People who have never had to deal with masculine identity issues usually think this is silly, but I have found that practicing some behaviors that are typically associated with men has helped strengthen my male self-image. PLEASE ADD TO THE LIST---THE MORE IDEAS WE CAN GET GOING, THE BETTER---but here is a "Starter List" of things any guy can do to get some male-typical habits going:
1. carry a pocket knife
2. pee standing up
3. sleep in your undershorts
4. start wearing ball caps more often
5. get a camo jacket
6. wear tee shirts with hunting or fishing scenes
7. shave with a wet razor
8. buy a pick up truck (big purchase, but well-worth it)
9. pick up the hunting/fishing magazines at the barber shop
10. learn to spit, and do it regularly when outside
These ideas may seem goofey to you--but getting comfortable with masculine mannerisms is a challenge and takes practice for some. What other masculine habits do the rest of you think are good ones to emulate?
Thanks for kicking this off, Todd. Though I think your list is a little US-centric.
1. Not always, the UK is mad about knife crime right now. I read of someone being charged over a Swiss army knife in their briefcase. If you have good reason for carrying a knife, e.g. on a camping trip, and you're not a cock about it, you'll probably be ok, but at the moment carrying a knife at all times is simply unwise.
2. Naturally. And I'd like to add that one of the greatest pleasures in life is peeing in the great out doors!
3. Sleep naked, thanks very much.
4. I do have some baseball caps - bought when I was living in the US - but here in the UK these are not seen as manly.
5. US-centric perhaps. Here in the UK, I'd associate a camo jackets with army-wannabe nutjobs or hiphop terrorists.
6. There's nothing manly about pictures on a tee shirt.
8. US-centric. Owning a proper Land Rover at some point in a man's life might equate. You know how manly the S.A.S. are? Well, in the old days, they used to drive pink land rovers, though I admit it's a mental adjustment to think of a pink car as butch.
9. Certainly if you have an interest in hunting/fishing. But you might be more interested in cars?
10. Unless you mean spit regularly when in the wilderness, I have to disagree. Being manly and being uncouth are not the same thing at all.
Maybe that's just not your thing, but dressing in rugged clothing or in stereotypically masculine clothing isn't trying to be a "macho-man"--it's simply making a public statement of masculine identity.
Good point, except several of the items you mention are not universally stereotypical of masculinity. Believe me, if you drive a pickup truck in England while wearing a camo jacket, tee shirt (with a hunting scene), and baseball cap, with a knife in your pocket; you will not be seen as a paragon of masculinity, so much as a probable hooligan.
What I'm actually interested in is knowing what habits, mannerisms, or behaviors you could add to the list rather than a debate as to what's already there.
Fair point. Here's seven from me, broad ideas in the hope of making them more universal.
1. Get out into the wilderness when you can. Hard in the UK, but still possible.
2. Spend some regular quality time in all-male company.
3. Play a team sport, or otherwise be part of a team activity involving interdependence for success.
4. Be strong. Not necessarily physically but emotionally and spiritually. A real man is a rock on whom others can rely in times of crisis.
The next three are a set:
5. Know your limitations. Trying to fix your gas cooker without knowing what you're doing isn't manly, it's foolhardy and suicidal. Possibly murderous too.
6. Bearing #5 in mind, practice self-reliance. If a job needs doing a man does it himself, unless it's beyond him.
7. Be prepared; an attitude to life that goes hand in hand with #6. If a man needs to employ someone else to do something more than once, he makes an informed decision about whether or not to acquire the knowledge or skills himself.
When I think of my dad, uncles, and other masculine influences on my life, I think of the following traits:
1) A vigorous man knows the term “man” is not just a noun, it’s a verb. A man will not shy away from work and perform that work, large or small, to the best of their abilities. If they fail, they learn from it and move on.
2) An intelligent man knows his limits and seeks to broaden his knowledge and abilities. He is not opposed to seeking help when necessary.
3) A wise man knows that he knows very little if anything and therefor seeks wisdom.
3) A strong man has the courage to do and promote good, eschew evil in their own thoughts and actions, and accept the duty to fight evil when judged necessary.
4) A practical man accepts that sometimes he has to do things he doesn’t like to do.
5) A dutiful man accepts and is committed to his responsibilities.
6) A goal oriented man gives himself a purpose and strives towards it using his values as his compass.
7) Successful men can cope with life and what it throws at them without complaining too much except to blow of steam in order to help them persist.
8) Men who are not victims don’t just wish things were different or better, they make things different or better.
9) Brave men can be afraid, but they acknowledge their fears and do not let them adversely affect their actions or responsibilities.
I have to second what Will said: “What is important is not the particular habits, but the attitude with them. . .”
