving money is very manly because you can spend the excess cash on sports and prostitutes. As a manly bonus, the fermentation process takes a little while — a batch begun today should be ready to drink by the time your favorite NFL team is giving you stress ulcers — which allows you to practice the masculine arts of patience and delayed gratification, both of which come in handy in the sack if you know what I mean (people like to have sex inside sacks, hence the origin of “sack races” at county fairs: married couples were encouraged to reproduce due to the low birth rates threatening the colonies).
Really, enjoying a fruit-based drink, especially one you brewed yourself using manly academic disciplines like Science and Reason, is no reason to fret over your manhood. Cider is about the manliest drink this side of moonshine and should be celebrated as such. If you want to feel insecure about something you enjoy, think about how much you like eggs. Eggs are for pansies.
(On next week’s edition of Girly or Manly? we’ll have “Eggs: Inside women, ergo FOR women?”)