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Welcome! To the Menaissance Festival!

So, the “menaissance.” It’s a thing! Granted, it was also a thing in 2008. But it went away. Presumably because people figured out what a stupid name it had, and decided not to engage in it any further. And yet, the Menaissance is upon us once again! It’s a Menaissance Renaissance up in here!

What is the Menaissance, you ask? Well, it seems to have a bit to do with the recent invention of the “retrosexual” gentleman (because nothing is more clenched-jaws-and-fisticuffs-level masculine than a cute little nickname for your gender presentation), a bit to do with those deodorant commercials about how men smell really super bad all the time and that’s what makes them dudes, probably something to do with that one Burger King sandwich that’s got all the beef in it (dudes EAT THE SHIT OUT OF beef, apparently), and, as always, a lot to do with good old-fashioned heterosexual male castration anxiety.

The chicks today, they get to do so many things! Why, they can vote, and attend colleges, and even drink and smoke in public,! These chicks: An alarming number of them have jobs! And, like, financial autonomy, from the jobs, and hence a socially assured position of power from which to negotiate the terms of their relationships and lives, thereby making them not entirely dependent on the funding and/or goodwill of men for their continued survival and status, and so they’re all able to make decisions and expect fair treatment and… dude, it’s a mess, I tell you. Because it turns out, after like fifty-some years of this business, none of these chicks is impressed enough by your penis!

“Excuse me, madam, I happen to have a penis,” you say. (Because you do. A trans variety of gentleman has no place within the Menaissance!) “Would you, perchance, like to hear about all of my thoughts and feelings as they relate to this penis, and also how important it makes me, and furthermore how it qualifies me to boss you around?” And the chicks today, they don’t particularly care to listen! They used to listen. They used to have to. It was, like, their job.

Hence, the Menaissance: From “Men,” meaning dudes, and “aissance,” meaning “making asses out of themselves.” What happens, apparently, is that a dude watches a few too many episodes of Mad Men and reads one too many Raymond Carver stories and takes at least one beer commercial just a bit too seriously, and then he decides to engage in some HISTORICAL RE-ENACTMENTING, buying books with titles like The Retrosexual Manual: How to Be A Real Man, and playing dress-up in his special Don Draper costume that he got at Banana Republic, and getting his hair did at special man-focused man-salons which ensure their manliness by putting Elvis memorabilia all over the place (because women HATED Elvis, duh), and also probably pretending that he likes how scotch tastes and that cigars don’t make him want to barf his rare steaks back up onto his pseudo-vintage-trouser-encased lap, and in all other ways attempting to embody some wacky vision of pre-feminist manhood that, unless he is actually ninety-seven years old, he has only ever seen on TV.

So, yeah. MENAISSANCE! We probably can’t stop it. We probably can’t even give it a less stupid name. (Like, “sexism!” That could be a good name for it!) I’ll tell you what we could do, however: Round up all the Menaissancers and get them in one place, so that the rest of us don’t have to deal with their tomfoolery while we are trying to work. Rent out a fairground, set up some tents, and provide them with the same sort of entertainment enjoyed by all those other folks who get off on re-enacting cartoonish imitations of massively oppressive time periods while somehow also always imagining that they would be members of the privileged elite class, and not one of the lowly and downtrodden. Yes, that’s right: I am proposing a Menaissance Faire.

In fact, I have done some quick thinking, and have come up with an assortment of attractions that the Men-Faire attendants might enjoy! For example:

