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‘Man up!’-  A Pop Phrase Or A Toxic Masculinity Trait?

Updated: Apr 19

‘Man up!’-  A Pop Phrase Or A Toxic Masculinity Trait?

More than one opinion exists around the usage of the phrase ‘Man up!’. With an articulate description, this article by Best For Him also expounds on many multi-faceted concepts that have affected us individually and as a community.

What Does The Phrase, ‘Man up’ Mean?

Often used colloquially to encourage someone to showcase courage, strength, and reliance, the phrase, ‘Man up’ is one of the most common phrases to use, especially among men. Used especially when one is faced with challenges or adversity, the phrase doesn’t consciously affect people. But, ever since mental health has reached the awareness that it has now, it is considered a factor of deteriorating positive masculinity and mental health.

It is impossible even to fathom how many times responsibilities were forced onto you for something you cannot or should not control or go through. In a society, where women's empowerment, feminism, and other international movements have inspired billions, Men’s mental health and overall well-being have been compromised most severely. Ignorance of mental well-being among men is a common problem that is finally coming to light after so many life-altering incidents that men around the globe share. 

Impact on Well-being

‘Man up!’-  A Pop Phrase Or A Toxic Masculinity Trait?

It is not only mental health among men that is declining, but also their emotional and social well-being. A majority of men consider it to be a proof of masculinity to hear, ‘Man up’, act courageous, and show strength when they feel hesitant, afraid, or emotionally deprived. On the other hand, using the phrase has adversely affected their peace of mind and emotional stability.

Social Effects 

‘Man up!’-  A Pop Phrase Or A Toxic Masculinity Trait?

Forget society. Let’s take the example of a common household. How many times has a guy going through a hard time been told to not feel vulnerable or sad, or someone has forced orthodox ideologies of being a man onto the younger generation? 

In a country like India where society operates on religious codes and regulations that are more than a couple of millennia old, people often turn their heads against the dawning of a new age. It is no more the time when every man must wear battle gear and hold arms to defend their state or country. There are new jobs, responsibilities, and ways of life we have the freedom to adopt.

Effect on Emotional Well-being

‘Man up!’-  A Pop Phrase Or A Toxic Masculinity Trait?

Phrases like, ‘Man up’ have become regular for everyone to hear, whether in a professional workspace or personal life. Many would reject the notion of it being a part of a toxic culture. But, it has been making men emotionally deprived, nonetheless. Expected to behave a certain way, taking responsibilities into their hand at an early age, and providing for the family, the struggles of men go unnoticed due to a lack of awareness of mental health and emotional needs.

Psychological Impact

‘Man up!’-  A Pop Phrase Or A Toxic Masculinity Trait?

Mental health is often overlooked as a whole in a country that is driven by strong belief systems and blinded by myths. It has become all the more difficult to provide awareness to the section of society that is burdened with emotional baggage. Mental health in men has never hit this low, with reports of soaring suicide rates and emotional deprivation. 

The Woke Ideology

It is very important to feel empathetic to other people’s pain and suffering. But, it has gone out of hand these days with people taking responsibility for others which is exactly opposite to what empathy means. The woke habits are a part of the ‘Gen-Z’ culture where one can get offended on other people’s behalf. 

Toxic Masculinity

The original concept of toxic masculinity was associated with psychopaths, megalomaniacs, sociopaths, and murderers (serial and mass). Later, the term was generalized in society and the meaning shifted from the original to a term that refers to a repressive and narrow description of manhood, defined by violence, status, sex, and aggression. It lost its true meaning and with a combination of misandry, the term was derogatorily used to describe men who do not condone ideas just because they are widely accepted. 

To know more about this misconception and see masculinity in a new light you can refer to this article written by Anthony Synnott.

‘Man up’ might be a phrase that has a detrimental effect on people’s emotions and mental health. But, people still harbor diametrically opposing views on whether it affects the society in which they live or their personal space.


‘Man up!’-  A Pop Phrase Or A Toxic Masculinity Trait?

The phrase has been critically abolished by feminists all around the world due to the negative impact it has created where men suppress their emotions and be diffident about opening up. However, people who project this have fallen into multiple misunderstandings about the whole concept of feminism and misandry has led them to glorify falsified information. With misandry, pseudofeminism rises with negative values going against the very concept of feminism in the contemporary world.

British Actor and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Emma Watson sets a distinction of what Feminism is now and what it is supposed to be in a speech at the HeForShe Campaign 2014.

"...and the more I've spoken about feminism, the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with Man-Hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop!"


There are so many little things that if aggregated, constitute an intense impact on the very essence of masculinity and emotional well-being in men. For so long, men have been neglecting the effect of surroundings and things that seem mundane that subconsciously have a detrimental effect on their mental and emotional well-being.

It is highly debatable whether phrases like, ‘Man up’ are sexist. Many issues are engulfed around the debate like pseudofeminism, woke culture, and toxic masculinity (which has been misunderstood on a major level by the majority of the people). Both factions of people hold diametrically opposing opinions on whether the phrase should be used or not. But, one thing is for sure- you can choose for yourself whether it is okay for you to use it after reading this article.

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