Boys vs. Men

One of my favorite things to do to alleviate the tedium and drudgery of going to the laundromat is to spend the drying cycle at Article Pract, which is right down the street. I was especially excited to go there today, because I wanted to see how my ‘boys knit’ buttons were selling. I was pleased with what I saw——I gave them 50 buttons, and there are only 15 left——but I also learned something interesting. Some people didn’t want to buy them because of the word ‘boys.’

I picked the word ‘boys’ because of the name of this web site, but also because ‘boys knit’ rolls off the tongue better than ‘men knit.’ Those two ‘n’ sounds just kind of run into each other, whereas the ‘s’ of boys transmutes quite wonderfully into the ‘n’-sound in ‘knit.’ ‘Boys knit’ has a playful quality that other phrases lack. And besides, ‘men knit’ is already taken by menknit.net.

So what’s the objection? Apparently, some men don’t like to be called boys. I am entirely serious when I say that this never occurred to me. What’s behind this? Is the word ‘boys’ too diminutive? Not masculine enough? Does it sound . . . gay?

These are not rhetorical questions. I am asking your opinion. Click on that comments link down there and tell me what you think.

27 Comments

  • Steph VW says:

    As a woman, I would be quite content to be called a “girl” until my ripe old age. It’s a term that (to me) brings to mind youth, days spent in countless adventures and the joy of just being.

    Perhaps boys are too often reminded that they must grow up to be strong, in charge, manly men. Perhaps the term boy brings to mind not the joys of their youth, but a remembrance of the time when they weren’t self reliant, when they were struggling not to “be” but to “become”.

    Or maybe I’m just an ice-cream-eating, tendonitis-nursing knitter who is going a little crazy without her needles.

    My husband never seemed to mind when I referred to him and our (now in doggy heaven) dog as “my boys”. And he’s a hockey playin’, touque wearin’, Canadian man. (Let’s just ignore the fact that he sings and writes music for an orchestral pop band – BTW – your buddy’s band and my husband’s appeared at the same venue overseas in ’04)

  • pipandtom says:

    Maybe it’s a generational thing?

  • Leslie says:

    I myself would have no problem buying something that says “boys knit” on it. In fact, if I liked the product, it could say just about anything and it wouldn’t detract me from buying what I like. That said, I could see where a “manly man” might be put off, but then why is he buying buttons anyway? I could sound a little gay, but what’s wrong with that? I mean, a rose is a rose…
    Love your blog site, by the way!

  • Leslie says:

    This is why I should always proof my content before I post. I meant “it” could sound a little gay. I’m a happily married heterosexual woman. Sheesh!

  • Leslie says:

    Yes, it’s me again. After posting, I actually LOOKED at your buttons, and now I’m feeling a little sheepish for not having done so before I posted. Okay, so what do I really think and by this point do you really care? Although “Men Knit” is taken, I think it would sell more buttons. I could see where “Boys Knit” would put off some guys. You could get around the “Men Knit” by maybe having “Kmen Knit”? Funny, huh? Just an idea. I’ll go now…

  • Zoe says:

    For years, ladies have added more power to ‘girls’ by adding consonants–‘grrrrls’. Perhaps it’s time for ‘boyyyys’. Though ‘boyyyyy’ brings to mind a rubber yo-yo, while ‘grrrrls’ has a satisfying and intimidating growl behind it. Anyway, ‘grrrl’ has been co-opted by The Man. And don’t even get me started on ‘The Man’…

  • nate says:

    Isn’t part of the point of “boys knit” to make light of the fact that knitting is considered a girl thing and to inspire pride for men knitters (mennitters?) in a humorous way? And to be proud of knitting as a “boy” is to sort of say screw you to anyone who judges your masculinity or lack thereof by something like whether you knit, or wear pink, or cry in public. I say that men who don’t like “boys knit” are missing the point and don’t deserve a button. But if they want to make their own, I have some suggestions…
    -Dude Knitter
    -Real Men Knit (real menit)
    -Men Knit, too (menit2)
    -Just because I knit doesn’t mean I’m a pansy (I”M NOT GAY!)

  • Kristina says:

    Oooo, I like “Dude Knitter.” What about “Bull knit” – I know, so original. I also like your “Boys Knit” for the same reasons you listed in your post, and it sounds like they were popular enough that they sold well! Maybe you could continue to make those and add 1 or 2 other options for those uncomfortable with being called “boy.”
    Nice site – I wish I could knit!

  • betsy says:

    It has been my long-held opinion that if a man can’t be a boy sometimes, he’s taking himself too seriously. I don’t like dating or hanging out with males that can’t be exuberant now and then, which is what I would say is my defining qualification for a “boy.” And if I don’t want to hang out with them, I certainly don’t want to knit with them, and that’s my 2 cents.

  • kellie says:

    When my brother lived in San Francisco and gay friends would visit, he would refer to them as “the girls.”

