Social Question

truecomedian's avatar

How do you be a man?

Asked by truecomedian (3932points) September 15th, 2010

Many cultures have “rites of passage” into manhood, there is usually some pain and/or difficulty involved. What if someone has poor male role models as a kid and still acts like a kid in some ways, and dare I say it, may even act feminine and wants to be more manly. Some people blend the two quite well, where are the lines drawn, is there a third sex, an androgynous character? I don’t know if I mean how do you walk and talk, but I guess so.

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44 Answers

iamthemob's avatar

I’d rather be a person.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Gender is a spectrum with two extremes, and you can’t always change your place on it.

muppetish's avatar

I do not like the societal prescriptions of masculinity and femininity.

I agree with @iamthemob – “I’d rather be a person.”

Ben_Dover's avatar

“How do you be a man?”

I be a man quite well, thanks. How do you be a man?

DominicX's avatar

To most people, being “manly” means to adhere to cultural stereotypes of what a “masculine” person is (and of course varies by culture): strong, athletic, into “macho” things like sports and weightlifting, hates musicals, drinks beer, hunts, loves cars, and acts appropriate around the ladies. To others, “manliness” is more about virtue and general positive qualities that can be shared by both men and women.

I’ve never cared much for the idea of “being a man” because I really think all those stereotypes are ridiculous. If I was to subscribe to any idea of “manliness”, it would be the virtue-based non-gender-specific definition. As a person who’s been told before that I’ll never be a “real man” because I’m gay, you can see how I really think the whole concept is ridiculous. I consider myself a “man” because that’s what I feel like on the inside (and the outside). I honestly don’t care how many stereotypes I do or do not fit.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

There are as many answers to this question as there are grown men on the planet. I have to say that for myself being a man means that I act responsibly and maturely. I care for the people in my life. I participate in my community. In short, I act like a grown up.

weeveeship's avatar

Just flex your muscles and live life.

tragiclikebowie's avatar

You must be swift as the coursing river, will all the force of the great typhoon, and all the strength of a raging fire; mysterious as the dark side of the moon.


The_Idler's avatar

The answer, my friend, is a-blowing in the wind,
The answer is blowing in the wind…♬ ♪

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Be a person of good character and pee standing up.

MissA's avatar

Listen to the elders, ones who had it hard…
ones who carved out good lives…
and, listen to their wives.

Listen to your contemporaries day by day…
Do you really like what you see?
Ask, “Could that be me?”

Listen to the kids, do they make you laugh…
Speak throughout the store, isle by isle
Give a helping hand, get a little smile

Listen to yourself, in a quiet moment…
Do you feel at peace with what you do?
You’re becoming a man…or, at least someone new

My 2-cents at 3:30 a.m. goodnight, Irene.

judochop's avatar

You’re level of sexuality is chosen for you. You do not get to choose your “level” of sexuality. The path given to you as a child is not a path you choose for yourself thus making it impossible to become anything other than what you were meant to be.

The_Idler's avatar

@ucme yes, great bit of verse.

ucme's avatar

@The_Idler Makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up every time.

perspicacious's avatar

Unlike some of the others, I want to be a woman, a female. I want my mate to be a man, a male. I don’t want everyone to be gender neutral—nope, not at all. I don’t know why an American male would ask this question, since our culture is full of examples of what we expect a man to be.

The_Idler's avatar

Perhaps he is interested in a Global – or at least non-mainstream – perspective…

Austinlad's avatar

To be a man is, first and foremost, to have integrity. Find out more here

BoBo1946's avatar

do the right thing…man or woman!

Cruiser's avatar

I think it all will depend on your definition of a man. Modern man no longer has the physical demands of defending against enemies and killing animals to provide for his loved ones. Today a man is still expected to provide for his loved ones but is also a role model, teacher and source of comfort and security for his loved ones.

Today a man’s strengths are exhibited in ones will and determination to succeed at the tasks at hand. Other strengths a man could possess are ones of honesty, loyalty and compassion. Of course a male role model can help teach these things to a young man but IMO so can a woman

Austinlad's avatar

I get that others above are trying to make this about “people,” not just “men” so as to avoid any hint of sexism, and I appreciate that. But in the context of @truecomedian‘s very excellent question, being a man has gender-specific meaning in light of the work I’ve done with the organization I linked to in my comment above.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I like the mirror test. If you can walk up to a mirror and like and respect the person looking back at you, that’s good enough. Works for men and women and doesn’t require any gender id.

iamthemob's avatar

@Austinlad – I don’t know how the foundations of modern masculinity are gender specific. I do see how it’s important to offer a male-specific environment to help men become better people…but in the end, being a “man” means nothing more than performing certain acts in a way that demonstrates your “manliness,” and that ends up being fairly superficial.

wundayatta's avatar

You don’t know about the code of 27 and the cicada arrow?????

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I stopped being a child (mostly), and by default, all that was left (for me) was being a man.

