What it Means to be a “Real Man.”

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What it Means to be a “Real Man.”

Manly Man

 

By Ty Phllips

It seems to be an ever more popular pastime to write or comment about what “real men” do.

I am going to start this off by saying, “real men” don’t worry about what other “real men” do, because they are secure enough to not care what is or is not measured as being “manly.” You have to have a beard, you have to be over 6′ tall, you have to have tattoos, muscles, women, money, emotions, no emotions, be able to cry, never cry and blah, blah, blah.

The list seems to be never ending and always changing.

Real men were the 50’s movie starts like Cary Grant (or until we found out that he wore women’s underwear). Real men are like Arnold—until we found out that he is a jerk in real life. Real men are like Conan—half witted, all brawn, no brain—until we get outsmarted by a small, frail, teen, who hacked our Conan profile and made us look even more silly than we already did.

Real men use great phrases like: Cowboy Up, Beast Mode, SFW, Boss, Cash, Bro, in every sentence and make these small catch phrases into the whole of their vocabulary (until we encounter a well educated, handsome bloke who treats us like a four year old because we couldn’t even decipher his greeting to us).

But we are “real men” and we pound our chests, hit the weights, eat meat, and ravage helpless “hoes” at closing time at the club.

Sounds familiar right? Sadly, all too many of us have either associated with, acted like or currently act like, this dumb’ed down, egocentric version of man. Or we have taken the opposite extreme and have gone the hipster route—ever so tightly groomed, styled, smelling and seemingly well versed on almost everything, except humor and that same missing link of humility.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I get the irony in writing about how ridiculous it is to write about being a ” real man.” My point though, isn’t to codify what is or isn’t a “real man.” My point is that there is no such thing.

And while I am at it, I think you finally have come far enough into this post that I can stop using “real man” and just say, real man.

Being a man isn’t a set of rules. Each culture has its own notions of manhood and they vary greatly from tribe to tribe and culture to culture.

In my view, being a man means just being yourself. It doesn’t vary much from being a woman, aside from our dangly bits and their ability to give birth. We eat, laugh, train, work, cry, get angry, get happy, get horny—yet none of this makes us anything other than being human. Our modern concept of politically correct maleness means that we need to apologize for our testosterone, our body hair and our sexual urges (not speaking about cheating here guys—don’t be a jerk).

Biologically, men are all typically wired the same way inside. Some of us are smarter than others, some are stronger, some are more handsome and the list goes on. Apologizing for being smart, or strong, or handsome, or ugly, is like apologizing for being born.

It’s pointless.

What makes us truly who we are, what makes us cool, ethical, moral, nice or respected, is nothing that comes in a perfect package of looks, brawn and brain. It is the collection of our character. It is how we treat each other, the environment, our children, spouses and everything in-between.

If you like comic books, get your geek on. If you like warriors and Vikings, swing that sword. Conan, if you like science and technology, study and learn until your heart is content. And enjoy it.

What defines manhood isn’t found in any of those things, though. It’s found in the small actions of picking up our children and making them feel loved and secure; telling our friends and spouses that we appreciate and love them. It’s helping those weaker, less intelligent, less fortunate than us—not with a sense of superiority but with a sense of humility and honor that we have the ability to do so. Both men and women can do these very same things.

Being a man isn’t special or unique. It’s all about a penis and testosterone (and a little more body hair). Your character is what defines you; man or woman.

So be who you are. Be the best person you are capable of and don’t feel that you need to fall within a certain set of culture definitions to be something. The single greatest definition of being a man that I can think of is simply being a good person.

So, for the sake of being a “real man,” I will say, nut up and be nice!

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Ty Phillips

Ty Phillips is the co-founder and director of The Tattooed Buddha. A former big city bouncer, now pacifist Buddhist minister, and writer he spends his time counseling youth and hard to reach adults in peaceful and engaged means. Using his past as an example, he is able to engage those who would otherwise probably not seek out and relate to dharma teachers. Ty is a contributing author for The Good Men Project, Rebelle, BeliefNet, Patheos and The Petoskey News. He is a long term Buddhist and a lineage holder, as well as a father to three amazing girls and a tiny dog named Fuzz. You can see his writing at The Good Men Project, BeliefNet, Rebelle Society.
By | 2016-10-14T07:53:09+00:00 December 20th, 2014|blog, Relationships|0 Comments

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