Like a Man, Approximately

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About Drew Bowling

Drew Bowling is a writer, erstwhile photographer, and highly decorated factotum living somewhere in the United States. His writing lingers on language, gender, mental health, and occasional raves about outer space. Keep up with his fancy musings over on Twitter.


  1. As a mom of a boy and life coach, I hope people read this and go, “Good point! I feel this is a dilemma that males are tasked with daily – sadly, society places so much pressure on how to be a “man” or a “woman”…I love the last bit “Instead of being a man, just be you.” Thank you for sharing this.

  2. “Simply, if I’m not acting like a man, I must be acting like a woman, and that is a bad thing for me to do.”

    Or, possibly, a child.

    “Act like a man” does have a sexist connotation, but it also has, for lack of a more accurate term, an “ageist” connotation.


  3. @Drew- nice name… & good article…
    “Instead of being a man, just be you”- OK so if that includes a swagger, aggressiveness, and awareness is it good or bad? In my book there are things I do that I believe men should be able to do- but then I have buddies who give a damn about the NHL and find me a bit lost as I could care less.
    I’m so confused… Your friend “talk to him like a man.” could have accompanied his request with a slap across the top of your head and that would pass for appropriate and usual male interaction in my book.
    “That men will try to use masculinity as a way to control other men is not constructive” so is it a negative if an adult attempts to control another adult? Seriously- what constitutes control? Where to eat, what team is better, Paul Ryan is a dick…..
    So are we at “Act Like an Adult”? Doesn’t this ignore the fundamental differences between men & women…
    My life was a lot easier before i found this site- I was perfectly happy on the tool blogs….

  4. Wonderful, thoughtful writing-it’s something that should be taught in schools. Thankfully, I’ve known a number of men over the years like you who see being a man in this way. My son-in-law is one young man who would never consider saying “act/talk like a man.” I don’t even think it’s a part of his vocabulary.

  5. Peter von Maidenberg says:

    If you’re not acting “like a man,” you’re probably acting like an individual. We used to be very, very scared of our own individuality. Individual thinking and – worse – individual action was thought to weaken morality, strength, society.

    That’s one way to understand the stigma of not being a man. It has very little to do with being a woman.

  6. I don’t understand what the issue is with a certain ideal of masculinity being set that is never attainable, but will always be striven for and motivates us to move towards it. I understand the issue behind having such a vague standard, but at the same time, it’s perfectly natural.

    Sure, if someone tells me to throw myself off a bridge and ”be a man” about it, it’s retarded. But if someone tells me to take care of my responsibilities with that same phrase, then its perfectly agreeable.

    It’s not necessarily insulting the other gender, but it is explicitly saying that you aren’t living up to what is expected of you and you are less for failing it. Your whole identity is put on the line. It’s a cultural thing that says you are excluded from this cultures definition of a man. It may be gender slanted, but what isn’t? Hey, I like equality as well. But at the same time I feel like in the pursuit of equality people are trying to completely avoid masculinity and femininity and make them mesh together in some strange way.

    Also, it isn’t so much a term that insults women as it is an indicator of pressure males are put under. I know how feminists like to miss the point completely and make it about a ‘male dominated society’. Which it is, no doubt, but that isn’t the point here.


  1. [...] originally appeared on The Good Men Project. Republished here with [...]

  2. [...] In a prior piece for the Good Men Project, I wrote about the restrictive demand of telling a man to do something “like a man.” That turn of phrase has been around for the better part of half a century (if not a lot longer), [...]

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