It seems a man is not defined by the sum of his habits, the clothes he wears, or the type of material goods he owns. Those trappings taken ALONE only serve to pigeonhole him into a stereotype. Instead the habits, clothes, and material goods serve as tools by which a man does whatever it is he must do to cope with life successfully the best way he knows how.
As for the material goods, pocket knives, or no pocket knives, trucks, cars, t-shirts with a hunting motif, suites and ties, etc., are all just tools useful to the success of various men, in various roles, in various environments, according to their specific cultural, socio-economic pressures, and peer groups. If these tools used by another are not your own tools and they are not evil, it is disrespectful, narrow minded, bigoted, and in bad taste to judge them or the men using them.
Furthermore, these habits are not so exclusive to gender as they are given credit. I know women who can shoot ten point bucks and wear those t-shirts with a hunting motif and drive trucks with the same pride as men. I know other women who are successful in business and look just fine in a business suite and drive BMW’s. So don’t fall for slick marketing thinking you will be more of a manly man simply by accruing a few stereotypical items or habits.
I also know women who meet all 9 points I listed above and expect their man to as well.
In closing, to be a man, there is really only one item on the list. You need to be male. It is a sometimes fickle and highly subjective matter of shifting social opinion that is most decidedly and finally declared after your death that determines if you were a good at it or not.
WOW---I never really thought that this thread would develop into such an interesting collection of ideas! Seriously, I put my first post up almost as an inquiry---I knew what I kind of thought about some things, but didn't quite know where this was going. Looking over everybody's responses has given me LOTS to think about, and I've come up with a few more thoughts that I'd like to share:
There is no article of clothing, no vehicle, and no particular habit that, in and of itself, is going to "make a man" out of you---HOWEVER, one big facet of the journey towards a masculine self-concept is identifying with and embracing the masculine world, and that includes traits and habits that seem masculine to YOU. And what some of you said is quite right--certain specifics of this DO change from place to place and from situation to situation---but what YOU PERSONALLY perceive as masculine is something you'll increase your masculine self-concept by embracing.
Many guys who have had (or are still struggling against) a weak masculine self concept have, either consciously or subconsciously, avoided activities, and pursuits (and even clothing and personal habits) that honestly seem to be part of a man's world to them, but that they feel self-coscious or inadequate in. Why not try them? I made a point of leaving known vices and self-destructive behaviors off my list, as it is just as important to choose what kind of man you are going to be as it is to embrace masculinity itself. But I think we should be open to trying some new things, just as part of our growth as men.
Thank you to all who added to my list---and I hope to see a lot more items as we go along. I'm getting A LOT from this discussion---not the least of which are a few more things to make a point of trying out. Hey, growth gets you out of your comfort zone---but it can be fun, too.
You see, I think this is really true. Men are too quick, I think, to say, "You can be a real man without doing X, so if you don't like X, don't do it." This is OK sometimes, but if you don't like X because it's outside your comfort zone, well, manliness doesn't consist of never doing anything uncomfortable!
I cringe when I think of the quiet contempt I used to have for sports. I still don't like them much, but now I realize it's because I'm afraid I'll suck at them -- so maybe it's time to give them a try!
I almost made a new thread for this, but I think it's better here. A comment about pretend manliness: it looks manly, but it misses the core of what manliness is.
For me, it's anything that is struggle-free, or helps me avoid fear rather than face it. I'm not saying that barbecueing, wearing a hat, growing a beard or having a cool Jeep are bad things; far from it! I *am* saying that these are just fun things on the side.
I guess I'm just saying that if it's easy, sure, do it, but also do something else. Buy your cool clothes, but also do something that gets you sweaty. Carry the tools, but also learn to use them. Which reminds me:
23. Buy tools.
24. Learn to use them.
25. Do something that involves sweating (and not just the sauna).
May I add these to the list? I didn't come up with them on my own. They are lifted right out of the "Boy Scouts Handbook", and that list goes something like this: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obediant, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.
Oh, and of course, please remember to always be prepared.
NOW I GET IT! Okay, guys, it's been several months since I first put up the "masculine habits" list. A lot of the things I put up were debated, and a lot of you added your own ideas to the list. I have mulled it over a few times to see if I could find a common denominator---and underlying concept that would bring all the ideas together---and I had a "Eureka" moment tonight about the subject, and here it is: Whatever we associate in our minds with greater masculine self-concept (and obviously, this varies from place to place and person to person), when we do these things in the presence of other men, we're making a statement--both to ourselves and to other men---that we are identifying with their world. And when we do whatever seems masculine to us privately, we're making a statement to ourselves that we are identifying with the masculine gender. Both are good. It really doesn't matter what the behavior is, it's the identity statement we're making that makes the difference.