How to be a Man

Funkenpants wrote:
ranalin wrote:
Tanglebones wrote:
ranalin wrote:
DanB wrote:

Also last time I looked Maq isn't from the UK.

?? Maq's location:

Location: London

Lives there, but not born/raised there

listening to him on vent/mumble you'd think he was :)

Now we need a new "How to be a Brit" thread, where we discuss whether being from England is just a social construct and whether anyone who self-identifies as British is British.

As I understand it (as learned in high school), if you walk around quoting Monty Python in your best British accent ("It toirned me into a newt!") everyone will assume you're British. So then you would be.

Prozac wrote:

I've skimmed, so not sure if this has been touched on already but as a father to a young son the question of how to be a man, and how to impart those lessons to him has been on my mind.

I was raised solely by women, but I was given positive role models through stories. I adopted the code I've lived by since my early teens from one such story and I hold to the code as my moral compass.

Never violate a woman, nor harm a child
Do not lie, cheat or steal
These things are for lesser men
Protect the weak against the evil strong
and Never allow thoughts of gain to lead you in the pursuit of evil.

I've lived by that for the past 15 to 20 years, sometimes falling short, but always striving to uphold it and as a result I can look in the mirror and be proud of the man staring back at me. Holding to that code has led me to work in industries that allow me to make tangible impacts in people's lives on a daily basis.

For example the other day I had a former client of mine I've assisted into vocational training and employment, a 32 year old man who is living in emergency housing with an 8 month old son and a wife with post natal depression say to me that over the past few months he has on several occasions contemplated just walking away from it all and leave his family. He then went on to say that I'd helped him through our conversations by being a good man who reminds men of what they have to do to be good men. I'll admit that story got me dusty.

My point is that it takes more than identifying as male and having a penis.

Maq wrote:

I've skimmed a little but I think there's a massive misunderstanding that occurs when people hear the phrase "Be a Man".

Be a Man does not mean "Don't act like a Woman". It does not mean there are inherently male traits of strength and capability and inherently female traits of subservience and dependence.

Be a Man means "Don't be a Boy". It means grow up. Mature. Take responsibility for yourself and those who rely on you.

Well, mostly that's what it means. Anyone who means it in the first sense is probably worth ignoring.

The Australian's get it. Even if Maq wasn't able to man up and had to run away from the spiders and snakes

Prozac wrote:

The Australian's get it. Even if Maq wasn't able to man up and had to run away from the spiders and snakes :P

Therein lies the difference between "being a man" and "being a crazy man."

Edit - Though really, we should work towards replacing "be a man" and "man up" with "be an adult" and "grow up" because the words we use to express ourselves can be more important than we realize, and trying to convey something with poorly chosen words never goes over well. I mean, how many times have you heard say "woman up" when telling a female to act like an adult and take responsibility for themselves?

Stengah wrote:
Prozac wrote:

The Australian's get it. Even if Maq wasn't able to man up and had to run away from the spiders and snakes :P

Therein lies the difference between "being a man" and "being a crazy man."

Edit - Though really, we should work towards replacing "be a man" and "man up" with "be an adult" and "grow up" because the words we use to express ourselves can be more important than we realize, and trying to convey something with poorly chosen words never goes over well. I mean, how many times have you heard say "woman up" when telling a female to act like an adult and take responsibility for themselves?

Why not argue the opposite? Why not say in some situations, "Be a woman," but have the connotation be positive? Let's face it; there are some traditional feminine qualities that more masculine people ought to strive to emulate, such as compassion, grace and passiveness (sometimes a very admirable trait). I worry that in our haste to tear down our sexed lexicon, that we may be throwing away the more beautiful parts of our nature. Why not embrace these positive aspects?

Grubber788 wrote:
Stengah wrote:
Prozac wrote:

The Australian's get it. Even if Maq wasn't able to man up and had to run away from the spiders and snakes :P

Therein lies the difference between "being a man" and "being a crazy man."

Edit - Though really, we should work towards replacing "be a man" and "man up" with "be an adult" and "grow up" because the words we use to express ourselves can be more important than we realize, and trying to convey something with poorly chosen words never goes over well. I mean, how many times have you heard say "woman up" when telling a female to act like an adult and take responsibility for themselves?

Why not argue the opposite? Why not say in some situations, "Be a woman," but have the connotation be positive? Let's face it; there are some traditional feminine qualities that more masculine people ought to strive to emulate, such as compassion, grace and passiveness (sometimes a very admirable trait). I worry that in our haste to tear down our sexed lexicon, that we may be throwing away the more beautiful parts of our nature. Why not embrace these positive aspects?

