‘Man up’ — the fear that keeps men from acting human

Great reflections on the Richie Incognito bullying scandal from LZ Granderson on how language and interaction with other men help reinforce narrowly defined versions of masculinity.

From the article:

You know those electronic collars that zap dogs that stray outside their electronic fences?

That seems to be the purpose of everyone’s favorite and seemingly innocuous phrase, “man up.”

Just mumbling those two words in a typical guy’s direction delivers a psychological shock that discourages him from venturing outside the restrictions of our traditional view of what it means to be a man.

3 thoughts on “‘Man up’ — the fear that keeps men from acting human

  1. The phrase “man up” is one that I hear very frequently. My 14 year old brother is a full on jock and my dad is his coach for many of the sports he plays. Whenever my brother complains about being sore, tired, or any other emotion my dad tells him to “suck it up and man up.” When he gets hurt during a game I have seen him be told my his teammates and other coaches, “don’t be a pussy and cry just walk it off.” Yet, when a girl cries it is completely acceptable and almost expected to happen simply because a girl is a girl and they are seen as emotional and overly sensitive. In the article it states, “So we do what was done to us — tell little boys not to cry, chastise classmates for being soft-spoken, let a co-worker know that he needs to grow a pair. It’s all fun and games until someone’s feelings get hurt, right?” It is really interesting to me that they say “so we do what was done to us,” because I think that is exactly what it is. From one generation to the next they pass along the phrases and ideas that they were taught when they were children and the expectations of what to do/what not to do and how a a boy should act versus how a girl should act.

  2. I have always noticed while growing up that boys are always told to “man up.” I never really thought anything was wrong with this expression until I was in high school and could not understand why my guy friends hid behind wall; it was as if they were too scared to show any type of emotion. Then I started to think, why are men not suppose to show emotion because honestly it is hard when trying to connect with them on a deeper level. I always grew up around girl friends and girl cousins who were always very open about their feelings and it was hard for me to get use to guys not being as open about their feelings. When boys are told to “man up” harm will come with future friendships and relationships because they do have to hide behind a wall to be accepted by society and seen as a “man.” This article was very interesting and it is so sad that Steven Liu had to take his own life because of bullying; it just makes us think how many other men have to go through this as well?

  3. This article was very fascinating to read because we think that we have progressed to letting younger boys show more emotion while they grow up. Many kids now try both things that are labeled “girly” and “boyish”. These words are used as a negative term for things that are mainly used by a certain gender. This article shows that the usage of “man up” can make other feel inferior and judged if something is not being carried out the way other participants see fit. Many men are held to these high standards or being stronger than women. This event not only makes it harder for the men, but also makes women feel more inferior or weaker. There was an interesting quote brought up in the article about “how men do not dance.” This statement poses an interesting debate because many men athletes take ballet for balance and control in their sport. The gender norms and phrases that are brought up in this article should be addressed more often.

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