Posts tagged be a man

What’s up with ‘man up ?’

“Man up.” When you hear the phrase, what comes to mind?

  • Taking responsibility?
  • Acting courageously?
  • Showing toughness?

Apparently some Duke University students consider “man up” akin to profanity, or even worse, as a form of verbal bullying. man up

A series of posters going up around the Duke campus are a joint creative venture of two student groups, each geared toward encouraging students to be sensitive to co-eds who have a different lifestyle than them. Each poster features a different disparaging word or phrase that’s a staple of a typical college student’s vocabulary. Most are sexual in nature and just plain vulgar.

As I looked over all the other posters, I couldn’t figure out how “man up” rose to the offensiveness level of all the other pejorative phrases.

Then it occurred to me: in their way of thinking any phrases that refer to a standard for masculinity (or femininity) are wrong. Therefore, the phrase “man up” is sexist and degrading. Unfortunately, in their attempt to discourage gender-based negative labeling, the Duke students have overlooked the positive connotation of the phrase “man up.”

Guys need to be called up to embrace the way they’re made. The more science comes to understand, the more it confirms that men and women are inherently different. Even as young children, girls tend to play more relationally with each other, while boys play alongside or even in competition with each other. Girls’ activities more likely gravitate toward nurturing and relationship-building, while boys are more active in exploring the world, pushing the limits and themselves.

As they grow to adulthood, men want to be respected more for what they achieve, women more for who they are. When a man doesn’t accept responsibility, doesn’t look out for the best interests of others (especially his family), or buckles under moderate pressure, it’s perfectly appropriate to tell him to “man up.” Because responsibility, courage, and service are what a man does.

Contrary to how the posters characterize it, manhood doesn’t imply superiority to womanhood, or prohibit publicly showing emotion. It’s kind of ironic when you think about it. What would a good man do if he heard someone being demeaned in a way described in many of the Duke posters. He’d “man up” by standing up for the attacked and against the attacker. A good woman might not jump into the middle of a fight, but she’d almost certainly come alongside the victim to comfort and console.

I commend the Duke students for standing up against bullying and inhumane treatment of individuals. But they’d do well to “wise up” to the fact that differences between men and women are a good and natural thing worth standing up for.

When real conversation requires more than a text

When I was a freshman in college — back when I was skinny and long-haired and pretty inexperienced when it came to relationships — I met a girl named Nancy. We sat together five days a week in a French class, and at some point we began dating. I wouldn’t say it was serious, but between those dates and our class, we certainly saw each other often.

A few months later, the French class was over; we didn’t see each other as often, and the attraction began to fade for me. It was time to be honest with her and tell her that I enjoyed our friendship, but I didn’t see our dating relationship going anywhere. Meet with her and have a mature, yet positive conversation.

Did I mention that, at age 18, I was also stupid and cowardly? We never had that conversation. Instead, I just stopped calling her. Cut her off completely.

My guess is that after a few weeks she figured a couple of things out:

  • I wasn’t going to ask her out on dates any more.
  • I was a jerk who wasn’t worth dating, anyway.

Fast forward a few years, and I see that people today have not gained much in wisdom. When it comes to breaking off a relationship, or working through a conflict, today we have all kinds of new technology that helps us take the easy way out.

If I was the same wimpy kid today and in the same situation, I’d probably break up through e-mail or text messaging. It’s very easy nowadays to use email and text messaging to avoid the difficult real conversations, disagreements, or conflicts.

This applies to all of us, not just singles. We face a disagreement or conflict with a co-worker, a friend, a family member, a wife, and we look for the easy way out by avoiding a face-to-face conversation.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if men are guilty of this more than women.

I’ve found that when I try to resolve something through email, it’s easy to misunderstand each other. Words are misinterpreted or attached to emotions that were not intended. You miss the facial expressions, the body language, and the tone of voice that communicate just as strongly as the actual words.  And, NO, using emoticons doesn’t make it any better :-).

It’s interesting to read some of the scriptural passages about resolving conflict in light of today’s technology. For example, 1 Peter 3:8-9 tells us, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead…” (NASB).

What impresses me here is that it’s very difficult to communicate a spirit of harmony, sympathy, kindheartedness, and humility through email or text messaging. These qualities — so essential to resolving a disagreement or conflict — are best conveyed in person.

If you are the type of person who instinctively avoids any type of confrontation, perhaps you’ve settled into this bad habit of using electronic communication to avoid real conversation. Perhaps you’re doing it with your spouse.

Let me encourage you as a man, colleague, father, and husband to step up and into your relationships rather than away from them. Be courageous.

Relationships are multi-faceted and often require heart-to-heart, face contorting, voice inflected communication. And that won’t happen in a text message or email.

Let me ask you: Have often have you tried to resolve a disagreement or conflict with someone by email or text message? How has that worked for you?

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