What it Takes to Be a ‘Real Man’

In today’s society, outdated and out of touch definitions of manliness are everywhere. From commercials about game day tail-gating to presumptions of Friday night beer drinking, strip clubs and late night poker, our culture is in the business of telling men what they should consume and what they should act like while they’re doing it. Even though as a whole sexism has lessened in America, gender roles are still rampant and men are not spared from this little game, though they are not victimized nearly as much as women.

Let’s say a man throws a party and wants sky lanterns on the deck, does that make him less of man? What is it to be a man, actually? It’s clearly not just an anatomical designation—being a ‘man’ in our society apparently means not liking design or aesthetics of any kind, not caring about your emotions, and not eating healthy. But, to me, this isn’t a ‘real man.’ In my estimation, a real man explores the extents of his mind while caring for his family and keeping them healthy. Here, I’ll give you some examples:

A real man cleans up the house. No, that’s not the woman’s job, it’s the responsibility of everyone who lives in a home. Keeping the house clean keeps dust, allergens and mold out of the air. Why would anyone, including a man, want to be surrounded by those things?

A real man eats right. A diet of cheeseburgers, french fries, milkshakes, beer, and energy drinks is not only going to make you less enjoyable to be around, it’s going to reduce your lifespan by many years. Does a ‘real man’ die prematurely? Sounds a little ridiculous, doesn’t it? Eating nutritious, organic, hormone-free foods is an incredible life decision to make that will improve you and your family’s health.

A real man deals with his emotions in healthy, productive ways. You don’t have to go to therapy or self-help, just talk about how you feel. Trust me, your wife will be ecstatic at the opportunity to learn more about how your mind works and you will feel better talking about issues that you normally bottle up inside.

These are just the three characteristics of what I think makes a ‘real man’. The basic premise here is that you should be a good, healthy person, who is positive role model for your children and a nurturing husband. Do the laundry, eat a salad, hang some decorations. It’s not effeminate, it’s called being a real person.

[About the author: Jenna is a student in Saint Louis. Upon graduation, she hopes to travel the world while producing compelling content for the masses. When she isn’t writing, you can find Jenna with her nose in a book, or her headphones in to block out the rest of the world.]

Image: CarbonNYC at Flickr

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

6 thoughts on “What it Takes to Be a ‘Real Man’

  • A real man writes posts like this, Derek, about what it is to be a real man. A real man reaches out to other men (in need) and a real man TCB – takes care of business and that means supporting his family!

  • This is a great post. Bruce is right to say a real man writes a post about what manhood is. That fact that you are conscious about what it means shows that you are a real man. A real man ignore gender roles and doesn’t let peer or societal pressures hinder him from doing what he knows to be right.

    With your permission, I’d like to hijack this post for my project for this month. It fits into next week’s theme. 😉

  • Great post. In particular, the comment around cleaning the house. More than cleaning the house, a man should share responsibility for the house. My wife and I have a 100%/100% division of labor. We don’t meet in the middle, but try to help in all areas in service to each other. Sometimes, that means cleaning the dishes. Others, it means paying the cleaning lady. Regardless, we should never be saying, that’s your job!
    Thanks for the post and for leading us men!

  • Carlos

    Not only do you give the main premise of your idea you explain it do well, I’m actually a bit upset there are only three, I would love to see what else you can come up with


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