Five Criteria for Manliness

The basic premise of this website is that Stay-At-Home-Dads should do things that maintain their masculinity. In past columns, I have offered examples of manly endeavors, like chopping wood and playing sports. However, this list is limited by my imagination. What if a man is more creative that I am? Instead of creating a finite list, I need to put down some guidelines so that others may take the list where no man has gone before.

In order for an activity to be masculating (a word I just made up that means it helps to build up the testosterone and reduces emasculation), it has to meet most, if not all, of the following criteria. In general, these are things that men do that women do NOT do:

1) It should make you sweat. Women glow. Men sweat and have sweat since that first male fish struggled out of the water. When we sweat, we flush all those toxins floating around inside our bodies and create that smell of manly accomplishment. When women smell, they quickly and quietly sneak off to take a shower. When men smell, we take a big whiff, yell, “Whoo! I am ripe!” and sit down and have a beer until we dry off.

2) It should be loud. Yelling or grunting or cheering or cursing has a similar effect to

sweating. It purges tension that, if allowed to accumulate, causes all sorts of problems. Obviously, when you play a game like football or hockey, you are going to holler when you hit someone or shoot the puck. You also need to scream when watching a game. Watching a big game when you have to be quiet (like when the kids are asleep) is dangerous. Chopping wood is good because you have to grunt to do it right. Hiking and camping don’t lend themselves to loudness, so you have to find a good high cliff and holler to your echo. If you holler when you are woodworking, that’s probably a bad sign.

3) It has to accomplish something. No man does anything for no reason, no matter what his wife might think. At the end of the day, you need to be able to look back and say, “This day was not wasted. I did (BLANK).” Going to sleep with a sense of accomplishment is important, whether you cheered your team to victory (or defeat), made enough firewood for the winter, or raked the lawn.. Maybe you did nothing, but nothing was the planned activity and you did it very well. Check it off.

4) It should be something your wife does not understand. This one came to me while I was gardening. While I was working, I thought, “This is a manly chore.” But old women garden, don’t they? How could this be encouraging my masculinity if my seventy-year-old neighbor can do it in her Amigo? Because it was raining when I was doing it. Please don’t misunderstand. Gardening in the sunlight is not emasculating. It just isn’t masculating.

Women, for one reason or another, don’t garden or golf or hike in the rain (probably because they have enough sense to come in out of it). If I am doing something that a woman wouldn’t do, then it’s probably a manly thing. Or it really is too stupid to be done in the first place. Or both.

5) Other. Here are some minor conditions that could make up for not meeting those above: You might be engaged in a manly activity if: something breaks, something bleeds, something squishes, something explodes, something dies, or something gets very dirty.

There must be other criteria, but in general, if you are doing something that makes you feel like a man, add it to your list.

©2010, Mark Phillips

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 Women, it's true, make human beings, but only men can make men. - Margaret Mead

Mark Phillips is a Stay-At-Home-Dad and freelance writer. Along with raising his four children, he is developing a franchise called “The Vacuum IS a Power Tool.” It is designed to help SAHDs maintain that which makes us men, instead of hairy Mom-substitutes. He earned a B.S. in Communication/Theatre Arts and teaching certificates in English, public speaking, and psychology from Eastern Michigan University. After six years as a high school English teacher and Director of Dramatic Arts at Powers Catholic High School in Flint, Michigan, he changed careers and became a Stay-At-Home-Dad. or E-Mail

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