Thursday, December 01, 2005

What makes a man a man?

This is a question asked by many women and men. Is a man manly if he throws his weight around, swares, scratches his nether regions, sleeps with as many women as possible? Or is he simply a man because he has one X chromosome and one Y chromosome and is physically mature? I've always had a bee in my bonnet about this. I don't like macho, sexist men. I like alpha heroes in books, but sometimes they can be too much to swallow when they are uber-alpha heroes. The caveman act only appeals so much. I can admit that some guys are really hot because they just seem so male to me. I don't think it's the same as being macho. In my mind, there is definitely a difference. Nothing wrong with a little possessiveness in a hero, but complete jealousy is kind of scary. Also bossing the heroine around, trying to control her and dominate her, and dismissing her because she is a woman is out for me. It makes me want to reach for the frying pan and knock some sense in her. I usually clash with men like that.

What traits define an adult male who is truly a man? And yes, there is a difference. Well I can't speak for anyone else, but I'll tell you what makes a man in my eyes.

  • A quiet confidence

  • A sense of honor

  • The willingness to do what must be done, and the conviction to do it

  • Protects those who are in need of protection

  • Respects a woman for her strengths and embraces her differences from him and how they complement him

  • The capacity to feel and express love

  • The ability to feel passion but the self-control to know when passion should be exercised

  • Being a person who can be depended on

  • Trust-worthiness

  • The ability to be faithful to his partner

  • Accepting of his responsibilities, even when they detract from his own desires

  • The ability to temper his strength so that he does not hurt someone less strong than him

  • The willingness to open himself to vulnerabilities and show his love for his family, partner, and close friends

  • The ability to show that he does need help sometimes, and that he is not perfect

  • Is willing and committed to doing something he doesn't want to do (such as a job he hates) in order for him to live up to his responsibilties

  • The willingness to listen to a woman and what is important to her

  • Respects and cares for the woman he sleeps with

  • Being careful when he sleeps with a woman (showing discretion with who he sleeps with), so that he doesn't bring a child into the world without a loving family or spread disease)

  • Taking care of his kids regardless of who their mother is, whether he's still with her or not, and how much he doesn't like their mother

  • Able to step back at times and let his woman take the limelight (and be proud of her without taking a hit to his own ego because she might be more successful than him in something)

  • Wants a woman to walk beside him, not behind or in front of him

  • Doesn't allow the woman he loves to control him or lead him around (I firmly believe that nobody deserves to be walked on, and no one has the right to walk on anyone else)

  • Spends time with his daughters just as much as his sons

  • Willing to show that he has faith in God without fearing that makes him look weak to others(be a spiritual role model to his children. How many of us had a father who stayed at home on the couch when we went to church with Mom?)

  • Not ashamed to show his artistic side or sensitive side, and even cry at times

  • Enjoys being around women for more than just sex or or how women appeal to them physically. Can view a woman as a friend, not just a potential sex partner, and doesn't dismiss women that are not attractive to him physically.

  • Can look beneath the surface to see a woman for her heart and inner beauty

  • Doesn't put pressure on his woman to maintain her attractiveness as she ages (gains weight, etc)

Why do I feel a real man has these qualities? Well, in my family, I have seen men that have shown the opposite qualities, and also how that has hurt the family unit, his wife, and kids. It has set a bad example in my eyes for men. I know now that I would choose a man that is pretty much opposite from most of the men in my family. As much as I loved my father, he let me down in most of these ways that I listed or feel comfortable discussing. My father didn't really seem to know what to do with my sister and me.My paternal grandfather was a stern man who rarely said a word to me other than yelling at me and calling me, "girl." My step-grandfather probably said less than 20 words to me in all the time of knowing him. This is not a woe is me moment, I just want to make it clear where I am coming from with this. All that really kind of gave me a very jaundiced view of men that I am trying to overcome as I age.

Do I hate men? Of course not? Do I understand men? I like to think I am coming to understand men (as much as I can, being a woman) more and more as I get older and spend more time around them.

On the contrary from disliking men, except for those days when I really don't get the men I'm around, I really feel that men are incredible and interesting. They fascinate me, as strange as it sounds. They are often full of contradictions, and are faced to put on facades because of the gender stratification that is prevalent in society. I really do in some ways feel sorry for those men who are more "sensitive," because they have even more pressure to fit the mold of what is expected of a man. I applaud those men who do step out of those preconceived notions and just try to be themselves, regardless of what others think.

