What it means to be a man

This post is dedicated entirely to my dad, because whenever I think about what it means to be a man, the first person I think of is him. Also, I’m pretty sure he’s the one responsible for my somewhat ‘unusual’ sense of humor.

In more ways than one.

I should point out that these are merely the standards I try to hold myself to. I’m definitely not going to judge other people based on the criteria I came up with, well, just now because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about.

So anyway, I present to you the Critical awesomeness Operational Criteria for Knowing what it means to Be A Man (COCKBAM):

Be direct. If you want something, say so. If someone is doing something that bothers you, tell them. This doesn’t mean that you should be demanding, aggressive, whiny, or rude, but rather it simply means that you should state things in a clear and straightforward manner. And if someone doesn’t like it, tell them to go screw themselves. You can get away with that kind of talk when you’re being a Man.

Ok, that last part was a joke. But seriously, be direct.

Take responsibility for your actions. The problem with making decisions is that you are then held accountable for them, dammit. Well, that’s just part of being a Man. There’s no shame in admitting you were wrong. In fact, sometimes the best thing you can ever do is look someone in the eye and say, “Yeah, I made a mistake. Now what can I do to fix it?”

And if there were extenuating circumstances that resulted in you making a bad decision or taking an improper action, there’s nothing wrong with pointing this out. In fact, you should point it out. If you’re honest and straightforward about it, people should respect you for your Mantacity.

Unless they’re total jerks. In which case you should tell them to go screw themselves.

Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Regardless of who you are, you should be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what you’re capable of. Don’t be too proud of what you’re good at, or too ashamed of what you’re bad at, but know what these things are, and be confident with the things you know you can do well. Because nothing says “I’m a Man” like being able to drink an entire bottle of whiskey all by yourself and have complete confidence that you will then proceed to act like a complete asshole. Because that’s just how we roll.

Think for yourself. There’s nothing wrong with taking advice, but don’t just accept other people’s thoughts and opinions as your own without critical analysis. After all, in the end you’re the one who will have to accept ultimate responsibility for your decisions and actions, so make sure they’re truly based on what you believe to be right. Don’t take the fall for someone else’s bad ideas. Particularly any ideas you might find on this blog.

Be considerate. Men on average have more testosterone than women. That’s a fact. It makes us stronger physically, and helps us be more aggressive and direct. And while it’s extremely funny to watch women struggle with heavy things while you point out that you’re just treating them with the equality they demanded, it’s important to remember that you have physiological advantages that they lack. And they can always kick you in the junk if you laugh at them too much.

And finally,

Don’t take yourself so God Damn Seriously. This one particularly applies to me. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in needing to be Right because I think someone’s insulted my character or beliefs that I actually do things that risk damaging the relationship that I have with that person. And that’s not Manly. It’s just stupid. Having good relationships with the people you care about—and who care about you in return—is far more important than being Right all the time. Besides, if someone insults you and you can turn it into a joke, that’s pretty much the best victory you could possibly have.

Punching them in the gonads is a close second.

The thing is, Men evolved over thousands of years to be a certain way, a way that maximized our chances of survival, but society has changed far too rapidly in recent years for evolution to keep up. From an evolutionary standpoint we’re still just cavemen, albeit sometimes cavemen in business suits. Like that funny commercial.

Still, because we are rational creatures (although some Women might disagree with me on that) I think we’re fully capable of emphasizing some of our positive Manly traits, like being direct and decisive, while diminishing some of our less fantastic traits, like rigid thinking, wanting to destroy or suppress anything we’re afraid of, and flying into a hulk-like rage when we think we’re being insulted.

But just don’t try to take away our football or beer. Some things are sacred.

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About Critical Awesomeness
I'm a 32-year-old American with a PhD in chemistry and a green hat. Only one of these two things is really important.

4 Responses to What it means to be a man

  1. John S says:

    My dad gave me a piece of great relationship advice that you touch upon Andy – You need to choose between always being right and always being happy. He’s on his third wife, so he should know.

  2. Dad says:

    Just read this blog for the sixth time. It’s like another Father’s Day present. Thanks.

    What was particularly interesting was your comment on your sense of humor. When I tell someone about your sense of humor I preface it with something like; “Andy has this funny, obscure and sometimes bizarre sense of humor and for the life of me I can’t figure out where he gets it.” Of course each person I have told that to gets it.

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