In today’s world, gender roles continue to face challenges and undergo adjustments as people redefine male and female identities. In ages past, “real men” clobbered women over the head, literally or figuratively, and dragged them to their caves as primitive mates that required masculine control.
All that changed during the advent of feminism in recent times. Women took the lead in redefining the roles that men and women should play in contemporary society. It became fashionable for men to show their emotions and openly weep, for example, as opposed to maintaining a gruff demeanor.
But what is really meant by a “manly man”? Here are some of the more popular ideas associated with masculinity today.
- Commitment. A strong man does not fear to make promises and will stand to them over time, despite challenging circumstances and life-changing disappointments. He remains devoted to the spouse of his youth and the children they are raising together. He takes a leading role, even if shared with an employed spouse who may make as much as or more than he does, as the family’s breadwinner. Avoiding temptation, he forgives his wife’s errors and asks forgiveness for is own.
- Character. A manly man makes a show of reliable character. He doesn’t make promises he can’t keep. Nor will he renege once he has given his word. Aware of his visibility as a role model to children or younger men, he sets a good example and provides mentoring or guidance upon request, or sometimes implicitly. A truly male guy enjoys hanging around other guys. They may rebuild engines or make a patchwork quilt for a worthy cause, like treating cancer or preventing AIDS.
- Conquest. A man’s man is not a quitter. He continues to solve problems for his family and his boss, and he addresses obstacles to the success of these endeavors. He remains faithful to his duties, whether changing a diaper or checking accounts. He doesn’t allow failure to keep him down, though he may stumble or even fall temporarily. He sets and meets goals, and helps others, like his wife and kids, meets theirs. He is an encourager, not a criticizer.
- Civility. A real man makes a point of treating everyone with respect, no matter their age, status, or rank. He demonstrates self-control and forbearance while under pressure and restrains himself when pushed to the limits of endurance. Holding his temper and his tongue reveals a core of steel and the willingness to put others’ needs ahead of his own.
- Collaboration. A manly man is not afraid to ask for help if needed. He can seek advice, ask for directions, or admit he’s wrong or unsure. He will work shoulder to shoulder with his spouse and neck to neck with coworkers. He establishes himself back to back with friends and sees eye to eye with all that share his perspectives. Those who hold opposing views will draw his courtesy if not his cooperation.
What is a manly man? He is not afraid to use his masculinity for the good of others. He embraces rather than runs from the tasks associated with his gender role. He knows himself and takes time to get to know and care about others. He meets his obligations and gives something to the community.