Man in Running Tights

Not long after I began running, I decided to try training in tights, especially during the fall and winter. I’d read a lot about the benefits of compression tights especially but what peaked my interest most, were claims by some guys that the “right tights” were warmer and more comfortable than regular athletic pants.

The thing I hate most about training in regular athletic pants and shorts is the constant riding up that occurs at the inner thigh. I’ve tried different brands and styles, but I’ve yet to meet a pair of pants or shorts that doesn’t ride up. If you’re having a hard time understanding why this is such an issue, think of it as having a wedgie you have to dig out over and over and over…

I’ve been running for 10 plus years, and I now prefer to train in tights. I own multiple pair and to make matters worse, I don’t wear shorts over them, which some guys claim to do for modesty or additional warmth in cooler temperatures, but I think, in most cases, is for hiding.

Runner’s World posted an article in March 2014 titled Should Guys Wear Shorts Over Tights? , and I’ve seen the topic discussed numerous times on several running forums. It never fails that there are both men and women who think it wrong for men to wear tights period or entirely inappropriate for us to wear them without covering up with shorts. The reasons people cite vary, but the two top explanations seem to be that seeing a man’s “junk” is gross or that wearing tights is just “gay”.

There have been three occasions when passing male motorists have called me gay or a faggot because I wear tights and other times when I’ve been laughed, stared and or pointed at. None of it bothers me, but I realize that men, like women, also experience body image and confidence issues due to misinformed definitions of masculinity and sexuality. Guys tend to steer clear of doing certain things, like wearing tights, especially without covering up, because we don’t want people measuring our masculinity or our sexuality.

Men often experience some anxiety about their penis size because many of us believe the myth that size is the key to acceptable sexual performance. Well, while we all want be decently endowed, the truth is, the majority of us are average, which according to a post in Psychology Today titled How Women REALLY Feel About Penis Size,  is okay for 7 out of  8 women.

I find it strange that there are a number of sports for which it is acceptable for men to wear some form of tights–e.g., football, track and field, wrestling, power lifting, and etc. Apparently because these sports are so hardcore, not even wearing tights, leaves your manhood subject to scrutiny.  Now, you can participate in “softer” activities like Pilates® or Zumba® or ballet IF you are doing it to improve your skills in a more so-called manly sport.

Recently at the gym, I overheard a guy tell his workout partner that he was going to purchase a lanyard for his gym access card so he could wear it around his neck. After a few seconds he asked, “Do you think that’s gonna look gay?” I asked myself “How could wearing a lanyard look gay?”, then I thought, “That’s exactly why you need to finish this post,” then I realized that we (men) are the ones who have misdefined manhood. We are the first to deem emotions, actions or activities as sissy or soft or gay.

Some males put more effort into trying to “look” manly than they do into becoming true men. Much of this behavior is driven by the poor examples of manhood we see celebrated in athletes, superstars, politicians, public  figures, and etc., but ever before that, we are taught manhood by our fathers and other influential men (e.g. uncles, older brothers, coaches, male educators and religious leaders and  so on).  As a child, I remember men praising boys who had sex or intimate relations with adult women. Because of this, I didn’t realize, until a few years ago, that encounters I had with a thirty-one-year-old woman, when I was sixteen, were cases of molestation. Based on what I learned from adult males in my life, I thought her pursuit and interest in me proved that I was a man; had I thought differently or told anyone I had been violated, my masculinity and sexuality would have come under assault.

I’m not trying to convince men to start wearing running tights, but if you decide to do that or anything that is traditionally considered not masculine, I do want to reassure you that it doesn’t make you less of a man, and the only thing that can make you gay is being gay. If anything, having the confidence and courage to live above baseless opinions is proof of true manhood.

Manhood is not something you can just put on. It isn’t determined by age. It can’t be measured by the size of our penises, our sexuality nor any other characteristic affected by genetics. Earning lots of money, driving nice cars, neither becoming famous nor boasting a long list of sexual partners qualify a male to be considered a true man. I know guys that meet all criteria of traditional “mancode” but when you strip away the facade, all you have left are babbling boys.

I could easily list the qualities that I think true men embody, but the list would include some biases. Therefore, I think one of the best ways to define what manhood looks like is actually found in Christian scripture. The verse reads:

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood (silliness and immaturity) behind me,” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV).

Being a true man is about how you speak, how you think, and how you reason, which are choices. True men are not perfect in each area, but we always seek to grow­–to become better–to make good choices. Most importantly, note that nothing that defines a true man is based upon the physical or financial; these things change and many are beyond our control. The one thing we can control is our choices. True men consistently choose to speak right, to think right, to reason right.

The process of becoming a true man is not finite but instead is a life-long cycle that only ends after we breathe our last breath. I am not my penis, or my abs, or my career, or my bank account. Yes, I am a man who chooses and will continue to choose to do things, like wearing running tights, that violate “mancode,” but it does not diminish the fact that I am a true man– one who has put away childish things.

Feature Image: Copyright Ammentorp

4 Replies to “I Am Not My Penis”

  1. Bro., thank you for the transparency.
    Amazing post!

    We are all so often judged and put into boxes based on outside perceptions – thanks for climbing out every chance you get, lol.

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