Thursday, December 2, 2010

Be A Man

Enter the cavern with its 
Walls of tanged strands.
Find the living flame
That burns on blood.
From Tao Daily Meditations

I hear this one a lot. You must hear it as well. I've talked to men who say things like: "When is he going to be a man?, I'm a full-grown man,  Be a man about it, I have to show him how to be a man"--blah, blah, blah. I know some men consult the bible because it gives clear instructions on manhood--from independent behavior, to marriage, to child rearing and caring for loved ones in distress. There are motivational speakers (I have to give Tom Cruise kudos for his depiction of the man motivational speaker in Magnolia). There is community that defines social characteristics of manhood. There are self-help books, weekend warrior gatherings--I don't know--but manning up is a perennial concern.

Since I am female, I don't have this pressure. But lately, I've grown tired of men who claim to be this archetypal he-man image. They may be real men, but there aren't always nice people.  So I figured I would make a list of characteristics that sum up manhood for me. Please note that some of these traits can apply to women as well.
                                                 How to Be A Man

1. Recognize that your body and your mind are masculine. Your soul and spirit have no gender.

2. God and/or natural selection made you physically stronger than women and children. Don't use that strength to harm those who are weaker than you.

3. You don't become a man because society gives you the right to vote, join the military and buy liquor. You are just getting some social privileges.

4. According to the Tao, the best weapon is one we never have to use. Don't use your manhood as a weapon.

5. Since men have certain gifts, they should be used to bolster the community. Protect the women, children
and elderly who depend on you.

6. Having lots of sex with different partners doesn't make you a man. It makes you a human who fears intimacy and lives for his needs.

7. Drinking alcohol until you pass out does not make you a man. As you probably have more body mass than most women, you can handle chemical toxins better than us.

8. Consider the consequences of your actions. Don't think you live above natural and divine law just because you have a penis. You are not a god.

9. Society may tell you that anger is the privileged emotion of men. That is a lie. Men have all sorts of emotions. There is nothing wrong about feeling them.

10. If you end a relationship, be gentle.

11. Your car does not make you a man.

12. Money does not make you a man.

13. Strength and meanness are two different things. Often, it takes more strength to be kind than mean.

14. Men who abuse others are not men. They aren't even human.

15. If you hate women, deal with those feelings. Don't punish us with your rage.

16. You are not a man because you have the most beautiful woman at your side.

17. Don't run away.

18. When you feel weak, reach out to someone. Don't keep it inside.

19. Learn about love. Learn that love means giving as well as receiving. Don't love a person because of what he or she can do for you. Love that person for what he or she is.

20. Finally, don't keep telling us that you are a man. If you have to mention it so much, you are probably having doubts.


  1. Susan, your post contradicts your tagline "all things are happening automatically."
    20 points is a lot to remember, most folks can't make the 10 commandments work.
    How about: In the first place do no harm; Serve those whom you love; grow everyday to improve that which you can; Make decisions based on facts and love.

  2. I don't know if numbers make a difference. This isn't the Ten Commandments--these are behaviors or attitudes. If anyone actually tried to memorize my 20 points, I would be fairly amazed. All 20 do not apply to all men, just as dairy cannot be tolerated by certain digestive symptoms. I see this a lot; I'll be happy if anyone chooses any of them. Nothing I write here is holy writ. I understand your point--these are just statements that I feel reflect what I see.

  3. Damn, I ride the city bus and now you have gone and said that it doesn't make me a man! (Kidding).

    Susan, I agree with all of these. Granted, in the past I've had a hell of a time living up to many of them. It's a work in process.

    Have to say this, your list is a lot easier to follow than the 10 Commandments. To bad it isn't holy writ!

  4. GW: Agreed. These also should apply to women--I will do what you say.

    Spongy--Did I say anything about a bus? I have to reread it. Some of this is just being a real person without caving to the IMAGE, but a lot of people need that security--I don't know--this is just something I'm coming across a lot lately.

  5. (1) Hmm. #20. Because of the denied (but very clear) racial prejudices of others, I have often had to remind someone that I am a man, not a child. Do not patronize me.

    In other words, what do you say to a society that refuses to allow you to grow up, or doesn't acknowledge it if you do?

    (2) We see a lot of loutish behvaior defended as natural manly behavior so that to be a stereotypical guy almost entails being somewhat of a jerk (e.g., The Man Show). In some ways, I sense this might have been a reaction to th "soft" or "girlie" men that seemed to gain esteem during the 1970s.

    Lester Bangs, for one, saw this redefinition of manhood as an attempt to reclaim power on the part of those men who felt they no longer had the control they did in the 1950s. He called it "Cretin's Lib."

  6. X, you make a good point about 20. I was thinking about emotional maturity. I deal with a lot of college students who think they are men or want to think they are men--some may be chronologically adult, but they do very immature things, and then will say something about being a grown man. I was referring to that, and I acknowledge that a lot of men aren't like that. And your question is excellent--what do you do when people see you as one thing only?

  7. How to be a man: equate your worth with the value of a woman, the value of a human.

    The denigration of women is a very real thing; and it pains me to see it so rampant in our culture -- not only are the males just overwhelmed sensually by the portrayal of women, but females will accept this identity because they've inherited it, rather forcefully. So I just kinda' see it as targeting, creating even, one weakness to spark another. That's not to say people won't see through this -- I think it takes drastic measures to break some cycles, I know from my own experiences.

    My own dear sister worries much about the way she is portrayed by her friends -- she must realistically spend about an hour or more each morning on her vanity. I've tried to tell her many times to just relax and not concern herself with petty things, but it seems out of my reach. And what's even worse is she's really into music that openly objectifies women -- it really freaks me out, just as a person. It would be nice to see people I am inherently close to just feel comfortable to exist.

    It's a weird thing, and I think I'm either too judgmental about the whole thing, or I'm picking up long, lost signals that describe our relationship to one another as a people.

    So with humanity, I try to remind myself:

  8. very good my family we're told to 'act like a woman..woman up..'..ha

  9. Alex: My hunch is that is it is the latter. You are sensitive to a lot of high vibrations and you are very skilled at articulated them. GW is right about women as we hurt too. I think we (men and women) just don't recognize that we are all community--Bhagavan calls it family, but for me that is often a loaded term.

    SJ: Thanks, bro. Hey, I didn't delete your comment on the prayer post--I don't know what happened to it. John commented on it as well, and it got deleted.

    Yellowdog Granny: Hah. Yeah, woman up. Try childbirth! That takes some real strength.


All things are happening automatically...except word verification!