What Makes a Man Manly?
What Makes a Man Manly? When I think of a man being manly, what do I see? I imagine a man who possesses certain characteristics like honesty, trust, and confidence. Additionally, he is a strong role model for his wife and children, and he is a provider for his family.
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With these ideas in mind, I examined T. V. show depiction of men. I explore the characteristics of a manly man from the 1900 to 2000 through the eyes of television sitcom shows. I was curious about the comparison. How did men compare and contrast in the 1900 to men in the year 2000?
Let’s take a good look at the father in Little House on The Prairie which was centered in the mid 1935’s. He was a farmer with strong religious values. He took care of his family by working a farm and doing moderate mill work on off seasons. He took pride in being a father and provider for his family. They didn’t have much, but he based his life on love, God and providing his family with the basic needs to survive. He had very limited education, but I remember in every episode after the family would all sit down to eat; he would read them a passage from a book or out of the bible and then smoke his pipe and go to bed.
I see his manly characteristics as a provider, a godly man, and a strong role model that every member of the family respected and looked up to. The sitcom Leave it to Beaver was centered on a 1950’s family. The father wore a three piece suit, went to a nine to five job every day to sit behind a desk. He was a very honest and trust worthy man who took pride in being a family man. He was a very religious man who took his family to church every Sunday. He used a lot of wisdom. He allowed his children to make mistakes, and he taught them to solve their own problems with a little guidance from him.
I remember seeing in all the episodes the father would come home, get his newspaper, sit in his special chair, smoke his pipe and read his paper until dinner was done. Although the times of the programs were vastly different, something’s about these men as men remain the same. To compare the characteristics of both fathers they both possessed honesty, integrity, and pride. They were both providers. Although their jobs were different, one was a farmer that did hard labor and the other sat behind a desk and worked nine to five. They still took care of their families financially.
They instilled morals and values, by providing fatherly advice, and a strong religious background. From 1935 to the 1950’s all the manly characteristics remained the same. Their job classification changed and they became a more modern type of man maintaining the honesty, integrity, pride and family values. I think every man was expected to smoke a pipe. I guess that made them feel and look like a man. In trying to understanding what makes a man manly, I read an article that describes the seven pillars of what is considered to be manliness. The seven pillar characteristics of a manly man are physical, functional, sexual, emotional, intellectual, interpersonal, and distinctive. ” The article stated that if you want to be truly considered a manly man, you need to try to strive to possess these characteristics. (Phoenix) When we think physical, we usually look at the overall appearance of a man and we expect to see large muscles to consider him physically strong. Functional is being a provider. A manly man must function as the head of his house and be able to contribute to his family financially. A strong father figure is considered manly.
A sexual man is considered bold, aggressive and experienced rather married or single. An emotional man can remain calm in any given situation and still remain strong. An intellectual man is logical, rational, objective and practical. An interpersonal man is self-satisfied and does not need the approval of others. (Phoenix) In reading another article I found a woman’s point of view on how women see the manly man. A woman thinks a man should have confidence and be honest. He should possess a sense of humor. Women love a good smelling man. Women consider a man that exercises and works out as manly.
Appearance to her is looking clean and neat as well as being well groomed. A real man respects and listens to what a woman says or feels about certain circumstances, whether he agrees or disagrees. Having some form of sensitivity whether small or large carries a lot of weight with a woman. A goal orientated man who has a career, who is going places and is attractive is considered manly to a certain kind of a woman. Some women consider making six figures as making a lot of money. Is that a very important characteristic in a man? A man is measured by the size of his pay check and how he provides for her. Chiarella) My next article shows the views of a man and what he has seen in other men throughout his life. He begins by saying he has no knowledge of what a man is, but he has paid close attention and learned many of these characteristics from watching other men. The author says a man must have balls, in other words he must be able and willing to protect his family in every way: spiritually, physically and financially. A man is considered a problem solver, he must be able to handle any given situation or circumstance. He must be emotionally strong and the back bone of his family.
