Things That Make You Blush: What’s a Real Man?

“Real men provide; Real women appreciate it.”

Did you happen to see or read about the billboard on Business 40 that heralded this statement in February? This billboard slogan raised eyebrows, prompted protests and curious rebuttals, and started many conversations at the dinner table regarding gender roles in a relationship. One protester’s sign rebutted this billboard with the statement that, “Real People Respect Each Other.” While our country’s history certainly includes families and relationships where the “real man” plowed the field while the “real woman” cooked and cleaned, it seems, even from a superficial view of our society today, that this type of relationship was more common before women had the right to vote, before the invention of the automobile, and before the sinking of the Titanic. And who decides what a real man is, anyway? Who should you ask about this? If you ask your father, depending on his age, he might say a real man is a man who protects and provides. Your mother, depending on her age, might say a real man is a man who is faithful and doesn’t have time to look at other women. Siri, on your Smartphone, says all kinds of things and offers up hundreds of quotes on what a real man is. For example, one Real Man quote states that “A real man treats his lady the same way he wants another man to treat his daughter.” The quotes are endless.

Whether you are just dating, in a relationship, or in a marriage, you probably have your own definition and opinion about what a real man looks and acts like. If a woman is just looking for entertainment, she may not be looking for a real man, but a fun man who likes to party, go dancing, and maybe just provide a little smooching. Women in a relationship may have sifted through the dating options and found a potential “real man” who either creates romantic sparks, shares mutual interests or has a large “personality.” Men who have made it successfully through the dating sifters and relationship filters could be considered “real men.” Knowing that everyone has a different set of filters means that a “real man” looks different for every woman. So, a real man is not a real man is not a real man. One woman may want a partner who shares similar values, brings home a paycheck, and takes out the trash. Another woman may describe her real man as someone who listens well, works hard, and changes diapers. Another woman may say her real man stays at home with the kids, cooks dinner, and does the laundry while she saves lives in the emergency room all day. In same-sex relationships, the partners may not be looking for a real man at all, but a real partner, whether it is a man or a woman. There are as many definitions of a real man as there are relationships.

The authors describe a real man as someone who shows respect, is affectionate, honest, sympathetic, nurturing, fun, passionate, thoughtful, and a good lover. They describe a real woman in exactly the same way. Two of our favorite Siri quotes echo this description:

  • “You will never have to tell a real man how to be one.”
  • “Don’t fall in love with someone who says the right things. Fall in love with someone who does the right things.”

We would rather see these on a billboard!