  • beldaraan says:

    Guys Knit for the “men” who feel a more masculine approach is needed?

  • Noo says:

    I think, in the same way we can commend men who are in touch with their feminine side, being in touch with your boyish side is also a good thing. I’m with Betsy, someone who objects to the “boy” tag probably doesn’t know how to have fun. Love your blog!

  • danica says:

    maybe there is an age-dependent component? i know that, as a girl, i’m starting to think that i might take a hiatus from describing myself as such for the same reason that i won’t go into that store called “forever 21.” somehow, it seems funny to call yourself a girl when you’re 23 and definitely charming when you’re 83, but i’m sensing that there’s a window in between where it just doesn’t have the same impact. maybe boys between, say, 40 and 50 worry that wearing a button announcing their boy status will sound more mid-life-crisis than gender-role-subversive.

    sadly, i don’t know any 40 – 50 year old boys other than my boss, so can’t collect data to test that theory.

  • knitcrazed says:

    i snatched that button up when i saw it on the counter at article pract; it made me smile. i’m proud to be a 40ish-year old, gay man who knits. whether your straight or gay i think that a man who knits would love to proudly wear the button. i don’t think there is anything politically incorrect about using the word “boy”. boy / man who cares.

    thanks for making the buttons!!!

  • Emily says:

    Boys Knit is wonderful. Don’t change it! If people (men and women, boys and girls) like it, they will buy it and enjoy it.

    How about mekn knit. No. It wouldn’t work, but it seemed/sounded/looked good in my head!

    Boyz Knit is too Boyz 2 Men. Or was it Boyz To Men? I don’t know, didn’t like them, don’t care. But I do understand about grrls and girlz; both add masculinity to girl. The success and prevelance of grrrls reinforces the idea that boys knit is not masculine enough, and too playful for, men who dislike it. To he*& with them.

  • Dana says:

    I bought the button for my husband – he loves it. So I asked him whether he’d have preferred “Men Knit” or “Boys Knit” and he responded that he’d like, “Guys Knit” best of all, but second to that is “Boys Knit”. Hmm.

  • carol says:

    Maybe all the men who oppose “boys knit” are continental knitters.

  • Ray says:

    It may be difficult to separate it from
    “Boy Snit” – “a fairy little temper tantrum”. Kinda like “Boy Puts Knot in Handkerchief”, y’know?

  • Kay says:

    I will be 55 years old in several months. Even now when someone refers to me as a ‘woman’ or ‘lady’ it makes me feel ‘old’. I still call my friends ‘girls’ and don’t know what the big deal is call men ‘boys’. Some people just need to lighten up a bit!!

  • wenders says:

    Oh, this is too wonderful. Love the topic.

    I hate being called a girl – it’s diminutive and by definition means an unmarried female. I don’t want to be defined by whether or not I am married. Boy is defined as being immature, something I could understand someone not wanting to label themselves as such. That said, we’re dealing with BUTTONS, and KNITTING buttons, at that, so I can’t imagine being that hung up that I would let a boy/girl label push aside the more important one, that of KNITTER.

    And when I say Boys Knit it sounds like Boys Snit, which is also amusing to me. And sometimes true. I think Men Snit less. Can’t wait to see what others say.

  • Miss Bliss says:

    Great topic! I like Boys Knit and Guys Knit…both for the same reason that you mentioned involving the “s” at the end of each word but also because of the casual nature of both words. “Men Knit” sounds like a political action group rather than an exclamation of simple truth.

  • keohinani says:

    i guess using “guys knit” didn’t occur until after the fact?

    i suppose the offense is the same as when people call me “ma`am” instead of “miss”; i feel “ma’am” is reserved for married or mature-looking (?) women…not a 5’1″ 24-year old that still plausibly passes for high school age and still gets carded buying tickets to rated R movies. go figure…

    great blog. keep up the good work!

  • trek says:

    Doesn’t anyone remember classic TV shows that always mentioned “boys night out” or “stopping to have a drink with the boys”? Sheesh! People are so freaking PC these days it kills me. You can call me a knitting girl any time…

  • Daniel says:

    You took them 50 buttons and only had 15 left. To me that means 35 of them didn’t have a problem and not that 15 did.

    You done good and damn the rest.

    Oo! Oo! How about “Big Jim & the twins Knit”? Let them figure that one out.

    Salut!

  • Yarn Boy says:

    Thanks for the glass-is-half-full perspective, Daniel!

  • Ajay says:

    As a 23 year old boy, I would certainly put a “boys knit” button on my knitting tote. “boys” has a cuter ring to it that women would probably find adorable.

  • Leigh says:

    I work at a clothing store, and we once carried pink t-shirts that said “tough guys wear pink.” How about “tough guys knit”? I don’t think you should get rid of the “boys” buttons, but perhaps more variety would be a good thing.

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