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 The fragility of the ‘Real Man’ cliché

I like to be thorough with everything I do; the way my clothes are arranged, the way my toothbrush is placed, the way and manner I place my things, especially the remote control which is supposed to be no other place, but on the stool beside my couch, and a lot of things that you cannot even begin to imagine. Don’t get me wrong, it’s just me. And yes, I don’t watch football, I find it unentertaining and I certainly do not play it, I cannot afford to be seen dripping of sweat and running after an object with others, it makes me feel uncomfortable. Same reason why I don’t visit the gym. And yes, I am fit and healthy.

So, Stephanie for some reasons decided to keep my remote control on the decoder. When I tried to caution her, it was as if she was ready for me and my cup was way full. She yelled back at me

‘You should quit acting like this and start acting like a man,’ she said walking out on me.

‘Are you implying that I am less of a man?’ I struck back

‘Then, become a real man.’

‘Real Man’? Really?

The words ‘real man’, ‘masculinity’, et al,  have been tied to mean anything void of femininity. Hence, masculinity in its very sense excludes all things pinky, all things small, all things sweet, all whispers, all tiny hands, and what have you. Masculinity demands bigness, strongness, lack of tears… It’s like an ornament, that every man must buy, else he is perceived weak, less a man. This cliché started a very long time ago, it is the twin-brother to feminism.

Chike has just lost his mother and he is expected not to cry in front of people. He should be a ‘real man.’ Kizito recently got his heart, broken by his materialistic girlfriend who left him for a man old enough to be her father, and he is told not to get emotional. Johnson visits the gym and gets all built like Bautista, and good gracious, he is the definition of the ‘real man.’  No, you must not shed tears while watching a sorrowful movie or you will be tagged ‘the soft man’.

The real man must never display emotions. And my question is ‘why is it okay for a lady to get heartbroken by a man and not okay for a man to get heartbroken by a lady?’ But no, men are supposed to be assertive, tough, and focused on success. Leadership, power, amazing career, ego, decision making, and aggressiveness are the parameters on which the Masculine man weighs his importance.


The concept of masculinity has been misconstrued. The masculine man can be bought in the gym, in clubs, even in phones. While some people buy him with cars, some others buy him with food choices and the rest with clothing choices. People also buy him with career choices. Now isn’t that a concern? You see, when a man loses himself to the ‘real man’ cliché, it is possible to completely shut down the ability to care or show empathy, and when this happens, the end product is toxic. Ask Siegmund Freud.

The real or masculine man is a concept as fictional as Flash, Batman, Spiderman, and of course Superman. Let us allow ourselves to wander freely with the differences from societal or self-imposed impractical standards of being. Man is human. Biologically, biblically, he has emotions. Let him feel it. Let him lock himself up in his room when he is badly hurt and shed tears, hitting the walls without going out to get drunk with the boys. The man has his life choices to make, let him make them. We should be flexible with this rigid construction of how we define masculinity. After all, if we could buy perfection, there would be no sadness, no blue walls of guarded personalities. But we know that this is not the case.

A penny for your thoughts? Please, drop them for De Critic in the comment session below.

9 Responses

  1. Tobe thank you for this piece, it makes a lot of sense. Men are not porcelain dolls, they have feelings and emotions and should be allowed to express them.

    • Thank you Nita. Of course we are not porcelain dolls 😃 and we won’t be.

  2. One of the reasons I refer myself as a feminist is because of this archaic mentality the society have about Men. It became increasingly worrisome that I needed to change the status quo.

    This medieval mindset has raised musty men with fragile ego. The idea of patriarchy is wrongly extolled.

    Men shed tears.
    Men cry.
    Men show emotions.

    There is nothing masculinity about men not showing emotions, vulnerabilities, and fears.

    We all are human beings and bleed blood.

  3. Men cry too , but with the mindset of being the head, you ll have to stay strong

    • The mindset needs to change. The idea of men being the head is an illusion.

    • Yeah. I get it. As the head, he has to stay strong. But he can lock himself up and cry if he wants anyway, then come out strong afterwards.

  4. Nice writeup… men do break down too, Should i say it’s our Africa mindset that makes it look like men needs not get emotional, they should always remain strong regardless of what happens which I don’t think is a good idea to some extent, we’re all humans, we need to show our emotions when necessary.

    • Nice, really nice. But I have my reservations about some points raised in this article of yours:
      1. A ‘real’ man doesn’t cry when he watches a movie. Come on already! Why would he even shed tears over a movie? What then would he do in a real life situation?
      2. Onku, biko, you see that pink, it’s out of the question. Don’t get besotted with it o. In fact don’t put it on when I’m around. Pink bawo? How can a ‘real’ man even stand that colour on him?
      3. Talk about not watching football, hian!🙄 Maka why? I’m not into the game myself, but please, a niggy has got to love football. There’s this vibe that comes with it na.
      4. Please go to the gym. Gym. Gym. Gym. I can’t say that enough. Go and push some weights to build your guns na instead of moving about looking like something that breeze wee blow any minute. Oh, what ladies would give to have a man with 💪 Ewooooooo.

      That being said, I applaud your writing dexterity. Keep it up!

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De Critic Team
Emmanuel Okonkwo

Emmanuel Okonkwo is a professional content/creative/copywriter; and a critic. He is a published writer internationally and locally; the founder and editor of DeCritic. He holds a bachelor degree in Philosophy & Communications; a diploma degree in Copywriting & Marketing; and others. Crazy right? He has worked for and written for some of the world best marketing agencies, influencers, blogs and magazines. He is unique, rational, fun, radical and balanced.

Chinenye Chukwudebelu

Chinenye Chukwudebelu is a professional copywriter/content writer that enjoys writing about brand's products/services and lifestyles. She is also an investment banker and a data analysis enthusiast. She has a great voice and she is shy.

Tobe Nosike

Nosike, Emmanuel Tobe is a professional compere, a creative writer and a brand/media manager. He is also an IT expert and accountant. He loves creative writings and lifestyle. Tobe is playful yet gentle and stubborn. 

Chiamaka Ezeonwuka

Chiamaka Ezeonwuka (Dinma Caruso) is a professional digital marketer and blogger. She has an extensive experience in marketing and digital marketing. She is good with people. Chiamaka is a disciplinarian as well as a fun lady. She is blunt, daring, considerate and a goal-getter. 

Felix Echeta

Felix Echeta is a copywriter, video editor, and PR expert with lots of experience to show for it. He is straight-face funny and the spirit of the PR department. Felix is also a blunt writer and he loves to play around with video content.

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