“Love like a man… not like a boy, and learn to know yourself before you take a woman’s happiness into your keeping.” – “How it was Found” by Louisa May Alcott
My dad often likes to tell me, “There are no more real men.” An interesting statement from a man, but he clarifies by adding, “A man doesn’t wear tight pants.” He is baffled by how and why “boys” wear pants as tight as the ones girls wear. My dad has two daughters, so he’s always been overprotective in warning me against the dangers of boys. My uncles have greatly contributed to these warnings.
They have concepts of masculinity that I accepted until I got to high school, then I didn’t agree with them so much anymore. “Men don’t cry.” “Men don’t wear tight pants.” “Men are tough and don’t show emotion.” “Men are strong, physically and emotionally.” “Men are protectors.” “Men are in charge.” I always laugh at that last one, though the ringing of truth is unnerving. Most of the time, my dad and my uncles say these things jokingly, but these statements are commonly viewed as what is masculine.
Being raised mostly by men, I’ve been taught a lot about masculinity, by words and by actions. My dad stressed the importance of what a real man is and is not in order for me to not settle for someone less than what he thought I deserved. So, I decided to discover what a real man is, and I started with examining all the guys closest to me. I came up with a list of seven traits I found fundamental to what being a real man means. These traits are strictly my opinion based on the examples in my life, but I think it’s a good list. They aren’t in any specific order.
A Real Man…
… puts those he loves before himself
… respects himself and the woman he’s with
… has strong beliefs/ opinions
… has his own mind
… is a hard worker
… isn’t completely dependent on a woman
… tries to achieve his own goals and ambitions
After showing my stepmom this list, she said I described Jesus and laughed. No man is like this, she said. But I told her my dad was like this, to which she laughed some more, but then I explained why and how he reflected those traits. Then she agreed with me. I don’t think any man can reflect these traits all the time, but having them is the important thing, and aiming for them as well. Of course, each thing in this list can be interpreted differently, but these are fundamental values that I believe make a real man.
While making this list, I also realized that the men in my life were not always this way. When they were younger, I don’t believe they reflected most or all of these things, though I can only know from stories I hear. But they became men, and that’s the important thing.
What makes a man is stepping up to responsibility, not running away from it. Treating women with respect, which means having respect for themselves as well. And just because a guy doesn’t have ambitions yet, he’s not less of a man as long as he is looking for a dream to have.
Discovering the qualities of a real man was very important to me, because I’ve seen and heard of too many girls who are mistreated by men. I’m not victimizing women; I know they have their own faults and blames. But I know that an abusive guy is not a man. A guy who doesn’t care about his own life or someone else’s is not a man. A guy who will take what he can get from a girl to try to satisfy himself is not a man.
Men do have a lot of power in this world. Women have their own kind of power, too, but it’s different from a man’s. I’m not just saying men have the head-of-household-in-charge kind of power. They have the power to break a woman or build her up. They have the power to stop when a woman says no, and to push her against her boundaries. And they most certainly have the power to control themselves, because I’ve seen too many good men to believe otherwise.
p.s. You can try to help the victim, but you can also try to change or prevent the oppressors.