What does it even mean to ‘man up’ or to ‘be a man’? Honestly, I have no idea.
There used to be a whole rule book as to what it meant to be masculine, and to great extent it is still relevant today. To be a man was to have power, wealth and dominance over women and other men. It was basically a competition—who has more money and who has more control.
Now when we tell someone to ‘man up’ what we are really saying is that they don’t fit into one of the categories—either they are not asserting their aggression to achieve power and dominance or they aren’t using other people to make money.
Picture this—a young boy has been darting around a park, losing his footing and falls over, he grazes his knee and starts to bleed. Obviously a mixture of pain and shock causes them to cry but the traditional men around them tell him to ‘man up’ because a part of manhood is the emotions are outlawed and men simply cannot have them–in the masculine world they don’t exist.
Now tell me how the phrase ‘man up’ has helped this boy in any way. Has the graze magically healed? Has all the blood vanished into the air? Does the pain cease to exist? Has the feeling of shock disappeared? Obviously not. In fact, it has done quite the opposite and has added to list of feelings–we have added guilt to the list. Guilt of feeling an emotion that should not exist. Oh, and embarrassment.
For the more visual learners amongst you, I have constructed a little table…
|Reasons to not use the phrase ‘man up’||Reasons to use the phrase ‘man up’|
Saying ‘man up’ feeds into a very dangerous world of toxic masculinity where emotions are suppressed and men literally fight for dominance.
So, let’s stop.
The next time you see a man crying, check in with them and find out how you can help them through whatever is going on in their life.
The next time a man confides in you, listen, and do not judge.
The next time you interact with a man who has a lower wage than you, do not be patronizing.
Emotions are beautiful. Let them run free.
Being a man is not defined by wealth or dominance or power, it is defined by you – your decisions and life choices.
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Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com