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When She Says Man Up, She Has No Idea What She’s Talking About

I know some strong women.

Hard women, who put up with absolutely nothing.

These women call out their male friends for falling for another girl all quick, or roll their eyes whenever they hear a man is hurt over something another woman did. They are quick to tell men to man up and quit crying. A man gets sensitive over something a woman won’t get sensitive about, and she tells him there’s no need for all the sensitivity; starts bringing up all the ways a woman has it harder than a man and if she’s okay, he should be too.

She’ll say, “Man up.” The next time she says that, this will be my response…”Shut up.”

About a month ago, I tweeted out the following:

Gotta love how girls crack jokes on men who cry like girls but then turn around and cry when men act like men.

I have always said if a woman understood how difficult it is for a man to get to a place where he starts showing his feelings, she would never discredit him for doing so. A lot of men don’t have it in their DNA to wear their heart on their sleeves, so when we do, women should either try to help us out or step aside and let us figure out the problem ourselves. Any efforts short of those two should be saved for a later time when she and he can look back on the moment and laugh about it.

Coming from me, this may sound like some sort of defense. Anyone who has read this blog long enough knows I have no problem sharing my feelings on anything. I have no problem admitting when I have cried. I have no problem saying the last time I cried won’t be the last time I cry. I have no problem saying even if I hurt someone, I hurt myself in the process. None of this is because I want to throw some pity party. All of it is because I want women to understand not all men are stone cold, emotionally inept individuals who only get passionate about things like the playoffs.

Every time I pour my hear out, there’s always one comment from some woman who says something like, “Oh man up,” and I’m pretty sure she has absolutely, positively no idea what manning up is really about. But this isn’t for those commentators. This is for the women those commentators represent; the type of women who think they’re being critical but are only being comical.

I know some women would like to think they know what a real man is, but I’m pretty sure they either get their idea from television and the movies, or they get it from the men in their families, which is legit. A woman who wants a man like her father or uncles or brothers should go out and get that, especially if there are men out there who want women like their mothers, but I digress…

What this really is about is women who think they know what it is to man up and their narrow, dogmatic schemes of manhood. A man shouldn’t cry here, and a man should know exactly what to do there. All this nonsense makes me want to ask some women to throw me their copy of “Man Laws” and match it up with mine because sometimes I swear these women have an outdated version.

First we should act like a man. Then we should act like a grown man. I’m falling for none of it anymore. There are some blanket statements I have made in past posts about all women that may not apply to all women, but there is one blanket statement I can make about women that I know I am absolutely right about.

No woman knows what it’s like to be a man, not one has the faintest clue.

When a woman starts spouting off at the mouth about how a man wasn’t acting like a man and wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do as a man I get this sudden urge to challenge her to an arm wrestling match. She thinks because she plays with the big boys every now and then, she knows what it’s like to be a big boy. Little girl, please. If you’re one of those women who really think you’re more of a man than the next man, then by all means move on to the next man because what you really want is a man who’s right for you, not more of a man.

No real man will let another man tell him how to be a man, so he for damn sure won’t let a woman do it either. I was raised by a man from the old school, but I spent my whole life trying to disprove his old school notions of manhood. I didn’t think, and I still don’t think, there’s only one way for a man to be. I think there’s the man that I am and then there’s the man other men are, and if a woman wants to date me she needs to understand it is a wholly unique version of masculinity not made in the mold of her father, brother, uncle, best friend or Don Draper.

To me, telling a man to man up is like telling a woman to woman down, and start only doing things like cook or clean or both at the same time. And that doesn’t sound so 2010, does it?

As far as I’m concerned, a real man stays true to himself, his feelings, his beliefs, and his principles, and to man up is to never fall back on any of those things. If a woman can’t understand that, then oh well, looks like I was probably too much man for her.

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  • Keia

    spoken like a real man, kudos.

  • K_dot_re

    Another one of those posts that proves common sense ain’t common. I’ve always thought (known) how absurd it was for women to tell men “man up”, as if they could have any valid frame of reference. Since I’ve heard women say it to men so much, though, I figured maybe they sprout a phallus once a year in order to validate the notion. *shrug*.

    Anyway, good hit, Jozen, for calling it out.

  • Yesi Jukebox

    I am on your side with this post. It gets me a little upset when women say “a man isn’t supposed to do that” or “a man is supposed to act like this” when she’s probably the one getting played by a man who isn’t really acting like a man more like a little boy. Everyone is different and people need to get over this “supposed to be” bullsh*t.

