Gentleman on the Street Asks: What Is Manliness?

by Brett on April 19, 2013 · 47 Comments

in A Man's Life, Visual Guides

For our new weekly videos, twice a month I’ll be hosting them, and twice a month our fearless filmmaker, Jordan Crowder, will be in front of the camera. One of the features Jordan will be doing is “Gentleman on the Street,” where he’ll be hitting the streets of Los Angles with a camera, microphone, and a mustache to ask average folks questions pertaining to manliness.

In this edition of Gentleman on the Street, we ask: What defines “manliness?”

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Loïs Boullu April 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm

A lot of them are just “be nice”, it’s weird
My answer would be:
- learn from the men who succeeded
- discover your weakness and flaw as a man, and try to correct them

2 Bill April 19, 2013 at 4:46 pm

They are all wrong. Only one word describes a man: beard. Without one, you lack one essential ingredient of manliness; facial hair.

3 Steven B. April 19, 2013 at 5:55 pm

FJÄLLRÄVEN Greenland Jacket (Blue) in XL please.

4 Colin Jackson April 19, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Haha got a kick out of this one. I liked the range of more deep responses to the “uh um, be nice”. Also, did I just see a Huckberry Giveaway submission in comments?! How does that happen? Try again, friend.

5 Pedro Soares April 19, 2013 at 8:33 pm

Some of the opinions given on the video, ain’t bad.
And for me the answer would be:
- Having is head up trought adversity;
- Need to lead by example;
- Responsability;

6 Padre29 April 19, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Being a man is about respect for others, but not overly so that you devalue yourself.
It’s also about having your own interests BUT also seeing the future problems you and others may have.
You also have to handle your business without handling others business.
You also have to say what you mean and mean what you say when it’s important.
You have to have character and a dash of being a character.

7 Lance April 19, 2013 at 11:36 pm

I laughed at the St. Mary’s guy… “gentle man.” I think it’s probably just hard to answer a question like that on the spot. But it shows that maybe that’s something we don’t think about enough if we can’t answer quickly. I liked the guy’s answer about responsibility. That was good.

8 Mike April 20, 2013 at 6:12 am

REALLY well made video! I like it a lot. It shows how unclear we are about what makes for “manliness” today, thus the need for your blog.

9 Matthew Barber April 20, 2013 at 6:41 am

I’d say being a man is simply being accountable, and taking responsibility. Add to that a dose of leadership, humility, ambition, steely determination, and last, but certainly not least- some kick-arse facial hair.

I have a modest English handlebar, myself.

10 Steve Feder April 20, 2013 at 8:23 am

Great new feature! Enjoyed it.

11 jerry April 20, 2013 at 9:09 am

First and foremost identify yourself as a human male and know that is different from a female or an animal. From there you must find your way based in reality not fantasy or dishonesty.Finally, you are by nature a cog in the male gear…don’t try to be two cogs or a cog that doesn’t fit the corresponding space. Too many men try to be something that they are not or could never be and bypass their calling.

12 Navar Whting April 20, 2013 at 9:31 am

On a more serious note than most of the answers here, being a “man” is a hard thing to quantify. In my opinion, a man is a person who will do good for those around him and not expect any recognition or praise for it. A man is kind or at least pleasant to those around him until circumstances require otherwise. A man needs to know how to lead, but also how to follow and he has to know when to do which one. A man is a gentle lover, a protective family man, a fierce defender but above all else a man must be trustworthy. Like the guy in the video said, your word is your life and it is all you really have. It’s your integrity, your worth and the only real thing that matters.

13 Lew Alessio April 20, 2013 at 10:26 am


Has anyone considered that some words in our language become obsolete over time because their usage is meaningless?

For example, what definition of manliness defines qualities that cannot also be qualities of a woman? Does she become “manly” what she exhibits those qualities?

14 Ariel April 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Oh Jordan, what if we don’t have a moustache?

15 Greg Wingert April 20, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Honor,Respect,Loyalty,Do what you say you will do,Honesty,act like a Man not a girlie man

16 Michael Rogers April 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm

We men of old built the wagons, the paths, the homes, the roads, cars, ships, planes, almost EVERYTHING!
Women provided support and family,
A MAN should be widely competent, especially in the physical world!

17 Aaron April 20, 2013 at 10:29 pm

A Manly man is a Godly man. As much as I love AOM for expounding on the many skills and virtues of manliness, the Bible covers all of it. Everything God wants men to be is there.

