In participating in different men’s groups I get to see and experience men being men. Fighting, arguing, posturing, uplifting and supporting each other.
One aspect of working with men and being around men in this way has illustrated a common question.
“What makes a man a man?”
The answers range from ultra-traditional, “men hunt, protect, and provide,” to more evolved modern definitions of manliness such as, “men are strong, compassionate, and in touch with their feminine sides.
I can feel the eyes rolling right about now.
So what is it that makes a man?
Is it the ability to protect and provide, being able to fix a flat tire, or survive in the wild? Maybe it's how well a man can fight or whether he hunts, or not.
Ah, it must be how big his… beard is. Dirty minded bastards!
Biologically speaking, a man is a human that has a certain set of chromosomes that equate to a penis and testicles. That view is being challenged by our ever evolving society but for simplicity's sake, we're following the traditionally defined biological model.
The definition of am man is just as much about any of the above, as it is about what your culture and programming says a man is.
All our definitions begin in language. Our understanding and programming of the world is based on language, much the way a computer program is a certain kind of language which provides the computer the instructions it needs to perform its functions.
It is from our cultural language that our belief as to what makes man is defined.
So if language defines what a man is, how do we define a man at The Vital Guide?
First and foremost a man is infinite potential.
With your language, which gives rise to your actions, you create yourself every day. That means that with each and every moment you can define and re-define yourself as you see fit.
This means that you don’t have to fit into a common mold, but if you choose to, you can.
To say that a man is this or that, makes anyone that doesn’t fit that mold not a man. Making that person wrong. We think this is bullshit.
You may not agree with that man’s way of being in the world but they are still a man nonetheless.
Sure, we think a man should have some basic skills:
- knowing how to change a tire
- some fundamental self-defense knowledge
- the ability to start a fire if he needed to
- and, yes a man should know how to cook
But to say someone isn’t a man because they can’t do any of the above or some other “manly” things seems pretty dehumanizing.
That tech guy may not be able to change the oil in his car but he makes his contribution by providing some of the modern tools that you probably rely on today.
We’re all men in one way or another.
All of life exists on a spectrum and manhood is no different. You’re always going to have the extremes and everything in between. Whether we prefer a certain type of attribute over another is an entirely subjective experience.
Having said that, we wrote an article and created a downloadable pdf about our criteria for being a balanced-healthy male. You can read that here.
Let us know your thoughts. What makes a man where you come from?