20 March, 2009

hello? anyone there?

i've been thinking a lot about the phrase "man enough"

-what do you think of when you hear this?
-are there any connotations surrounding this phrase for you?
-are there any personal experiences linked to this phrase?
-does this phrase feel positive or negative, both or neither, to you?
-do you think this phrase is linked to specific cultural ideas and norms?
-where and in what manner have you heard this phrase used?

i'm interested in hearing what YOU have to say -
leave a comment and let's discuss the ideas surrounding this phrase.
participation is appreciated!



Diana said...

I think the phrase is completely inappropriate. What does being "man" enough even mean? That you can take something hard, that you can be "tough." I know many people of both genders that make and break this phrase.I'm "man enough" to do things that many men wouldn't do, so what does that mean? Giving birth is incredibly difficult..is that manly??

Eliot Newton said...

It's kind of a loaded phrase, and it depends on who's saying it.

To me, it has more to do with an inner strength than an actual physical component. There's a local/Finnish word for this... sisu. I figure if you've got sisu, you're man enough.

I can't think of any particular personal experiences at the moment.

The phrase and its connotations can be positive or negative depending on context. If it's someone trying to measure themselves or someone else up against a sterotype of a man, then deciding they're not man enough, then that's bad. But if it's someone saying "You know what, I can handle this, I'll make the best I can out of this." then that's good.

Culturally, at least where I live, there's a pretty strong idea of it being sisu. But I think elsewhere around the midwest/US it's fairly similar. A guy who's "man enough" is confident, works hard, has a certain amount of wisdom. It's not a specifically masculine thing, just an admired skill set.

I've heard it used in situations like "Come on, you're man enough to get through this. Dry your tears and keep moving." and "Oh, he's not nearly man enough for this. He can't take care of himself, much less other people."

I guess if I had to sum it up in one word, it'd be sisu. But it's certainly a complex and interesting topic!

Iara said...

In my opinion, the phrase has a negative connotation. There's so much pressure for men to be "manly". For a man to be balanced in the masculine and feminine is not valued- the feminine is shunned as weak and disgusting (in the context of "are you man enough"). While there's not the same pressure integrated into our language for women. No one says "are you woman enough?", although people do say, "you're such a girl" "Stop being so girly".
In reality, women have experiences and do things that are just as hard, complicated, intelligent, and strength-building as men. Like Diana mentioned- giving birth, for example. Raising children alone, working the "double shift" (work and then home), being victims to rape and violence, being caregivers, bleeding every month, the list goes on and on.
"Are you woman enough?" should be incorporated into our language, just to be fair, but ultimately we shouldn't be concerned with proving our gender to anyone or striving for either end of the false dichotomy.

Katrina said...

To be 100% honest (which I hesitate to do after reading the other comments), I think of it as a little funny and ridiculous. It reminds me of men who have had too much to drink trying to start fights, and then me wanting to to respond, "What the heck is wrong with you!?"

genderkid said...

"A guy who's "man enough" is confident, works hard, has a certain amount of wisdom. It's not a specifically masculine thing, just an admired skill set." --Eliot

I agree; I think that's the way it's generally used. I'd prefer to say "human enough" or "person enough" if we're talking about general, non-gender-specific values; but if you don't measure up to those values, then are you not human enough? I'd rather not set standards for anyone; we're too diverse.

Some of my male friends keep telling me that men don't do this or that --like skipping hand in hand, or hugging each other too much-- but they still accept me as a man when I break those rules.