Wednesday, October 20, 2010

purple up

John Dickerson's objection to the phrase "man up" does not go far enough. In his article on, Dickerson complains that "man up" has become a cliche', that it has lost its orginial meaning. However, it is *precisely* that original meaning with which I disagree.

Dickerson appreciated the phrase when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (then running for that office), said his opponent should stop hinting about Christie's weight, and just "man up and say I'm fat." Now that Palin and many others are saying "man up," Dickerson writes, "It is dreary to watch, boring to listen to, and tells us nothing about the politician or the issue he or she is talking about."

My objection is that it is based in a harmful stereotype. To insist that men be tough and strong is just as harmful as insisting that women be pretty and weak. People who go against these stereotypes are often attacked, usually by calling them names associated with homosexuality. The phrase "man up" can usually be translated as "do this, or we will consider you 'gay' which, to our impoverished minds, is a bad thing."

Particularly today, on GLAAD's Spirit Day, when people are wearing purple to support bglt youth, and to end anti-bglt bullying, we should stand up and stop saying "man up."


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