The blog where I rant about things that should be obvious to everyone

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

There is nothing wrong with shaming language

Within the men's rights movement, there is a fairly prevalent thought that shaming language is feminist invention and should be avoided. And it often comes up in the comment sections on men's rights blogs that some commenter or other is using shaming language to make their point, and therefore can be disregarded as a feminist.

But the problem is not terms like “man up”, the problem is their application. Telling men that they need to “man up” and get married is not a bad thing to say because the idea that men should put away childish things and act like men is evil. It is a true and valuable sentiment. The problem is that the main reason men are not getting married is not because of perpetual childhood. The problem is that the pool of women that they are finding acceptable for marriage is shrinking. And beyond that, the problem is that the whole marriage contract is stacked so sharply against men that even if a man does find a woman who he would to spend the rest of his life with, and to raise children with, he still has reason to pause. There are plenty of men who believe that with family law being what it is, no woman is worth it, and I'm not saying that they are wrong. This does not come out of childishness, but out of a rational assessment of risk.

The call for men to man up and get married is so common that the phrase itself has become somewhat repugnant. But the fact that the phrase is so commonly misapplied does not mean that the sentiment is wrong. Their truly is a phenomenon of men in my generation (I'm 27) extending the adolescent life style well past when it should be put behind them.

For these men, the sentiment behind the phrase man up truly does apply. Not because they need to go get married, but because they need to stop acting like children.

The reason that there is nothing inherently wrong with shaming language is because for a man to react to being dealt a hand that is worse than some others have been dealt, by simply sitting around and pouting, is shameful. Men who pity themselves, either to the point of inaction or impotent action, are stomach turning creatures. And they should be ashamed.

When a man is dealt a bad hand, he analyzes the data at his disposal and then fearlessly takes the best action he can even though it might involve a great deal of risk. He does so without need for pity because for a man to do what is right is enough.

We have examples of men acting like men in the Bible. In Daniel chapter 3, Shadrack, Meshach, and Abendnego react to king Nebuchadnezzar, who has just demanded that they worship his false idol or be burned alive. They tell him “we are not careful to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” They didn't have to think about it because they knew that God could save them, and even if God didn't they would still rather burn alive than submit to the evil orders of their king.

This sentiment was echoed again by British solders in WWII, when they were facing apparent certain doom on the beach of Dunkirk. From there they sent a three word transmission: “And if not” to let the people back home know that they considered their mission more important than their lives. These British solders acted as men.

And finally I can't help but include this example from Braveheart of a man acting like a man in the face of adversity.

Beyond the fact that shaming language like “man up” is not bad in and of itself, it also is something of a one way street. A woman who wallows in self pity is contemptible, but not in the same way as a man. And I don't think that because of cultural conditioning or because of some bits of feminism that I have not yet purged from my thinking. I think that because the need to not submit to your circumstances, but to fight for what is right regardless, is a part of being a man, and a part of how men and women are different.


  1. Well said. The blanket aversion to shaming language is silly. Moreover, refusing to differentiate between those who are merely bachelors and those who are 40, but acting like 25 year olds, does a disservice to those who need to grow up. "Wow, this is a crappy apartment. But you get to go out to the same dive every night? That's still not awesome."

    1. A crappy apartment and going to the same dive every night at age 40? Ugh, I think you just described one of the outer circles of hell.

  2. You don't seem to get shaming language. Shaming language is and ad-hominem attack to dismiss argument. Something like "What you are saying is wrong because you are a loser". So, instead of using arguments to disprove points, you use emotional attacks to shut up debate . You can see more at

    1. The way I've seen the term "shaming language" used has a much broader scope than that. As it is used in many a discussion thread, any time anyone suggests that a thought, idea, or action is not manly, they are accused of shaming language. It could be that the accusers are using the term wrong, but I don't often see them called out on it.

  3. So unless a man has a wife and children, he is a man-child? Sorry, bud, but this world has enough people already. I know your god orders you to reproduce, but my logic tells me to do otherwise.

    Perhaps men aren't marrying due to divorce rates, no-fault divorce laws, gender bias against men in family/divorce courts, and the fact that around 75% of divorces are initiated by women; the majority of which are no-fault divorces. I'm no mathematical genius, but I wouldn't gamble with those odds.

    1. You have issues with reading comprehension. I don't find anything wrong with not marrying. Even for reasons besides family/divorce court. I do have a problem with men that continue to act like children because the world is too hard. I never say that acting like a man means getting married.