Modern Primate

man, that's deep

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“You can’t arm-wrestle your way out of chemical depression. The CEO of the company that just laid you off does not care how much you bench. And I promise, there is no lite beer in the universe full-bodied enough to make you love yourself.”


I found this amazing spoken word piece by National Poetry Slam champion Guante that I feel embodies much of what we’re trying to say here at Modern Primate; that is, that men should be free to acknowledge their emotions without it being seen as weak or “unmanly.”

1. Fuck you.

2. If you want to question my masculinity, like a schoolyard circle of curses, like a swordfight with lightsaber erections, save your breath. Because contrary to what you may believe, not every problem can be solved by “growing a pair.” You can’t arm-wrestle your way out of chemical depression. The CEO of the company that just laid you off does not care how much you bench. And I promise, there is no lite beer in the universe full-bodied enough to make you love yourself.

3. Man up? Oh that’s that new superhero, right? Mild-mannered supplement salesman Mark Manstrong says the magic words “MAN UP,” and then transforms into THE FIVE O’CLOCK SHADOW, the massively-muscled, deep-voiced, black-leather-duster-wearing superhero who defends the world from, I don’t know, feelings.

4. See I don’t drink a lot of beer… you know, because I’m not a “real man,” but I’m pretty sure that, of all the beers in the world, Miller Lite… is not the most flavorful brew. It kind of tastes like… whatever insecure jackass wrote these “man up” commercials got rejected by a beautiful, no-nonsense bartender, drank a six pack of REAL beer alone in his apartment, and then Miller bottled his tears.

5. You ever notice how nobody ever says “woman up?” They just imply it. Because women and the women’s movement figured out a long time ago that being directly ordered around by commercials, magazines and music is dehumanizing. When will men figure that out?

6. “Man Up” assaults our self esteem by suggesting that competence and perseverance are uniquely masculine traits. That women—not to mention any man who doesn’t eat steak, drive a pickup truck, have lots of sex with women and otherwise conform to gender norms absolutely—are nothing more than, background characters and props in a movie where the strong, stoic, REAL man is the hero. More than anything, though, it suggests that to be yourself—whether you, wear skinny jeans, listen to Lady Gaga, rock a little eyeliner, drink some other brand of light beer, or write poetry—will cost you.

7. How many boys have to kill themselves before this country acknowledges the problem? How many women have to be abused? How many trans people have to get assaulted? We teach boys how to wear the skin of a man, but we also teach them how to raise that skin like a flag and draw blood for it.

8. Boy babies get blue socks. Girl babies get pink socks. What about purple? What about orange, yellow, chartreuse, cerulean, black, tie-dyed, buffalo plaid, rainbow… there are so many beautiful colors and combinations of colors. Yet boy babies get blue socks. And girl babies get pink socks.

9. I want to be free, to express myself. Man up. I want to have meaningful, emotional relationships with other men. Man up. I want to be weak sometimes. Man up. I want to be strong in a way that isn’t about physical power or dominance. Man up. I want to cry if I feel like crying. Man up. I want to ask for help. Man up. I want to be who I am. Man up.

10. No.

Follow Guante’s blog at

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There are currently 15 Comments on “10 Responses to the Phrase “Man Up””. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. It’s a mistake to assume that people who say “man up” are contrasting men with women. Most people who say this are contrasting men with boys, or in other words, mature males with immature males in the most scientific sense of the word mature.

    I am a feminist man and I would be highly offended if someone were to say something to the effect of, “Be a strong man, not a weak woman.” However, I just don’t think that is what this particular expression means. An equivalent and perhaps less confusing sentiment would be, “adult up”, or “grow up” or “be mature.”

    Having said that, I would avoid telling anyone to mature faster than they are capable.

  2. dude is on fire.
    yeah, you present the full routine as text, but ya gotta hear the delivery.

    I am inclined to think that sexism isn’t good for the guys either; this is some excellent material about that.

  3. whoa. maybe when a dude tells you to ‘man up’ it might be telling you to be something more macho or something. i always thought it had to do with just owning up to your responsibility – like “be who you say you are” – as a woman and the soon to be ex-wife of a husband that is ungrateful and abandoning the family, i say ‘man up’ – ‘before you move off to start another family, take care of this one.’ that’s got nothing to do with holding you keeping your ‘soft’ side ‘in’side. it’s about being real and responsible. maybe it depends on who tells you, i don’t know. but i think you might be over-reacting.

  4. So I’m late to this party, but I love that shit right there. Where I’m from we say “cowboy up” instead of “man up,” and that’s always a phrase I’ve loved. It gives me images of a cowboy getting chucked off the back of a bronc and dusting off his jeans to get back on the horse. Man up is so fraught with broness that it’s hard to use as a self-empowering warcry during adversity; it seems instead relegated to usage in situations where you want someone else to stfu about their feelings ’cause it’s messy and unpleasant for you as an observer.

    Point seven above was awesome, and not just because of the beautifully evocative language Guante conjured, but because he was trans inclusive with his reasoning. There are so many ways to be masculine that have nothing to do with the reigning fraternity of good ole boys and self-congratulatory macho men. I dig Modern Primate for promoting a more thoughtful approach to enjoying the gamut of guy stuff. Good on y’all.

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