I recently participated in August McLaughlin’s Beauty of a Woman Blogfest with my post, Don’t Hate the Skinny Girl. Today’s special entry is part of The Mark of a Man Blogfest hosted by fellow author David N. Walker.
I. Love. Men.
There, I’ve said it. I really do. I think men are awesome. From the way their Adam’s apples bob up and down pushing against the flesh of their throats, to the shoulders that are broad like fortress walls, to their hands that are thicker, rougher, and have visible veins like tributaries of a river, to their hips that land in a completely different place than women’s. I like their lower voices–tenors, baritones, basses–that can sound so commanding at times and melodious at others. I like that they think differently, in ways that make me imagine a puzzle in their brain that I can’t quite get all the pieces to complete.
I like that men can debate, argue, and even fist fight one minute, and be friends ten minutes later. I like that men generally take more risks, push their bodies and their fears. I like that men often use their strength to protect others, whether in the military, as a father, or as a shield for their woman (see Aurora heroes: Three who gave their lives).
So I guess I was in the perfect position to end up as the mother of boys. Thus, my household consists of three men…and me. I have a front-row seat for how my sons toy with what the mark of a man is–what makes a guy a man.
Two movie moments immediately came to mind when I thought about this.
Lars and the Real Girl (1997) was an excellent film. At one point, Lars (Ryan Gosling) asks his brother Gus (Paul Schneider) what it means to be a man. Gus’s answer starts with the usual stuff, but ends up with him communicating that it’s much more.
The full clip is HERE (which I couldn’t get to play on this site). But, when pressed, Gus goes on to answer:
Gus: Okay, you know, I can only give you my opinion.
Lars: That’s all I want.
Gus: Well, it’s not like you’re all one thing or the other, okay? There’s still a kid inside, but you grow up when you decide to do right, okay? And not what’s right for you, what’s right for everybody, even when it hurts.
Lars: Okay, like what?
Gus: Like, you know, like, you don’t jerk people around, you know? And you don’t cheat on your woman. And you take care of your family. You know, you’d admit when you’re wrong, or you try to anyways. That’s all I can think of. It sounds like it’s easy, and for some reason it’s not.
Gus tells his brother that the mark of a man is stepping up–doing the right thing.
The second, oddly enough, is a scene that has stuck with me since I saw this film ONCE in 1989. Say Anything is about Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack) risking himself for love. At one point, he’s talking with his good friend Corey (played by the fabulous Lili Taylor), and this exchange occurs:
D.C.: Lloyd, why do you have to be like this?
Lloyd Dobler: ‘Cause I’m a guy. I have pride.
Corey Flood: You’re not a guy.
Lloyd Dobler: I am.
Corey Flood: No. The world is full of guys. Be a man. Don’t be a guy.
Corey encourages Lloyd to step out–to be different and better.
Indeed, Corey, the world is full of guys. And sadly, guys who cheat on their women or don’t take care of their family. Or measure themselves in all the wrong ways–by their financial means, their muscles, their sexual prowess, etc.
But the true mark of a man is doing the right thing. Stepping up and stepping out. We know it when we see it–in the tearful eyes of a soldier saying goodbye to his family to do his duty abroad, in the resolute jaw of the father working 50 hours a week so that his family can be fed and his kids can go to college, in the broad hand of an elderly husband who reaches out to hold the hand of his wife of many years, in the small kindnesses shown by personal generosity and looking out for others among your family, friends, and acquaintances.
True men are still out there. The world may be full of “guys,” but I know many men who do the right thing–who step up and step out day-in and day-out. They live out the mark of a man.
And I salute them all. Because it’s not easy; yet you do it anyway.
Share your thoughts on what the mark of a man is.