If you’re a Parks and Recreation fan, then you are very familiar with the curmudgeonly nature and old-world masculinity exuded by Leslie Knope’s boss, Ron Swanson. Ron is a caricature of the kind of no-nonsense, salt-of-the-earth mentality that many believe you need to embody in order to be a man.
However, Nick Offerman, the actor who plays Ron Swanson, would like people to stop and consider the possibility that maybe being a man has nothing to do with being aggressive or bottling up your feelings.
Offerman was recently interviewed by Sean Evans at Men’s Health to promote the non-profit Would Works. Offerman creates and sells carpentry goods for the charity, and the proceeds then go to helping underprivileged and impoverished Americans.
During the interview, the interviewer noted that Offerman is often considered to be “a man’s man,” and asked him to describe the last time he cried. Rather than making up some sort of macho, Ron Swanson-esque nonsense, Offerman was very candid about the fact that he does not consider crying or emoting to be unmanly or embarrassing.
“I went to theater school. I took two semesters of ballet. I’m the sissy in my family. I cry with pretty great regularity,” he responded. “I stand for my principles and I work hard and I have good manners, but machismo is a double-sided coin. A lot of people think it requires behavior that can quickly veer into misogyny and things I consider indecent. We’ve been sold this weird John Wayne mentality that fistfights and violence are vital to being a man. I’d rather hug than punch. Crying at something that moves you to joy or sadness is just as manly as chopping down a tree or punching out a bad guy.”
Offerman then described the last time he cried, which was, incredibly enough, at an Alicia Keys concert. (And honestly, I can’t blame him in the slightest.)
“To answer your question, I recently saw Alicia Keys perform live,” he said “I’d never seen her before and the sheer golden, heavenly talent issuing from her and her singing instrument had both my wife and me in tears. What a gorgeous gift she has. Her voice is so great. And I had no shame (about crying).”
Basically? Living life like Ron Swanson may be funny on an NBC sitcom, but that’s not what real masculinity should be about.
“If you live your life openly with your emotions, that’s a more manly stance than burying them.”