How to be manly – A (mis)guide

What is manliness? Have we really come up with a guide for it? We're not sure if we're getting this right. But here's the advice from our team of writers. And before you go about judging any one of us, remember that we grew up with completely different backgrounds, live in separate parts of the world, embrace different sexualities, and have our own opinions on life, just like you.


Phoenix:

"Being manly requires an open mind... an open heart... and open arms." 

How to be manly? Let me begin with the first definition of what a man is according to most dictionaries. A man is an adult male human. Really? An adult in any species is the most mature, but in the case of man, maturity likely refers to the physical aspect and nothing more. Men can quickly revert to boys when it comes to mentality, spirituality, intellectuality, and physicality.

Men are programmed at an early age to be competitive and to see themselves as superior entities in comparison to women because of the masculine world we live in. Barely a half century ago, men and women assumed certain roles in society. The man was supposed to be the provider while the woman was nothing more than the child-bearer and housekeeper. There was once a time when men shunned cooking and cleaning and labelled it as 'woman's work.' Of course, that has changed dramatically over the years. 

However, the male ego has remained the same over the centuries. Just listen to any conversation by any group of males and you are guaranteed to find at least three out of five who will eventually begin behaving like adolescents. Conversations involving politics or sports are sure-fire ways to get into a heated debate. The male ego is disputatious and competitive.

When it comes to sex, the male figure will display his manliness by degrading women or engage in discussions about pussy as if it is an exotic dish only he can afford. I say if you are really getting laid so much, you would not have to constantly disclose your bedroom habits—you are either lying or covering up a secret you are afraid your peers will soon discover (such as a secret sexual preference or virginity). 

The idea of what manly is has been stained with a negative stigma, and the image of what a man is, is associated with anything large in size (i.e. the 'grand-daddy of all trucks). Personally, I feel that men—I mean boys who believe they are manly, secretly feel inadequate or insignificant, so they will do and say things to make themselves appear to be bigger or better. Inadequacy compels them to find ways to make up for what they lack (e.g. buying a huge automobile to compensate for a small penis).

Being manly is more than just looking like one or behaving as if you have become a clone of any of the other male figures you have encountered in life (e.g. your father, brother, uncle, favourite athlete or superhero, etc.). It goes far beyond exhibiting a macho attitude, being super muscular, treating women as if they are inferior, and believing the illusion that you are superior to everyone and everything. However, I feel that most men (and this applies primarily to heterosexual males) have a complex issue with insecurity. 

Seemingly, men are always in competition with one another. They have a problem with simply sharing because they are too busy comparing. Everything from certain abilities/capabilities to financial status, sexual prowess/penile length, you name it—it is all about who's better or bigger than who in the small world of 'man'. Many men overlook the fact that competition is a sickness; pride is the cure and the virus. A genuinely, manly man is so confident that he is too proud to compete; he does not have to prove his masculinity to anyone.

A real man treats everyone with love and respect and does not need to disclose what is in his bank account or garage, not to mention how many times he gets laid or the size of his cock. These are examples of adolescent behaviors and some men never grow up; they just grow old. I cannot count how many times I wanted to slice my wrists while listening to apes discuss automotive obsessions while belching beer, burgers, and bananas. That is not manly, but apeish. 

Manliness has become so twisted over the centuries, but the underlying problem remains the same. Being manly means you must pretend to be gargantuan, even if you know deep down you are as small as bacteria under a microscope. Being manly requires a strong spirit rather than a physical body. Even a woman can outdo a man on that level.

Fortunately, for myself, I have a balanced Yin/Yang energy, which is likely the reason women are drawn toward me and some men are either afraid of me or just hate/envy me. So many men confuse my confidence with arrogance. Whenever I share my knowledge and wisdom with male figures, I sense they feel as if I think of them as lesser humans. That is not the case. It takes a mature, manly mind to understand that every man is equal, meaning, every human being has the ability to do anything he/she sets his/her mind to achieve.

If being manly was truly defined by boyish characteristics, then I would be a god. I do not say this out of arrogance or confidence, I say it because most men are boys and I find myself to be the mature one in most situations. Preventing arguments and fist-fights amongst my peers made me feel like the father figure in the group trying to control children. After all, being manly is to be godly (keep in mind when I say godly, I mean above human and not in the stereotypical Western-World religious sense). 

Being manly requires an open mind... an open heart... and open arms. Manliness is a high level of maturity, a strong sense of love and respect with concern for the well-being of the entire planet and its inhabitants. Now, if you have a penis or an overly developed clitoris, ask yourself: Do I have any of these characteristics? If not, work on it. Being manly is much bigger than what the average joe thinks because he does not have to tell everyone how big he thinks he is; those who want to know will find out through his actions or by his own discretion. 


Michael:

"Never have a belly-button piercing."