18 Mark Melendez April 21, 2013 at 1:51 am

The same things that makes us men makes girls into women just in their own unique feminine ways. A man does what is necessary because it is necessary, trustworthy and honest in both his public and private life, and does not need to prove to anyone his worth. “Being brave does not mean you go looking for trouble,” that quote was from the Lion King. Or if you prefer “I do it because there isn’t anyone else to do if there was someone else willing to do I’d let them do it but there’s not so we’re doing it…. that’s what makes you that guy,” this quote was in Live Free Or Die Hard between the hacker kid and Bruce Willis in the car after the helicopter crashed and tunnel scene. There are examples all around us, but we fail to open our eyes to see the small acts of kindness everyday. We all need to learn to pay it forward a little more and do small acts of kindness when we can.

19 Christopher April 21, 2013 at 3:07 am

“Being strong without needing to prove you are strong…” Best answer on the video.

I would add, being true to your values, an appreciation of complexity, skill or beauty, wherever it’s found, of helping where and when you’re able, and living a purposeful life that acknowledges that there are things more important than yourself.

20 John Collins April 21, 2013 at 8:49 am

Being manly is about confidence in yourself, having good morals and intestinal fortitude enough to stick to them in tough times. Taking care of and protecting the weak when evil preys on their door. Being self sufficient and not a burden in iny situation.
Young men these days have no sense of direction and haven’t been taught how to BE men, the feminine side has been been so pronounced thru the equality of women in the past few generations that the males have been raised to feel guilty if they assert their manliness.
Man UP, I say! You CAN be a Man and still be sensitive to your partners needs. There is nothing wrong with being respectful of women and opening doors, but you have balls and a brain. USE them!

21 Rks1157 April 21, 2013 at 12:13 pm

We (people) are defined by our actions. We are remembered by what we do. A man is guided by what he believes to be right rather than acting on emotion.

22 logan April 21, 2013 at 12:29 pm

this is awesome!! I live in hollywood, i wanna be on one of these videos! keep them up! and i think you should of asked superman what it means to be a man. lol

23 Mohammed Syed April 21, 2013 at 2:38 pm

I think the man in the do-rag hit the closest nail to what manliness is.

24 Orac April 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Lew definitely has a point. But I don’t think “manliness” is obsolete.

Is there a definition of manliness that doesn’t involve some reference to our role with women? I don’t think anyone would argue that women aren’t capable of doing anything a man can do. (Biology aside–meaning, gender roles are likely obsolete) But is there something inherent in men beyond gender roles worthy of recognition and celebration? Yes, and that’s the part of “manliness” that resonates most with me. I know what it is for me, but I suspect there’s a lot of variation among men and across cultures so in my opinion there’s probably no single encompassing definition.

One more thing, can we please dispense with phrases like “girlie man”? There are lots of different types of men. I might not have a clear definition of manliness, but I’m very clear on misogyny.

25 Gregory Poe April 21, 2013 at 9:43 pm

What I would say:

- A man will do what is right even when it is difficult
- A man takes responsibility
- A man submits to the Lord in all circumstances
- A man works hard

The most manly guy I know wears skinny jeans and knits. He has no problem calling his friends out for being stupid, and strives to make a difference in our world one person at a time. Epic

26 Jake April 21, 2013 at 9:46 pm

Didn’t like it…asking random people ‘on the spot’ doesn’t show anything other than the fact that random people, on average, don’t give much thought to what is manliness…if that was the idea…it was achieved.

I think that the followers of this website/readers of your books (of which I’m both), have a better understanding than a random individual on the street. Other than the comedic value, as far as I’m concerned, there’s little to be gained from listening to these folks…as opposed to your well researched columns or discussions with the experts on your re-awakened podcast.

That said, since everybody else was compelled, i suppose i am as well…when I think of manliness, i think of my grandpa. Quiet confidence, the strength that was developed from a culture that expected just a little more from their men. The patriarch of the family, regardless of your age. The character and discipline to do the right thing, and the reputation that you are the one that people can depend on.

27 Kit Borden April 21, 2013 at 10:32 pm

“If” by Rudyard Kipling. I don’t think I’ve ever found a more clear or inspiring description.

Now I need to go work on memorizing it again.

28 Aamir April 22, 2013 at 12:19 am

I beleive it is standing by your decisions and accepting the consequences, as well as protecting and being kind to those you care for.

29 Igor April 22, 2013 at 4:20 am

in my opinion it [manliness] simply put is embracing the fact that you are male, in other words – a man. Looking like one, acting like one, being one. Embracing the role and every manly trait.

30 James A. Brown April 22, 2013 at 7:30 am

“There is one rule, above all other, for being a man. Whatever comes, face it on your feet.”

The Great Hunt, by Robert Jordan.

