What does it mean to be a man?

Manly Man

A thread on a forum I go to asked one’s level of “manly”. Pictured above is the popular overly manly man meme. What does it mean to be a man? What makes one manly? I think about those questions often because — and I’m certainly not alone in this judging by responses to the aforementioned thread — I do not exactly fit the mold of what I would assume “manly” is:

I can’t hunt, fish; I’m not handy at all and know nothing about cars; my beard doesn’t come in even and I find most sports and sports talk boring. I hate getting those calluses on my hand from manual labor — I hate outdoor work because of the sun and the back-breaking nature of it. I can’t lift a lot of things, as I”m not very big or muscular.

I am easily emotional at high art in film or music or television. I’m the proverbial heart-on-a-sleeve type. I like cooking and find cleaning relaxing. I don’t mind doing laundry. I do baby talk, but for my dog. I don’t mind rocking out to girly songs, if they’re good or catchy. So-called chick flicks can be awesome.

I’ve had two pedicures before and would gladly do another one; they are divine. I have an interest in most avenues of art including fashion, classical music, painting and so forth. I’m not an expert or even well-versed in all those areas, but I appreciate them and don’t mind discussing them.

Finally, and this one definitely seems to rub the “manly” types the wrong way, but I have no issue acknowledging the good looks of another man. It doesn’t mean I want to fuck them, but beauty is beauty.

New York Magazine had an interesting profile on “What Does Manhood Mean in 2013?” here. Check out this excerpt:

JWT’s millennial men were more likely to answer affirmatively to statements like “Men can’t be men anymore.” These guys have never lived in an era of rigid gender rules. The report says they seek the perceived trappings of manly men of the past to reinforce their masculinity while they pursue the other, more traditionally feminized lifestyle choices they also desire. This theory might explain why you can often find rugged pickaxes in high-end clothing shops of urban America.

In the article, the author also makes mention of how peculiar it is that women in 2013 no less, are still kinda assumed to be the one “nurturing children” as it were. That’s not to say the father isn’t present or very much active in raising the child, but when it comes down to it, the assumption still lingers, which is interesting.

I personally like what the singer/activist Sting says about what it means to be a man here:

I couldn’t agree more and in that regard when one considers the prevalence of rape culture, we have a lot of “growing up” to do. I think a new understanding of manliness has to engulf an understanding that rape culture, sexual assault, gender issues, and issues of that nature are not “women issues.” They are very much male issues, too. Related, I would highly recommend one of my favorite TED Talks:

We can’t tune those issues out, as he says.

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