Created By: KingZeal on November 3, 2012 Last Edited By: KingZeal on May 23, 2013

Men Are Tough

Men are naturally strong. (Omnipresent Trope)

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An Omnipresent Super Trope and Sister Trope to Women Are Delicate. For a number of reasons, fiction tends to treat men as the stronger, hardier, more reliable, and more resilient of the two genders. This may be because Most Writers Are Male, or the implication that Men Act, Women Are.

This Stereotype has two forms:
  1. Unilateral: Men are naturally tough, strong, competent, capable, aggressive, stubborn, blunt, or dominant.
  2. Bilateral: Men are stronger, tougher, or more blunt, dominant or aggressive than women. In this form, even if a man shows more passive, submissive, or weaker qualities, he either shows less than his female peers, or compensates in some other area.

Regardless, a man being in a dominant, physical role is seen as natural while a woman in the same role is treated as exceptional. Even if a woman does take on a physical role, there still exist tropes which portray her as less tough than her male counterparts such as Guys Smash, Girls Shoot or She-Fu.

However, the Double Standard has a negative effect for men, too. Men are often treated as the expendable gender or the only ones capable of being abusive. Further, because the toughness bar is raised for men, a Non-Action Guy will be more harshly criticized than a female counterpart.

Further, men are often portrayed as not being capable of anything BUT physical force to make their points. Often despite the target audience, guys are portrayed as dumb, childlike, blunt instruments who can't do anything right if it involves becoming "domesticated". When that happens, a former Badass will turn into a Jaded Washout, and possibly a Fat Slob. His only means of domestic problem-solving will involve Percussive Maintenance or Tim Taylor Technology with marginal degrees of success. When it comes to their own children, domesticated men will often be bumbling wrecks, over-compensating in aggression, or completely disinterested altogether. In short, these domesticated men are portrayed as having something "wrong" with them, due to being removed from the Call Reception Area or having Missed the Call entirely.

Also, please keep in mind that the word chosen to represent this trope was "tough". In addition to physical force or power, "tough" also means resilient, stubborn, slow to change, dense, and inflexible, which are also ways men are stereotyped.

No Examples, Please. This should be an index of tropes, and nothing else.

Played Straight

Aversions, and subversions

  • Distressed Dude: A man needs rescuing--a role that women usually play in fiction.
  • Gender Is No Object: A true aversion of this trope. For example, a boy who is just as much a Fashionista in a movie/show about clothes. This trope becomes less of an aversion in media where toughness is a virtue, such as a Fighting Series.
  • Househusband: A man who does the housekeeping while his wife is the breadwinner. Considered atypical of gender roles.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Depending on how many feminine traits he exhibits, a male character can completely subvert this trope.
    • Agent Peacock: When an effeminate man is also an Action Guy.
    • Bishounen: When a man is just as beautiful as most women.
    • Bromance: When men subvert Real Men Hate Affection, and show an emotional side toward their fellow man. But not in THAT way.
    • Camp Straight: When an effeminate man, typically an example of Camp Gay stereotypes, is actually heterosexual.
    • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: When a more masculine, tough, or butch girl is matched up with a more feminine guy for contrast.
    • Mr Seahorse: A man carries a child the way women do, encountering many of the same delicate problems and issues.
    • Real Men Wear Pink: Pink, the color associated with girls and femininity, is worn by a dude who's cool with it.
    • Uke: This man is the more feminine and submissive lover in a gay relationship.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Because women are typically portrayed as more delicate or weak, situations where men are the weaker sex are considered odd or quaint.
  • Non-Action Guy: A man who is not combat, action, or adventure adept. Common in Real Life, considered extremely odd for fiction.

Zig-zagged (neither played straight nor averted)