Growing up I always considered the ability to grow a beard as the defining moment in manliness. My young mind couldn’t comprehend anything else. This is perhaps why I’ve always had a beard ever since I was old enough to grow a full lumberjack number.

When asked to write this article I realised that I’m really no wiser than I was as a beard-worshipping child, with the difference being that gender roles have been flipped upside down since I was a kid as opposed to my prepubescent naiveté. Guys and gals aren’t what they used to be. These days there’s a thing called a “househusband”. That didn’t exist when I was a kid, and we’re only talking 15 years ago. Growing up, my dad was a lazy dude at home. He thought that because he worked all day (even though my mother also worked all day), he was entitled to leave dirty dishes lying around and absolutely never under any circumstances use the vacuum cleaner. He was simply a product of his generation.

People my age (I turned 25 a few months ago), are different. Both the sexes are very much equal, despite what radical feminists might tell you. Guys work, girls work. Guys do the dishes, girls do the dishes. Guys vote, girls vote. The list is endless.

So how, for the sake of this article, can I define masculinity other than the aforementioned beardedness? I’m going to have a stab at it, because some of the values that define me as a man and a gentleman are sadly missing among others my age.

Treat your mother, sister and grandmother as if they’re the most important women in your life, because they are. Take your mum out for a meal. Go round your gran’s for a cup of tea. Go for drinks with your sister (if you have one) and get to know and love her friends, because even if all your friends leave you, your sister will always have your back.

Hold doors open for the person behind you, because even though some crazy feminists will get mad at you for “implying that they’re too weak to open a door”, the majority of women and all men will recognise that you’re just being kind. Trust me – people like being noticed, and holding a door for the person behind you is the most sure-fire way of proving that your head isn’t up your arse.

Have a firm handshake, but never squeeze. You want someone to know that you’re committed to the conversation you’re about to have. Squeeze too hard and you’ll just seem like a douche who’s trying to assert some kind of macho dominance crap, and nobody wants to do business with a douche. And ALWAYS look a person in the eye when speaking with them or risk being labelled a “shifty little bastard”.

Never have a bellybutton piercing.

A true man will get married and from day one, make it absolutely crystal clear to his wife that he’s willing, able and committed to splitting all the boring crap right down the middle. Learn to use a vacuum cleaner. Figure out what temperature you should wash colours at. Learn the difference between Fairy Liquid and Clorox. Learn to cook at least 5 full meals without using a microwave. Do some push-ups once in a while.

There are no “gender roles” any more, except for childbirth, although medical science will probably fuck that dynamic up somehow in the future. Be a man and learn that the woman beside you is no more or less important than you are. She’s Yin and you’re Yang. She’s Fire and you’re Water. She’s a woman and you’re a man, but you’re both human so act like it.

 And seriously, grow a beard. You’ll look totes bitchin and women love it.


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Tasja:

"When you're off your ass in a hormonal rage, he won't yell at you."

When trying to define a true Manly man I go through the ”catalogue of men” in my life. The types described below are purely based upon life-lessons and thoughts from my head. A mix of people and situations have defined my present view on a ”true” manly man, I know the definition is different for every human.

I have narrowed my group down to three archetypes: 

We have the ”Muscle-manly-man” who has the physical trades, that fits my version of the Manly man. Big arms, strong shoulders, a bit of hair on the chest and an upright posture. His exterior provides you with a sort of security-feeling and a sense of comfort.

The catalogue also contains the, not so fortunate, ”Mainstream-manly-man”. I have those in my life as well. The man who thinks of himself as a men’s man. It's the type of man, who would barbeque during the winter, always talk about meat, football, beer. This man surrounds himself with others of his kind, to support himself in his opinions and thereby justifying his behaviour.

There's the ”Emotional-manly-man” who has the psychological trades of the manly man. He listens to your women-head-cracks, he guides you and supports you when you need it. You can talk to him about important life-issues without worrying about getting ridiculed or misunderstood. He has a big heart, possesses a great deal of integrity, and will always tell you the truth. Usually I find him to be a bit withdrawn, who considers his words before speaking.

I find no completely manly men in my catalogue, many have certain of the different trades, but no one fully uphold my criteria.

I guess the term ”Manly man” is as changing as the mind of a politician. When my grandmother was young, the man was a Provider-Patriarch. He brought home the bread and made the decisions in the house. His role as the head of the family was established through marriage, and his wife was to be grateful, that she didn't went further in life as an unwed lady. The roles were very defined and the patterns you would follow, were decided years in advance.

Nowadays, women have evolved. We are highly independent creatures compared to the lady of the 1940s. We are aware of our capabilities and confident enough to state some demands. We know we are a bit more controlled by our emotions than guys. We know that it's a part of this whole ”women-experience”. And we know that YOU know. This reproducing-game needs the both of us, so we need our men to play along, and make it a safe playground.

