“Man-ing up” for my Family

What message is the media trying to send to men?

What does it mean to “man up”?  If I were to believe most sitcoms, it would mean that a man has to make a total ass out of himself, screw everything up, lie and cover it up, only to come through at the last second with a rare romantic gesture to make up for it all.  If I were to believe advertising, I guess it’s drinking weak beer while wearing cheap, ugly jeans, and having a tequila bottle pour me a shot (because the old fashioned way is just too girly).  Did I really see a soft drink ad with the tag line “Not for Women”? Really?!?  I guess Dr.Pepper is still trying to come back from the rumor that it was prune-flavored soda (google it).  It seems, once again, men are having an identity crisis. Or, at least, we’re being told that we are.  I wasn’t aware men had that bad of a PR problem.

I will admit some things I have seen in my life have made me ponder whether the person in question was, in fact, man-ing up. Wearing two polo shirts, for instance, (one pink, one purple) with collars up, leopard-print spandex-clad rockers, and, um, skinny jeans come to mind right off the bat.  Nice.  Yeah, it’s easy to point out and make fun of things that don’t conform to society’s “Manly-man” stereotypes.  It’s much harder, on the other hand, to stick a pin in what it really means to “Man-up”.  For some reason, I don’t think it’s my choice in beer.

Defining what a ”Manly Man” really is, may not be so easy.

I am a man that, at first glance, would seem “manly”. I am 6’2”, 220 Lbs. Manly.  I played every sport in high school, played linebacker in college and professionally in Europe, and have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.  Manly.  I once played half of a college football season with two broken wrists…You know.  It hardly seems relevant that I also love musical theatre, gourmet cooking, and am a closet Gleek.  Come on, everyone gets choked up watching Oprah’s “give away” shows…Right?   Right?  Um… I think I’m manly.  I feel manly.  Grrr.

Traditional gender rolls and stereotypes are shifting, enter: the stay-at-home dad

To a less enlightened man, my life would fall outside the traditional “manly man” lifestyle.  Let me explain;  my wife has a high-pressure, high profile job that has her working crazy hours.  She has a good job that is, at least for now, stable (knock wood). We are fortunate.  When I work, it’s out of the house.  Truthfully, most of the time my life resembles that of a stay-at-home dad.  I’m OK with that.  It’s not what I had envisioned for me, but it is what it is.  It works.  Now days, stay-at-home dads are becoming more and more common. Think about it.  The industries that have taken the biggest hits in this recession are man-centric.   The slumping construction industry alone has decimated a huge number of careers traditionally filled by men.   It’s not exactly the best time in history to be a builder, electrician, plasterer, painter, etc.  Result?  Traditional gender rolls and stereotypes are shifting.

Man up and focus on what is best for the family

The goal is to get through this extremely difficult time in our Country’s history.  At this point in my life, the opportunity for my family to “weather this storm” is for my wife to bring home the bacon.  I’ll fry it up in a pan… Iron Chef-style!  I’m proud of my wife’s success.  I’m proud of what we have built.  Yes, I said we.  How could we survive if I didn’t do my part?

So, the question remains.  What does it mean to “man up”?  For me, the answer is simple.  Do what has to be done.  My family is hungry.  Man up.  My daughter needs to get to and from school.  Man up.  “Daddy, there’s a bug in my bedroom!”  Man up.  “Honey, I’m exhausted.  I need a hug.”  Man up!  Ok, I’m off to play softball with my little girl.  And no,  I’m not pitching over-hand.

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4 Responses to “Man-ing up” for my Family

  1. Connor says:

    Nice Jason. As a long time stay-at-home dad, I appreciate your words and your insights. Here’s to all us “Manly Men” who know how to “man up”

  2. Eric Storch says:

    Indeed. I am also a stay-at-home dad and “man-up” everyday.
    Well written and well said.

  3. Tom says:

    I totally agree that “man-ing up” today means being the best husband and father you can be. Keeping up with trends is not manly, raising your kids and setting the best example for them is very manly. Great job Jason!

  4. Pingback: In Defense of Men CHEWIE encourages men to learn to change a tire and be a man.

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