August 17, 2016

What I Say when Someone Tells me I’m Not a Real Man.

Wikimedia Commons

A while back, I read a blog post by a conservative-minded individual. The title: “Dear ‘Men’ Who Vote Bernie Sanders: You’re not Men at All.”

Going in, I knew this article was going to be filled with right-wing rhetoric, most of which I don’t agree with, but I was compelled to read it anyway, simply because I was curious.

As I read, I felt my skin bristle, my fists clench, my stomach coil, and more than once, I wanted to shout obscenities into the computer screen. Not just because I disagreed, but because it was dead wrong on what it means to be a man—at least, to me.

If Donald Trump was the ideal man, then perhaps the writer was spot on. But Donald Trump is not the ideal man. In fact, he’s the opposite of what a man, especially one to run a country such as the United States, should be. His form of masculinity is the wolf. Loud. Fierce. Growling. A predator feeding on prey. Bernie Sander’s form of masculinity is the sheepdog. Quiet. Reserved. Attentive. Protecting the innocent from those who prey on them.

As a Bernie Sanders supporter and a man, I felt obligated to write a poem on what it means to be a real man. Below is my response.


A Real Man

What is a real man?

Ambitious. Confident. Charming. Fearless. Strong. Empowering. Masculine.


Why not try these words on for size?

Vulnerable. Empathetic. Patient. Honest. Authentic. Passionate. Open-minded.


The idea of a what it means to be a man is often put on a pedestal or a stage

Something that is more theatrics or more Hollywood than real

Because let me tell you

A real man is not John Wayne

John Wayne is not even real…cough cough…Marion Robert Morrison

Even the myth of John Wayne is not real

Millions of men fought and died in World War II

But John Wayne was not one of them

No, he was always an actor playing a soldier, but never a soldier himself

Yet he remains the stereotypical representation of everything masculine


For years now,

The idea of what it means to be a man has been overgeneralized and misused

It’s time to right that wrong

And discuss what it means to be a real man


A real man is honest with his emotions

He doesn’t hide behind bravado or virility

A real man is kind when kindness has walked out the door

Because he knows a thousand battles are won by a simple act of compassion

A real man is confident enough to know that the only true confidence is silence

Because greatness is not something said; greatness is something done

A real man is comfortable in his own skin

Knowing that if you are who you say you are, then simply being that is enough


A real man listens even when he disagrees

Because he knows that building and maintaining relationships is better than always being right

A real man isn’t afraid to cry or show weakness

Because real courage is taking off the armor and allowing yourself to be vulnerable

A real man is not afraid to ask for help or directions

Because everyone, even the strongest among us, gets a little lost along the way

A real man knows that when it comes to a fight

It should always be the last option, not the first, second, or third


A real man won’t provide for a woman

He’s self-assured enough to know that a woman can provide for herself

That she’s just as strong as he is, but in different ways

Don’t believe me? One word: childbirth

Instead, he’ll support her and allow her to support him

He will see her as his equal

Not an object or pair of tits or trophy on the wall

But an actual person


A real man doesn’t need to brag

Or puff out his chest to intimidate

Or talk over others to be heard

Or have the biggest dick in a roomful of dicks

A real man doesn’t need to stand above those weaker than he

Or pick fights with those smaller than he

Or be in constant competition with those equal as he

Or try to cut down or belittle those bigger than he


A real man understands that

Gender roles are just smaller parts of the much larger humanity

That standing up for what’s right is more important than standing with a crowd

That showing weakness is strength

That any man can throw a fist, but only a few can walk away

That setting an example for your child is more important than battling for them

That when you let go of the singular…a man

You become part of the plural…mankind




Author: Zev Lawson Edwards

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Editor: Emily Bartran


Leave a Thoughtful Comment

Read 0 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Zev Lawson Edwards