Grantland, ‘Man Up’ Is Bullshit

Ah yes, Sarah Palin is finally writing headlines for Grantland!

First off, I really respect everything that they’re trying to do at Grantland. As a young writer, it is absolutely awesome that a site like Grantland exists, a site, supposedly, where writers can try new things out, can fail, can succeed, and can continue the move away from baseless generalizations and hackery like this or anything that John Steigerwald has ever written.

But it’s really just disappointing to see a story with the headline, “Will Texas Man Up Against Oklahoma State?” on the front page, as the LEAD story on Grantland. Now, read anything on this site, and you’ll understand what’s wrong with that headline. I’ve explained it too many times in the past, but in case anyone at Grantland, John Brandon, or whoever wrote the headline doesn’t understand, here’s why:

It makes no fucking sense.

Man up? What does that mean? Yes, I know what you’re trying to say: Texas needs to start playing like men! Arghhhh! But that idea, the playing-like-men one, is total bullshit.

How does a man play football, exactly, Grantland-ers? If “man” was a word with one definition, then sure, “Man up” might make some sense. But this guy is a man, this guy is a man, this guy is a man, and this guy is a man. So, which one do the Longhorns need to play like? And what about women?

She’s a woman. Why can’t they play like her?

This just in—again, I’ve written this too many times—being a man means whatever each man wants it to mean. By using the term, “Man Up,” by nature, you’re trying to define manliness. Whatever Brandon’s article is defining manliness as—basically, that Marlboro, macho-man, tough-guy manliness—is wrong because THERE IS NO DEFINITION.

Seeing this lazy-ass nonsense up on a site like Grantland, where things are supposed to be moving forward, not backward, really just sucks.

—Photo stepnout/Flickr

—Photo AP/Kirsty Wigglesworth

About Ryan O'Hanlon

Ryan O'Hanlon is the managing editor of the Good Men Project. He used to play soccer and go to college. He's still trying to get over it. You can follow him on Twitter @rwohan.


  1. Transhuman says:

    I choose to “man side”, if anyone wants to make unwanted demands upon me I step aside. Man up is just another shaming term used to try to manipulate men.

  2. Agree with bobtt, when I hear “man up” it’s usually in a context where you could, instead, say “suck it up” or “bite the bullet” (in everyday life) or in sports, what bobtt said. This is a matter of semantics, are we gonna start making Spanish speakers address co-ed groups in the feminine form instead of masculine one? Old habits in speech die hard.

    • I don’t think ‘man up’ is old though MC. I think it is a quite recent phrase that has been used in a kind of panic response to changing gender roles and behaviours.

      • I have no doubt that this phrase has been thrown out there as a matter of convience even when it shouldn’t have been. Especially by those advertising pricks. You know, the ones who tell you if you use there body wash and drive a Porsch, You better at least take these pills so you can have an 8″ ” piecce of wood” if you want to be successful with women!

  3. Sorry my comments haven’t been very clear or sophisticated here. My main point is – ‘man up’ is not just distinguishing between being a ‘man’ and being a ‘woman’ (or a ‘pussy’) but also between being a man and being a ‘faggot’ or like people have said a ‘wuss’.

  4. All you “Feministas” need to step back, take a deep breath, and untwist your shorts. The phrase ‘man up’ has nothing at all to do with degrading women. In fact, it has nothing to do with women at all. Matlack and his cronies write all the time on what it means to “Be a man”. All this phrase means is to ; #1 See the challange, #2 Face the challange,and #3 Rise up to the challange. Laeving every thing you have “on the field”. Win or lose. Think of Ruyard Kipling’s poem ‘Charge of the Light Brigarde’ (Into the jaws of death, into the mouth of hell, rode the 6 hundred). Maybe, ifthe author of this article played FOOTBALL instead of soccer, he’d understand this.

  5. my last comment was put in moderation it may be because of the language but I am just checking!

    – nothing to see here –

  6. Everybody knows what they mean.

    There is nothing wrong about saying “man up” in this context.