Because in the same way men don't have a monopoly on assertiveness, women don't have a monopoly on passiveness. Regardless of whether the connotations are positive or negative, it ends up with the same problem. Anyone who identifies as that gender but doesn't necessarily embody those traits are made to like they fail at being their gender. Telling someone that they need to act like an adult will be better received than telling them they need to act more like the opposite gender from what they identify as. Your earlier example of telling people to embrace either yin or yang in a given situation would go over much better, despite saying essentially the same thing, simply because they don't have the same baggage for English speakers.

It's not exactly the opposite of what I'm saying either, because in this case we're talking about how the phrase "man up" is being used to say "don't be a boy" not "don't be a woman."

The strong impression I'm getting from this thread is that there must be a cultural difference between America and Euro/Australia where the default understanding of "be a man" for Americans is to extoll manliness to the detriment of women, whereas the non-americans that have been posting in this thread have the cultural touchstone of being a man as stepping up, taking ownership of your responsibilities and sacrificing yor own desires for the betterment of others. Feel free to disagree, but I do find it interesting that (to me) these two very different understandings of the same concept are expressed between very similar cultures.

Prozac wrote:

The strong impression I'm getting from this thread is that there must be a cultural difference between America and Euro/Australia where the default understanding of "be a man" for Americans is to extoll manliness to the detriment of women, whereas the non-americans that have been posting in this thread have the cultural touchstone of being a man as stepping up, taking ownership of your responsibilities and sacrificing yor own desires for the betterment of others. Feel free to disagree, but I do find it interesting that (to me) these two very different understandings of the same concept are expressed between very similar cultures.

The step-up definition of being a man exists over here to, it's just that it's apparently on more equal footing with the anti-woman definition. It wouldn't surprise me if it's at least partially due to the US having some strong puritanical influences. Much in the same way nudity/sexuality is more vilified in the US than it is in Europe/Australia (not sure how acceptable it is in AU, but I know it's more acceptable in Europe).

I don't think there's a difference in the practical use of the word actually. No one in the U.S. says "Man up" as being a direct insult of woman. I think the issue some people here have has more to do with the implications of using gender words in language. In other words, some people think the use of the word man is inherently sexist, even if it's not as overt as straight up calling women "bitches." I think there's a grain of truth to it, but I also think therein lies the path to madness. Saying the use of that expression contributes to an overall culture of sexism sounds to me like an unverifiable hypothesis.

How about the expression "pussy-whipped?" I heard the expression on the show Big Bang Theory wherein it appears as if being deferential in any way at any time to the wishes of your partner, who happens to be a woman, is denigrated. Not sure if I'm getting that right, though.

What does it mean to be "pussy-whipped?"

Grubber788 wrote:

I don't think there's a difference in the practical use of the word actually. No one in the U.S. says "Man up" as being a direct insult of woman. I think the issue some people here have has more to do with the implications of using gender words in language. In other words, some people think the use of the word man is inherently sexist, even if it's not as overt as straight up calling women "bitches." I think there's a grain of truth to it, but I also think therein lies the path to madness. Saying the use of that expression contributes to an overall culture of sexism sounds to me like an unverifiable hypothesis to me.

It's an issue of context. People in the U.S. do that phrase along side (or in place of) "Stop being such a woman" (or girl) or "stop being such a pussy" using it to indirectly insult women by implying that they're weak, indecisive, or overly emotional. As for "man" being inherently sexist, it's not, it's derived from a word that meant human (it included both sexes), there was a different word for the gender.

LarryC wrote:

How about the expression "pussy-whipped?" I heard the expression on the show Big Bang Theory wherein it appears as if being deferential in any way at any time to the wishes of your partner, who happens to be a woman, is denigrated. Not sure if I'm getting that right, though.

What does it mean to be "pussy-whipped?"

It means that your decisions are made for you by a woman (typically your wife/girlfriend), so yes, you've got the right of it.

LarryC wrote:

How about the expression "pussy-whipped?" I heard the expression on the show Big Bang Theory wherein it appears as if being deferential in any way at any time to the wishes of your partner, who happens to be a woman, is denigrated. Not sure if I'm getting that right, though.

What does it mean to be "pussy-whipped?"

Implies a man does whatever his wife/gf tells him, and has no will of his own. Obviously derogatory, partly for free will and partly implying that one's woman is in charge of the household.

Why is it being using as an insult, and why is the person that's "pussy-whipped" insulted? Is it bad to let a woman take the initiative at all, or even primarily? My family has a lot of very strong women. My own mother is more assertive and more aggressive about pretty much everything in life than my father.

It's only viewed negatively in my culture if the man cannot stand up for himself and always needs another (his woman partner) to fight battles he should be fighting himself. The same standard is held for women, though to a lesser extent.

What's wrong about a woman being in charge of the household? I wouldn't mind that at all in my personal life.

