1. LordKyleOfEarth
    Offline

    LordKyleOfEarth Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,249
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    San Antonio, TX. USA

    What makes a man?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by LordKyleOfEarth, Jan 28, 2010.

    Biology aside, what defines a 'man'? While studying Epics this semester rights of passage have been a common theme. Some define directly what a man is/does (Gilgamesh) others are less direct (Iliad). What do yall think? I'm also interested to see how the answers vary between men and women.
     
  2. MCWhite
    Offline

    MCWhite Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    6
    I think you're going to have a hard time keeping this centered around philosophy. Most people define "man" by their religious preference: whether or not he is a creation of a God/Gods, and thus a function of him/them. You can't define man without also defining his existence- that would be like trying to paint a portrait without a canvas.

    I'll say that a man can only be assessed by his biology. This includes his genetics, which account for everything he is and everything he does. What else is there? People like to look for the intangibles, like to think there's something more to the human mind and form than mere chemical interaction. But as a species, we're a living, breathing machine. To think we're superior to all else on the planet is arrogance; to assume we're anything other than animals is foolish. Man is not man because he studies Plato and reads Shakespeare, not because he creates laws and wages war, not because he loves and loathes- He is man because he is genetically man. He turned out that way, and whether it was God(s) hand that shaped him or chance events and evolution is for another debate (and probably another forum) entirely.
    Looking back, I'm not sure I answered your question- perhaps you were looking for something else entirely. In which case, I hope I haven't lead your thread astray.
     
  3. Lavarian
    Offline

    Lavarian Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    4,562
    Likes Received:
    93
    “Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men? “Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men? “Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not Men? “Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men? “Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”

    - Sayer of the Law, The Island of Doctor Moreau, H.G. Wells
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    I can see this question in two ways. The obvious is about the traits that you look up to with respect for a mature male human.

    The other is the same question with te word "male" omitted. To me, this is more important than the genderized question.

    I look for strength of character, compassion, honesty, loyalty, and self-control. These aren;t the only traits, but they apply equally to both genders, and they were the first to come to mind.
     
  5. Lemex
    Offline

    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2007
    Messages:
    10,507
    Likes Received:
    3,151
    Location:
    Northeast England
    I always considered a 'man' to be a euphemism for many different things; but mostly, in my experience, the words ‘man’ and ‘gentleman’ seem to be interchangeable.

    However, I cannot help but have a cynical, biology-based thought when reading this. I must confess this, but when I hear people talk about 'being a man' it means generally to have the same qualities normally attributed to people known as gentlemen.
     
  6. MCWhite
    Offline

    MCWhite Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2010
    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    6
    Somehow my eyes skipped over "rites of passage."

    A man is a man at the point when he understands his affect on the people around him- in essence, when he is able to take responsibility for himself and enact decisions to better his future. It's the point when immediate gratification is replaced by long-term decision making. I suppose this is encompassed by Cogito's mentioned traits: self-control, strength of character, and compassion.
     
  7. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,897
    Likes Received:
    10,086
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    What makes a man?

    The pessimist in me says, "The ability to create unattainable ideals and then pretend even unto ourselves that they have been attained," or, "The ability to be blind to the kind of creature we are and thus forever relegate ourselves as square pegs in round holes."

    The optimist in me says, "The ability to recognize the fallacies that plague men and work to not allow them to plague the man."
     
  8. NaCl
    Offline

    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
    Messages:
    1,855
    Likes Received:
    58
    What is a "man"? I wonder how many definitions, or combinations of traits, there are to describe the attributes of a "man".

    XXX movies define a "man" by his physical "attributes", or so I'm told, but most people hold a set of values that a "man" must possess to qualify for the title. Those values vary widely and no single set of characteristics will work for everyone. I won't share my own definition of someone I consider to be a "man", but I do try to live the values that I respect. My daily behavior reflects my definition of a "man". Am I always successful living up to my own standards. No. But, I always try. Do my values change from time to time? At 61 years old, I am always open to consider alternative points of view, and I reserve the right to change my view, because I believe growth can occur at any age, if I keep an open mind.

