THOUGHT PORN: [MAN-UP!]

THOUGHTS

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“Man-Up!”, a phrase i’ve heard so often. But what does this really mean?…

To many, the term “Man-Up”, is a frivolous phrase; it’s thrown around carelessly as if it holds no weight. It is justified and accepted without question.

Yet I have felt the force of this phrase many a time.

I was most commonly told to “Man-Up” in secondary school. A volatile environment in which “Manning Up” is seen as a necessary survival skill. You could even earn desirable yet difficulty attainable “Man Points” if you “Manned Up” enough and performed or completed particularly “Mannish” tasks or actions by whichever peers were higher up the food chain than you.

When I underwent physical abuse I was told to “Man-Up” by both teachers and peers. The case was the same if I was sad about this abuse or felt any sort of emotion really. Particularly ones that had any sort of loving basis such as care or empathy for someone less fortunate.

I was even told to “Man-Up” around my hobbies and interests. My desires to dance and create art were deemed as not “Man” enough and were directly labelled with connotations of inadequacy and wrongness.

Through much discussion recently with both strangers and friends it appears that I am not the only one who has suffered the weight of Man-Up and has found a keen disliking of this seemingly innocent phrase.

Claire Meadows from “After Nyne” magazine says:

“The wide-spread acceptance of the term ‘man-up’ is extremely problematic” says After Nyne Magazine’s Claire Meadows, “Its very use is indicative of a failure to engage with a whole range of issues behind the term. It exposes us to a landmine-ridden wasteland of lazy, and offensive, gender assumptions that are damaging to all of us. There’s a lot of educating to be done in terms of accepting that all levels of experience are relevant, and vital. That a different range of feelings are relevant and vital. No-one is lesser for exploring their feelings. There is absolutely no shame in at all. For one thing, we need to tackle a popular culture that enshrines ‘typical masculinity’ as an aim, and promotes that ‘girly feelings’ be castigated. Whether it’s in advertising, entertainment, print media/journalism – if you see it, challenge it. On a basic level, be brave enough to challenge and educate your friends and colleagues.”

From my experience what we are really saying when we say “Man-Up” is “Don’t have feelings” or “Ignore your feelings”, even though this may cause mental and physical harm to yourself or another in the long run. It is easier to just block things out, pretend the problem doesn’t exist and justify it with a phrase that makes the presumption that a man is only man enough if he is emotionally unavailable or cold.

Nowhere in the definition of “Man” is there anything that says a Man must possess these traits to be “enough” of a Human.

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…and even in the term Masculinity there is no direct link to the terms: “Emotionally inept” or “Cold”.

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There is however, reference to the term “Machismo” which is “an over-emphasised pride in masculinity and power (often associated with a disregard for consequences and responsibility)”.

If machismo is a manly trait then perhaps we as humans should consider the impact we have when we tell someone to “Man-Up”.

It seems that in a heteronormative world this is generally not an issue. Often the man can easily conform to these “Masculine” traits. And it’s socially acceptable for women to conform to feminine traits. But is this really healthy for the mental wealth of a person? What if the “Straight” man needs to feel an emotion in order to move forward. Should they “Man-Up” and remain blocked in order to please the term and the conforms of modern society?

And what happens in a Queer world? A world in which the confines of Man and Woman don’t fit so well. Lesbians, Gays, Bi-sexuals, Transgendered people, Agendered people and those undecided and with no desire or need to make a decision make up a large proportion of the human race. Are we to deem all of these people as inadequate because they do not all conform to societies typically assigned traits of masculinity and femininity?

Consider, also, over time that these ideals change and that what was once considered masculine years ago is now considered feminine, such as the 19th century Dandy. Physical appearance has for so long now has been the priority of women and not the man. Although this appears to have gone full circle as we accept men as metrosexual. Yet we still criticise overly flamboyant people for being “Too Gay” or “Too Camp”.

As there is no legitimate board of any higher powers deciding these things it seems unreasonable to be expected to abide by them. And I most certainly won’t.

There may be times at which it serves us as humans to “Man-Up”, perhaps it will ease the flow of a situation and the payoff is higher than the cost. There are of course instances in which it can help us to focus on the task in hand and get it done without letting emotions “get in the way”.

However, often our emotions are necessary in helping us to make informed decisions from the soul and ultimately lead us into happier and healthier lives. If we stop listening to our emotions entirely then we become corrupted by all the influences of the outside world with no feelings or thoughts of our own. We become merely vessels of mass views with no individuality and Individuality is part of what defines us as Humans! (See above).

In conclusion it seems counterproductive and unhealthy to expect everyone to “Man-Up”, and demanding that someone does so is often NOT the most loving decision. It is a quick fix. A defensive phrase thrown around as a reaction to personal and societal fear or insecurity.

If it makes you uncomfortable that someone is emotional then perhaps it’s worth looking at why it makes you so uncomfortable for people to openly experience emotions.

In the same way that when I used to tell people to “Man-Up”, it has caused me to look at why I’m uncomfortable with using the phrase “Man-Up” and the effects it has on individuals and groups.

I am “enough” as a human being. I was born into the world and I am an individual and if my traits are not considered up to the current standard of “Man”, in modern society then I do not wish to be considered a “Man”, as it does me more damage than good.

I am happy to continue living with my penis. I enjoy sexual relations with other scientifically defined men. But I do not wish to be defined as a typical “Man” if this definition causes unnecessary harm.

Think about the harm you may be causing someone by telling them to “Man-Up”. Perhaps instead ask them how they are feeling and is there anything you can do to help. The answer may be that you just need to allow that person to experience their emotion so that, like in nature, they can unblock and begin to flow again.

…Please feel free to share your thoughts below on what “Man-Up” means to you and how it affects you if it does at all.

written by Ted Rogers “Artpornblog”.

xXx

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