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What makes a man?

(86 Posts)
TheFeministParent Mon 15-Nov-10 17:18:55

Just wondering as I keep trying to articulate masculinity or maleness and I really couldn't tell you anything about a man that makes him a man that doesn't make him sound (or me) like an anti feminist!

So I was thinking strong, safe, straight forward....

MillyR Mon 15-Nov-10 17:29:56

Robert Jensen said that in our society you can choose to be a man or you can choose to be a human being, but you cannot be both.

ElephantsAndMiasmas Mon 15-Nov-10 17:41:41

I can't think of anything that I can think of that would be specifically "male" or "female" personality traits if we lived in a noon-sexist society.

But within the current way of living, there are certain qualities I would say make a "good man" if that helps?

- unbothered/threatened by anyone's gender, sexuality, race or religion

- willing to use his strengths to help those less able in those areas. E.g. if he is strong, happy to carry heavy bags for old people at the train station. If clever at maths, uses that ability to think of ways to e.g. alleviate poverty.

- not hung up on the idea of "man" or "woman" as someone's defining featuring, and applying this to himself. So unfettered by the idea that he is more/less able to do things because he has a cock.

minipie Mon 15-Nov-10 17:44:04

Erm, I don't think you can articulate maleness or masculinity. What makes a man is a Y chromosome and a set of male genitals and hormones. (And even then there are some men that don't have all of those...)

Any personality characteristics (strong, straightforward etc) are generalisations that won't apply to all men and will probably apply to many women.

Though you could legitimately ask "what makes a stereotypical man"...

minipie Mon 15-Nov-10 17:44:43

cross posted and agreed Elephants. of course, all those characteristics would make a good woman, too.

harpsichordcarrier Mon 15-Nov-10 17:49:30

hmm, interesting question.
the difficulty here is that I would hate to be defined by 'what makes a woman'..
I mean I am an individual and I don't like to be defined by my gender.
so I am inhibited from doing the same to men.
I know what I find attractive and admirable in a man, but that's notquite the same question. I think?

SparklingExplosionGoldBrass Mon 15-Nov-10 17:50:15

If he has testes, a penis, a prostate gland and no ovaries or uterus, he's a man.
If she has ovaries, a uterus, a vulva and no testes or penis, she's a woman.
Any mixed combinations would probably indicate an intersex individual or someone undergoing gender reassignment. Or someone who has suffered a serious accident or health problem (eg needing a complete hysterectomy and removal of ovaries doesn't necessarily make a woman stop being a woman)

RealityBomb Mon 15-Nov-10 17:50:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HerBeatitude Mon 15-Nov-10 17:52:32



TheFeministParent Mon 15-Nov-10 18:10:55

Sorry, I am newish to Feminism (and have namechanged, please don't out me) and I find myself using 'bank expressions' like 'he's really masculine' or 'manly', and then I wonder what attributes I pin on this compliment/comment. Can we really not have gender difference? Are we only socialised to be men/women? DH and I have non traditional and traditional roles. I do the DIY, he cooks but I expect him to take the rubbish out because he's massive and I'm a shortarse!

dittany Mon 15-Nov-10 18:14:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheFeministParent Mon 15-Nov-10 18:15:39

Right, thanks. I think I have more thinking and reading to do.

AliceWorld Mon 15-Nov-10 18:20:15

Being brought up as a man is what makes someone a man for me. Like Dworkin's a woman is not born she is made.

seeyoukay Mon 15-Nov-10 19:09:11

So upset no-one has put a decent Y chromosome joke in here.

minipie Mon 15-Nov-10 19:29:47

TheFeministParent, my view is that statistically there are a few characteristics that are more common amongst men than women, and others that are more common among women than men. For example, statistically it is more common for men to be interested in sport than it is for women.

However, I think it is unhelpful to make generalised statements about these differences, because:

(a) although it may be more common for men to be interested in sport, there are still plenty of women who are interested in sport. If we make the general statement that "men are more interested in sport", that's pretty unfair on all the women who are interested. Likewise, it's unfair on the men who are not especially interested in sport.

(b) it is quite likely that a lot of the difference is nurture rather than nature - i.e. more men are interested in sport because they were brought up to be. There is still a huge amount of gender conditioning that goes on.

(c) there are far, far more similarities between men and women than there are differences. Differences are more likely to come from background and personality traits, rather than from gender. There doesn't seem to be anything particularly helpful about focusing on gender differences.

ISNT Mon 15-Nov-10 19:47:50

Who are you trying to articulate this to? Are people asking you difficult questions or is it something you're asking yourself?

Like Harpsi I can tell you what traits I like in a man, but that's not quite what you're asking smile

ISNT Mon 15-Nov-10 19:48:58

Or are you thinking in terms of stereotypical ideas of "what makes a man" and noticing that many of them aren't actually very nice things to be?

Tortington Mon 15-Nov-10 19:50:18

slugs snails puppydogs tails

HerBeatitude Mon 15-Nov-10 19:51:41

With something like sport, I don't think there's any doubt that the reason more men like it is because they are socialised to, and we are socialised not to. Sport is something which genuinely empowers women - it shows us our strength, our physical prowess, our accuracy, our concetration, our mental rigour, it keeps us healthy and fit, it sends out endorphins which make us feel happy and cheerful and positive and empowered - someone who has just done a five mile run is very unlikely to come home and take undermining shit from anyone. So of course we are marginalised from it, it makes us red in the face, messes up our hairdos, makes make up pointless, and makes it clear to men that we're doing something for ourselves, not to attract them. Of course we're sold the myth that killer heels empower us more and sport is for unattractive, determined, unfeminine women. It's a man's domain; go to any gym or running club and you'll see how welcome women are. Because we don't have the muscle mass of men and we're not as big and strong as them, the fact that we're the best we can be for us, as opposed to being in competition with them, is mocked and derided and implied to be a waste of time. And the media follows suit, only bothering to follow men's sport and report on men's doings and where women do figure in sport, concentrating on their looks and outfits. No wonder so many women think it's something that isn't really for them.

Oops. Turned into a bit of a rant, that, didn't it. grin

ISNT Mon 15-Nov-10 20:01:11

Oooh good rant grin

HerBeatitude Mon 15-Nov-10 20:02:34


SparklingExplosionGoldBrass Mon 15-Nov-10 20:12:36

Now I am totally uninterested in sport (one of the wierdest things mundanes do is, while being unfit themselves, get obsessive about watching other people doing sport. WTF is the point of that?) but I still get irritated at the idea that this is because I have a fanjo.
Women are socialised to avoid sport, because it would distract them from nurturing men and taking care of other people.

HerBeatitude Mon 15-Nov-10 20:29:42

Yes and all the positive attributes associated with it - strength, speed, prowess, fitness, health - are all associated with men.

You buy a magazine with health or fitness that's geared at women and is it about health or fitness? Is it bollocks, it's about bloody dieting - denying yourself food, feeling hungry and powerless. All the things sport isn't about.

sixpercenttruejedi Mon 15-Nov-10 20:39:09

On a sport related note, I've always been a fan of snooker. I play snooker and pool. There is no reason why men and women can't compete in both these sports and yet the resistance is unbelievable. Women have to leave the country if they want to get any kind of career in this field.

sixpercenttruejedi Mon 15-Nov-10 20:39:30

sorry that was a bit of a hijack

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