Over the years I have done my best to be an advocate for the male fish in this fishy world. From blogposts about how boys enjoy mermaids (and why we should let them), to interviews with prominent mermen to talk about the role men have to play in this female industry- I have really met some mermazing mermen.
As mers in general have become more visible and more validated in the work we do, the internet is becoming obsessed with the idea of mermen! As if this idea suddenly fell from the sky- and hasn’t actually been something men have enjoyed for a long time- the internet is indeed shocked that men wear tails and enjoy it. Imagine. Men enjoying something that women also enjoy. Shocking.
Indeed mermen have a long sorted history in cultural mythology. It is actually believed by historians and many literary researchers that mermen predate mermaids! In many early examples unless they were a God, mermen weren’t all that good looking. But as time went on and stories evolved, so did their appearances. Many early mermen had hair made of seaweed, and almost all early mermen had long beards. This was the case with Greek and Finnish mythology. In Irish mythology mermen were actually pretty ugly until more recent years. The mermen of the Amazon River were known for seducing the ladies (oh la la). The Russian medieval epic “Sadako” features a merman Sea Tsar (haha!) and in Icelandic folklore he is known as the Marbendlar and a pretty epic looking mer-dude.
Triton, son of Poseidon and Amphitrite was one of the most notable mermen in both stories/mythologies and pop culture. Triton could play a mean song on a shell conch. This got him the nickname “The Trumpeter of the Sea”. In pop culture he’s the father of the little mermaid.
Just like mermaids, Mermen have different behaviours depending on the culture, time period, and type of mythology. In some stories mermen are very sexual, in others they sink ships, while in others still they are royalty that rule the sea.
In pop culture we’ve seen Ariel’s dad, along with films like The Thirteenth year featuring a mer-boy. In DC comics Aquaman is likened to a merman frequently, and some DC Characters such as Superman spent time swimming around as a merman. Jimi Hendrix even sings about himself becoming a merman in his song “1983… (A Merman I should Turn to Be)”. Of course, Mako mermaids also added a lead character who is a merman and we know that SPLASH is being remade with Channing Tatum as a mermaid. Jim Carrey once did a merman photo shoot too! …And who could forget Zoolander?
Give Jimi's song a listen and rejoin Mermen, you officially have the COOLEST anthem.
While the common misconception is that mermen must all be gay- 41% of the mermen interviewed identified as straight. Society often assumes that if men do anything that is seen as “feminine” they must be gay. However, many mermen are straight, many are gay, and some fall somewhere else under the spectrum. My friend Eric Nova recently garnered a lot of media attention for his interview about being a black, gay, merman. In my research it seems that mermaids have been seen as a symbol in both the trans and gay community, of empowerment.
Most merman had family and friends know they enjoy mermanning as a hobby or profession. A few however (12%) kept It from their family. Some mermen were concerned about sexism, but some were not. The majority (38%) felt that sexism made it harder to do certain things as a merman, while 25% felt they experienced sexism but ignored it, and 25% didn’t feel they experienced sexism. Some men explained that they felt tails were feminine by nature and it was difficult to make tails and costumes look masculine. Many men reported that they felt the sexism didn’t come from within the community, but rather from onlookers and people on the internet. One merman made the comment that he felt younger people were much more accepting than older folks.
Almost 75% of the mermen interviewed had an interest in mermaids as a child. From films like Splash, The Little Mermaid (including the TV show), and The Thirteenth year, to Aquaman. I have always found it interesting how many people in general relate to something about mermaids in their childhood. Mers and non-mers alike!
Mermen face all the same issues that mermaids face when it comes to swimming in a tail: concerns around safety, concerns around skill, people who just don’t “get” it and judge, but they also face scrutiny over their motives and sexuality. We live in a world that is very judgmental of men doing anything seen as feminine, or men working with children. Though this can be very frustrating, there are many mermen who are breaking through the barriers anyway. Let’s take a look at just SOME of the mermen I know!
These are just a FEW of the mermazing mermen I know!
Let’s take a look at some of the awesome Mermen making the news, and some mermen videos.... Happy swimming and watching these!
Additional Video News Pieces
Pop Culture References
Thanks SO much for checking out my little blog post about mermen. I hope to feature more in the future! Be sure to check out all of these fellers online. Also, check out my books to learn more about the mer world.