We need to stop saying ‘man up’


“Man up…Grow a pair…Stop being such a pussy.”

Terms that all of us hear from time to time and in all honesty, most of us are guilty of using at some point in our lives (myself included).

The beauty of getting older is that you change (hopefully for the better!). In this you realise the ignorant things you’ve said in the past, which gives you a well needed wake up call to make positive changes for the future.  

“Man up” was never a go-to term of mine, but before I’d occasionally throw it at my male best friend as a form of playful banter. These days the term isn’t in my vocabulary. Here’s why…

This year after spending many hours on Google trying to find a charity I’d like to get involved with, I discovered CALM; Campaign Against Living Miserably, which is an organisation aimed at the prevention of male suicide.

Throughout the last 4 months, whilst doing events with CALM, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting an array of people (mostly men but not exclusively) and had some very personal, in depth chats. Despite differences in age, race and opinions, a few things have become clear to me; men are just as sensitive as women and men are desperate not to be judged.

Something that’s cropped up a few times in these chats is the use of the term ‘Man up’ and actually how this can make a man feel judged and well… shit.

If we say “Man up” we’re effectively saying “I’d like you to show traits that are considered more masculine than feminine right now” (the fact there are masculine and feminine traits in the first place seems a little ridiculous to me!).

Let’s say stereotypical male traits and behaviours include strength, courage and not crying. Each person’s characterisation of these traits differs; one person’s idea of strength is different to another’s. Plus, how much courage do you think it takes to be a man and cry in front of someone else in the first place?

As a society we put so much pressure on men to be ‘men’, but what I’ve very recently realised is there is no such thing. Yes a man is usually distinguished by male genitalia and a different physical structure, but to say “Man up” when there isn’t a dictionary definition of what a “man” is behaviourally is illogical. In that sense I tend not to see men as men and women as women; I see everyone as people. I mean we’re all the same really; just a bunch of weird organisms and atoms living under the same roof. Enough with the segregation, labels, expectations and judgement I say!

As a tomboy I’ve always had those who tell me to be more ladylike and it always makes me feel crap. Just because anatomically I’m female, why does that mean society gets to bully me for wearing boy’s clothes or judge me for sitting with my legs wide open? Comfort; physically and emotionally, shouldn’t be limited based on the status of your gender…

If a guy wants to cry, get him a tissue. If a guy wants a hug, hold out your arms. If a guy wants to wear make-up, hand him the mirror! Don’t be the old fashioned friend who says “Man up”, which although your friend may laugh off, could secretly be killing him inside.