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Sexual Orientation

Drinking Beer Makes you a Man!

Girly Men Drink Wine Coolers

“You don’t drink beer? What is wrong with you? Well, enjoy your girly drinks, Nate.”

God, I have heard this so many times in my life. It often is followed by calling me something like a "wimp" or a "wuss" or a slew of (for them) derogatory comments questioning my sexual preference.

Each time, I wonder to myself, “Why would I drink beer when I enjoy the flavor of other drinks more?” I mean, why would I somewhat punish myself by drinking beer, which I can’t stand? Apparently, drinking beer is the manly thing to do. So, I am expected to drink it. And not only that, according to VH1's list of fifty things that make men undateable, drinking "girly drinks" makes you undateable (my wife didn't get that memo). But I don’t like it, so well, that social norm can “bugger off” as far as I am concerned.

I assume I am not alone in this, so why do men pretty much exclusively drink beer?

Research by University of South Florida psychology professor Jennifer Bosson and colleagues suggests that one possible reason could be to display masculinity to others, including the signal that one is a straight, heterosexual male.

In their work, people who are given the chance to affirm that they are masculine, such as by telling the experimenter that they are not a homosexual, later are more willing to do “feminine tasks.” Not only do they do them for longer, but they also report enjoying them more, and have less anxiety during them.

Other research by these scholars shows that when men’s sense of masculinity is threatened (e.g., they think they could be perceived as homosexual), they are more aggressive, such as punching a punching bag harder and longer than they would otherwise.

So maybe, I am ok drinking “girly drinks,” because I could give a flying leap if people perceive me as gay. To me, it is no more threatening than to say I am tall, or that I have blond hair, or that monkeys can speak French. I’m not tall and I’m not gay, and monkeys can’t speak French. If you say any of those things, you are an idiot or are enjoying some very powerful drugs.

As such, although these researchers have never used drink choice as a variable in their studies, from this perspective, men (in many cases) drink beer because they want to come off as masculine and heterosexual. This is, of course, not the only reason they drink beer, and it doesn’t mean that women drink beer for these reasons (perhaps though, women might choose a less masculine drink if they want to appear feminine. That would be a cool study). But it is a reason, and in many cases, a reason that limits their enjoyment.

So yeah, I’ll keep drinking girly drinks, and I’m ok with that, because well, I enjoy them and it is my life. And if you think I am a wimp, or even gay for that, then so be it! I won’t be drinking something I hate.

I'd like to assure the reading audience that I have not grown breasts, nor have my hips widened, despite all the "girly drinks" I have consumed.

More from Nathan A Heflick Ph.D.
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