top of page

Man Up: What It Means To Be A Real Man?

Is this masculine robot of a man the standard we want to maintain?

What does it mean to be a man? From an early age, guys have heard an array of comments to install and reestablish their masculinity. These phrases, common in society, serve as a reality check for a man to do what is expected of him.

It would seem these toxic culture surrounding these perceptions of what a man should be, forces young boys to question their manhood.

“Be a Man!”
“Don’t be soft.”
“Man up!”

And so on and so on.

Going to an all-boys high school, these words were just day-to-day banter. At the time, I didn't think it weighed on me much or anyone else. You know how it goes: "boys being boys." However looking back, these phrases clearly plant a poisonous seed in the minds of young boys that being a man isn't an option.

It's a requirement.

And you see, the thing is, that questioning masculinity is never just that. It usually is equated to feminization.

If you aren’t acting like a guy, you must be acting like a chick.

“You throw a ball like a girl.”
“Stop being a little bitch.”

(gif from the FOX reality TV show Paradise Hotel)

“Guys don’t cry, walk it off.”
“Don’t be a pussy.”

That was the last thing you wanted to be. Because if you were associated with being feminine you’d be considered weak, fragile, obedient.

*Side note: Why are women supposed to be weak and men suppose to be strong? Gender norms and expectations are just fucked up in general. The whole determination that adjectives like these have to be associated with a feminine nature, is its own problem to be tackled and addressed.

Taking it a step further, these phrases question your character. Because society wants you to play the role of a man, being deemed weak is not ideal. Everyone aims to be the “cool guy”, the “tough guy”, or even the “funny guy,” all traits or personalities that match the male standard.

The male norms in society:

  • Macho.

  • Do it all.

  • Rugged and tough.

  • Provider to his dependents.

  • Guy’s guy.

  • Got to be a player.

  • Have tons of sex with hundreds of chicks if possible.

He is not allowed to show emotion nor compassion. If he does stray from these standards it is necessary for those around him to remind him (oftentimes ridicule him) into getting back on the right path.

Nobody cares about how he feels, what he’s going through because it is up to him to bottle it up and carry on because god forbid he is caught in a vulnerable state.

Even pushing the boundaries of being a gentleman is questionable. Doing the right thing is ridiculed. You're labeled as a “stiff”, “kiss ass” or “simp”.

Is this masculine robot of a man the standard we want to maintain?

In the video below, Nick Offerman, who is perceived as the epitome of what a man should be like, attacks “Rules to Being a Man,” on Conan O’Brien’s talk show Conan. He goes through the rundown and even jokes about how most people believe a man should do and quickly makes a remark saying “Just stand up for your principles and be loyal to friends and family.” (Watch from 1:45-3:03)

(via Team Coco 1:45-3:03)

Being a man is more than being a tough guy.

There’s nothing wrong with a guy knowing how to handle his emotions. If anything, that should be encouraged.

A man should be compassionate, caring, and understanding. It's okay for him to provide, but it's just as okay for him to be provided for.

He's allowed to be rough and tough, but knowing how to be sympathetic and empathetic is equally importantant.

Showing qualities of being moral, disciplined, caring about your family and friends, standing up for what you believe in, and striving to be a better person should be the standard. Not all this other bullshit.

So do the right thing, stay true to your values, and stand up for yourself, what you believe in, and those who can’t stand up for themselves.

You’ll be ten times the man than most!


bottom of page