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  • Writer's pictureEmma Turner

Must you 'Man up'? And could it lead to 'Man down'?

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

Today, I feel disappointed that I didn't find the strength to react as I'd have liked, and, as I believe, I needed to.

I had popped out in a break between clients, to a local food shop, for some bits for tea. As I was staring distractedly at an array of options, I noticed a young male shop assistant struggling to lift a tray of produce onto a high shelf. I looked

around and noticed another employee heading his way to help, and when he reached him, greeted him with 'Come on mate, man up'.

This is the message to a young man, entering the world of adulthood.

Man up. Be stronger. Be tougher. Be more successful. Cope. Don't ask for help. Don't fail.

This comment was referring to a physical strength - bad. Worse? How does that transfer to a persons mental strength and belief that they must 'soldier on' in the face of adversity?

I didn't call them out, and I feel ashamed of that. My own fear of judgement got in the way. I intend to repair that when faced with the same again. Because this is changing. People are being courageous, and standing up and recognising the toxicity of this Western masculine ideal, and we are beginning to see some results.

I am so pleased to notice a growing number of referrals that I receive, coming from men. My private practice is new - and I am already seeing more of a gender balance in my working week, from when I started. And this is happening, despite unhelpful and sometimes toxic concepts such as 'man up' remaining prevalent in our society.

definitions I found of 'man up': brave or tough enough to deal with a difficult or unpleasant situation

...term used to tell someone that they should deal with something more bravely make an effort to deal with something (such as an obligation or a challenge) in a way that is considered strong or manly

Brave, tough, strong...what message are we giving each other, when we continue to accept statements like these in our everyday?

And how soon before we have more 'men down'?

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