Science Cannot Tell You What It Means To Be A Man

23 Mar

It’s true. The definition of the word “man” is a question of linguistics. It depends on culture but it is based on biology.

The word “male”, in contrast, is a purely scientific term. It helps us distinguish the 2 different sexes by their biological function in mating. It can help distinguish the small number of ambiguous cases such as chromosomal abnormalities.

So what does the word “man” mean? To start defining a word, you need to establish it’s basic, minimum requirements. I will try to define man in the broadest, most universal way possible.

To be a man, one must meet these qualifications:

  1. Adult Male: Man means adult male. It’s most basic definition.
    • Yes, you could see a stranger and say, “Look at that man coming toward us.” The response could be “He’s not really a man, look at his spindly arms and his hunched shoulders.” “Yes, but he’s a man in the most basic sense.” He’s still a “man”, but he may not truly be a “MAN”.
  2. A MAN is an adult male who takes on responsibility.
    • The more responsibility, the more manly. A family man, is by default a MAN because he takes the responsibility for his family.
    • Responsibility must come with moral fortitude of some kind. Deciding how to organize and prioritize your life means determining what is good, better and best. So to be a man, requires a moral framework.
  3. A MAN must be able to take risk and endure hardship
    • Most cultures have rites of passages in which men must take or accept risk. Some primitive tribes made boys jump off of high platforms with just a vine to break their fall. Others must survive wilderness ordeals. Jewish boys have a bar mitzvah at which time they take on the risks and responsibilities of adults.
    • Western culture has been cleansed of these rites of passages for men. Military service is not as prevalent. Institutions once had initiation rituals but they’ve been termed “HAZING” and banned.
    • Rituals are helpful but not the only way to prove your ability to take risks and endure hardship. Sports are a good way and life always has some difficulties that will make a man out of you – you just don’t get the single, social event that tells you it’s time to MAN UP.
    • Unfortunately, drinking and drugs have taken over as a ritual of sorts, causing all sorts of damage. Tattoos may once have signified toughness but mostly signify hipsteristic tendencies.
  4. A MAN must be able to defend himself and those he loves.
    • Standing up for yourself, standing your ground is a hallmark of manhood – not necessarily physical fighting. Being able to speak your mind and standing up for what is right takes bravery.

While womanhood is bestowed upon every girl who becomes an adult, manhood is a choice. The term gentleman has fallen by the wayside as the term was deracinated – associated with being “nice” or basically wimpy and pretentious. Read Dumas if you want to learn the true meaning of gentleman – hint, they fought a LOT. “Lady” has similarly been discarded; no women want to be called ladies anymore. Sad.

Manhood is not necessarily about being tough and doing manly things. Sure, you can hunt and fish or chop wood like a real man but you could also be a florist and be a man if that is what you truly want to do. Arranging flowers may not win you praise from the men in your community or impress the girls much. However, if that is the profession you’ve decided you’re best suited for, you need to stand up to that social pressure, dammit, and do it. Now you’re a man and you can pay to raise a family.

The degradation and defamation of the term “man” has led to the recent surge in adult boyhood. Adult males whose biceps are as skinny as their wrists. Young adult males who have testosterone levels of 80 year-old men.

What does it mean to be a man? It’s not just about your bicep muscles but they have something to do with it. That is certainly a question for the ages. The answer could be still blowing in the wind.

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