This may have been addressed and I missed it earlier, but I just wanted to state an observation:

LarryC, you claim that masculinity is a very individual standard for you, and yet ask for a general explanation from the group. I take this to mean you assume that for us masculinity is a cultural trait which would be different from your individual view. The answers you are getting lead me to believe most of the people responding are, like you, using individual standards for masculinity.

We all (mostly) agree! Masculinity is a personal standard we create! Having further debate about what it means to "man up" or "be a man" would only be the rest of us brainstorming about mindsets that none of us hold. Sure that could be a great exercise, but I don't think you should be disappointed by other people's answers on masculinity when it seems that everyone agrees it SHOULD be an individual standard. You seem confused that we can hold the same viewpoint as you, while we seem confused that you are asking us to clarify about something that we agree on.

Jolly Bill:

We agreed that masculinity as it pertains to the self is a very personal thing. Asked to elaborate my view of my own sexuality, I did. It was mistakenly and continually assumed to be applied to other people in a cultural context.

"Pussy-whipped" and "Man up" are cultural expressions, ways of defining maleness and enforcing it that are outside the self. This related to Hypatian's question. There are aspects of maleness that are bound in culture. These are separate from personal gender identity.

My immediately prior post was in this cultural context. Perhaps I should have made this clearer. Why is it that the Leonard character in Big Bang Theory is insulted when Sheldon insinuates that Penny is in charge of their relationship? Why would Sheldon even think of this negatively?

LarryC wrote:

My immediately prior post was in this cultural context. Perhaps I should have made this clearer. Why is it that the Leonard character in Big Bang Theory is insulted when Sheldon insinuates that Penny is in charge of their relationship? Why would Sheldon even think of this negatively?

Ideally he wouldn't, but in US culture it's considered very unmanly to let a woman make all your decisions for you. It usually implies not just that the woman is in charge of the household, but that the man cannot say "no" to the woman, even if he wants to. So it's not that he needs someone else to fight his battles for him, but that he doesn't stand up for himself against a specific person (his significant other). "Pussy-whipped" is a more vulgar way of saying it, it's usually just called "whipped" and accompanied by a whipping hand-motion and sound effect.

I haven't seen the episode, but being whipped usually implies disregard for the other person's interest in a given situation. If a guy is whipped by a girlfriend, he is in an abusive relationship because she doesn't care about what he wants.

LarryC wrote:

Why is it being using as an insult, and why is the person that's "pussy-whipped" insulted? Is it bad to let a woman take the initiative at all, or even primarily? My family has a lot of very strong women. My own mother is more assertive and more aggressive about pretty much everything in life than my father.

It's only viewed negatively in my culture if the man cannot stand up for himself and always needs another (his woman partner) to fight battles he should be fighting himself. The same standard is held for women, though to a lesser extent.

What's wrong about a woman being in charge of the household? I wouldn't mind that at all in my personal life.

My father has lived in the Philippines for some time, and has noticed in many instances the males of the household tend to be much less responsible/trustworthy than the females - especially when they're younger. The men tend to grow more laissez faire and laid back as they age, while the women gain more power and respect. I don't know if this is common all over the Philippines or just in the area where he lives, but from what he has described things sound much more matriarchal there than in the US.

It is commonplace. It is traditional for male breadwinners to hand over their pay checks to their women (or whoever is in charge of the household) every pay day. It is normal for wives to demand this money as the husbands get home. Some wives will contact their places of work and/or demand receipts if they suspect skimming.

The majority of small businesses in the country are run and owned by women. In larger enterprises where the male is the CEO and owner/founder, it is expected that his partner will at least be granted audit or second-in-command powers. This is both a check, and succession planning. If he's incapacitated, she's expected to take over, more or less seamlessly.

DanB wrote:
Duoae wrote:

I don't think I ever remember anyone saying "be a man" but more "just grow up!". Or maybe, "man-up!". They all mean the same thing to me though: responsibility and the ability to deal with things as they crop up.

You've never been somewhere where guys were egging each other on to drink more? "Yo, don't be a pussy and man-up" is not a phrase encouraging anyone to behave like an adult.

I think you're confusing this with something/someone else. I never mentioned "don't be a pussy" and it wasn't in what I quoted... No one I knew growing up said that phrase (that I can remember) it just wasn't part of our lexicon.

DanB wrote:

Also last time I looked Maq isn't from the UK.

South African, right? Lives in UK. I met him. His sensibilities tend to be quite British/European from what I remember... at least compared to Americans'.

LarryC wrote:

Why is it being using as an insult, and why is the person that's "pussy-whipped" insulted? Is it bad to let a woman take the initiative at all, or even primarily? My family has a lot of very strong women. My own mother is more assertive and more aggressive about pretty much everything in life than my father.

It's only viewed negatively in my culture if the man cannot stand up for himself and always needs another (his woman partner) to fight battles he should be fighting himself. The same standard is held for women, though to a lesser extent.

