Created By: peccantis on July 3, 2012 Last Edited By: peccantis on January 8, 2013

Real Man

Ideal, 'true' man.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Notes

Early dev phase.

One massive, incredibly pervasive trope we have somehow missed. We have a TON of tropes for separate, partial standards of Real Men but nothing to describe that mythical creature itself.

Machismo need to mentioned here, how?

Indices: Gender Dynamics Index, Always Male

Rolling Updates.

Description

What is a Real Man? A standard of acceptable, ideal masculinity and grown-up male existence. Look at any film or ad produced between 1930 and 1960 and see if they don't scream that standard at you.

A Real Man is physically able, mentally stable, dependable, honourable, honest, more actions than words, sexually experienced if not victoriuos, heterosexual, righteous, fair and straight... And in a gone era where cigarettes still weren't seen as an addiction but a choice and an action of adulthood and freedom, he smoked.

His frame is ideally attained by actual labour, not working out at gym (that's dandyish or even fruity); his appearance overall is more gruff than polished; and his taste in women is quite traditional. A more modern expectation is to attract females and to be socially active.

A champion of a number of these standards may be called a man's man.

Opposite of The Boy (who might mature into a Real Man someday), and any mature male failing any important standard of the Real Man. Those get called nancies, sissies, etc.

Modern Distaff Counterpart is Real Woman, earlier occidental one is Proper Lady. See also Yamato Nadeshiko for a Japanese Real Woman meets Proper Lady.

Not to be confused with Gentlemans Gentleman, who is a highly civilised manservant, not a man's man who also happens to be a gentleman.

Note that the exact standards of Real Manhood do fluctuate with time, values, and geographical place. Thus some of the related tropes listed below contradict each other.

Sub Indices

Becoming a Real Man

Attributes of a Real Man

  • Carpet of Virility -- not having chest hair growth is childish and removing it is womanly, therefore every last inch of a Real Man is covered in hair
  • Men Don't Cry -- being emotional and showing vulnerability is a childish and womanly thing, therefore a Real Man never weeps
  • Manly Men Can Hunt -- knowing how and being able to hunt is an essential skill for a man, therefore a Real Man can hunt
  • Real Men Cook -- not knowing to cook is childish and inadequate, therefore a Real Man knows how to prepare his meals
  • Real Men Eat Meat -- salad is for rabbits and dieting women, and as such not something a Real Man eats
  • Real Men Hate Affection -- being affectionate is a womanly thing, and as such something Real Men do not do
  • Real Men Hate Sugar -- liking sweet things is a childish/womanly thing, and as such something Real Men do not do
  • Real Men Wear Pink -- a Real Man's manliness does not crumble from wearing pink, knitting, or adoring fuzzy baby animals

General tropes about Real Men

Tropes that are not about Real Men

Not sure, please discuss

Examples

Advertisement
  • The famous Marlboro Man figure is coded as much of a Real Man as possible, to deliver the message that to smoke Marlboro is a manly thing to do.

Anime and Manga
  • In Ranma , it's revealed that Ranma's father had promised Ranma's mother Nodoka Saotome to make the boy (then a wee toddler) into a Real Man, swearing it on not only his own but little Ranma's head. Years later Nodoka finds his still missing husband and son on a quest to ensure Ranma indeed did grow up as a Real Man... carrying a family heirloom sword to settle things if he didn't. Of course, Ranma has been dropped into the Magical Fountain of Drowned Girl and suddenly all sources of cold water (which triggers his transformation) in the town are spraying him...

Internet Memes

Stock Phrases
  • "Are you a man or a mouse" does not question the askee's humanity but his status as a Real Man.
Community Feedback Replies: 32
  • July 3, 2012
    Koveras
    Isn't this Hunk?
  • July 3, 2012
    kjnoren
    I think this would need quite a bit more examples, and the description feels much more suited to the ideal man as the concept developed in the United States from the settling of the frontier and the independent farmer breaking new land.
  • July 3, 2012
    randomsurfer
    William Regal's first, abortive gimmick in the WWF was as Steve Regal, A Real Man's Man. His promo video shows him preparing & spreading concrete; others had him chopping wood, etc.
  • July 3, 2012
    NimmerStill
    I'd say it has potential, but we need more examples, and ^^yes, it may be too specific at present, but could be made sufficiently general to cover large portions of the West.

    That said, though, different cultures within what can be called the West do often have somewhat different ideals. Even the UK vs. the US, where in the UK it apparently isn't considered as unmanly to know how to sew, for example.
  • July 3, 2012
    jatay3
    "Badass Cowboy" would be better except that many are tired of Badass. But that conveys the idea well enough to be developed.

    As I understand, this is meant to be US specific and in fact Western specific. That is fine but it has to be distinguished from other concepts. Most cultures will have some idea of "real man" and they will generally have similarities as well as differences to the American West Model.
  • July 3, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Do you mean Western as in "old west" or as in Western Culture. This could get pretty confusing.
  • July 3, 2012
    Generality
    Notably, this image has suffered severe decay in the last few decades. You have only to look at current man-oriented media, such as beer commercials, The Man Show, or any recent National Lampoon titles, to see that the image of man now accepted, if not idealised, is sexually debaucherous, foulmouthed, perpetually drunk, lazy, reveling in his ignorance of complex matters and the larger world, interested in nothing except sex, football, and power tools. It's almost a parody of the former ideal, and is almost never portrayed as anything except perfectly natural.
  • July 3, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    Cowboy would make it exclusively American (sorry Canada and Mexico, I have no idea if you had cowboys, but this sounds like a very interesting subject to look into?)

