What defines manhood?

Have you ever stopped to think about what it means to be a man and manhood? In a culture as interesting as ours what exactly makes a man a man? What is it that defines manhood and does it have unspoken rules or laws that must be followed in order to ‘pass’ and be considered a man? In a time when everything is uncertain how certain can males be of attaining manhood and how will you know that you are there?

Attaining manhood is more than getting older and being able to do the things the law previously forbid you to, like drinking and voting.

Legally speaking, a male becomes a man at age 18. It is then that he can drink, vote and do most things that makes him an adult. However, traditionally speaking, there are some other things that people ascribe to manhood or signs they think signify that a male is on the road to manhood.

Let us start with the obvious ones and they are obvious because you can see them. Facial hair or baby ‘whiskers’ on the chin or around the lip is a sign that he is not playing with action figures any more. Fathers generally like to teach their sons how to shave and they use this opportunity to welcome them into the fold and use it also as a bonding experience. Growing hair in places that were previously hairless is also a good indicator that changes are going to come and just throw in the deepening of the voice for good measure.

A man’s ability to please a woman is often, for better or worse, linked to his manhood.

Probably the biggest measure of manhood in the region, is the ability to produce children. Oftentimes you see men comparing notes about how many kids they have and with how many women. There does not seem to be any protocol about supporting these children, just the making of them. Because so much emphasis is placed on having a whole bunch of kids, men who do not have any are unfortunately often teased by their friends and family. The ability to impregnate a woman is also twinned with the ability to please her. Hence sexual prowess becomes another measure of manhood locally.

A man’s financial independence is often tied to his ability to provide and by extension, liked to whether or not he has achieved manhood.

Others take a more practical approach to manhood and feel that if a male can make a life for himself, independent of his parents and is able to pay his own bills, that is when he truly becomes a man. By this reasoning, men in their 30s and 40s who still live at home are a couple rungs short on the manhood chart. Manhood can even be philosophical as some are of the view that it is tied to how a man treats members of the opposite sex. If he is kind, compassionate, considerate and chivalrous, he has manly qualities. The truest test they say is if he treats his woman or girlfriend like he would want a man to treat his sister or the daughters he plans on having. The best advice is treat people the way you would want to be treated. Perhaps that is the best and simplest way to define manhood.