    Let me give you an example. Homosexually. There was a time, not too long ago, when I viewed homosexuality as a form of aberrant behavior, one that needed to be opposed and suppressed by society. Today, I view it as a life style choice, not desirable for me, but entirely okay for the good people who have chosen it. I don't care about debates regarding whether it is a "choice" or "natural condition"...doesn't matter to me. I now accept their right to enjoy a happy life with each other and I feel they should get the same government sponsored benefits as any other "married" couples. That was one Hell of a change for me! LOL

    Ultimately, every person must decide for himself or herself what characteristics define a "man", outside of genitalia. It's a highly personal composition.
     
  9. Carmina
    Offline

    Carmina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Messages:
    3,909
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Woodland California
    Oooh...am I the first girl to post in this thread?

    If you are talking biology, a man is a male of the human species who has reached sexual maturity. Plane and simple right?

    But then you have gender identity issues where someone can be anatomically female, but feel like they are a man and wish to live as one. So biology can't be hte only factor.

    Culturally, the definition of "man" varies with different societies. There is a culture where to be considered a man...you have to jump off a tall tower with vines tied to your feet. In another, a boy must undergo scarification over his entire body so that his skin looks like a crocodile. In another, he has to lose his virginity (the more fun as far as rites are concerned).

    In Western civilization (to make a broad generalization), being a man has to do with all these cultural expectations. Men have to be strong physically and emotionally, they have to have sex with women (the more the better by some standards), they have to be self-sufficient and even be able to provide for their families. They wear pants instead of skirts. They don't wear make-up. They don't do anything considered "feminine".

    I go most for ones own sense of gender identity. Do you consider yourself to be a man? Then you are.
     
  10. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,897
    Likes Received:
    10,086
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Please keep this thread on topic. If this thread degrades into an argument over things that are non sequitur I will close it.
     
  11. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    A 'man'? Or do you mean, 'What makes a human being?'
     
  12. Irish87
    Offline

    Irish87 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2009
    Messages:
    228
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    California
    In my opinion, philosophically speaking (since we know what it means to be a male physically) I think of a man as somebody ready to do certain things that most would rather abstain from. This, of course, includes other men. They seem to be in a lesser form of the male gender. They're like roosters in comparison to eagles. Then again Benjamin Franklin wasn't the biggest fan of eagles. Maybe the proper comparison would have been roosters to turkeys. Meh, the point is the same. A man does things he knows will be hard and he does them because it is his job in life.

    I suppose my views might just be skewed entirely because of my romantic interests. Or, maybe, it's because we don't really revere those sorts of individuals in an American culture anymore. They're seen as stubborn and, at times, archaic. I miss that old idealism, however. That simple theory that men were meant to work until their fingers bled because it was the right thing to do. It still exists, mind you, but when was the last time you saw it honored in anyway? I suppose that's the great thing about true men, however. They don't much care if you even notice that they're there.

    Then again I could be wrong. My views are based off of biographies and history books. I don't remember the last time I met somebody who fit my qualifications. Maybe I'm too picky.
     
  13. Sabreur
    Offline

    Sabreur Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,119
    Likes Received:
    39
    Location:
    At the combination pizza hut and taco bell
    A man is brave. Courage is the root of all things, in my opinion and I try my best to stay courageous in the face of whatever adversity a suburban, middle-class life can throw at me! ;)

    Courage is universal between the sexes though. Women must be brave as well.

    However, as I said bravery is the root of all things. This includes outright acts such as a soldier jumping on a grenade to save his buddies or a husband standing up for his wife despite the five scary men trying to intimidate her but also subtler acts such as speaking your mind before a domineering tyrant. (whether it be your nation's leader or your parents)

    Without courage, nothing has ever been accomplished.

    2nd EDIT: Posts I responded to disappeared. Go Team Moderator!
     
  14. Mercurial
    Offline

    Mercurial Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2009
    Messages:
    3,453
    Likes Received:
    117
    A man is fearless. I dont mean he has the absence of fear, but more like operates with less fear instead of being fearful, or full of fear.

    I've observed this idea in most of the rites of passage themed stories, and, personally, I think it's a noble trait that we all, as human beings (not just men) should strive for.

    While there are many men who have similar traits in common regionally, globally, etc, I dont think there are any set of defined characteristics that make up a man. People are too beautifully diverse for that sort of idea to have much weight.
     
  15. HeinleinFan
    Offline

    HeinleinFan Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2007
    Messages:
    483
    Likes Received:
    33
    As far as I'm concerned, being a "man" means quite a bit.