What does not make a man a man in my eyes

  • How many woman he has slept with (or men for that matter) or have listed in his Black Book. Dare I saw that a real man doesn't even need to keep a Black Book?

  • How much money he makes

  • What kind of car he drives, house(s) he owns, how expensive his clothes are, etc

  • How many foul words can come out of his mouth

  • How much his crotch bulges (sorry to be crude)

  • How many men he can beat up or hurt, or kill

  • Hurting children or women

  • Having a large gun collection

  • Overblown displays of machismo (including the "I'm so macho display around other guys" when he's totally not like that when he's alone with this girlfriend/wife)

  • Absolute authority over his wife, children, and home

  • How many beers he can put away

  • Dismissive of "sensitive stuff, women's stuff, and pansy stuff"

  • Homophobia ( just because you're not gay doesn't men that you should hate gay men, be afraid of them, and be afraid of being labeled gay)

What I personally like about men

  • Their way of looking at a project as a goal that must be conquered at all costs. I think men are more likely to think this way than women. Most guys I know won't give up on a project unless they absolutely have to. (My sister does have this trait, so I know that it is not unique to men).

  • Not to be superficial, but the intricacies of a man's body appeals to me. Men's body are typically the opposite of women's bodies. I like that men have broader shoulders, typically narrow hips, and the parts that man a man a man (you know what I mean. I'll leave it at that. Very strange, but intriguing all the same). I like that men have deeper voices and tend to be taller than women. I like broad shoulders, a six-pack, and nice arms that you see on a man. I also like the features of a man's face. While woman's faces tend to be softer and rounder, men's faces are more angular, less round, and more sculpted. Having said that, I am so glad I am not a man. With all the issues that being a woman brings, I like being a woman and having a woman's body.

  • I think male rock musicians bring something to the table that is unique from female rock musicians, particularly bands. I'm not sure exactly what it is just yet. Good future post for my music blog. Therefore, I tend to like more male rock bands than female rock bands.

  • I like that men are more likely to get into a squabble with another man, get it over with, and move on. They don't tend to get catty about things and try to turn everyone else against that person like woman are more likely to do.

  • The ability to compartmentalize is a trait that is a double-edged sword with men. It's bad when a man can have sex with a woman that he doesn't love and make a distinction between that and loving a woman and having sex with her. It's a good think when a man is having some issues at home, but manages to put that aside and go to work and get the job done. I think women may not be as good at this. Maybe women are more diffuse in their emotions. I don't know. It's something I have observed, and I could be wrong about this difference between men and women.

  • I have had some pretty interesting discussions with men that I have not had the pleasure to have with most women. Maybe it's the women I've been around. Maybe I have interests that are more guy-oriented in that sense. I think that woman sometimes feel a need to restrict their interests to certain areas in the same way that men do (but about different subjects). I'm sorry, but discussions about shoes, purses, and makeup bore me to tears. And I hate when women sit around and discuss their birth control and stuff like that. Men don't do this. Yes, I know that men don't have to discuss birth control, but I doubt they talk about what condom they use, and their prostate exams. I could be wrong though. In my experience, men are more likely to sit around and discuss whether Wolverine can take the Predator on and win. Or who is the best person to play Green Arrow in a movie. Now that's a discussion I want to get in on. On the downside, I don't care for sports in general, so it bores me to tears when men start talking about sports. Same thing with hunting and the components of a car's engine.

  • They have been the ones who have had to go to wars (whether they wanted to or not) for thousands of years. Yes, I know that some women also go to wars now and in history. But at least, women didn't get drafted into wars. I must say that I do admire warriors in some ways. I think it takes great fortitude to fight in a war, and to see and do what must be done. I think that compartmentalization plays a role in this.

  • I think it must be hard for a man to watch his wife go through pregnancy and childbirth, and not really be able to take an active part in that process. I am amazed that they get through it okay. In some ways, that might be worse that the woman's part. Maybe that's what Kate Bush was getting at in the song "This Woman's Work."

As I have gotten older, I have met more and more guys who have some of the traits that I especially associate with men, but also have traits that some might label "womanly." Yes, even I first thought that every especially sensitive guy I met, must be gay. I guess it's because I come from a family in which most of the men tend to be on the "macho" spectrum. I know now that some guys are very heterosexual, but they are sensitive at the same time. There's nothing wrong with that.

That's why I love the fact that I am getting more wisdom as I age. I am seeing my perception of the world and its inhabitants change and grow as I live longer. Time and experience, has led me to believe that although men and women are very different, we are not that totally different at all. After all, we are both human.



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