Other criteria have become important, it's not solely the Provider-Patriarch that defines the manly man anymore.

The authentic manly man, consists qualities from both the emotional and muscle Manly man.

He will be strong for you, he will wipe your tears and hold you close. He will provide you with a flow of self-conscience, empathy and challenges. He will help you develop, and give you the space to do it your own way, without you ever doubting his commitment.

 
When you're out together, he will make sure that no one is uncertain of the bond between the two of you. He will do his part to make sure you are treated in an honourable manner, because he respects you. When you're off your ass in a hormonal rage, he won't yell at you. He'll get out and buy you that chocolate, he'll massage those feet, watch that crappy chick-flick with you, and you know what?


He'll actually enjoy it.

Maybe my Manly Man' will show up some glorious day, but for now? I won't hold my breath ;)


Naresh:

"There is really no place for such classifications within the constructs of a post modern world like ours, as we move forward toward gender equality, homosexual unions, to define man as merely masculine or manly is limiting."

When I was first tasked to write this piece, the first thoughts came to me as a flood of unpleasant memories doused in the flames of time. I remember vividly the times my grandparents would chastise me as child for crying, citing that “boys do not cry”, so I would sit there thinking I was unfit as a child to be a man. As I grew up, I began accepting the various observations of being manly, and in turn felt less of man because try as I may I could and would hide my emotions within the depths of my kindred spirit nor would I play a sport just to be seen as being part of the boys. The rejection (as it were) of society's definition of being a man, made me a better person.

All too often we find ourselves defined by the sex we're born into, suddenly our behaviours and mannerisms are defined by the length of our penis, the shape of our balls or the thickness of our pubes. Surely after years of evolution we would've come to the conclusion that we are no longer the same people lived in caves or clobbered our woman for sex. We as a men and women have built nations, designed flying machines, overcome 2 of the worst wars fought in the history of mankind. Yet, we find ourselves confused and aimless when it comes to human interaction and acceptance. Examining the word Manly, we quickly realise it is a discussion on masculinity. Man's need to classify and segregate is a perhaps at the core of this question, we've defined masculinity as a trademarks of leadership, physical superiority, sexual conquest, and sport aptitude. But this seemingly trivial question perhaps throws us back a good amount of centuries.

By attempting to define what manly is to me, I would effectively be suggesting that there's a standard of femininity that one must adhere to. By doing so, I would be incredibly hypocritical and wouldn't have been any different from the voices that tried to define my personal interpretation who I was essentially. As such I propose that we eradicate the term manliness or femininity, these are merely social constructs that have no real value in the human experience. There is really no place for such classifications within the constructs of a post modern world like ours, as we move forward toward gender equality, homosexual unions, to define man as merely masculine or manly is limiting. As the man today is more than just prehistoric stereotypes.

For me being manly isn't something I care about as much anymore. By that, I do not care for prerequisites that would make me a man in the eyes to those who feel their lives should be governed by innate classifications that mean less than anything in broader concept of life. Therein lies my suggestion, the very need to prove your manliness or femaleness though might seem liberating theoretically does little and in turn entraps you – limiting your experience. If I had cared for my unmanly disposition through my 20s, I would have not embraced by sexuality and would have been trapped within my very being. To be only Man-ly in my opinion is a personal choice and not something predetermined by those around you. If the latter was the case, then you're royally fucked. 


Kai:

"If you’re reading this, hoping to become more manly, here’s my take on it: When you dare to unlearn what it really means to be manly, that’s manly."

The only thing that really defines me as a man is my Asian penis.

I cross dress, I wear nail polish, I wear floral pants, and my hair is longer than your legs. Does that make me less manly that Sylvester Stallone? I don’t give a fuck.

Growing up in a traditional Chinese family, manliness has been associated with motor oil, buying new TV sets and sound systems, beer, pee on the toilet seat, short hair, a career, and a nonchalant attitude to just about anything.  Oh, and walking away from explosions without looking back.

I’ve always been told that women like manly men. And to be a manly man, I have to adhere to a specific set of behaviours and characteristics that the world before me has set. I’m sorry dad, but many of these things are senseless.

And I refuse to abide by them.

Why? Because being “manly” makes me less human and more of a product. Everyday, we are already dictated by carefully spelled out laws and blurred social rules. Do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that. Eat your vegetables, don’t do drugs, sleep early, hate capitalism. Why would I let myself be even more tied down by a self-imposed set of so-called rules that don’t even make me a better human being?

All the ‘guides’ that we have read on and offline on “How to be a real (wo)man,” is a whole load of bullshit. I am a human being. And the only thing that I would really take advice on is reproduction. Man + woman – condom = babies. Man + man – lubricant = extra pillow on office chair. Man + hand = independence.

And if you’re reading this, hoping to become more manly, here’s my take on it: When you dare to unlearn what it really means to be manly, that’s manly.


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