31 Navy Jack April 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I am the father of two little boys. Understanding the responsibility I have for their formation and knowing that the next day is not promised, I have thought long and hard to define manhood in a way that is straightforward, simple and memorable. Here goes: A man keeps his promises – - a man does the right thing, all the time – - a man lays his life down for others, everyday, in every way – - a man never, never, never quits. And to add a little more, above the comprehension of the average seven year old: a man knows his life is a debt to be repaid, to his God and to those who came before him. When the end comes, make sure you have settled the debt, with nothing held back in reserve. And as an aside, a man doesn’t hide in his house waiting for others to settle the score with murderers and evildoers. Men of America, your debts are about to be called. Will you settle the score? Or hide behind a thin blue line?

32 Kirk April 22, 2013 at 6:19 pm

A true man becomes educated and rational, and having courage to leave any cult or organization he was born into. Few things are more rewarding than breaking codependency and rebuilding the life of your design (not the design of others).

33 Tom April 22, 2013 at 11:32 pm

It’s about opening a pickle jar for a lady.

34 Layton April 24, 2013 at 7:49 pm

To me manliness comes with: accountability, responsibility, humility, politeness, usefullness, and to take care of yourself and others.

35 Rooster April 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm

What does manileness mean? Hard working, hard charging, A-typical without being a dick. Strong, reserved, and well versed. Confidence

36 Greg Duke April 24, 2013 at 11:49 pm

If I had to sum up manliness I’d put it this way: Humility, integrity, perseverance. Say what you mean, mean what you say. Help the helpless, and to authority, obey.

37 Shajeel April 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I agree with the last person. All a man has got is his word. Manliness, simply defined, is being true to yourself, keeping your word. .

38 J Roberts April 27, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I would’ve said to strive to follow the principles in Richard Kipling’s ‘If’ is manliness

39 J Roberts April 27, 2013 at 3:18 pm

To strive to follow the principles in Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ is to be a man.

40 Tariq April 30, 2013 at 12:24 am

‘If u cant explain it simply, you dont understand it well enough.’ ~A. Einstein.

Bottom Line: Owning a responsibility and fulfilling it, dutifully.[period]

every other characteristic that is mentioned above to define manliness, may or may not b required in carrying out the responsibility.

The journey of manliness began when the first man on earth, Prophet Adam (PBUH), took the responsibility of owning his mistake… ,, y we dont know about manliness so well is bcuz its going thru men-o-pause.

41 Mike May 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

I like the idea of interviewing guys on hollywood blvd – good stuff.

While the answers were mostly meh, in my opinion, the black dude made a good point which is that a man is an honest, unapologetic version of himself. Not trying be a people pleaser or changing based on his environment.

42 Rick May 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Manliness is composed of measures: a measure of strength, a measure of leadership, measures of pride, humility, care, compassion, stewardship, faith, wisdom, love, understanding, etc.
Much like gestalt, which is defined as a physical, biological, psychological, or symbolic configuration or pattern of elements so unified as a whole that its properties cannot be derived from a simple summation of its parts, manliness represents all of those measures that, when combined together, is greater than the sum of its parts, and a man is thus complete.

43 Craig May 23, 2013 at 11:08 am

A man is competent at everything, a man can do everything he needs to survive on his own. A man should never “have” to rely on others in order to achieve, even when it comes to the little things. Man is stronger than everyone else – remember the jar that wont open? only man hands open it!
A man always knows what to do and when – in a dilemma or just everyday stuff. Man should never be bored – boredom is just the short interval between to manly tasks! Mans power tools are his hands – Man has created all that you see around you – even the landscape (unless you live in a particularly remote place), we Men can be proud of what we have done, man is creator, destroyer, builder, intellectual, artist, craftsman and much more – man has rich heritage!

44 John June 1, 2013 at 6:10 am

Delivered my own daughter. The whole thing. Few fathers can say they delivered their own children.

Second was climbing Mount Fuji alone, illegally, in the off season, when it’s dangerous.

45 Bill June 1, 2013 at 12:30 pm

Taking care of business when business needs taken care of. Taking responsibility and accountability. Taking car of your family and your friends. Being the Sheepdog when a sheepdog is needed.

46 Sam June 3, 2013 at 10:13 am

Real men reject passivity, accept responsibility, lead courageously and invest eternally.

47 Herbert West June 3, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Hey, Craig (43), would you please build me all the stuff you used to type that asinine comment? Oh, you cant? You had to rely on others to build it while you earned money to exchange for their service? How unmanly of you.

I know this site is high on the big burly lone wolf (who gets the girl, of course) archetype, but, you know, human societies are built on interdependence.

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