The allure of the elusive himbo…
By Jesse Boland
Because no one will break your bed quite like a guy who doesn’t understand BEDMAS.
It might feel shameful to admit, but there really is something about a man whose glistening muscles are as smooth as his brain. In truth, men more typically than not fall under the two categories of mansplainers and manspreaders, and we must decide which one we find less insufferable. We tell ourselves how desirable it is to date a man with intellect, yet constantly find ourselves trapped in a draining hour-long lecture from them about how reading A Thousand Plateaus during their first semester at grad school gave them the tools to understand the real meanings within the music of J Cole. Instead, there can be something so enticing about a man who says he won’t send a face pic because he’s discreet, despite having a visible tattoo of his last name on his arm. Indeed, it is often love at first spelling mistake when chatting with an alluring himbo.
What is a himbo, you might ask? Well, a himbo is simply if a bimbo was a him – and if you’re a man who couldn’t figure that one out, then this article is likely about you (DM me when you’re done reading this, big guy). To qualify to be a himbo, however, you must possess the essential three attributes: buns of steel, a heart of gold, and a head full of air. To help break it down even further, here are some terms for men who possess only two thirds of the needed requirements to qualify for himboification:
– A man who is muscular and dumb yet is not kind or sweet is a Meathead (think the men of Jersey Shore or Moose from Archie comics).
– A man who is dumb and sweet yet is not conventionally physically fit is a Goofball (Homer of The Simpsons, Shaggy from Scooby Doo, Greg in Succession).
– And, finally, a man who is fit and sweet yet is not dumb is a Hunk ([FILE NOT FOUND] – this is a myth created to lionize men; stop lying to yourselves).
The archetype of a himbo is actually far more common than we often consider (Joey in Friends, Kelso in That 70’s Show, Schmitt in New Girl, Jason in True Blood, the literal existence of Noah Centineo). That raises the question of why we as a society, and not just those of us who are attracted to men, feel so engrossed around this intellectually alternative specimen of the human race.
The appeal of a himbo in Western media comes from the presentation of idealized masculinity being rendered as a weaker and even submissive position of power. The archetype of a himbo is in itself a comedic trope created to satirize the personified idealization of masculinity for the sake of amusement. The himbo is in fact often seen even in film and television shows that cater to straight male audiences (Mac in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Deep of The Boys), as they serve to soothe the ego of less conventionally macho male viewers. For men who find themselves humbled by depictions of buff, macho, sexually charged men in media, the degradation of these alpha males into clueless buffoons helps conciliate the male viewer into feeling more secure with his own masculinity. What the himbo accomplishes through this medium is reassuring men that while the himbo may present as more conventionally attractive than them, his brawn still fails to compete with their brains, thus rendering the everyday-man the true victor.
An often-overlooked yet essential attribute of a himbo is an earnest sweetness within; this differentiates them from regular men, who often project their insecurity over their lack of intelligence into furious violence through their threateningly powerful bodies. A himbo is a kind-hearted gentleman who will hold a door open for you even if it takes him a couple of tries because he keeps pulling on a door that clearly says PUSH. Much like humpback whales – the himbos of the sea – these gentle giants do not feel the need to assert the powers of their physique through aggressive behaviour as they do not feel threatened, but rather find their joy in doing jump-squats and eating massive amounts of shrimp in single mouthfuls.
The allure of a himbo for women and queer men comes not only from the safety conferred from their lack of physical aggression, but also from the absence of danger that comes in the form of psychological violence from more lethally intelligent men. Every day, men are slowly becoming more and more educated in the craft of emotional abuse towards their romantic partners via the means of calculated manipulation (ever had a guy tell you that he couldn’t be gaslighting you because he wrote an essay about gaslighting for his gender studies course?) While partners of any gender may be abusive, the malevolence of this uniquely male violence stems from an uneven power dynamic wherein men may use their position of power in a manner even more pernicious than merely physical abuse.
What many women may find reassuring about the company of a man who is their intellectual inferior is a sense of safety. Women are constantly taught to protect themselves from men who seek to take advantage of them – whether physically, financially or socially – as a means of controlling them. When a woman is romantically involved with a man she knows to be far less intelligent than her, it is but one added preventive measure to protect herself in case he attempts to harm her. What himbos provide these women is not simply their kind-hearted affability – as just about every woman has at some point been duped by a “nice guy” before – but a vulnerability that women may weaponize against them for their own safety. The sad truth is that while not all men are dumb, all men are terrifying.
To wrap this up (because I know reading is hard and I don’t want my future husband getting a headache), himbos provide everyone – whether they be women, queer men or straight men – with a sense of reassurance. They show us that a man does not need to incessantly prove that he is the smartest in the room to be respected, that physical strength does not need to be used for aggressive violence when it can be better used moving couches or chopping wood, and that not every seemingly too nice guy has a secret agenda…because sometimes they don’t even know how to use an agenda!
While we shouldn’t get carried away and believe that coming up with a cute term for a sweet yet dumb hot guy equates to some sort of feminist reclamation against the sexist term bimbo, this newfound understanding of masculinity may challenge the expectations placed upon men to be seen as desirable and respectable. While we might need their help opening jars and they might need our help opening a PDF file, together we may one day open the door to a brighter future…
…even if it take a couple of tries because this door says PULL, babe.
JESSE BOLAND is that gay kid in class who your English teacher always believed in. He’s a graduate of English at Ryerson University with a passion for giving a voice to people who don’t have data on their phones and who chases his dreams by foot because he never got his driver’s licence.