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  • DK

    ” I think there’s the man that I am and then there’s the man other men are, and if a woman wants to date me she needs to understand it is a wholly unique version of masculinity not made in the mold of her father, brother, uncle, best friend or Don Draper.”

    Powerful and True.

    Well said man!

  • Jae

    Great post – I agree with you entirely! I prefer to date a man who is man enough to express his feelings openly. Open expression (whether it comes in the form of crying or not) is healthy for him and for our relationship.

  • marvelous

    oh boy!!! Jozen, i not sure i enoyed today’s post. But i do generally find your blog insightful and amusing. take care

  • Miss. Riss

    I’m with you. Women always insist that all women aren’t the same, and we’re not. So to expect all men to be the same, is just a terrible idea. Anyone who has dated, knows that while we all have the same basic characteristics of a man or woman, we are all far from the same when it comes to personality and how we handle situations.

    “If you’re one of those women who really think you’re more of a man than the next man, then by all means move on to the next man because what you really want is a man who’s right for you, not more of a man.”

    I totally agree with this, cause if you’re expecting a man to ” act like a man “, then what you’re really saying is, I want you to act like ______ ” because thats what I’m used to and thats what I want. And you’re not allowing a dude to show you who they really are.

    Anyways, great post. I love how you insist on being you, no matter what. Its a great thing.

  • Theryl

    The chicks that say “man up” are the same ones that are and probably will be man-LESS! It’s not healthy for anyone to hide or block their emotions. They probably need to go sit on somebody’s couch and get their emotions straight!

  • Nicky

    I agree. I’m currently in the process of trying to kick the fairy tale, knight in shining armor notions that I absorbed watching Disney movies out of my head. Not healthy for reality. One thing I find most difficult is the man crying around me thing BUT I feel that sense of discomfort when anyone cries, man or woman…so that’s just personal…

  • Stephanie

    When will people get that people are individuals! Not one person is the same.. And its true what you said..all women have no clue how to be a man… Keep doing you darling…You define what a man is!!!!!

  • **inquiring mind**

    Funny… I remember this exchange. I remember the comment/er, the post and the tweeted response (it’s a crazy the dumb sh!t my mind holds on too- a junk drive of junk, but anyway) and I read the statement as a joke(wasn’t my comment btw)… she was just being tongue and cheek I’m sure (but I tend to laugh at d@mn near everything so…)

    The points you make are valid… I grew up with some of the most emotionless-manliest men this world has ever seen… sworms of them. And so as a woman I identify masculinity with that. I’m definitely the one to say “Aye man, brush dat sh!t off… man-up” to my homeboys (and girls) really just cause not that being affected by things shows weakness but because I learned early on from those men that we have control over our thoughts, our words and our emotions and so while it’s cool to be upset about it for a minute don’t dwell, brush it off and man-up/move forward. Maybe I should re-evaluate it because when I say it it’s not coming from a judging place… it’s coming from a loving place, but how it’s received is another matter. I liken it to how when your younger sibling has a bad day or something and they’re crying and you say “hey don’t worry bout it… it’ll be alright… man-up”. It’s all how we take it too… Why take it to mean something negative? Why take it to mean you ain’t a man if the person who is saying it obviously knows you are?

    F!ck it… I give up.

  • taurusitalia

    I applaud any man who can show their sensitive side. My interpretation of the “man up” phrase…is a person (man/woman) is too afraid to do something. Too jaded/hurt from their past experiences and just sits back. Since you talk about relationships…someone who sparks/likes a person & doesn’t “man up” and go for it! Just try.

    If a woman laughs/emasculates you (or any man) for showing your sensitive side…get rid of her! She is not a nice person.

  • KitKatCuty84

    This is interesting. I would never tell a man to “man up”, or deride his attempts at sharing his emotions/vulnerability. I would also never say there was only one way to be a man, because I get angry when people imply there’s only one way to be Black or one way to “catch a man and keep him”, etc. I don’t really believe in such limited ways of labeling people.

    BUT, and this is what I struggle with, I do believe in some of the more traditional gender roles when it comes to relationships. No matter how much any guy tries to convince me (and they all do), I don’t really think chivalry is dead and I think the man should pay for the first few dates, without b*tching about it. If I weren’t in NYC where people have no manners, I would expect a door to be held for me. If I’m struggling with carrying a huge box to the post office for delivery, I’d expect a dude to come up and offer his aid.