    It means being willing to defend yourself, your family, and your friends. It means being willing to work hard, both to support yourself and your family, but to improve yourself and the things you know. It means striving to better yourself.

    It means learning skills and passing them on to others. It means taking the time to talk to people instead of at them. It means knowing a great deal -- and being willing to admit when you don't know, while being willing to speculate.

    It means being polite, because society rubs people against each other way too much, and politeness makes human interaction easier for all parties. It means being dependable, because flakes and no-goods are juvenile in their behavior. It means knowing that people are different and tolerating many of those differences, while putting your foot down when it comes to abuse and violence and hateful behavior.

    It means not tolerating abusive or rape-tolerant people. It means showing mercy to those who do you ill out of desperation, and showing kindness to others who have not deliberately offended you, and knowing not to mock someone simply because they think differently.

    It means living a full life, learning all the time, passing the information on to the next generation, acquiring many and various skills, providing for yourself as best as you can, and defending civilization if and when it becomes necessary.

    I maintain that this is what being a "man" means, and that being a "man" is something both genders and all ages should strive for. Some people will never be "men" no matter how long they live. Some particularly precocious 12 year old girls have already become "men" in my view. (Those stories of a teenage kid caring for her siblings while the abusive or derelict parents are absent or drunk? They happen, more often than we like to think.) And some males will go their whole lives without even coming close.
     
  16. arron89
    Offline

    arron89 Banned

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2008
    Messages:
    2,460
    Likes Received:
    91
    Location:
    Auckland
    I don't really have any answer to the OP, but in regards to the above post (and others like it)...well, the Feminists would be turning in their graves. If to be a man is to be brave and sensitive and noble and merciful, and above all, something to be aspired to, what does that say about what it is to be a woman? Should women want to be men, as the above post argues?

    I just find it interesting that no one has considered the almost chauvinistic implications of some of these arguments, given that in the Western episteme, the opposite of 'man' is 'woman'...
     
  17. Speedy
    Offline

    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    4,866
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Australia
    The only thing i can really think of, being a man that makes me a man (based on my morals dealing with the other gender, namely, mother, wife, daughters or sisters) is to be the protector. To make sure i safeguard and protect others from physical and emotional factors. (Note, i am an only child, and or not brought up with a father or any real male influence at all)

    Certain groups may not like that but i know i feel my place is to protect the women on my side of life rather then them look after me (as protector - obviously from the aspect of my mother its 50%/50% and maybe 75%/25% with a sister, buty 100%/0% for a loved one)

    If i was to allow my girlfriend, sister or mother be the protector and me being the "Hey help me, help me." i would not feel like a man, but a from form of life at best.


    I'm sure there are many other factors, but the above is the big oe. Now i'm not saying i go out of my way to be it, but i make sure my family know i am there for anything. Anything at all if they are in trouble from anything.
     
  18. Peerie Pict
    Offline

    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Scotland
    I am in complete support of all that you say but I really don't have the energy to take on the Feminist critique myself. There's a hell of a lot of casual sexism on these boards that I've found disappointing. Perhaps it's a reflection of wider societal views but in any case, ugh.

    Even using the term "being a man" is archaic when it comes to discussing men, let alone women!!

    Anyway, Feminists are still alive and kicking, not all just dead and turning in their graves. I am definitely a Feminist and it has nothing to do with man-hating. It's usually a reaction borne out of reading posts like the ones above where women are relegated to second class citizens.

    Let's just say, in my moments of bravery in life, I would have been baffled and insulted if someone had said "Well done, you're a real man now."

    This is all just very bizarre.
     
  19. Peerie Pict
    Offline

    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Scotland

    Men as physical protectors is antiquated and redundant. For example, my boyfriend might feel like he is my protector but in reality, there's nothing in this cushy 21st urban life that calls for his protection. It's a state of mind. I am far more likely to be hurt by my spouse than any guy hiding in buhes by the roadside on my way home from a night out.

    Also, women are far more likely to be emotional protectors than men. My boyfriend actually benefits more from my ability to force a conversation about negative emotions (and to find a resolution) than I would ever benefit from his ability to beat up someone who threatens my personal safety.

    So my point, although perhaps drawn out, is that I don't need a protector and would find it quite laughable if my boyfriend thought that it was an important role of his. Protection, whether physical or emotional, is as much part of 'being a woman' as 'being a man.' In the animal kingdom, a mother will go to huge lengths, even risking death, to protect her young. The father of the young is simply not there usually...
     
