Saying ‘Man Up’ Is Not About Gender Norms. It’s Just Rude

A Duke University student group has launched a campaign of awareness designed to get students to think about their word choices. It identifies several objectionable phrases and sentiments, and overlays the reason we shouldn’t say them atop black and white photos of starkly judgmental 19-year-olds.

Internet. Gold.

The campaign has come in for some scorn, partly because the fairly innocuous phrase “man up” has somehow become anathema to these wispy youths. One can only assume that these boys (probably their parent’s only children) weren’t sufficiently exposed to sports as children, or were so mollycoddled by their smothering moms that they rarely suffered so much as a skinned knee.

The statements against these commonly used phrases possess all the insight and wisdom one expects from college students.

“I don’t say ‘Man Up’ because the strongest people I know have cried in front of me, regardless of their age, gender or sex.”

Well, that’s…hmm. “Never crying” isn’t exactly what “man up” means, according to my understanding. It’s more of a challenge, a way to say, “pick yourself up, because you are stronger than this problem,” using far fewer syllables. This is implicitly understood by 99.9% of the male population.

“I don’t say, ‘Don’t be a Pussy’ because I don’t believe that any gender is inferior.”

Biological realities about the physical advantages of men aside, for one sex to be inferior to another both sexes would have to be viewed as essentially the same thing, albeit with different fleshy protuberances. This mindset denies the concepts of femininity, masculinity and the complementary nature of humanity. Viewing life through this prism is incalculably sad.

To be sure, there is a fair bit of social engineering in this campaign. The push to normalize and celebrate homosexuality (along with the various, increasingly dense permutations of “queer”) is evident. One presumes that any resistance to this campaign of speech control will be met with the customary shrieking accusations of, “Bigotry!”

The thing of it is, I actually agree we shouldn’t speak to each other so coarsely. Our readers may have noticed that I rarely fail to use one word when I have a chance to use fifteen.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy saying terrible, hurtful things to people, but I try to use them less as a bludgeon and more as a scalpel. I view the sort of language these kids are crusading against as a failing, yes, but moreso a failure of creativity than sensitivity.

So while I disagree with their methods and their reasoning, and probably a fair number of their personal life choices, I can’t say I disagree entirely with their goal. Below I’ve submitted my own reasons for avoiding objectionable language:

We don’t say, “bitch,” because it’s rude.

We don’t say, “pussy,” because it’s rude.

We don’t say, “no homo,” because it’s rude.

We don’t say, “man up,” because it’s rude.

We don’t say, “that’s so gay,” because it’s rude.

You get the point. This isn’t a difficult concept.

Speak to others as you would have them speak to you. If you would like to invite rough language into your life, if you find it amusing or if it lights a fire under you, by all means: put it out into the universe. It will be returned to you, as you have now informed others of your expectations for your treatment.

Beyond a request for good manners, it really isn’t advisable to try to exert control over the speech of others. Because you know what else is rude?

When the oh-so-sensitive thought police that you created inevitably turn on you.