    I generally think of myself as pretty progressive and liberal, but I also think there are some, maybe not RULES, but GUIDELINES, as to how a man should be in a relationship. And I think that’s a pretty big part of being a man. So how do you reconcile having those two ideas? Maybe you don’t? Maybe I just want to have my cake and eat it too. THAT’S definitely a “man” thing, LOL. Jk jk.

  • MissMina

    My boyfriend and I have a running joke about telling each other to “Buck up”. We know that is the most insensitive and ass-a-holic thing you could say to someone in a false attempt to cheer them up. So I totally agree with this post and although this was the most biting statement, I have to give kudos to:

    “She thinks because she plays with the big boys every now and then, she knows what it’s like to be a big boy. Little girl, please.”

  • Sinnamon

    Well said! But I gotta admit, I’m guilty of telling men to man up. I’ve been in relationships, especially this last one, where dude was acting like a girl and that was a turn off. Checkin on my every move, acting clingy, being insecure, wanting to spend every moment with me. Damn I needed space. And you might say something like, “you’d be crying if he acted like he didn’t care or was hard to get in touch with.” The truth is there is a balance between being a man and showing sensitivity. I want a man who has feelings, but not one who is a bitch.

  • cinnamon

    First, let me say I’m a long-time fan of the site…first time commenting though!

    As far as I’m concerned, a real man stays true to himself, his feelings, his beliefs, and his principles, and to man up is to never fall back on any of those things. If a woman can’t understand that, then oh well, looks like I was probably too much man for her.”

    I totally agree with this statement Jozen. For me, I have NO problem with a man who is strong enough to display his emotions and be vulnerable in a relationship. In fact, I welcome that! To me, “manning up” doesn’t mean “stop being someone with emotions and feelings.” That is being human. It’s when men lie, cheat and don’t tell women what the real deal is in a relationship that they aren’t “manning up.” A real man respects people and stands by his decisions and faces the consequences no mater how difficult the outcome. So if he doesn’t want to be with a woman or has lost interest, he says that instead of stringing her along when he’s mislead her to think that he was happy.

  • Dee

    You’re the big brother that I’m supposed to have. I LOVE how honest this is. Women tend to forget that men are human. It’s okay to cry if something genuinely hurts. We’re ALL human

  • BoomShots

    I am no traditionalist in the least and so I long ago abandoned other’s people expectation of how I should behave as a man or a black person. That being said, I would be a fool to not realize that there is a dynamic that operates in our society that requires an interraction of masculine and feminine energy.

    This energy is a combination of biology and socialization and is often in play even in homosexual relationships. So there is something to be said for “manning up”. Does that mean the same thing to everyone, I doubt it because for some it may be quite stoicism and for another its macho prancing. I would agree that it all depends on how you grew up and how you are socialized.

    But I think too many men nowadays are too femminized. Meaning they talk and relate like women..overly emotional..overly sensitive and too damn bitchy. I put the blame squarely on the lack of male influences in these men lives growing up. Lack of fathers or father figures…all they were exposed to is feminine energy that while good for women undermines him in his dealings with other men. Everyman here know male relationship are hierarchical and if you are unable to master the slings and arrows that characterize male interraction you are done.

    The best example of that is that the scene in the movie Gran Torino where the Clint Eastwoood character takes the young asian kid to his barber shop to show him how men interracted. While not all male interractions are like that, its important that we realize that men are not women and women are not men. Our qualites are not the same and they should not be, what they should be is equally valued.

    A majority of my friends are women but I do not talk to my male friends like I talk to my female friends. I value them equally but I also know they bring different qualities to our relationships. Some men do need to be called out about “manning up” and us men should be doing it more and unfortunately its fallen to women. I have called on my friends to man up in the past. Some respected me for it and others did not care for it. I am not going to stop though.

  • Isitis

    First things first… most women are using “man up” wrong… A man should be able to express emotions, be his own person, and honor his responsibilities.

    It makes me cringe when I hear people tell little boys to ‘man up’ when they are upset and crying. WTH. How is pushing down your emotions making them a man?

    “Man up” should be saved for those who are suppose to be grown-up but still stuck in a immature mentality.

  • Natasha

    Someone is speaking from his heart:) Great post Jozen.

    I want to say like @cinnamon said when I say “man up”, I use it the same way I say “woman up”, it is just taking responsiblity. It is more general, not a personal attack on ones manhood. I never thought of it in a way that makes a man feel less than. That was not my intent. So I will be sensative in the future. I have been gulity of being really tough on men because of the way I was raised. I now advocate crying, therapy ,venting and lots of prayer. I think that is what builds character.

