Recent headline —Houston transgender bathroom bill debate centers on differing definitions of ‘men’
It used to be a simple question. When the doctor delivered a newborn baby everyone asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?” There typically wasn’t a lot of arguing about it and the answer was obvious almost all of the time. (Gender ambiguity only occurs in 1 out of 4500 births. www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/ambiguous-genitalia) Biology hasn’t changed over the years, and with today’s science and DNA tests, the sex of the baby can be determined, even in the rare cases of gender ambiguity. What has changed is how people identify themselves. The definition of a ‘man’ has certainly changed, but I would argue that behavior does more to define manhood than DNA.
When I was kid you could identify a man by the way he carried himself. A man walked a certain way, talked a certain way, and had an air about him that let you know he was a man. A man walked into a room with confidence, even if he wasn’t the smartest or most qualified person in the room. He held his head high, looked people in the eye, and gave a firm handshake. If you had to tell someone you were a man it was a sure sign that you weren’t. Real men carried themselves like men.
You could tell a man by the way he talked. A man used words like, “Ma’am” and “Sir.” A man watched his language in polite company and avoided vulgarity. A man’s word was his bond and he would rather die before dishonoring his good name with a lie. A man didn’t waste time whining or complaining unless he also offered a solution to the problem. A man avoided talking behind someone’s back and preferred to tell you his opinion to your face where it could be disputed in manly style. Real men talked like men.
You could tell a man by the way he dealt with pain. A man kept his pain to himself. If he was hurt, sick, or injured he didn’t complain about it or announce it to the world. He understood that when you complain half of the people don’t care about your problems, and the other half are glad you’ve got them. A man stoically pressed forward enduring the pain until it subsided, or maybe killed him. Real men dealt with pain quietly and without fanfare.
You could tell a man by the way he shouldered responsibility. A man didn’t ask for quarter, he asked for opportunity. When a man made a mistake, he fessed up and made it right. He didn’t avoid the difficult task, but rolled up his sleeves and got busy. He didn’t look for the government, his neighbor, or heaven forbid his wife, to do his work for him. If a man had a job to do, he did it. Real men squared their shoulders and bore responsibility with pride.
You could tell a man by the way he treated duty. A man viewed his duty as an obligation that he must fulfill. A man didn’t look for loopholes or excuses to shirk his duty. When duty called, such as serving your country, taking care of your neighbor, speaking out against injustice, he answered that call without fanfare and did what duty required. Real men treated duty as an obligation of manhood.
You could tell a man by the way he behaved around women, and children. A man opened doors for women, or offered a woman his seat on a crowded bus. A man deferred to a woman in a crowd and allowed her to go first. He offered up his coat, umbrella, or whatever else he could offer to ease a woman’s burden or make her more comfortable. He protected children from harm, bounced them on his knee, and told them stories. A man provided for his children and loathed a handout, considering it an insult to his manhood. Real men took care of women and children.
Have real men become so rare that we need a committee to define manhood nowadays? Men have we done such a poor job of being real men that even the very definition of a man is under debate? I’m not talking about ego-driven, chest-thumping, juvenile behavior. I’m referring to the all the strengths that ennoble man and make him worthy of emulation. If manhood has become so rare that it needs a council of politicians to define it, then maybe it’s time we put down the bite-size quiche and started being men again.
Yes, politicians and society may debate about the differing definitions of men, but a real man is still easy to pick out of the crowd. He’s the one behaving like a man.