So full disclosure, I’ve definitely been guilty of telling friends to “man up” before but it was always meant in jest. The problem was that when people jokingly (or seriously) told me to “man up”, I found myself changing certain behaviours or hiding my emotions to try to be a blokey-bloke – I’m definitely not a blokey-bloke by any stretch so safe to say that shit was rough.
The problem is that when we start holding our mates up to this imaginary standard of what it takes to be a man, guys who don’t necessarily fit into that box feel like they’re not a ~true-blue Aussie~ and so they start acting the way others think they should act. This is why The Line has been working to change the narrative and shake up this old-school idea of what being a man is.
TL;DR: Guys can show displays of emotion or have moments of vulnerability and still be a guy. There’s no right or wrong way to dude it up, just do whatever ya want.
I racked my brain and came up with a bunch of times where I, or one of my friends, told someone to “man up” and why the hell we did it.
Saying “Man Up” If Guys Show Zero Interest In Sport
Translation: I find that people hold sport in a particularly high regard than other activities, careers or hobbies. So if someone finds your indifference to footy or soccer weird, it’s probs ‘cos they think the world revolves around sport – which, for guys who aren’t into sport, isn’t the case.
Appropriate response: Sport definitely isn’t for everyone. No one’s forcing you to be into astrophysics or Drake‘s back-catalogue, so who cares if they’d rather do something else with their time?
Telling Someone To “Man Up” When They Have A Problem
Translation: Guys are often taught that copping it on the chin was the only way to fly – because men are supposed to be headstrong, independent problem-solvers who don’t need any help, right? Nah.
Appropriate response: Suggest that the person handles the situation to the best of their abilities. If you’re a decent person, you’ll help them out with the problem. Teamwork, y’all. Everyone gets sad or stressed or in need of a lil’ lovin’, that’s just being human.
Using The Phrase “Man Up” When A Friend Starts Opening Up
Translation: This is how that phrase comes across – “I value your friendship but, like, I don’t value it enough to have the uncomfortable chat about feelings. Let’s just stick to what we know best, sitting in silence and occasionally making eye contact. Real friends keep it all bottled up and stay silent.”
Appropriate response: Listen to your friend, pal. It probably took a lot of courage for them to open up that line of dialogue in the first place, don’t be a dick.
Regardless of the context or the intentions behind using the phrase “man up”, it continues to fuel the idea that there’s something inferior or weaker about being anything other than a strong, emotionless man. While guys may find it easier to shrug it off, the more we challenge that notion, the more comfortable we’ll feel to behave in a manner that’s true to ourselves, and not in a way that serves other people’s perceptions.
This piece was originally published on Pedestrian TV.