  • Action-Hero Babysitter: A man is cast in the nurturing role of caretaker, but using tough, badass skills to get the job done. Played for Laughs.
  • Badass Family: The entire family, including members of any gender, are badass.
    • Battle Couple: A man and woman in a relationship are both badasses.
  • Beard of Sorrow: A manly way of showing emotions, usually used to show that he's lost touch with society and let his appearance slide.
  • Bromantic Foil: A raunchy, headstrong, and often perverted male friend or companion which makes another male (usually the Protagonist) look well-adjusted or normal by comparison.
  • Camp Gay: An effeminate man who is attracted to men. Can have Unfortunate Implications which insist that men who don't want women are "unmanly".
    • Sissy Villain: A villain who is campy, effeminate, and evil. The association can imply that those traits go hand-in-hand.
    • Effeminate Misogynistic Guy: A misogynist who hates women despite displaying the stereotypical characteristics of one. Perhaps to show that he can do it "better".
  • Unlucky Everydude: An Everyman who does not know his way with women, usually implying that this is the typical male condition. While it demonstrates a discomfort with women which is far from the idealized manly man, the "unlucky" portion also implies that this is a bad thing.
    • Dogged Nice Guy: A Nice Guy who is interested in a female companionship, but is stuck in the Friend Zone.
    • Casanova Wannabe: A man who believes he's a ladies man, but has substantial flaws in his approach.
    • Cuckold: A man whose woman is having sex with another person(s). The "Bull" (wife's lover) is almost always another man because otherwise the effect is lessened. Her infidelity is played for both the humiliation and emasculation of the cuckolded man, the sexual depravity of the wife, and to portray the Bull(s) as a "superior" man. The scenario is used for the scenario of the audience. The cultural implications, however, is that any man who fails to satisfy his wife, and "tame" her, is less of a man.
    • Teeny Weenie: A man's worth is measured by the size of his genitalia.
  • Dominatrix: A woman dominates a man, but solely for the sexual fetish.
  • Emotional Bruiser: A badass who fights with his emotions on his sleeve. Considered unusual for pragmatic, stoic and tough males.
    • Manly Tears: Men crying or showing tears. However, these men are usually not shown as emotional broken or destraught, and only as a moment of "weakness" or irrationality.
    • Papa Wolf: A man who fights to defend his younger charges or children. Usually the go-to portrayal for a fatherly role in an action setting.
  • Eunuchs Are Evil: A man missing his genitalia who is portayed as evil. The association can imply that those traits go hand-in-hand.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar: A man who is both educated and adept in culture. May be a Non-Action Guy, but still rational, stable, and elegant.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: A man reminds everyone that he is not homosexual. Because that would be "terrible".
  • Henpecked Husband: A husband who is nagged, abused, or derided by his wife. Implies that the man is either weak-willed, or that his wife is just irrational or bitter. Or both.
  • Magical Girlfriend: A man who is normal or unremarkable becomes a powerful supernatural woman. However, she usually becomes subservient to him.
  • Momma's Boy: A man who is either subservient or extremely protective of his mother.
    • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: No matter how evil he becomes, he still cares for the woman who nurtured him.
    • My Beloved Smother: A sonwho is nagged, abused, or derided by his mother. Implies that the man is either weak-willed, or that his mother is just irrational or bitter. Or both.
  • NEET: A college-aged male who is portrayed as a Butt-Monkey.
  • Noble Male, Roguish Male: A contrast between a more socially-adept and proper man, and a rebellious, roguish outsider. Typically compared for toughness.
  • Non-Action Snarker: A man who is not physical tough, but compensates for it in abrasive or cynical attitude.
  • Prince Charming: A dashing, handsome man who arrives to romance and/or rescue a waiting female.
  • Real Men Cook: Manliness is paramount to being able to use fire to prepare food. Cooking is is usually associated with feminine traits, but in this case, the ability to master such a skill is considered manly. (For example: in fiction, maids and housewives can cook, but a Master Chef is usually male.)
  • Samus Is a Girl: A tough and badass character appears and, to everyone's shock, reveals that they are a girl.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Two men that contrast each other by playing this trope straight and subverting it.
  • The Slacker: Men in a domestic or social setting are shown as do-nothing layabouts.
    • Fat Slob: A man who is uncultured, slovenly, and overweight.
    • Jaded Washout: His glory days have passed long ago, and he cannot adjust to a new life.
    • Lazy Husband: A man is portrayed as a do-nothing while his wife does all of the work both in home and out.
    • Useless Boyfriend: A man does nothing to assist in day-to-day life with his far more pragmatic and forward-thinking girlfriend.
  • Testosterone Poisoning: Manliness to the extreme.
  • Unmanly Secret: A man who strives to be manly has a secret which reveals him to be In Touch with His Feminine Side.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Hitting a female is considered reprehensible, no matter the reason. But not hitting a guy.
Community Feedback Replies: 12
  • November 3, 2012
    I suggest separating tropes portrayed in a positive light from tropes portrayed in a negative light, since those are two very different sides to this Omnipresent Trope.
  • November 3, 2012
    No. I didn't do that for Women Are Delicate and I won't do it here.

    And besides, that's a matter of opinion.
  • November 3, 2012
    I'm not sure Well Done Son Guy is about disinterest at all. Many of the dads there take a very hands-on approach to teaching their kids, and care a lot that their kids meet their values and standards.
  • November 3, 2012
    Objection noted.

    I was mostly going off of the page quote.
  • November 3, 2012
    I think Men Dont Cry would fit in here, yes?
  • November 3, 2012
    Yep. Thanks.
  • November 3, 2012
    Action Hero doesn't go here. Like it or not, the trope's definition clearly states that it's gender neutral, and we're not going to change it to focus on the male side anytime soon.
  • November 4, 2012
    Sorry if it looks like I edited this. I was actually trying to bump one of my own YKTTWs, but I mistakenly bumped this one.
  • April 30, 2013
    You need to come up with a better laconic. The current one doesn't explain this trope at all.
  • May 8, 2013
    Finally finished. Ready to launch soon.
  • May 9, 2013
    This feels incredibly redundant given the Double Standard page, but, sure, whatever, get it over with.
  • May 9, 2013
    Both this and Women Are Delicate were created during a time last year when we were debating whether Action Girl and Non Action Guy were Not A Trope. We determined that the debate was being caused by a missing supertrope.