    There are a good 1,000 more important issues to be bothered about.

  7. In other words, “Man up” means WOMEN whine and are wusses? Thanks a lot for contributing to the recent “it’s-OK-to-be-sexist-again” climate.

    • See this is where I think many feminists take things out of context. I’m not particularly fond of
      “Man Up”, given how people tend to use it as a cop out instead of actually helping people.

      But really?: ““Man up” means WOMEN whine and are wusses?”

      When people say “Be a Man”, or “Man Up”, what they usually talk is bout is not being a boy or a child. It means stop being a baby. Just because it mentions gender doesn’t mean it assumes the OPPOSITE in the other gender. Just like you don’t assume that what isn’t white is black. It completely ignored gray.

  8. What’s with getting all bent out of shape about this “man up” stuff? It’s just a phrase. And whether you want to admit it or not, it does have a meaning.

    It means shut up and stop whining. It means rub some dirt on it and get back in the game. It means suck it up and stop being such a wuss. It’s just a saying. And frankly, some people would be wise to heed this particular saying.

    • But then why isn’t it ‘woman up?’ Because to do so otherwise would mean you’re a wuss, which is why the phrase ‘man up’ is so problematic. It’s inherently sexist. It’s like a white person telling a black person the ‘N’ word is just a word. Words have meaning, and they do effect, or else why would we speak with words if they were ineffective?

      • the phrase ‘man up’ is so problematic. It’s inherently sexist.”

        No, it’s not.

        “It’s like a white person telling a black person the ‘N’ word is just a word.”

        Wrong again. I’m black. It’s not even close. Were it similarly offensive, the vast majority of women and men would be offended but they’re not.

      • Amber: What’s stopping you from saying “woman up?” Go ahead, have at it. I don’t object to the term. Granted, I’m not going to use it because it’s confusing and people wouldn’t know what I meant, but you’re free to do so.

        Is it racist to say black people are generally better basketball players than white people? No, it’s not. Take a look at the make-up of the NBA and you’ll clearly see it’s simple fact. That doesn’t mean ALL black people are better at basketball, we’re just talking in general. Same for men and women.

        Case in point: I’m the father of a 3-year-old. When I go to the park and have him play with other kids, there are boys and girls there but they’re mostly with their mothers. By and large, these moms hover around the playground and stop their kids from doing any activity in which they might get even remotely hurt. I, on the other hand, let my son (safely) test his limits. This has resulted in a few falls complete with bruises, scrapes and tears. While moms tend to rush to their aid and baby them, dads by and large do things a little differently. I essentially tell my son to “man up” and walk it off. I find making a big deal of a minor injury just escalates things and erodes confidence to try new challenges. By “manning up,” he learns that it’s not the end of the world.

        Men and women are equal, but they are not the same.

  9. I think Grantland needs to ‘fag UP!’ :

  10. I remember when it was OK to say things like that because it was OK to insinuate that generally, men are physically stronger and more physically aggressive than women.

    To “man up” is to not get so offended all the time.

    • And it was okay then because it was okay to believe women were inferior to men. It’s 2011. ‘Man up’ is about as outdated as commercials featuring cleaning commercials with women as their sole consumers (which still exist).

      • Except it doesn’t insinuate women are inferior to me. Men and women are different. There are certain things we each excel at and that’s OK. It’s stupid to think that we are equal in every way because we aren’t. We should have the same rights, which we do, but we certainly aren’t the same.

  11. That the definition of manliness is socially constructed doesn’t mean that there’s no definition. “Manliness” has a meaning just as “white” has a meaning. If that socially constructed meaning is harmful, then make the argument why it’s misogynist (or however else its harmful, and there are a number of ways that it is). But there is a definition that people tap into when they say “man up” that communicates a specific message about assertiveness and entitlement to physical space.

  12. Tom Matlack says:

    I’m thinking of going with that blue hair look just so I can write a headline: “Blue-hair Up!”
    (That means if you don’t have blue hair you are weak and worthless)

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