Friday, June 17, 2011

What Makes a Man

What matters is to turn one's predicament into a human achievement."—Victor Frankl

What makes a man? Is it the additional pair of chromosomes that destined him to have a beard, testicles and possibly a hairy chest? Is it his talent to actually talk on the phone with his wife while making love to another woman? Is it his incorrigibility? Is it chivalry that reinvented his image as caring, empathic, good listener, wise counsellor, useful shoulder to cry on? Is it his pride of being descendants of great kings, warriors and artists? Or is it his charm that makes heads turn or the beauty of his inclinations that makes him so adorable?

There things in life that are better defined by examples than formulas. Masculinity is one of them. Whenever I've attempted a dictionary-precise definition of masculinity, I've always tripped myself up in endless qualifications and asides. Traditionally we try to equate masculinity with being virile, athletic, strong, brave, sexually aggressive, unemotional, stoic, intellectual, leader, dominating, disciplinarian, success-oriented, ambitious and many more one-size-fits-all single dimensional characterizations. That men are pre-ordained to read newspapers for several hours on the toilet, dominating the use of TV remote controls, playing basketball, admiring guns and fast cars, reading pornography, fighting in wars and supressing emotions and other some non-standard behaviors which maybe construed as something else.

But today, the concept of what makes a man has challenged the narrowly defined masculity that society has typecasted since 3,000 BC when explicit statements of what was expected of men were expressed in laws. From Daddy Day Care to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, metrosexual politicall candidates, military men, celebrities and to the nameless ordinary ones, it seems clear that what makes a man is now under serious review. Could it be that conventional masculinity, with its stoicism and violence, has become so toxic and redundant that men themselves are refusing to take it on.

Is machismo still the basic rule of what makes a man? Or is becoming a bore? Is exaggerated aggressiveness in male-to-male interpersonal relationships and arrogance and sexual aggression in male-to-female relationships still the real measure of being a man? Is a machismo makeover conspiracy afoot? Well, not necessarily. Guess it's just some men want to come out as a sensitive, multi-dimensional beings who want to be loved without having to fight to prove their manhood and without having to hurt others and themselves in order to secure their own place at the table.

Deeds, not creeds, are the true measure of a man. It's not his confident smile, his show of strength, his size, his girth, his length. It's not the clothes he wear, it's not his worldly knowledge nor his riches and pockets of gold. It's the depth of his commitments and genuine concern. It's the sincerity of his purpose and the quiet courage of his convictions. It's his capacity to share and give all that is inside him even when nothing is there. It's how he bounces after he hits the bottom. It's how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.

So who makes a better man? I believe it is not he who has the political powers to make great things happen by never does, it is he who acts his sincere willingess to contribute to change in the humblest way he can. It is not he who has the appeal to have several ladies at one time but it is he who takes the responsibility of fatherhood when something unexpected happens. It is not the prominent businessmen who profit big by corrupting public service but it is he who makes a decent living searching for gold in a mountain of trash.

What makes a man isn't a matter of sexuality and conventions, but of integrity and responsbility. I don't want to leave it point blank what really is that makes a man. But Robin Williams once said, "God gave men a brain and a penis, but only enough blood to run one at a time". This miracle of evolution, man, though one that is certainly not without its flaws, has still plenty of room for improvement, even after three billion years.


  1. what make a man for me is when he shed a cry silently... :)

  2. When a man disregards the need of a DNA test to accept the responsibility of being the biological or a surrogate father, then he is not just a man- a real man.