Exploring Masculinity: 10 Responses to the damaging phrase ‘Man Up’ by Guante

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Masculinity is a topic that is often considered to be one-dimensional and devoid of nuance. The phrase “man up” has been used so frequently that it has become almost clich√©. However, Guante’s article “Exploring Masculinity: 10 Responses to the damaging phrase ‘Man Up’” challenges this notion by delving deep into the complexities of what it means to be a man in today’s society. In this blog post, we will explore and dissect Guante’s article, analyzing the different responses that he presents and discussing how they can be utilized to initiate a more constructive conversation around masculinity.


The concept of masculinity has been under scrutiny for some time now, as the definition of what it means to be masculine has shifted over time. One phrase that has been used to promote traditional male behavior is “man up.” However, the dangerous effects of this phrase have been brought to light in recent years, particularly in the work of spoken word artist and writer Guante. In this article, we will explore Guante’s stance on the phrase “man up,” and the ten responses he provides to counter it.

The multiple interpretations of “man up”

The phrase “man up” has been interpreted in different ways over the years, depending on who you ask. Some may see it as a way to encourage stoicism and self-sufficiency in times of trouble. However, its negative connotations have caused its popularity to wane.

Response One: The Phrase Doesn’t Address Chemical Depression

One limitation of the phrase “man up” is that it doesn’t account for the fact that sometimes, depression can be caused by chemical imbalances. Telling someone to “man up” in this situation won’t make a difference, and in fact, can be damaging.

Response Two: “Man Up” Won’t Solve Every Problem

Another limitation of the phrase is that it won’t solve every problem. For instance, if a man loses his job, telling him to “man up” won’t magically create a new job. This shows that the phrase is not always helpful and can even be harmful.

Response Three: Toxic Masculinity is Perpetuated by the Phrase

The phrase “man up” can perpetuate toxic masculinity by implying that showing emotions is a sign of weakness. This can lead to an unhealthy suppression of feelings and contribute to feelings of isolation and depression.

Response Four: The Phrase Can be Used to Critique Masculinity

Although the phrase “man up” can be weaponized to perpetuate toxic masculinity, it can also be used in a critical sense. Critiquing traditional ideas of masculinity can help people understand that there are different ways of being a man.

Response Five: Dismantling Toxic Masculinity is a Better Solution

Instead of encouraging people to “man up,” we need to work on dismantling toxic masculinity altogether. Only then can we create a world where all gender identities and expressions are accepted.

Response Six: “Man Up” Ignores Emotional Struggles

The phrase “man up” oversimplifies the struggles that men face, particularly in the emotional realm. Challenging this notion can be difficult but is necessary for boys and men to lead fulfilling lives.

Response Seven: Vulnerability is Strength

Contrary to what some may believe, vulnerability is a strength. It can be empowering to share one’s feelings and experiences with others. This response encourages people to embrace vulnerability instead of hiding behind the “man up” mentality.

Response Eight: The Phrase Can Be Seen as a Superhero

A clever twist on the phrase “man up” is to see it in the context of a superhero. However, this still does not address the emotional struggles of men.

Response Nine: Growing a Pair Won’t Solve Your Problems

Another phrase that has become popular in recent years is “grow a pair.” However, Guante argues that this phrase doesn’t address the underlying issues that men may be facing, such as mental health issues and trauma.

Response Ten: Expanding Appreciation of Poetry and Cultural Impact through Button Poetry

Button Poetry is a platform dedicated to showcasing the diverse voices in the poetry community. By featuring artists like Guante, Button Poetry encourages people to explore different perspectives on masculinity and the role of language in shaping our understanding of gender identities and expressions.


The phrase “man up” is a limiting and damaging concept that is often used to perpetuate toxic masculinity and undermine the mental and emotional well-being of boys and men. Guante’s ten responses to the phrase encourage people to question traditional views of masculinity and embrace vulnerability as a strength. By working together to expand the appreciation of poetry and its cultural impact, we can help encourage a new definition of masculinity that is inclusive, compassionate, and healthy.

Unique FAQs after the Conclusion

  1. What is toxic masculinity?

Toxic masculinity refers to a set of cultural norms and values that emphasize aggression, physical strength, and emotional suppression as defining masculine traits. It is often used to justify violence, misogyny, and other forms of oppression.

  1. Why is challenging traditional ideas of masculinity important?

Challenging traditional ideas of masculinity is important because these ideas contribute to discrimination, violence, and inequality. By embracing alternative forms of masculinity, we can create a more just and compassionate world for people of all genders.

  1. How can we promote vulnerability as a strength?

Promoting vulnerability as a strength involves challenging the cultural norms that equate vulnerability with weakness. This includes creating safe spaces for people to share their experiences and feelings, celebrating vulnerability in public figures, and creating art that showcases vulnerability as a theme.

  1. What is Button Poetry?

Button Poetry is a platform dedicated to showcasing the diverse voices in the poetry community. By featuring artists who explore different perspectives on social issues like gender, race, and sexuality, Button Poetry aims to expand the appreciation of poetry and its cultural impact.

  1. What can individuals do to work towards a more inclusive definition of masculinity?

Individuals can work towards a more inclusive definition of masculinity by challenging traditional ideas of masculinity in their personal lives, promoting vulnerability and emotional openness, and supporting organizations that fight toxic masculinity. This can be done through social media engagement, donations, and volunteering.

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