  • COME YE AND SEE THINE BROS DELIVER ICE, EACH BRO UNTO THE OTHER, IN BATTLE MOST FIERCE: Which bro shall draw his glistening Ice upon the other? And shall the other bro parry, Blocking Ice with Ice and thereby winning the battle? To the swiftest dealer of Ice, all other bros must kneel, in fealty!
  • VISIT YE THE STENCH VENDORS: Many a fine oil and unguent have we, for thine sweaty pits! Each hath a marketing campaign devoted to telling ye it is Manly, and for The Men. But which shall ye choose, Sir Menaissance Attendant? Shall ye go with a trusty Axe? Ye other one with ye confusing commercials in which, for some reason, a guy has a garden hose and a football falling out of his ass in the shower? Or shall ye purchase the Spice of Old? All choices are manly choices, at the Menaissance vendor booths!
  • CHEER YE ON THE GLORIOUS BONER JOUST: This is basically jousting. But with your boner! The concept is pretty self-explanatory, really. I don’t even see why I had to type this out.
  • HEAR YE THE BALLADRY OF RIVERS THE BESPECTACLED, AS HE SINGS TO YE “THE TAYLE OF A NICE GUY, AND MANYE A TROUBLE THAT BEFELL HIM, AND HIS WOES RESULTING”:  Faire maide, I resemble thee / Prithee, I wait, show mercy / Much good shall I do to thee / And ye shall do to me / WOOO-HOOOO-HOOOOOOOOO!
  • BEHOLD THE RUNNING OF THE DEERE: Climb ye upon this riding lawnmower! Yon trusty steed shall deliver ye well across yonder lawn, and back again, performing manly lawn maintenance as it passeth!
  • I BET I COULD TOTALLY JUMP OFF THIS ROOF RIGHT NOW, DUDE: No, seriously. I could do it. I could do it. What, you don’t believe me? It’s not that high, I’ll be fine. I’ll be totally fine! I’ve only had like a few beers, don’t be such a pussy. Watch, look, I can do it, it’s gonna be sweet, watch this look watch mAAAAAUGHHH AUGHHHHH AHHHHHHH MY ARRRRRRRRRRRRM AHHHHH FUUUUUUCCK


  1. Annaham wrote:

    I will enthusiastically volunteer to run the Stench Vending/Axe-pothecary booth, if only to sell Axe body spray and other assorted tinctures in little glass vials.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  2. Sarah TX wrote:

    But My Nigel really DOES prefer Scotch and cigars and natty little jackets and also spousal abuse!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
  3. resurgo wrote:

    I just started cackling so loudly that it scared the cats out of their sunbeam nap.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 6:17 pm | Permalink
  4. Gembird wrote:

    I am trying to imagine this Menaissance Faire. In my head, the dudes are talking, but I can’t hear it properly and I just get subtitles saying [BONERS] all the time.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm | Permalink
  5. Katie wrote:

    You have to say it with feeling and the voice, “Welcome to the Manaissance

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 6:44 pm | Permalink
  6. Molly wrote:

    Sweet mother jesus, Sady, you are a national feminist TREASURE. I cannot stop laughing at the thought of boner jousting… which is also making me feel a little sick.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
  7. Melissa wrote:

    Greatest. Post. EVER.

    You are amazing.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  8. K wrote:

    I know a guy who really did try to jump off a roof.

    He sounded just like that when he landed.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  9. Crito wrote:

    I like scotch and the occasional cigar. I like Mad Men for dressing well. (Hope I’m not somebody’s Nigel.)

    I gathered that the problem with “retrosexual” is that, unlike “metrosexual”, it entails a reversion of values (as opposed to progression of grooming). Whereas metrosexuality said, “I, a straight man, can enjoy a pedicure,” retrosexuality …?

    So I googled “retrosexual”, and let me tell you, BOY HOWDY, the THIRD LINK that pops up is…well, you just need to check it out yourself.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  10. Vee wrote:

    @Resurgo: ME TOO. ME TOOOOOOO. The boner joust! The riding of the lawnmower! The fact that the name Menaissance IS NOT SOMETHING SADY MADE UP.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Permalink
  11. Jeannette wrote:

    hahaha! love it. i’m reposting on FB and dedicating it to the guy i overheard talking about how “feminism has ruined everything [for men]” and that “men just can’t be MEN anymore!” that poor asshole.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Permalink
  12. ladysquires wrote:

    @Crito: Was it “The Retrosexual Code” that you were looking at? Because that came up second for me.

