Man Up

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…

17 thoughts on “Man Up

  1. Great post. I think there is an increasing backlash into the term “man up”. It divides people. People either say it, or hate people saying it! It polarises people. I hope it’ll be entirely eradicated within the next few years. Let’s hope so! I have done some anti man up signs as part of the suicide awareness project I did. I’ll send you them. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely commend your anti man up quotes. It’s perfectly okay for a man not to be okay and to express emotion. The fact people still think it’s acceptable this day and age to tell blokes they’re wrong to express emotion makes me seethe!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No wonder it does! Do you think it’s a class thing….ie. is is more a working class alpha male type thing? Or do you think it’s across the board? Sorry if that’s a insensitive question.😳 I just wonder if it’s linked to men struggling to articulate their feelings and the conditioning received by parents. I suspect that men and women who work in the higher level jobs would have access to more mental health training as part of occupational health/HR policies….or may be I’m just talking bollocks. I honestly don’t know. Either way, I really hope it will stop soon!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. A very fair and well posed question. I’m not sure, you know. I think it would be easy to assume it’s more of a working class stigma because that’s where the ‘men’s men’ are more likely to exist. Having said that, I’ve encountered a lot of hard-faced, miserable bastards in expensive suits, so perhaps it is a stigma that exists across the board. There is this general idea that people who work all the time are ‘hard working’, but I’m not sure that’s accurate. Is a man who works his contracted hours and then comes home to love his family or even just his life in general not hard working? It seems most have it drilled into them that being someone who works all the time, male or female (or whatever of the bullshit genders people define themselves as), is a noble working class hero. I don’t think they’re anything of the sort. They’re a person making a choice and are no more noble and heroic than a person who chooses not to be in work longer than necessary. If they’re male, it certainly makes them no less of a man.


  2. yes!!!! Agree with you soooooo much on this!!! A phrase I really dislike is ‘Well, you can’t be too sad, because some where, someone else has it worse than you.” Like, really? That’s like saying I can’t be as happy as I am because someone somewhere else has it better. These phrases people like to tout instead of offering genuine comfort or advice drive me crazy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am so using that one the next time someone says that there’s always someone worse off than me! Thank you for the ammo 😂 I think people find it hard to summon the words to offer genuine comfort and/or advice, so they fall back on platitudes as a compromise. Is it that they lack genuine empathy when they do it or is it that they’re emotionally unintelligent? Maybe something else entirely.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I really don’t get it when people use that word, honestly I hate it. It sounds the other way it should, I mean the phrase doesn’t portray it’s meaning somehow. Like it’s all mumbled up when it’s pronounced and then the reaction you notice on the person it’s said to and the one who says it tells a lot. I think the word should stop being used so i agree with you Paul.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sometimes I think people are trying to be helpful when they say it; however, most of the time, it’s said with real venom. Like the person who isn’t ‘manning up’ is a coward or something. It is a very awful thing to say.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh yeah I definitely agree with everything you wrote. I HATE platitudes… I think it’s lazy, inappropriate, and just plain horrible. When I use it, it’s on my blog in a mocking way (what I’d expect and have had others say). When someone uses one of them I have to fight REALLY hard not to put a fist through their face.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha. I think a violent reaction to platitudes and clichés is perfectly reasonable. I think if they’re all you can muster up when listening to a person pour their heart out then you should just say nothing!


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