Barrel Men from Beer Cans

Folk tradition is not isolated from popular culture, as these barrel men made out of beer cans indicate. There are versions of them in wood as well. I find that these metal versions are often located in private spaces where men dwell, or hide—basements, workshops, game rooms. They will appear to be constructions representing men. When one pulls up on the can covering the body, however, a wooden penis pops up. It usually gets a laugh and is intended for viewing by other men rather than in mixed company. The humor implies anxiety about potency of men as they age.
Photo by Simon J. Bronner, Ph.D.

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