ETpro's avatar

I tried my best not to, and finally gave in when I looked in a mirror and realized what a horrible looking woman I made.

iamthemob's avatar

Whatever…it was that skirt. It made you look hippy. You’re a beautiful woman, @ETpro.

Blackberry's avatar

To some it is making enough money and taking care of your kids. To others it is being mature and having character and integrity.

ETpro's avatar

@iamthemob Yeah, the tight jeans did work better. :-)

Austinlad's avatar

@iamthemob, in the global organization I belong to, The Mankind project, we’re encouraged not to delve into he said/he said kinds of chats on this topic, especially online, so I will honor that and move on. I’ll only say that I sense you might need more experience and knowledge about the aspects of “being a man” to yet comprehend what I’m saying.

majorrich's avatar

I try to follow in the steps of my own father. He was hard and tough when he needed to be, and soft and vulnerable when he needed to as well. Being masculine doesn’t mean being mean or tough, rather it comes from inside secure in your own being and that if needed you can be. Personally, even on the eve of my 50th year I feel I am still a man under construction.
I lack the maturity my father had at this age. But he grew up in a different world than I did experiencing hunger and poverty and war in a way I can’t imagine.

iamthemob's avatar

@Austinlad – so, it’s a mystery to me because I’m not really a man.

Okay…I’m cool with that.

wundayatta's avatar

I’ve read about rituals that mark the passage between childhood and adulthood. Girls seem to have a clear demarcation at menarche. With boys, it’s more nebulous. In Judaism, boys become men at the age of thirteen via the mechanism of a Bar Mitzvah. I’ve heard of one tribe where the boys become “invisible” at a certain age, and they are not seen nor interacted with for a whole year. They are forced to live as they can, usually by stealing.

For some boys, I suppose, 18 marks the year of transition. You graduate from high school and go off to college or your first job or the armed services. The latter is probably most like a ritualistic transition, since basic training is designed to tear down your old self and replace it with a new, manly self.

How do you be a man in an era when there are no universal specifications for being a man? In fact, the ideas of manliness are all over the place. There are he-men and she-men and macho men and brawny men and family guys and leaders and so on and so on. These images are seen as positive amongst some people and negatively by others.

My son is making his own way through this mix of messages. Up until age five or six, he really enjoyed things that seemed more female, traditionally. He loved dressing up and getting makeovers. He was very affectionate and open with his emotions.

Later on, he got into superheros and karate and bicycling and ice skating. He is into music and drawing, as well. He hates to read. Now he wants to fish all the time. He’s still as affectionate and loving as ever. I think he has a pretty strong sense of himself already.

Being a man changes from moment to moment. I think it has to do with your comfort with yourself, more than it does with the approval of outsiders. Strength is traditionally a manly thing, and it is usually associated with physical strength. But now strengths of other sorts seem more important. Brains and empathy.

I think that, subconsciously, being a man is about being a person who can attract a mate. If more women care about brains than brawn these days, then more men are going to be a man in mental and emotional ways. Whatever it is, I figured out, sometime in my teens, that physical strength wasn’t going to do it for me. I was agile, but not strong. So I developed my mental and emotional sides, and it seems to be manly enough for many women.

Ivan's avatar

Lift heavy things, grunt and scratch a lot, force women to make you food and otherwise be rude to them, always attempt to demonstrate how much more manly you are than others, etc.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You don’t – you be you and do the best job of it. Don’t focus on gender, it’s pointless.

majorrich's avatar

The only rite of passage my father ever specifically told me was the first time one of us kids toddled over to him and whacked him in the testes while he was napping on the couch. That was when he knew he couldn’t nap laying down on the couch and the rite of passage to chair napping (he added with a wink and a pillow on his privates) lol

Scooby's avatar

Just be yourself, that’s who you are, nothing more, nothing less…… :-/

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I heard this one on tv the other night, but forgot where: Grow a pair of man berries.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Drink a shot glass of tabasco sauce and play Contra on the hardest difficulty while listening to Eyehategod on full volume.

downtide's avatar

Interesting question especially from a transgendered perspective. I spent nearly 40 years of my life trying to be the woman I was supposedly born to be, and I think I failed. When I stopped trying, and just decided to be myself, I think that was when I truly became a man.

Without falling on cliches and stereotypes I don’t think I could describe the difference between being a man and being a woman. But I can certainly feel the difference.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Underpromise and overdeliver. Short of that then at least walk your talk more than 80% of the time.

Jabe73's avatar

I’m not sure if I understand what you are asking here. I mean if you already have a nutsack you are a man (regardless of how you act). I would say just be happy with who you are and taking responsibility for yourself and your actions should be enough here. Hermaphrodites may be the actual closest (technically) to a “third” sex here you can get.

ducky_dnl's avatar

Act like a jerk and sleep with as many women as you can. That seems to be the new “manly” thing to do. Don’t do what I just listed.

Jabe73's avatar

@ducky_dnl Unfortunately your statement seems to be the correct take on being a “man” these days. Abstinence is for losers. What!? Be a “cool” person first and foremost then just do the “right thing” if it suits you.

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