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What Makes a Man?

By Barrington H. Brennen, 2000, 2021

What makes a man?  There are many different views. I have discovered that the most common definition of a man describes a male in terms of being a "the leader." Notice I said "the" leader not "a" leader. Hence, we raise our boys to concentrate on what some call the "natural, God-given responsibility" to be "in charge" of others - especially the women. One way we emphasize this male dominance is by asking the following question when visiting a home: "Who is the man of the house?"

This question often means that when there is no father in the home, the son will be considered the "man of the house (the leader)" even when there are older sisters. Another way of reinforcing male dominance is when it is time to select church leaders. Often a gifted and talented female will be overlooked and a not-so-talented, uneducated male will be chosen to serve as a church leader in a local congregation. Invariably the church suffers because of such decisions. Could it be that we are making a mistake here? I believe we are. It is my personal opinion, based on scripture (See Genesis 1:26-30), that God gave both Adam and Eve the responsibility to have dominion over the earth. In other words, they were both given equal leadership roles in managing planet earth. They were to work harmoniously as horticulturists, sociologists, theologians, political scientists, as well as married partners.

Would the real man please stand up? Is he the dominant leader? Or is he the self-confident, mature thinking, well-adjusted male who focuses on harmoniously living and sharing with his female counterpart? Many years ago (1991) there was a fascinating article in "Menís Health" magazine published describing the typical man. Here is what it said. The typical male:

         Thinks about sex every 15 minutes until age 40, when such thoughts occur only once every half hour. He makes 3 million sperms every hour and has sex 2.5 times per week.

         Produces about 25 feet of hair in his lifetime. One out of five will go bald in his 20s, and the same number will retain full head of hair until his dying day.

         Will take in enough air during his lifetime to fill two blimps the size of the Hindenburg.

         Retains about 60 percent of his body weight in water and will produce up to half a gallon of sweat daily. He prefers a shower rather than a bath to remove his perspiration, and one out of three will sing while showering.

         Has a heart that pumps about 50 million gallons of blood and beat around 2.5 billion times during his lifetime.

         Walks 1,250 miles per year, and even though he is not the fastest animal on earth, he can outrun any other species for long distances.

         Consumes 2,400 calories per day, and his body is so efficient that if he ran on gasoline, he would get 900 miles per gallon.

         Has a brain that weighs almost three pounds. (Some employers or spouses would suggest that is an optimistic estimate at best.)

         Falls in love an average of six times during his lifetime. Is married and would marry his spouse again.

         Cries about once a month, approximately one fourth as often as a woman, and he usually tries to hide it.

         Eats his corn on the cob in circles rather than straight across.

         Does not know his cholesterol count and will not go to the doctor unless it is an emergency.

         Thinks he looks simply fine in the nude, no matter what his body weight.

         Will not stop to ask for directions when he is in a car.

         Follows pro-football but lets his wife buy all his underwear.

         Lives eight years less than the typical woman, even though more males are conceived than females.

         125 male embryos are conceived for every 100 females.

         105 baby boys are born for every 100 females.

         There are 100 men aged 18 for every 100 females.

         There are 68 men aged 85 or older for every 100 females.

         There are 44 men aged 85 or older for every 100 females.

I hope you do not agree with all of the above statements.  What is a man? What is it to be masculine? Many think that masculinity is biologically determined, but most of its origins are cultural and historical.  Is the real man a dying breed?  Do we identify a real man by the physical strength he demonstrates or by how he uses his brain?   Do we identify a real man by the number of children he has and the number women he has around him, or it is by self-control?  Is it possible we can identify a real man by a gentle and kind spirit?   What do you think?

Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist.  Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragement.org or call 242-327 1980 or visit the website www.soencouragement.org 



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April 26, 2000, TAGnet/NetAserve / Network Solutions

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