There are certain choice phrases that really grate on me. The reasons why they may grate on me are varied: overuse, misquotation, mispronunciation, etc. Some people are obsessed with platitudes and they often get my back up.
There’s something hollow in a person using a clichéd saying when somebody has asked for their advice or guidance. Telling someone “There are plenty more fish in the sea” when their heart is breaking over a breakup, whilst said with the best intentions, is really quite insensitive and not at all helpful. “They’re in a better place now” after a loved one has passed away—just no! I wouldn’t expect the average layman to have the tact to know exactly the right words to use, but to bring it down to an oft-spun platitude displays something that no suffering person wants to be presented with from their confidant of choice: disinterest.
One quote, above and beyond all others, I cannot abide. Nothing really offends me; this turn of phrase comes close to achieving that aim. As a male, it’s a phrase I’ve been forced to endure on a number of occasions. Why am I giving it such a big build up when the giveaway is in the title? I don’t know!
Yes, “Man up” has to be about the worst and most disgusting ‘motivational’ saying that I’ve ever heard. In this age, where it’s practically sacrilege to be offensive towards anyone or anything, I’m surprised it’s used as often as it is.
What does it mean? In my mind, this is what I think the intended purpose of the phrase is: stop using emotion and deal with your issue in a wholly logical manner. In a lot of ways, I actually agree with that. I am a firm believer that issues should be solved using logical thought. We use logic to work out that the addition of one plus one equals two. If we use emotion to work out that most basic of mathematical equations we’ll probably end up with an answer of 374.2813. Emotion is not a tool to be used when trying to fix something that isn’t working.
My issue with the term “Man up” is that it somehow seems to imply that a man has no right to be emotional or display emotions because it’s inherently male to repress bad feelings and carry on regardless. It implies that you’re less of a man if you don’t swallow your emotions and get on with your day.
People perhaps use the term with the best of intentions, such as with our earlier mentioned examples. There’s another platitude that sums up the use of such phrases: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Sometimes, in being what one deems to be helpful, it is as far from helpful as can be conceived. When a man is struggling emotionally to deal with a situation the term “Man up” is about the worst thing one could say, even if the intent behind saying is to say “Don’t let emotion stop you from making the right choices.” The term is callous, derogatory, and belittling.
It’s definitely the stigma that men are expected not to make a drama out of a crisis that causes me to hate the term so much. The ironic twist to it is that I’ve encountered so many females who are disillusioned by the fact that their significant other is emotionally unavailable or doesn’t deal with issues using any kind of empathy. Well, isn’t that entirely what “manning up” is? You can’t have the best of both worlds.
Now I’m not saying I expect everybody to be an emotional mess and “feel” everything all the time. It’s good to emotionally distance yourself a lot of the time so that you can work on a solution to a problem without getting dragged down by your emotional attachment to it. Some people are good at doing this. Here’s another factoid: not all people who are good at doing this are male! I’m in no way a male feminist; however, I do believe people simply are what they are irrespective of what hides out in their underwear. Some people are better at some things than others; what sex/gender you are makes no difference to that.
In conclusion, “Man up” is a terrible phrase. It’s a phrase that could do with revision and then changed to be less stupid. People who use it after that should be publicly stoned or given ten lashes, perhaps even a stint of community service. There’s no place for the term in modern society. I’d like to see it stamped out and eradicated.
And now I’ve finished being a Social Justice Warrior, back to being the cynical sod who hates everything that you all know and love…