    This post is very close to my heart. I am a school teacher. I am blessed to teach at a age where kids need you. Yes, that’s right, going into a classroom full of 5 year olds who think you walk on water makes me feel I can do anything! This year I was given a bigger classroom. I had 22 students total. Out of all 22 students 16 were boys and only 6 were girls! When I looked at my classroom roster and seen 16 boys I was nervous. Then all my co-workers began to tell me how tough it was for them having a lot of boys and my school year would be hell. So over my break I prayed, a lot. Studied how boys are different then girls. Basically hoping for the best. And that is what happened. This year has been the best year of my teaching career. I say that to say this. My boys play with baby dolls. They cry to me when they are hurt, want a friend or when they think I am not giving them enough attention in the classroom. I do not tell them to stop acting like a baby or worse a little girl. GOD has shown me that my boys are way more sensative then my girls are. This year has been an emotionally draining one, especially because the school is year around. I have done more hugging, pep talks, holding hands, playing with worms and rocks than I have my whole life. I never would have thought this with 16 boys! Well except for the worm part:) My prayer for my boys is that they will continue to be nurtured . That they will be able to express how they feel. I know I am playing a big part in GOD’s plan for our furture and I take full responsibility. As a women, to look at myself and be stretched. It’s funny how we get life lessons. I will be a better girlfriend and wife because of what these 16 boys have taught me about how I look at men. Thank you for this post Jozen!

  • Natasha

    Great comment! Well said…

  • **inquiring mind**

    @BoomShots *throws panties*

  • Ronnie6676

    I like how you point out the obvious. No woman knows what it is to be a man and thus shouldn’t be telling them how to go about it. (Except you miss the fact that many of today’s men were raised by women on the solo and thus may need for someone who just might be a woman to speak up when they are acting less than like a full grown man). And then we have the other end of the stick and all of the men who want to chime in on what it is to be a real woman and how or how not said woman should act. All of it is quite amusing in my opinion.

  • Roni

    “As far as I’m concerned, a real man stays true to himself, his feelings, his beliefs, and his principles, and to man up is to never fall back on any of those things.” Amen, Amen!

  • Kady

    OK I’m going to plead guilty on this one. I am that woman that has told a man, he is not being a man. Maybe it wasn’t really about him being a man or not, more about perceived adult vs. child(ish) behavior, which is probably more appropriate for me to judge. I think as adults both men and women should carry themselves a certain way, and be honest, responsible, and aware of how there actions affect those around them. If they are not doing those things and they want to be in your life, then you have every right to call them out.

    To explain my thought process I will say that as a woman I do depend on a man to be the protector, so when he begins to lack on that front and I stop feeling safe with him for any number of reason (dishonestly, broken promises, irresponsible actions) then I have said things like “Your acting like a little boy”. I am not saying I know how to be a man, or I can teach him to be a man, its more about the underlying reason why I am upset and the whole being a man comment is how it happens to come out. I don’t think a man should shrug it off as “She doesn’t know what she is talking about” because your girl is trying to tell you something and if she is not being heard then the end is near. In my situation there were multiple things that happened and words were said, eventually I lost respect for the guy, I really don’t think its possible to love someone who I don’t respect so the decision was pretty easy.

    In other situations where a guy might get overly sensitive on a matter I don’t think is “that serious”, Ill probably just judge him on the inside and keep it moving, I wouldn’t make much of a comment about it. I’m very sarcastic and like to make jokes so if guy can’t laugh along when I make a wise crack about him, I am very likely to loose interest. And yes I do consider men who are overly sensitive a turnoff, just like most men want a feminine woman in both personality and looks, I want a masculine man. Emo dudes just aren’t for me but some women love them, its all about preference.

  • AlongCameStacey

    Good post. However, I disagree with the following statement: “A lot of men don’t have it in their DNA to wear their heart on their sleeves…”

    The ability to be sensitive and tap into your emotions has nothing to do with your DNA. If there’s one statement I can make as a woman about men, it’s that you are all socialized to hide your feelings. It all starts with something as simple as your parents telling you not to cry over that scrapped knee because “men/boys don’t cry.” And then ends with the old spice guy telling you you’re not as much of a man as he is because you can’t turn ride a horse backward. (Anecdotal: I’ve seen a lot of men in my family go from being “cry-babies” when we were children into men who cry about nothing – not even death.)

    Androgynous socialization has been proven to work. If boys were allowed to become the men they want to be and not the men their parents want them to be, then we’d have a generation of men that would force society to reconsider their traditional definitions. The same would ring true for women and I think we are already beginning to see a drastic change in our definition of what a woman is or what a woman is supposed to do. However the problem is that women are beginning to try to behave like men instead of trying to finding their true authentic selves.