  20. Speedy
    Offline

    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    4,866
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Australia
    You don't think that i don't already know women can protect themselves?

    I was answering the question on what i feel makes me a man, not all man. And for women that are around me, not any other to be frank.

    It's not about whats wrong or right, its opinion based i figured.

    Lets just say i know i am a flawed man, but i am a flawed man that knows he is and can admit it.

    'How true that is, for a lot of men, if not most. But when it comes to emotions, i know them well, and of others and the likes. I know when something is upp with my misses/mother/partners daughter a day before they do :D (yes thats only one side of the thing)

    I know i can't beat my girlfriend in an arm wrestle, and shes not that strong ;)

    If you want something i think is concrete i'll spend some time on the train thinking, but i'm pretty sure there isnt much.
     
  21. Peerie Pict
    Offline

    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Scotland
    I don't have an issue with your post. I know that there will be a few men who don't even bother to take up any role as a 'protector' whether it be an interest in a woman's emotions or ensuring her physical security. This is surely worse.

    I was just stating the other side of the argument. Your post was quite personal to you but some of the other comments here have been generalised and I've found them quite annoying with regard to roles men and women take on.

    In all honesty, I would prefer that men didn't define themselves in relation to women because it merely forces divisions that otherwise wouldn't be there. For example, a man might say "I feel like a man when my woman says I have big muscles." Another man might say "I feel like a man when I'm independent, out on the road cycling or hiking." I think the latter is more healthy.

    I don't know. Maybe the whole phrase 'like a man' is loaded with sexist connotations at the outset. So any answer to it is bound to compare the sexes.

    A good example of this is the question 'when do you feel like a woman'?

    My knee jerk reaction is to say I feel most like a woman when my 'attributes' are appreciated by men or when I more conventionally fit the stereotypes of what it means to be woman. As a feminist this horrifies me! The only caveat is that I only like to be appreciated by men when I'm dressed up nicely/in that kind of mood, not on a bleak Monday morning on the way to work or getting some milk from the local shop. I would hate to think I am 'treated as a woman' by my boss or anyone else in the workplace because it is bound to result in discrimination.

    The phrase 'like a woman' makes me wonder if I match up to an ideal of feminity so I suppose it's no wonder that men do the same when faced with the same question, what is it to be a man.

    All I have to say to that is - screw these questions! Men and women are far more similar than the media would have us believe, physically and emotionally. It's far more pertinent to say 'what makes you a human being.'
     
  22. Destin
    Offline

    Destin Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2009
    Messages:
    130
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Canada
    To add to the protector synonym, which I like, let's consider a fellow who, when presented with a life and death situation, chooses life over protecting his loved one at all costs.

    Say there is a fire and Bob runs outside without making sure his wife and kids are out safely first.

    In my eyes, he is not a man. I think many would agree.

    Now, that isn't to say most women wouldn't protect their own in that situation... but then again that wasn't the question at hand was it?
     
  23. Peerie Pict
    Offline

    Peerie Pict Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2009
    Messages:
    724
    Likes Received:
    29
    Location:
    Scotland

    Maybe saying "he is not a man" is another way of saying "he is not a decent person." I hope so. This is because if you say he's "not a man" by implication you're saying putting your life before others is an inherently male thing to do, and logically, women aren't natural rescuers (or might be, but less so).

    I think we're all well aware that not many women would flee out of a burning building without regard for the peril of their kids.

    In this case, I think it makes the whole argument moot.
     
  24. Speedy
    Offline

    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2008
    Messages:
    4,866
    Likes Received:
    81
    Location:
    Australia
    I think as one we are much more aware (in the 21st century)

    The reason i can't think of nything, is because there isnt.

    The whole protection thing with women has been much published. (Lifting cares of children toname one)

    I'd agree with the above more so, but i have officially been up for 36 hours and sleep is needed.

    I must say an interesting thread,
     
  25. x_raichelle_x
    Offline

    x_raichelle_x Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2009
    Messages:
    207
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Hartlepool, UK
    I think men and women can both have values and traits in common - the role of 'protector', honesty, a high sexual libido - these aren't confirmed only to men only.
    However, they are still characteristics of men, which is what the question was.

    If the question was 'what makes a women?' some of the answers would also relate to men.

    x
     

Share This Page