Have you ever seen any “How to be a Real Man” post? Most likely such posts will be filled with rules and guidelines on how to be a real man. While following the rules on such posts can be useful in the quest to be a real man, in the real world, we do encounter some peculiarities: people who break such rules while still being considered as a real man. One example is the masculine quarterback who enjoys knitting. This thing is even covered in the “Real Men Wear Pink” page in TV Tropes. Why? How?

There are a lot of posts on how to have a certain characteristics. Usually they’re titled like: How to be warm, cool, hot, masculine, feminine, etc. Inevitably such posts will propose rules and guidelines that we must abide should we want to exhibit a certain characteristic.

The only problem here is that some people can exhibit a certain characteristic without paying much heed to such rules. This must means that there is a deeper explanation on how to have a certain characteristics than following a set of rules.

Probably, the deeper explanation on how to have a certain characteristic is about eliciting feeling. Let me elaborate on this.

I will state one of my assumptions here: real figures predate characteristic. Some men are considered masculine by most people. Then, we compare these masculine men to each other to find out what are the similarities of these men. Say, most masculine men are not afraid to pursue their goals and wants. We then encapsulate this similarity in a rule called “Be Assertive!” Once we have enough of such rules derived from the similarities of masculine men, we then encapsulate this set of rules in a characteristic called “Masculine” or “Manly.” Some people then post this set of rules in a post called “How to be a Real Man!” Such is the origin of the Real Men rules.

The rules are breakable because they are only superficial. They come from real figures. In this case, the real figures are the masculine men. Masculine men are masculine not because they follow a set of rules. They are masculine because they ARE masculine.

But how do we decide that these men are masculine? My tentative answer to that is because they elicit a certain feeling, thoughts, or physiological response in other people. We see these men doing their thing and the girl among us feel something (e.g. safe), think something (e.g. “Hmmm.. This guy oomph is so delicious”), or respond physically in a certain way (e.g. fluttery chest) while the guy among us feel another thing (e.g. admiration), think another thing (e.g. “This man is manly as fuck.”), or respond physically in another way (e.g. trying to keep some distance). In short, they are masculine because they elicit certain internal response in other people (feeling, thoughts, or physiological response). They are masculine because they make other feel a certain way.

I’ll give a word of caution before we generalize things. While internal response can be a good indicator to decide characteristic, external response can sometimes be misleading. One example of these external responses is word. Two girls are eyeing a masculine man. One girl will say “Isn’t he manly?” and the other says “Not really” while keeping on staring. Apparently such scenario is common in real life, which is why external response can be misleading. Another example of external responses is behavior. An insecure, not-really-manly guy meets a masculine man in a social setting. Then, the guy tries to intimidate or belittle the man with threats or verbal abuse while keeping a one meter distance between them. This scenario happens not as often as the previous one, but it do happens.

Now, since we already have one case of characteristic (the “Masculine”), let’s generalize this quickly to cover other characteristics: Real figures predate characteristic. Rules are based on real figures. We decide who have a certain characteristic from the feeling they elicit in other people.

So, what is the implication of this conclusion in real life? This means that if we want to have a certain characteristic, instead of following a set of rules, we must focus on making other people feel a certain way. If we want to be warm, we must make other people feel comfortable, safe, accepted, etc. If we want to be hot, we need to make some pants wet or tight.

The rules and guidelines may help us in the quest of having a certain characteristic. But the main goal is to elicit internal response in other people. Once they feel it, then you’ll be it! And it will be legit…