Defining Masculinity: The Measure of a Man

The Measure of a Man

What do you think of when you think of a masculine man, a man’s man, a bloke? If you had to give a picture of masculinity, what would you draw?

I’d imagine that big, giant muscles are part of that picture. Maybe a body builder. In your mind, you probably even see him flexing. He’s probably a little sweaty because, well, if he has muscles, he probably works out a lot. He’s probably even lifting weights as we imagine him.

A picture might pop into your head of a successful businessman. Definitely the broad-shouldered kind. He works hard, so he is carrying a suitcase as you imagine him, probably in a hurry because there is just so work to be done. He is a hard worker and that is why he is successful. A real man.

Do you maybe think of a farmer? He has red skin and beads of sweat hanging on his forehead underneath his hat. He works from sun up to sun down, taking care of his crop. He lives a simple life and he lives off of the earth. That is a man worth admiring.

We see a lot of different pictures when we think of what it means to be a man. When we think of masculinity, there is quite a bit that springs to mind. And that picture changes a little bit depending on where we live and what we think is important in life.

History and culture tell us a lot about masculinity. But, what do we tell ourselves about it?

Here are some questions to consider: Post-feminism, is there a re-defining of man that needs to take place? If women are different and powerful, then what are men? Is duality even necessary apart from body parts? Or do we still need to have polarity between what it means to be male/female simply because we are human and like to categorize things?

I don’t want to answer these because I don’t know the answer. But, when I think of a masculine man, I think of my husband – not because he climbs trees and can shoot a turkey, though those things contribute to it. He is a man because he is loyal and compassionate. He cares about people and he cares about nature. He is the best kind of man.

I think about my Papa, my dad, my brother, my uncles, and even my cousins. They can smoke a mean brisket, run marathons, and lead churches. But when life has not gone their way, I have seen integrity and humility flow out of them, gently paced. The same way my dad and brother run marathons is the same way they live their lives. All the men in my family are genuine “real” men in my mind.

So back to the first question: What comes to mind when you think of a real man?

And a second question: What really makes a man?

If you are male and reading this, what kind of man are you? What kind of man do you want to become?

See y’all on Monday as we look at what some of the greatest men in history had to say about masculinity. Have a great weekend!

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