What is it to be a man?


Well, that’s the first week in the new job, in the bag. So far, so good, which makes for a very nice change. Sure, the pace is a little more frantic, but there’s more doing than to-ing & fro-ing, which, for me at least, is a good thing. Fingers crossed the good luck continues for a little longer.

Thursday was my bi-monthly big night out and despite leaving a little later than usual, the traffic pixies were with me and I wasn’t too late arriving. I caught up with friends and conversation ranged from how people are doing, to another research group request and a question around ‘how do blokes behave?’ Well, perhaps the blokes at Chams are not the best source of advice on the latter. 🙂

Typical bloke’s night out at Chams
Pic by Val.

How do regular men behave? Well, as Alison pointed out, there are stereotypical behaviours that some blokes do, but that’s more a pastiche, rather than an accurate description of what it is to be a man. As far as I know, most of the menfolk in my family and my workmates, aren’t trans; and while there is the occasional episode of drinking, very mild laddishness and occasional roving eye; everyone is much more than just a bunch of lazy pin-the-tag-on-the-geezer.

My father-in-law loves watching sport and does a bit of gardening to stop the back of the house looking like a jungle. My Dad doesn’t watch any sport and is a keen gardener. Both of them love reading, eating out and gadgets.

My workmates are IT folk, so there’s an element of gadgetry, tinkering with technology, but that’s not their main characteristics. They all have a very good sense of humour (I know, IT folk eh? :-P), two love cooking, one jogging, one reading, one very heavy metal and another football and dog walking.

Even if I reverse right back and try and bunch them into a Venn diagram of generic tags, it’s very tricky. I mean, and if you forgive a reiteration of my glib comment about not being the best example of a bloke, what is it to be male in today’s world? We’re meant to be gentlemen, at least, if you’re British. I’d say if my Dad taught me just one thing, it’s that manners and politeness cost nothing.

I’ve read that men are supposed to be more caring. Take a look at the whole New Man media hype in the 90s and then the more appearance focused sibling, the Metrosexual, about a decade later. I’m not sure about either label: to me it means I’ve got a little more social acceptance to cry during kids films and not be ribbed for using an exfoliator and moisturising. 🙂

I’ve heard that men are angrier than women and maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s more a case that men feel they can express their anger more freely than women. I don’t know. I don’t work closely enough with a number of women to make a call on that. Maybe we’re all people when it comes down to it and the labels we stick on ourselves, or that are stuck to us, are just that. Labels that will come off in the wash, or, like clothes, change when we get home, or go out.

Whichever way you want to be, stay safe. 🙂

Take care,


  1. What is it to be a man? I've no idea, but there's an old feminist slogan which could be modified here… "If being a man is natural, stop telling me how to do it." 😉

    1. Heh, that slogan reminds me of a contradiction I'd long noticed in conservative attitudes towards traditional gender roles: they're something that come totally naturally to 99.99% of each gender, AND need to be reinforced with massive amounts of social pressure!

  2. What is it to be a man? Well, there's a deep question! I think trying to define that is like trying to define anything that appears simple on the surface: a lot harder than it first looks! Mind you, I've tried answering that question often enough myself – the trouble is, for every stereotypically manly attribute you come up with, there's a host of women who possess that attribute themselves, and a host of men who don't (and let's not complicate matters further by looking at how radically stereotypes of masculinity have changed over the centuries)! In the end, though, I can really only think of two ways of defining manliness that I consider unhealthy – 1) that it's the absence of femininity (a horribly limiting way to define it, and one that I'm sure has caused a lot of needless anxiety and suffering); and, closely related, 2) that's it's something inherently insecure that can be revoked by one's peers at any moment (ie the whole "taking away one's man card" nonsense).

    Re the whole New Man phenomenon of the '90s – I remember that! I recall being quite skeptical about it at the time, though, largely because it all seemed very superficial – while you might've been told you could express the more "feminine" aspects of your personality, there were usually so many strings attached it usually wasn't worth the bother eg "You can cry, but only if it's over something really sad, and only if the total number of tears you shed is no more than half-a-dozen, and only if you give your significant other at least three weeks' notice, so she can make plans to be somewhere else when you turn on the waterworks (because women still find men who cry weird and icky and gross). Otherwise have at it! Isn't it great to be living in such an enlightened and liberating age?" Yeah… I also used to get really annoyed at how, so often, "expressing your feminine side" seemed to really just mean "acting like a decent human being." Not really much comfort to genuinely feminine guys, and actually pretty insulting to masculine guys when you think about it!

    1. Maybe it's all tosh. Perhaps we should just be ourselves and be excellent to each other 🙂

      I shall now sit back and wait for the gender politics flamewar to begin. 😉

  3. Is there a difference ? To some people a man should got out bring home the bacon, see footie on a Saturday, drink to much and spend all day sunday recoverying. To other he should simply be there, ready to fix any problems. As long as people are happy anything is fine by me

    1. I think aiming for happiness, isn't a bad goal at all. Subject to inflicting misery on others, to achieve it.

      For a few years, the Ever Lovely Mrs J earned more than I did, and by a good six grand or so. She left that job as it was making her very unhappy, and I think you spend enough of your life at work. Why be a slave to it, if you can tighten your belt and walk away? So, she did.

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