    And wow.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Permalink
  13. JfC wrote:

    I’m a lady and I enjoy cigars.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
  14. Victoria wrote:

    @LADYSQUIRES: A Retrosexual posts rules to live by on a web site designed in 1998.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 10:30 pm | Permalink
  15. EM wrote:

    (dudes EAT THE SHIT OUT OF beef, apparently)

    Considering the e coli count in feedlot-sourced hamburger, this is literally true. *groan*

    Now BACK! For the comments suggest the rest of the post is even better than the first paragraph intimates.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 10:52 pm | Permalink
  16. Marley wrote:

    The lawn mower riding! This post is perfect!

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm | Permalink
  17. EM wrote:

    I dunno, Sady. You clearly win on intellectual merit, but it was only The Running Of The Deere that pulled you out a victory in the sheer absurdity category. The competition was stiff! Like the boner joust! There were so many juicy bits of the Trib article you didn’t post! Such as:

    a Miller beer commercial features a model-pretty female

    There is another kind of lady in beer commercials?

    He does not own more hair and skin care products than his wife or girlfriend.

    Brylcreem. Burmashave. Ever-ready. Barbasol. Gilette. Shall I go on?

    He does not “accessorize.”

    Tie tacks. Cufflinks. Humidors. Crystal decanters. Pocket combs. Silk handkerchiefs. This grows tedious. Just what exactly does that Tribune Review writer think the word “dapper” means?

    Nancy Patrus, owner of the Middle Road Barbershop in Richland…

    “I think they’re being neglected,” she says of guys. “There’s many, many shops that cater to women. But the old-fashioned barbershop is gone

    Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. To run a proper old-fashioned barbershop, one must be a male barber! No ladies allowed! Also: there are four such barbershops in my little town alone. Something tells me they are far from extinct in Pittsburgh.

    Why, for example, do guys feel the need to wax their chests?

    “Younger men, unfortunately, feel the same pressure that women have felt,” Patrus says. “Before, men were satisfied with just being men.”

    It IS unfortunate, Nancy! Unfortunate that these poor young men have been for some years now exposed to the pressures which young ladies have been subject to for…way, way longer than that, actually! Unfortunate also, Nancy, that you appear to believe that men must be free of this pressure to be men, but that said pressure is part and parcel of “ladies just being ladies”!

    Whew, that was a lot of whackiness.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010 at 11:45 pm | Permalink
  18. Mel wrote:

    Menaissance makes me lol, but cracks at reenactment, less so. I’d wager most reenactors are quite aware of everything you mentioned.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 12:16 am | Permalink
  19. smadin wrote:

    Heh. Sady, you got me good. I was feeling all smug about the defensive reactions — “but this one or that other manfiction novel is totally great! Also Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is totally insignificant so why are you writing about it?” — to the “What We Read When We Don’t Read The Internet” posts; and along comes the Menaissance Festival and here I am all “wait, but I like scotch! For reals, even! And rare steak, and wearing suits!”

    It’s a good lesson, and in all sincerity I appreciate it.

    Also: this post absolutely cracked my shit up. It was the “WOOO-HOOOO-HOOOOOOOOO” that did me in.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  20. Pidgey wrote:

    Recent Old Spice commercials are so ridiculously over the top that I always assumed they were being ironic and mocking Axe. Of course, I probably am not a good judge, because a tiny part of me connected with the thoughts of Jumping Off the Roof Guy.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 6:22 am | Permalink
  21. SeanH wrote:

    I particularly hate how Manly Men co-opt all the good things! Scotch, for instance, and rare steaks are both excellent. And I should be able to enjoy them without having them mythologised into some sort of bizarre Sacrament of Masculinity! Stop taking Good Shit and totemising it so suddenly it acquires this second-hand sexism I don’t endorse! This isn’t new, obviously, I sometimes think that the advertising industry has a secret agenda of making male identity (to say nothing of female identity) as narrow as possible, but for some reason I find this latest flavour of Manliness particularly odious.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 7:56 am | Permalink
  22. Wickedday wrote:

    Sady, not only is the intellectual thrust (hehehe) of this post bang on the money, but so is your Ye Olde Middle Englysshe, near enough. This medievalist now officially has a tiny Interweb-crush on you.

