Society Needs to Move On From ‘Man Up’

You know how swearing is supposed to be some terrible anti-social act? Well I think swear words are pretty alright, they add colour to language and make it a tasty mouthful to spit out. There is no phrase that will ever truly capture the mood and sense behind “fuck that” or “bullshit” – I mean yes, the Christian camp mentors will say things like “good golly”, but we all know a “holy shit” would have far more convincingly conveyed it. So, keep up the colourful and ever evolving language.
But if you’re looking to eliminate something, may I suggest the phrase ‘man up’? I hate, hate, hate it with everything in me. I mean, what is a ‘man’ meant to be anyway? People say it’s kind of like this unexplainable concept, but the only unexplainable concepts I will allow are issues such as grace, God, and child/parent dynamics. The dictionary says it all pretty clearly for me that a man is “an adult human male”, but that’s not what we mean when we say ‘man up’. We’re talking about this concept of strength, reliability, and stoicism, all linked in with undertones of heterosexuality, media-shaped body types and unfair burden. A female can be told to ‘man up’, but it’s not really suggesting she emulate Priscilla Queen of the Desert. ‘Man up’ isn’t just another version of a swear word, it’s a deeply rooted cultural stab at each other.

If we want to bring women up to equality, then we also need to dismantle ‘manliness’ from its pedestal – and you know what? That’s a damn good thing, because ‘manly’ stoicism is such a huge contributor to male illness, depression and suicide. I love men so much, I mean, you can see it in my posts. But I don’t need men to be ‘men’ for me. I need men to be themselves for me, if they’re straight, gay, happy, sad, strong, weak, capable, useless, or anything and everything in between. And when I need them to stop whining, pitch in, and make an effort, I will never, ever tell them to ‘man up’.
So here’s some suggested replacements, if you want to convey that sense of ‘get over yourself, get in there and get it done’. What about “step up”, “own up”, “take it on the chin” or “get with it”? 
Or here’s my ultimate favourite, “push harder, your mother did!”
Cheers,
Sarah
Btw, if you’re wondering how I can be employed in HR, and write about HR – here‘s my explanation.

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  • 12 September 2013
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