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Updated on October 22, 2009

What's The Gut Feeling Associated With Being A Guy?

I take it for granted that I am a man. Yet at any given moment, I don’t feel like a man. So how does that happen? So I thought why not explore, in a series of blogs, what it means to be a man. I don’t claim to have the definitive answer or any answers, but I know that answers often emerge from exploration and dialogue. So I’m looking forward to exploring the topic for myself and looking forward to your comments and insights.

I think this is an age-old question, and I’m not sure the caveman had any more insight than his offspring! And too, with women asking the parallel question for themselves in the last hundred or so years, I think many men, including myself, have looked to women for the answer. You know, that notion that she’ll let me know by her seductive eyes and smile if I’m a real man or not.

And because we have become increasingly homophobic, we forget that we need to look to our own kind, to each other, for the answer to that question. That’s not to say that women don’t have valuable feedback for us. They do. But I believe that there is a part of the answer to this question that only we, as men, can answer for each other.

We must have some idea of what a real man is because we have phrases like ‘it takes a man,...a few good men.....BE a takes a BIG man....step up to the plate."

But here’s the corker. Even if we find the answers to the question, how does one go about FEELING like a real man. How does one acquire a gut experience of being a man?

As the years have gone by and I have realized that I am no longer three or five or twelve or eighteen or twenty six, but suddenly I am thirty something, forty something, fifty something, SIXTY FOUR, I am too keenly aware, for my own comfort, that the gut experience of being a GUY continues to escape me more often than I prefer.

For example, just the other day, I was speaking, at a luncheon, to a group of folks from a local service organization, about family life and parenting. A member of the audience seriously challenged one of my "bits of parenting wisdom," and immediately, my voice began to quiver and go up in range! I suddenly felt like I was in my twenties talking to my Dad about some of my philosophical notions that he totally disagreed with. In fact, he would say, "I don’t know why in the heck I sent you to that college!"

At age sixty four, I am familiar enough with this phenomenon, that I have learned how to respond to it well. I take a deep breath, make eye contact with the person challenging me, and I actually join my "contender" by validating his question. I’m experienced enough to also demonstrate how the particular bit of parenting wisdom achieves exactly what he is wanting to achieve with his own children. So, from a public speaking perspective, I got it made in the shade. But it’s not just about public speaking techniques. I have confidence in the skills I share with folks because I practice them every day. I know what works and what does not. But that’s not the point either.

How does it happen? That’s my interest. How does it happen that suddenly I feel so small, so young, so unmanly. I know that part of the answer has to do with my perception of the man asking the question. First of all, he is a very large man, both in height and width. He is what I call distinguished-looking, powerful-looking, a booming voice, all those characteristics to which my psyche says, "Hey, now there’s a real man." Unfortunately. My psyche doesn’t stop there. "And he thinks what you have to say is bunk!"

So there you got it. So I have a "little" LOUD voice in my head that repeatedly undermines my gut experience of being a man. Cuts my balls off right on the spot.

So what has been your experience of the "little" LOUD voice? Know that the point here is not to bash anyone from our past. It’s simply about exploration and learning a little bit more of how we got to this point in our development and how we might grow to some other place and pass that on as well.

Looking forward to your comments.


In It Takes A Man #2, I will share with you about a part of me I call The Tall Guy!



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    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      7 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Good Morning, Spirit Whisperer.

      First of all, thanks for giving fresh life to an "old" blog. I was sixty four when I posted it, and now I am sixty five!! Sixty Five and some more!!

      Wow, I hadn't given it any thought about the lack of comments from men and I certainly have male followers. Wow. What the heck is it with us? How homophobic or manphobic are we? It is a good read for me this morning and rechallenges me in so many different ways at this time of my life.

      I have made changes in my life in the last eight months, including becoming sober from alcohol and what a difference that makes. I had fooled myself for a long time because I did not see myself fitting my own picture of the "real" alcoholic! But I am.

      I have become aware lately of how many times I will be approaching another man, in the store, walking, walking across the college campus, whereever, at church even, and I am conscious to acknowledge his presence, and it is interesting lately, yes lately, the acknowledgement is spontaneously and instantly mutual. I got to wondering what's going on in terms of my energy or more humbly the energy in the universe.

      I make it a point to acknowledge everyone's presence, including women, but I am aware that perhaps women are more guarded when a guy she doesn't know says hello. For exercise, for example, I walk several days a week, and walk four, five, six miles depending on how much time I have and obviously there are other folks out there exercising as well, and I figure some day, I could need another one of those walker's assistance, so I want them to know me as someone friendly and worth stopping to help!! But I am aware that women out walking alone might wish I said nothing and keep on walking, so I try to respect the other person's energy or boundaries, not that I am an excellent mind reader, but body language says a lot.

      So with that as a frame of reference, it is amazing to me that men are very quick to acknowledge my presence as well, and it hasn't always been that way in my experience.

      Anywho, thanks again for reading, commenting, and supporting my hubs.


    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 

      7 years ago from Isle of Man

      Interesting that I am the only man besides you to comment on this hub about what it takes to be a man. hmmmm...

      A good read including the very high quality comments. As a result of reading their comments I am now going on to read more of what these ladies have written.Thank you.

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      8 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Hello, Terri, no treasures buried in yard! Look under the humming bird feeder, and then move six steps to the North. It is there!! Thank you so much for reading my blogs and it is an honor to be a part of your journey.

    • profile image

      Terri no treasures buried in yard! 

      8 years ago

      Vern.. I have learned so much from you! I loved this story on REAL Men..Being a women you have made me aware of all the pieces and parts that are just me.Sometimes When I dont feel loved you have taught me that the feelings may not be right or wrong they just are and to make friends with them as part of me. So now to make friend and be at peace with all that is just life. You will always be a real man to me. With feathers and gratitude. Thank you

    • vrbmft profile imageAUTHOR

      Vernon Bradley 

      9 years ago from Yucaipa, California

      Hey, thank you so much for your comments. I am looking forward to perusing (is that the word) your "library" to read your contributions to empowering women. As both men and women are empowered in the truest sense of that word, we just might learn how to have that so-called "equal" relationship which is characterized by giving and receiving. It's wonderful to be in a community of folks where we can share and appreciate each other's sharing in contrast to competing with each other.

      Thanks again


    • lindagoffigan profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Vern, I visited you from comments you left on my blog about How to Become Thin.

      I enjoyed reading this article because if you look at my library of hubs, you will see that I am constantly empowering women. To hear your humbleness at being in what is perceived a powerful place as head of the household is surprising.

      Your reference to addressing the critics was right on as well when you said to validate what the critic is saying instead of getting angry. Anger management is something that I think men have to contend with because of their penchant to be in charge and to make sure that everything is working properly.

      Some women see men as their rock to lean on and a strong shoulder to rest their cares of the day. But where do men go when they need to "man up?"

      You gave a great insight from a clear perspective of the subject of your article.


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