  • Reecie

    @Natasha this was such a sweet comment. it touched me, much like the post.

  • fixedwater

    I think there have been about 5 different interpretations of how to use the phrase “man up” but it doesn’t matter how you use it, all communication is about the understanding between both parties engaged in the communication. and for all intents and purposes, the way jozen presents the receipt of a “man up” charge is that we, women, don’t know what we are talking about. well, i say, I don’t know what you heard but that wasn’t what i said – lol
    i could see how you might take it that way but that’s not what i meant.
    and like others who’ve commented before me (i’m always late, also the reason i usually lurk instead of comment – i digress) i don’t know nothing about using the phrase being to say “stop crying” but i may use it to say and will likely follow it up with, “okay so you got hurt now what have you learned.”

  • BoomShots

    I never understood why
    I could never see a man cry
    Until I see a man die
    – Scarface : “Never Seen A Man Cry”

  • Natasha

    Thank you so much Reecie:)

  • madeleine

    I’m reminded of the civil rights assertion “I Am a Man,” what it meant in the sixties was the right to dignity and to human rights. The contemporary manifestations of “I Am a Man” seem to center around notions of power and what powerful behavior is.

    I think the phrase “man up” coming from a woman is slight in the scheme of things when one considers the history of what those words have meant in the black community and the ways a young black boy’s definition and role model of black masculinity affects how he will treat and act with women, but also how he will make it through an iniquitous system.

    All I’m saying is I agree but there’s a lot more to say on this…

    I smell a book. 🙂

  • Tessie

    What’s more troubling to me is the general notion that being sensitive or overly sensitive is a feminine trait. Why is it that we assign emotions to specific genders? The problem with saying something like “man up” or “be a lady” stems from societal notions of gender responsibility. Most (if not all) of it is artificial and arbitrary. Little boys cry just as much as little girls do. Having breasts shouldn’t mean I have more emotion than anyone else.

  • Shay

    @ Isitis great point : “Man up” should be saved for those who are suppose to be grown-up but still stuck in a immature mentality.”

    I am guilty of the more so ‘man up’ in the sense of what you have mentioned, grow-up and handle the business, more so mess made, as a grown folk.

  • leslie arnelle

    once again…great post!!

  • http://yahoo namia

    “she needs to understand it is a wholly unique version of masculinity not made in the mold of her father, brother, uncle, best friend or Don Draper”. Interesting post. I love how Don Draper is unrepentantly a all his old school glory

  • HoneyMoney

    Not loving these posts lately. Hmmm.

    As a woman, one of the most annoying things in life is when you’re walking on the street and some guy makes a comment on how you should smile. This maybe how you might feel when someone says “Man up”

    But like many comments on here, I have to say “man up” is not a comment for when a guy cries as much as its a comment for guys who cannot take responsibility for their own actions and instead complain, bitch and moan..sometimes cry about the consequences.

  • Yazzi

    much needed words from a real man . thank you for sharing 🙂

  • Ondrea

    I think I have said this before on another post, but I have no problem with a man who shows his feelings (and cries if he feels the need). It doesn’t make him less of a man to me, it makes him human. Now if he is a cry baby, that would get on my nerves but so would a woman who is a cry baby.

  • jenn

    Bitter much?

  • Nynos81

    This is an amazing post. It gives a lot of insight and speaks to a topic not covered so well. Kudos

  • Kathy

    I have been reading your blog on and off for a year now……This was a great post…..koodos to you……

  • JennTastesSour

    Why didn’t you say it.. “man up”. Woman are constantly grumbling because their man will not communicate. The reason we don’t open up to you women is because your darlings have shallow emotions which you constantly must vomit onto the world. If a man shows his emotions, you can pretty much know that these are genuine. That is what you Cluster B Personality Disordered Women want, something to leverage for power & manipulation.

    If a woman ever says “man up”, tell her to “shut up” & leave. You are not in a human relationship, you are talking with a mentally ill individual on a power trip.

  • Amber

    Wow. This was powerful. Looks like you had some built up frustrations there. I did like how you said you are not ashamed to admit that you have emotions. I find that attractive in a man actually. 🙂 Good job. I know I am YEARS behind but I found your blog today and I LOVE it. I have sent it to my friends, male and female, and they appreciate it too.

  • Cole

    Perspective: for a man, being told to ‘man up’ is like telling a woman to fix her face and get some bigger tits.