The “Real Man” Project: Dolan Wolf

Welcome to the very first installment of The “Real Man” Project! All through the month of August, we’ll be challenging your perception of masculinity, as twenty various performers share their thoughts on what it means to be a “real man”. We have so many marvelous names lined up for this project that we’re half-tempted to list them all for you right now.

Alas, that would ruin the element of surprise! What would be the fun in that? Not to mention, some of the participants still haven’t sent in their responses…

No worries though! Today, we’ve got a great submission for you from Dolan Wolf. The British, anally-gifted adult star sent in (arguably) one of the best responses yet, and we encourage you to take a few moments out of your busy Monday and read through what he had to say.

Note: If you’re alone, you might want to try clicking the pictures in this post for some very special, NSFW bonus content. Or just go here.

– Dewitt

Photo credit: Butch Dixon & Alpha Male Fuckers

Click through to read Dolan Wolf’s answer to our question:

What does it mean to be a real man?

There’s a pretty obvious philosophical flaw in this question we might as well get out of the way first. The concept of a real man is not, as the question implies, a universal truth that the phrase ‘real man’ points at and the rest of the words we have at our disposal have to try to describe. What it means to be real man is whatever we decide it means. And as such it is subject to fashion, cultural differences and a matter of opinion and perspective.

Of course there are some powerful cultural and scientific ideas deeply rooted in the world, and your brain, about what it means to be a real man.

And when I say deeply rooted, I mean deep. Somewhere around the age of four I asked my older sister, ‘When you were a boy, did you play with Action Man?’ It seemed I could only understand the existence of girls by assuming they had originally been boys, but this theory could only make sense if, prior to becoming girls and playing with dollies, they played with Action Man. Clearly I already thought I knew what it meant to be a real boy, but my thoughts had been given to me without my knowing, and I could just as easily have been given other ideas.

Many years later, when in any culture I would, by virtue of my age, have been considered a man, I saw a TV ad (that’s British for commercial) about a brand of crisps (that’s British for ‘potato chips’) that were being marketed as ‘man crisps’. In the ad, knowing the meaning of the ballet term ‘plié’ was unacceptable behaviour for a man, and grounds for immediate, merciless eviction from a bar and the company of other ‘real’ men. Total bollocks (that’s British for bullshit) obviously, but it was a view recognised if not shared so universally that everyone understood the ad.

Not too long after that, aged 25, a bit late in the day by current standards, I finally gave in to the temptation to lie with a man. Or at least visit a bath house and sit next to one in a steam room. It was a revelation. Thus far my idea of a gay man was stand-out camp or at least prissily groomed. It turned out that homosexuals came in more forms than I had imagined, and many of them were indistinguishable from that of the rest of the male population. In short, I discovered that real men could be gay.

Eleven years and many more revelations later, in the spring of 2008 I saw a magazine advert about the first Mr Eagle London contest. I assume that the headline, ‘Are you man enough?’ was supposed to have a double meaning – both ‘Do you have the courage?’ and ‘Do you measure up?’ I didn’t know the answer to the second question, but I had the courage, so I decided to throw my jock into the ring. I was surprised, not to say thrilled when I won, but in the end my courage mattered more than my opinion.

It can’t have helped us, but for gay men our need to know what it means to be a real man can’t only come from the fact that when we grew up our manliness was called into question by our sexuality. Demonstrably straight men have their manliness challenged too. I’m told there is a saying amongst prospective fathers that goes, ‘It takes a real man to have a girl’. I don’t know whether it has been scientifically proven that men with higher levels of testosterone are more likely to spawn females or whether this saying grew out of a need to reassure fathers of girls in much the same way that anyone shat on by an overhead bird is often consoled by someone telling them it is a harbinger of good luck. Either way, gay or straight, all men are prone to need reassuring that they are real men.

Sometimes the need to know what a real man is is purely practical. We’ve all read a profile online that says, ‘Looking for a real man,’ and occasionally a profile provides a few helpful words to explain what that means, but while these explanations usually sound familiar, no two of them are ever the same.

We could try to make things easier by defining a man by using words like ‘male’ and ‘masculine’, but these seemingly simple words are surprisingly difficult to define. If being a man means being male, and being male means having a penis, if you had an accident and lost your penis, would you cease to be man? If not, does that mean you can be considered male or a man if you never had a penis? Turns out, these questions can’t be easily resolved at the microbiological level either. According to sexual determination theory, the processes involved in creating cells that form ovaries and cells that form testes is so complex that drawing the line between the male and the female of the species is much harder than you’d think.

As for masculinity, if the core elements of masculinity, like muscles, body hair, a deep voice and aggression are directly related to how much testosterone you have pumping around your system, can you be a ‘real’ man if your testosterone comes from behind the counter at your local gym? And what about a lot of other things the world we live in has arbitrarily decided are emasculating, like the ability to sing and dance, the desire to look good, and even more critically for gay men, the willingness to suck cock and get fucked up the arse. I know some big, beefy, archetypes of butchness who love to sing show tunes, and some very spindly, camp queens who can, beyond a shadow of doubt, take it like a man.

Fortunately, if there are even more unrealistic and contrary expectations heaped on the role of the modern gay man than there are on that of the modern woman, gay culture is young enough for us to more easily grasp the idea and remember that it’s up to each one of us to define a role for ourselves and be our own man.

I was in the audience in Chicago when Tyler McCormack won the title of International Mister Leather 2010. Having met the guy and heard him and the other 19 finalists speak, when they called his name I was happy that the best man had won. My opinion didn’t change when I subsequently learned that Tyler had been born a woman. I sympathise with anyone outraged by the fact that a contest designed for a community to celebrate their idea of ultimate manliness, had picked a champion who they felt did not represent that idea at all. But for me, since International Mister Leather only serves to highlight that whatever idea of manliness we carry around with us is a construct anyway, I couldn’t see why they shouldn’t give the title to a person either because or regardless of the fact that he’d put more work into that construction than anyone else.

If you want my opinion, being a man doesn’t mean you’re over a certain age or that you meet any particular physical definition of male adulthood. To me being a real man means you’ve grown up enough to stand up for your rights and accept your responsibilities. You’re true to who you are, but who you are is still capable of growth. You’re not emotionally childish, though if you can still be childlike in the way you experience the world, so much the better. And I think that’s enough there for all men, gay and straight, to struggle to achieve for the rest of their lives.

Of course, when it comes to sex, I’m guilty of finding certain archetypes of ‘manliness’ very appealing. I’m attracted to all kinds of guys, and the connection between me and my partner is the most important thing in reality, but if I’m knocking one out, I’m most likely thinking about a very well built man with the strength to tear me limb from limb, but the control and deftness to apply that strength in exactly the right measure at the right time. Chances are he’ll be dressed in leather and smoking a cigar too. But maybe that’s just me.

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