What's wrong about a woman being in charge of the household? I wouldn't mind that at all in my personal life.

We use it in the UK as well but what "pussy whipped" means to me and my peers is to be dominated and subjugated by your female partner. We mainly use it as a piss-taking term rather than serious but there are serious uses. For example, our long-standing friend (been friends since we were 5 years old) no longer meets up with our group of friends and doesn't go out without the say-so of his other half. Now, sure that happens a little in all relationships but this just seems unhealthy - to the point where if they're both coming out for a night she will cancel the last minute and so he won't go as well.

Interestingly I don't think there's an equal opposite term... we just say to a woman that we think she's in an abusive relationship...

Prozac wrote:

The strong impression I'm getting from this thread is that there must be a cultural difference between America and Euro/Australia where the default understanding of "be a man" for Americans is to extoll manliness to the detriment of women, whereas the non-americans that have been posting in this thread have the cultural touchstone of being a man as stepping up, taking ownership of your responsibilities and sacrificing yor own desires for the betterment of others. Feel free to disagree, but I do find it interesting that (to me) these two very different understandings of the same concept are expressed between very similar cultures.

That's what *I* said!

LarryC wrote:

It is commonplace. It is traditional for male breadwinners to hand over their pay checks to their women (or whoever is in charge of the household) every pay day. It is normal for wives to demand this money as the husbands get home. Some wives will contact their places of work and/or demand receipts if they suspect skimming.

That used to happen a lot pre- and during the industrial revolution in England too. Mainly because the man would go out and drink their money dry or spend it on betting. Equally, many men would give their wives an allowance or stipend in order to buy the week's groceries or would withhold it all for themselves and only give out bits and pieces. Nowadays I think we've become more equal as a society - especially with more women working and a general increase in equal status relationships (it's not perfect and there are many abusive relationships, of course).

Prozac wrote:

The strong impression I'm getting from this thread is that there must be a cultural difference between America and Euro/Australia where the default understanding of "be a man" for Americans is to extoll manliness to the detriment of women, whereas the non-americans that have been posting in this thread have the cultural touchstone of being a man as stepping up, taking ownership of your responsibilities and sacrificing yor own desires for the betterment of others. Feel free to disagree, but I do find it interesting that (to me) these two very different understandings of the same concept are expressed between very similar cultures.

Well the concept of "be a man" over here in the UK definitely carries with it detrimental/negative concepts around nominally female traits. I think Maq and I were describing what we'd rather "be a man" ought to mean.

Stengah wrote:

Much in the same way nudity/sexuality is more vilified in the US than it is in Europe/Australia (not sure how acceptable it is in AU, but I know it's more acceptable in Europe).

Generally nudity here is seen as being either:

a) Extremely funny
b) Kinda funny
c) I need some privacy for a few minutes.

Goo wrote:
Stengah wrote:

Much in the same way nudity/sexuality is more vilified in the US than it is in Europe/Australia (not sure how acceptable it is in AU, but I know it's more acceptable in Europe).

Generally nudity here is seen as being either:

a) Extremely funny
b) Kinda funny
c) I need some privacy for a few minutes.

What happened to d) "Oh, gross! Put something on, for the love of-"?

I guess it eventually fits into the funny category.

Takes a while though!

Duoae wrote:

What happened to d) "Oh, gross! Put something on, for the love of-"?

;)

We're all so devastatingly good-looking that it's not an issue.

IMAGE(http://www.geekosystem.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/zoolander.jpg)

Sonicator wrote:
Duoae wrote:

What happened to d) "Oh, gross! Put something on, for the love of-"?

;)

We're all so devastatingly good-looking that it's not an issue.

IMAGE(http://www.geekosystem.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/zoolander.jpg)

*Right click, save image as: Sonicator_is_hawt*

Duoae wrote:

*Right click, save image as: Sonicator_is_hawt*

So tempted to sig that.

Here's a brief comment piece in the UK's guardian about some negative effects of societal expectations around masculinity
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisf...

You can read the full report that comment piece is based on at:
http://www.samaritans.org/media-cent...

A bit of a derail, but Grubber mentioned Yin Yang before, and I was looking into it. Obviously I'd heard of the concept, but I'd never really read into it more deeply. It's an interesting subject! I was also trying to work out a way to remember which is which, and came up with a mnemonic I'm not especially proud of:

Spoiler:

Yang rhymes with wang. Thus yang is masculine.

In my own embarrassment, I've at least managed to sear that into my memory.

And as another Australian voice, I'll add that "Manning up" is definitely a concept I've encountered. For the most part I think it is more of a Boy vs. Adult thing rather than a Man vs. Woman thing, but then I've never aimed it at anyone before so I can't speak to it personally.

I prefer "Grow up." myself. It's more patronising, which is one of my key weapons against my natural predators.