We never see a man as someone that would cry, although a man with a sensitive side is accepted. This is not considered manly from a man point of view. An intelligent well-educated man is considered manly. He keeps himself current with all the latest news and events of the world. He is always willing to learn and explore new ideas. Sex is a big part of the male ego. We can also see sexual as how he dresses, the cologne he wears, or how he carries his self-confidence. (Joel) When reading the three articles, the authors all gave certain characteristics they considered important for the manly man to have.
What stands out to me is that all men are seen as providers and a role model for his family. Being an honest trust worthy man is considered manly to me. Confidence in who he is and where he is going says a lot about a man. I like a manly man who can express and communicate his feelings. The number one characteristic of a man for me is loyalty. An article I read briefly describes what is loyalty? ”Loyalty basically describes who a man is and who he says he is, and that surrounds his integrity. ” For years we have distinguished loyalty, trust and a man’s worth. Loyalty is still considered by some people to be the foundation of a man’s character, but over the year’s loyalty has slowly depleted, and a man’s word has become null and void. ” (McKay) Is loyalty that has loopholes even loyalty at all? Many men misunderstand loyalty as dependent on a tit for tat relationship. They see their relationship as a scale; as long as both sides remain balanced, they remain loyal. But as soon as the scale tips unfavorably to where they are sacrificing more than they are getting in return, they feel justified in breaking their loyalty. But true loyalty is not a function of reciprocity. Royce) Today loyalty has been miss-represented because men don’t do what they say and their word is less counted on. A man’s word back in the 1920’s was considered a guarantee that if he said he would do something it was good as done. Back in the 1920’s a man could go into a store and purchase equipment, supplies and food just using his word as payment, until he harvested his crops. Every person back in the 1920’s conducted business in this way. Over time men have strayed away from this standard of living. Today in 2011, a man’s credit score tells a lot about a man’s character and his loyalty to pay his debts.
A man breaks his word like its nothing or it doesn’t even matter to him. He doesn’t consider his word as not being important. I assume it’s because most families from the 1980’s to 2011 hasn’t had the presence of a strong manly role model in the home to teach them or set a pattern of standards for young men to follow and look up to. I have seen a lot of single parent homes where woman have been both mother and father. Young men have no manly figures in the home to teach them how to be a man. He only sees what other people do and how to imitate a man. An author wrote, “Loyalty most born from your own choice and free will.
It cannot be forced upon you by another person or organization. Loyalty must be chosen. ” (McKay) I didn’t have a manly man in my home, but I had a grandfather. He set a pattern of standards that his children followed. My grandfather was a provider for his family. He was an honest trust worthy man, who took care of his wife and children. He taught his 3 sons to work hard and pay their bills on time. He was a preacher and tried to instill strong religious values in his family. I remember him always telling them to go to school, work hard, get a good education and always keep a good name. A good name can take you a long way in life. was teaching his family integrity. Something I believe most families lack today. I asked my husband, what do you consider a manly man? He stated, “A manly man must be a strong sensitive man who puts his family first. He must possess confidence, integrity, honesty, and loyalty. ” His answers are similar to the answers I’ve gotten from my reading. We have totally gotten away from what was important back in the 1920’s. In the 1920’s a man whole idea and desire was being a provider and taking care of his family. They may not have had a lot to call their own, but was considered wealthy to have a large family.
The manly man worked while his wife stayed home and cared for the children and tended to the home. He was considered to be disciplined and had control of his destiny. Today it’s what I drive, what I wear, where I live and how much money I make. In conclusion, a man from the 1920’s had totally different views and values then a man in 2011. I think it’s up to each individual person to determine what they consider to be a manly man. When we think manly, we see a man that is; a family provider, honesty, trust worthy, loyal, caring, has integrity and a spiritual background.
Woman and men all have different views on what they see as the manly man. Again I believe it’s a matter of choice and what you see as an important characteristic of a man. I believe there is no right or wrong answer to the question, what is a manly man? Our fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers have in some way laid a foundation and set examples for men to follow. Whether or not a man today follows these examples is a matter of choice and free will. Although, I must say, there is much to desire of a man who provides for his family, portrays strong characteristic of honesty, integrity and sensitivity.