    This does seem like an incredibly broad trope, and I think there's a reason that we don't have the trope for a Real Woman that you tried to link to. For one thing, even within the "Western World" different countries have different standards of what are important manly cultures, e.g. America places more value on being pioneering and enterprising, in the UK being reserved and stoic, cultures like Italy or France tolerate more flamboyance.

    I'm sure there's a way to narrow it down though? Focusing on aspirations and ambitions to be this kind of man?
  • July 3, 2012
    peccantis
    To clarify, I do NOT mean Western as in "Western films". Will switch to Occidental for now.

    Obviously, an Italian Real Man can be wuite a bit more interested in his looks and pleasing the ladies than, say, a Finnish one, but my goal is to lay some outlines for a supertrope, not get tangled in regional specifics. Anyways, word is free, and I'd love to see some regional-cultural analysis in the description.

    @kjnoren, as for American settlement type of ideal... what the description says as of writing this, it fits perfectly the Finnish ideal as well... The one that was most pronounced in about 40s to 60s, but still hasn't died.
  • July 3, 2012
    peccantis
    nvm
  • July 3, 2012
    jatay3
    Any country that has cows has cowboys. Even Hungary(that is what the word "Hussar" meant originally; Hungarian cowboy).

    Be that as it may you have to find what is similar among occidental cultures that is not found generally. For instance almost all Western cultures respect bravery in battle as a manly thing, but so do most Eastern ones. In fact almost all cultures period consider bravery in battle a manly thing; those are the ones that survived.

    Is chivalry more Western then Eastern? I have heard claims for both. And so on.
  • July 3, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^Well if there's enough that is common everywhere, it could just be a universal trope, not just an Occidental one. But it's hard to separate regional differences from historical ones from differences based on social class, etc. (For example, a blue-collar ideal vs. a white-collar one.)
  • July 3, 2012
    swallowfeather
    Please excuse the random thought, but this kind of brings to mind the (currently rather common) American political trope "Real Americans." If you're American, you probably know what I'm talking about.

    That would be a different trope, I think, but related.

    I wonder if this trope might acquire more specificity as Man's Man?
  • July 3, 2012
    NimmerStill
    Can someone be both a Man's Man and a Ladies' Man?
  • July 4, 2012
    peccantis
    ^^ bring it on, it needs to be troped

    ^ it's possible but it really depends on the time and place. Also, what is a LM? Someone around whom ladies just naturally flock? Does he pay them attention? Does he ignore them? Does he do something of a playboy role?
  • July 4, 2012
    NimmerStill
    ^I think it's just a man who sleeps with lots of women, whatever the reason. Though there are connotations of doing it with class, style, and with minimal emotional messiness. The ^^ post was, however, mainly a joke.
  • July 4, 2012
    surgoshan
    Perhaps this could be altered and made tropeable by having it be an in-universe construction of manliness and/or criticism of lack thereof.
    • One episode of Friends dealt with Ross's insecurity for his father's disdain of his less masculine qualities (love of pastels, intellectual pursuits, wearing tank tops).
    • Friday gives us a young man grabbing a gun to protect his friend when his father walks in. The father is horrified and says, "In my day, this [his fists] was all the protection you needed. You win some, you lose some, but you learn, you learn to be a man."
  • July 4, 2012
    randomsurfer
    The satiric book Real Men Don't Eat Quiche: A Guidebook to All that is Truly Masculine is about "real" man behavior - incluing not eating quiche.
  • July 4, 2012
    JonnyB
    In Latin cultures this would be referred to as "machismo".

    The website "The Art of Manliness" deals with this ideal.

    Not to be confused with a Gentleman's Gentleman.
  • July 5, 2012
    HeartOfAnAstronaut
    A lot of these examples seem to be to do with rules or codes of masculinity.

    What if it was called something like The Man Code or Rules Of Masculinity?
  • July 6, 2012
    peccantis
    ^ Those could work.

    OTOH should this be an index like Acceptable Feminine Goals is?
  • January 7, 2013
    peccantis
    Updating -- and yes this SHOULD at least act like an index...

    Listed a number of tropes (mostly just the obvious ones...) did I miss any?
  • January 7, 2013
    jate88
  • January 7, 2013
    peccantis
    Came up with a general example. Updated.
  • January 7, 2013
    Tuckerscreator
    Can Chuck Norris be added? Not merely for the lulz, but because his Memetic Badass status is completely centered around him being the ultimate "real man".
  • January 7, 2013
    lexicon
    I say take out the examples and make this Manly Men Index.
  • January 8, 2013
    peccantis
    ^ But accumulating "general" examples not fitting any existing Manly Men Tropes could reveal a new subtrope?
  • January 8, 2013
    acrobox
    Example: Mulan devotes an entire musical number to this concept 'I'll Make a Man Out of You' :
    (Be a man) We must be swift as the coursing river(Be a man) With all the force of a great typhoon (Be a man) With all the strength of a raging fire / Mysterious as the dark side of the moon.
  • January 8, 2013
    McKathlin
    To answer the question by Koveras in the very first comment, the Hunk is an attractive man with a "manly" physique, and so might belong on the list of manly attributes.
  • January 8, 2013
    lexicon
    Yes, Hunk should be on the list. This could be part list of tropes and part examples, but there are more tropes and they should be an index.
  • January 8, 2013
    acrobox
    This is the also the root Chuck Norris Jokes, The Old Spice Man, and Dos Equis' Most Interesting Man in the World.

    And the source of insults and derogatory terms at male impotence, acting like a girl, or in some cases homosexuality.
  • January 8, 2013
    StarSword
    Jokes:
    • How many real men does it take to change a light bulb? None: real men aren't afraid of the dark. (Source: The Pretty Good Joke Book)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=3kywh5tdog970x3534p2xzea