Unfortunately the words ” Man Up” have become the focus of what I call the anti-masculinity movement. These two words have become associated with toxic masculinity, patriarchy and every violent or anti female act perpetuated by men. The theory is that because boys are taught to Man Up it plants the seeds for the evils of masculinity which will blossom later on in a man’s life. The logic goes like this. The message inherent in the phrase Man Up is that boys shouldn’t cry and that a man should repress his emotions in order to be perceived as manly. The supposed consequence of this stuffing is that a man is in denial of his vulnerabilities and subsequently must act in a destructive hyper masculine way to protect himself from intimacy and his repressed emotions.
Let me debunk this negative or shadow perception of Man Up. Although it is not entirely unheard of I have no evidence that there is a consistent message to boys that they should not cry. We often see male cultural heroes – sports, entertainment – cry on camera after a loss, victory or testimony about their past struggles. In my last blog I indicated that a researcher who wrote; “These (men) are human beings with unbelievable emotional and social capacity and we as a culture just completely try to zip it out of them (Dr. Nicole Way.)” also acknowledged that men throughout their teen and young adult years are able to form intimate friendships where they feel comfortable in sharing their fears and concerns. In other words despite being allegedly taught to Man Up and not be vulnerable most young men do form close friendships.
The other side of the Man Up coin that I believe is more compelling than the notion that men are being zipped out of an emotional life is how most men, and many women, interpret Man Up with a positive connotation. The Man Up message in the light is essentially to take responsibility in life. There are times when we are experiencing strong emotions but our best choice is to face the event that precipitated the emotion without an open display of that emotion. This is not stuffing. It is a choice to control our outward response in order to insure a positive outcome.
We Man Up in the best of masculinity when with compassion we can demonstrate strength, resolve and responsibility for our actions and take care of others while acknowledging our emotional life and at the same time rationally monitor how we express our emotional life.