Students, professor discuss societal pressure on young boys

There are a number of phrases thrown around in today’s society, most of which receive little to no thought. One of those phrases is “be a man.” It is what males are told their entire lives by parents, coaches and peers. But what does it actually mean?

Sophomore Patrick Wilson said when he hears someone say, “be a man,” he thinks it means to be “manly” or do “manly things like drive a Mustang.”

Larry Bates, professor of psychology, said he thinks it means a few different things.

“I think it tells males to persevere through something tough that is going on — which is a good thing,” he said. “But on the other hand, I think it’s telling them, ‘don’t show your emotions.’”

Bates said he thinks there are two negative outcomes that occur when using this phrase.

“One is that our emotions are our feedback when something isn’t going good and if we stop those, we’re stopping one of our indicators when things go bad,” he said. “Another thing is the socialization aspect of it. By me saying ‘be a man,’ I’m implying to the boy that somehow his emotional makeup is very different from that of girls, that it’s OK for girls to cry. Girls are different. The whole message that guys are different from girls is probably not a good one to teach when raising a child.”

Freshman Hannah Goldsey said she uses the phrase often.

“They can take it in two ways,” she said. “I’m joking or I’m serious and they should step up in the way they are slacking. I don’t think it’s sexist because they say things like ‘you’re such a girl’.”

In an interview with ElleCanada media, “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam was asked to define “being a man.”

“It means standing on your own two feet, living by your code of honor and being a rock for the people around you,” Hunnam said. “But in the modern context, it also means being in touch with your feminine side. Men have to be strong enough not to repress their emotions — real strength allows for vulnerability.”

Society is questioning the meaning of the phrase “be a man” and its relevance in modern culture.

Sophomore Drake Vaccaro said he believes the phrase should be changed to “be a gentleman” or “be respectful.”

The phrase is often said in anger and used as an insult to offend males, said sophomore Taylor Stanley.

“I think the phrase is used as a cop-out,” said freshman Eric Busby. “It’s sexist, and people should say what they mean instead of throwing something like that around. Socially, when I hear someone say ‘be a man,’ it’s like ‘be tough and aggressive,’ but for me it’s the opposite. It’s about humility.”