ROUGH AND READY

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“LUM­BER SEX­U­ALS” ARE LIVING LARGE IN THE NEW GOLDEN AGE OF MAN­LI­NESS

WITH WOMEN SWOON­ING OVER THE HAIRY HE-MAN TYPE KNOWN AS THE “LUM­BER­SEX­UAL,” IT’S TIME FOR AV­ER­AGE GUYS TO PUT DOWN THE WAX­ING STRIP AND SEIZE THE MO­MENT. NOT SINCE THE DAYS OF WEST­WARD EX­PAN­SION HAVE WOMEN SO EA­GERLY FETISHIZED THE THICK MUS­CU­LA­TURE AND RED-BLOODED MIND-SET OF THE RUGGED OUT­DOORS­MAN.

THE SEX WAS GOOD. “A lit­tle bit rough, in the best way,” says Emily, a slen­der, 26-year-old blonde who bed­ded a scruffy, mus­cu­lar Alaskan named Matt while he was va­ca­tion­ing in New York not long ago. Af­ter too many dates with wishy-washy Brook­lynites, she found Matt’s as­sertive­ness and hardy, Man vs. Wild looks (less Chris­tian Grey and more Brawny Pa­per Towel Guy) an ir­re­sistible turn-on. And that was be­fore she found out Matt ac­tu­ally worked for a log­ging com­pany. “Clean-shaven is not my thing,” she ex­plains. “Give me broad shoul­ders, give me a beard. I want a man who can make things.”

She’s in luck. The lum­ber­sex­ual (like his quirkier cousin, the beardo) first ap­peared in hip­ster en­claves like Bush­wick, Port­land, and Austin sev­eral years back. Be­fore long his cal­loused, manly fin­ger­prints were all over the popular imag­i­na­tion, and fash­ion-for­ward dudes ev­ery­where were don­ning $375 flan­nel shirts and raw, metic­u­lously pre­bat­tered denim in his im­age.

Now dat­ing sites are hop­ping on the trend: Lum­ber­match and Bristlr pair the burly and the hir­sute with the women who love them.

Not familiar with the type? As writer Tom Puzak put it when he coined the term last fall, the lum­ber­sex­ual seems “like a man of the woods… his back­pack car­ries a Mac­book Air but looks like it should carry a lum­ber­jack’s ax.” In ur­ban cen­ters, he is likely a chef, a tat­too artist, a met­al­smith, or a tech guy who’s sim­ply lost his ra­zor. And he is giv­ing the met­ro­sex­ual a run for his money.

Not since the days of west­ward ex­pan­sion have women so ea­gerly fetishized the thick mus­cu­la­ture and red-blooded mind-set of the rugged out­doors­man. Take the popular blog Your LL Bean Boyfriend, which dis­plays pho­tos of strap­ping mod­els in nubby, shawl-col­lared knitwear with the tagline “He will build you a ta­ble and then have sex with you on it.” Or the be­whiskered indie rocker Justin Ver­non of Bon Iver, who kicked off his solo ca­reer in an iso­lated cabin in the wilder­ness.

Actress Megan Mul­lally found her lum­ber­sex­ual mate-for-life in ac­tor and boat­builder Nick Of­fer­man, of Parks and Recre­ation fame. Be­fore she met Of­fer­man, Mul­lally says, “I had dated th­ese an­drog­y­nous, semi­gay­ish rock ’n’ roll drum­mer types.” The first sum­mer, Mul­lally vis­ited Of­fer­man in Min­nesota: “Nick had this idea to take a ro­man­tic ride onto the lake at mid­night on this pon­toon. He left the head­light on as we were sort of drift­ing, and when he went to start the mo­tor, it was dead. So he rowed us to shore with one pad­dle. It took four hours. And that was my first taste of the su­per­hero within.”

Michael Kim­mel, PH.D., a lead­ing mas­culin­ity scholar, says that by choos­ing to dress like woods­men and sea­far­ers, lum­ber­sex­u­als are “evok­ing work­places that were all-male [and] re­quired a tremen­dous amount of phys­i­cal strength.” He calls the trend “the sar­to­rial equiv­a­lent of Fight Club.” Lum­ber­sex­u­al­ity serves as a wel­come re­lease from the op­pres­sive cu­bi­cle-dwelling life­style—even if the bulk of time a lum­ber­sex­ual spends in the great out­doors is de­voted to drink­ing craft beers on a bar pa­tio.

Now the fan­tasy has crept into the main­stream: See Ju­lian Edel­man’s beard (page 35), by far one of the most vi­ral take­aways from the Su­per Bowl—sec­ond, per­haps, to the most swooned-over farmer ever to lose a puppy. Mean­while, re­al­ity se­ries that ex­plore gritty en­vi­ron­ments— Dead­li­est Catch, Black Gold, Ice Road Truck­ers, Alaskan Bush Peo­ple— have be­come highly rated TV sta­ples, due in no small part to their erotic ap­peal to a cer­tain fe­male view­er­ship.

Hol­ly­wood, too, has been fall­ing at the steel-toed work boots of the lum­ber­sex­ual. Take Matthew Mcconaughey, who has been sport­ing an un­kempt beard that might read as “her­mit in the woods”… were it not for the stunning wife at his side. Chris Pratt may have toned up for Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s his af­fa­ble scruffi­ness that grabbed mil­lions of women in the first place. Char­lie Hun­nam of Sons of An­ar­chy may boast a se­ri­ous man bun, but he’s still the pla­tonic ideal of a rustic bad boy. And Game of Thrones is a ver­i­ta­ble cavalcade of raspyvoiced viril­ity.

So what does this mean for real guys—ev­ery­day men who make their liv­ings well be­yond the con­fines of Green­point or Sil­ver Lake, who know their way around a crankshaft and can split a piece of tim­ber, who hunt and fish and may never once have thought of a pipe wrench as a fash­ion ac­ces­sory?

Your mo­ment has ar­rived, gen­tle­men. You’re hot. It’s time to take full ad­van­tage.

Be­cause th­ese other guys, the hip­ster dudes with the checked wool A.P.C. shirts? They’ve been bit­ing your style and reap­ing the ro­man­tic re­wards for far too long. Women don’t ac­tu­ally want a pale fac­sim­ile of a rig­or­ous manly man: They want the gen­uine ar­ti­cle.

Julieanne, 29, a sexy South­erner, just calls them “coun­try dudes.” Based on her per­sonal in­ves­ti­ga­tions, she finds the type is gen­er­ally well en­dowed and skilled in bed. “They have been al­most uni­formly su­perpsyched to get me naked, in a vo­cal but not ag­gres­sive way,” she en­thuses, “and very in­ter­ested in mak­ing sure I’m hav­ing a good time.” She fondly re­calls “re­peat­edly bang­ing an avid duck hunter in the back of a pickup truck in a ru­ral Ge­or­gia for­est.”

Turns out that hard work— the kind that doesn’t re­quire a mouse pad—might ac­tu­ally pay off af­ter all. —gabriella paiella

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