    Seriously! Being funny while also mostly grammatical is not so hard, even in a kind of English that nobody has spoken for 500 years! And yet people never get it right. Ever. Until today!

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 7:58 am | Permalink
  23. Melissa wrote:

    It never ceases to amaze me how some Menasissancers can watch Mad Men and come away with the message, “Wow, these men and their lives were GREAT! It’s horrible that we don’t live that way anymore!” instead of “Wow, not only did these guys create a world of misery for the women in their lives; they ended up making themselves miserable, too.”

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  24. solara wrote:

    [BONER] jousting for the win. Also, while I do in fact enjoy reenacting and Renaissance Fairs, I personally make a point to do nothing more than have fun in my costume and ignore attempts at historical “accuracy.” Especially since *MOST* people at those events have showered in the last week.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  25. Jezebella wrote:

    Honestly, why must everything dudes feel like doing have A NAME AND A MOVEMENT AND A BOOK AND A WEBSITE? You know, if you want to shower, shave, and put on a nice suit, for crissake, do it, dude. Great. If you look like Jon Hamm, a-fucking-men, and call me later, eh? But not if you’re going to *act* like it’s 1960 and be a sexist douchebag in a nice suit with a good haircut. The vintage suit does not give a dude a license to douche it up. Idiots.

    Also, E M: Spot on about the accessories.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 11:31 am | Permalink
  26. Travis wrote:

    “Younger men, unfortunately, feel the same pressure that women have felt,” Patrus says. “Before, men were satisfied with just being men.”

    Maaaaaaan, that is telling. That’s some 1984 doublethink right there.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Permalink
  27. I’d like to request that the Menaissance Faire feature a Recitation of Ye Epic Histories of Dude, Dost Thou Remember That One Time, I Think ‘Twere Senior Year, When Thou, Sully and Myself Didst Make a Pilgrimage to Montreal, And We Got Exiled from Ye Olde Strippe Clubbe, Because The Bouncers Were Being, Like, Total Fagges, And Then Sully Didst Boot on that Constable, Oh Man, Canst Thou Believe He and Heather Are Betrothed.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink
  28. PeeMikGee wrote:

    Wow, here I was just playing dress-up sometimes and it turns out I was engaging in retrosexual behavior. I hope most guys can enjoy fedoras and cufflinks without thinking oldtimey fashion imbues them with the right to be oldtimey assholes.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  29. Taybeh Chaser wrote:

    I enjoy Scotch, steak, sometimes cigars. Also, I think I might like to watch this boner joust…

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 3:59 pm | Permalink
  30. JfC wrote:

    Oh yeah, I love playing old timey men’s wear dress up. It is associated with a sort of formal stifling masculinity, and I enjoy subverting it by virtue of my being a ladyperson, but I also just like the aesthetics.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Permalink
  31. ordinarygoddess wrote:

    Mel, that’s what made this post especially funny for me – almost all of the men I’ve known in my life who are feminists, empathetic and sensitive and genuinely honorable, have been serious historical reenactors of one form or another. (and routinely and roundly mock the kind of behavior this post highlights.) Which gives lie to the whole tired Good Old Days meme. Life As It Should Have Been: yur doin it wrong.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  32. ElectraSteph wrote:

    Yeah, what Melissa said – Mad Men is supposed to be a cautionary tale. Don Draper is “the dude the effed up, big time.” Not someone to emulate. Well, the clothes are cool. The behavior – not at all. That’s the thing that’s bothered me about the show all along – the writers and producers talk about “look at how bad people acted; such progress we’ve made” but those sorts of lessons aren’t really explicit in the storytelling as much as they think they are.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink
  33. EM wrote:

    I agree the aesthetics are pretty sweet, JFC.

    Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink
  34. Courtney wrote:

    I’m still confused as to how anyone can watch Mad Men and come away thinking they want to be Don Draper. He’s miserable and through his constant assholery makes him more miserable. Hell, even the animated sequence in the credits makes it clear that he’s screwed up.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink
  35. Josh wrote:

    I nominate this post for National Internet Classic.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10:04 am | Permalink
  36. Whirlwitch wrote:

    Hey, you didn’t mention the Ale-Quaffing Competition!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Permalink
  37. Jezebella wrote:

    I gotta be honest, when a woman goes on about how much she loves cigars, I feel like she’s pretty much the same chick who’s like “I love porn! I love baseball! I love dude indie rock! I love Normal Mailer! I love ALL THINGS DUDELY because I am cooler than those OTHER girly girls who do not enjoy the man stuff!” That’s just how it sounds, mang.

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Permalink
  38. Amy wrote:

    Hey, you didn’t mention the Ale-Quaffing Competition!

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink
  39. Jezebella wrote:

    Ale-Quaffing, right after Mead Pong!

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  40. Rodrigo! wrote:

    I would totally sign up for some boner jousting. Just saying.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Permalink
  41. Melissa wrote:

    “Ale-Quaffing, right after Mead Pong!”

    I feel the need… the need for MEAD!

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Permalink
  42. Tasha Fierce wrote:


    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  43. Angelos wrote:

    Great, great stuff.

    It’s strange – I find I can enjoy good scotch, nice clothes, and a good steak, and not feel like I’m living out some silly retro fantasy.

    Even better? Tomorrow, I could enjoy a good piece of fish and a good white wine! Because that’s what I might feel like?

    Wait, that last part doesn’t make me a fucking pussy, right?

    Shit, after the salmon, I’ll have to jump off a roof, just in case.

    Friday, June 4, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Permalink
  44. Robert wrote:

    I’m not sure if I really want to know, but I’m curious: what does it mean, ‘bros icing bros’? I have a guess, but would be extravagantly grateful to discover that I’m wrong.

    Also, I’ve tried cigars; don’t care for them. Scotch is all right, but I prefer bourbon and/or rum (not mixed). Only time I wear my suit these days is to dinner at my Masonic lodge. Whew – guess I flunk.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 1:37 am | Permalink
  45. F wrote:

    Message to Bros: playing with regressive affectations is for ladies.

    A lady can play domestic and be perceived as doing it ironically rather than submissively. A dude playing Don Draper dressups is simply an asshole internalizing the misogynistic character’s traits.

    Stick to carrying a warm defensive Smirnoff Ice in a fannypack.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 3:09 am | Permalink
  46. Emily wrote:

    The concept of “Boner Jousting” had me laughing so hard I was in tears…

    Although, I must say I enjoy renaissance fairs not because I enjoy re-enecting oppressive time periods and pretending I’m wealthy, but because I run around wearing a corset and looking super-hot and not getting judged for it =)

    Sunday, June 6, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  47. scrumby wrote:

    Thanks to boyscout camp, I have seen boner jousting. Worse, I had to breakup the event because the leaders were off doing something leaving me the senior-most scout in charge. Ever since whenever I hear a grown man complain about the destruction of “male-only spaces” at the hands of women-folk I think “yeah, you want a place to drink and fart and talk about guy stuff but eventually you’re going to run out of things to say and end up naked doing something stupid with your genitals.”

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010 at 12:12 am | Permalink

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. […] Welcome! To the Menaissance Festival! – Some kind of reniassance faire if it were done by dudebro culture. Funny to me because I know a guy who actually performed one of these events (The “I can totally jump off this roof!” event. It did not end well. I also enjoyed, SEXIST BEATDOWN: The Retrosexual Trend-Piece Writing Code Edition – because it talks about gender role policing & backlash. […]

  3. […] behavior. This is why there is a difference between performative masculinity and straight-up menaissance feste misogyny: calling it “irony” is too shallow, but that’s part of it. It’s a […]