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One of the most frustrating things to deal with as a Black man is listening to Black women talk about what a “real man” is supposed to be or do.
Typically, when those discussions come up, they begin with “If you were a REAL man...” and are in reference to things that the women want from the men, based purely on desire, not on anything real. And, those discussions are never based on anything that comes from men or discussions with men.
In fact, a group of us jokingly search for the “Book of Real Man” that these women must have read.
That having been said, there are in fact some things that progressive Black men discuss amongst themselves about what Black men need to do.
Let’s deal with some of them now.
Brothers, I know how hard it is to find a real lady who actually appreciates it when you hold the door open for her, but do it anyway. If she doesn’t appreciate it, then she’s not a lady and she’s not for you. Just man up and keep it moving, but let’s still be gentlemen.
Don’t ever complain about Golddiggers if you have been fertile digging ground. When you see the signs (and we ALL know the signs), keep moving. Just man up and tell her that you are not the bank and no matter how cute she is, you won’t be doling out the loot for her company or for sex. That’s what prostitutes are for, but real men don’t get down like that.
Don’t ever get mad when a woman talks about unfaithful men if you have cheated and weren’t even suave enough to avoid being caught. Women cheat, too, so don’t say it’s a man thing or that all men need more than one woman. If you really believe that you deserve and can handle more than one woman, be a man about it and let her know. It’s not cheating if you tell the truth, and if you do it that way, you are really the man.
You see, the whole “king needs more than one woman” piece only works if you keep home taken care of and never, ever get caught slipping. Otherwise, it works to just kick it with one woman. A player plays, but if you don’t know the game, just man up and play one on one.
Don’t ever place yourself in a position where a woman can say that you forced her to have sex with you. If have ANY doubt, or if she appears to be uncomfortable, just man up. Stop and leave. There is never a sexual encounter worth your freedom.
Be responsible and embrace safe sex. We already know that the lie is being spread that Black women are only getting HIV from Black men, but you can avoid that lie, other diseases and unwanted pregnancy by embracing safe sex or celibacy. Yes, I said it—celibacy. If you are with a woman who is too eager to have unprotected sex, think before you act. You really aren’t that special, this is probably how she is with every man. Those few moments of pleasure could garner you a lifetime of misery, child support and custody battles.
And brothers, if a woman does get pregnant, man up. If you think she’s shady, take the DNA test. If you are not excluded, then make your plans to be in that child’s life, even if you hate the woman you had sex with. Realize that she probably hates you, too, but before it goes there, refer to the paragraph above.
Don’t ever get caught up in fighting a woman. We already know that Black men are perceived as abusive, so we don’t need to add to the stereotype by placing ourselves in bad situations. Yes, we all know women who act like they like to fight—we call them “beat freaks.” But even if a woman postures like a man, it is never cool to get in this kind of situation, because it can easily go south and you can find yourself in handcuffs. You can’t change this kind of woman or keep the peace. She may be acting aggressively, but if you hit her, you will be called a thug and go to jail. When the situation begins to escalate, man up and LEAVE.
And speaking of that thug garbage, real men don’t keep it thuggish. Boys do. Men are men and thugs are thugs. Any questions? Any woman who says she wants a man with a little thug in him is not looking for a real man, she’s looking for someone to beat her and abuse her. That’s what thugs do. Man up and step away from her, so that she can find a thug to beat her and rob her.
Women have no business defining men as thugs and men have no business allowing women to define them as anything. No matter what those magazines say about us, we have to define ourselves and be men about rising to that definition. We have to talk to each other about what we should be and move forward with that program.
For all the talk about angry, bitter women, there are also men who become angry and bitter after having a series of painful experiences that are unresolved. I will say the same thing to men that I say to women: Let it go.
And, this one is perhaps the most important of all: Don’t ever say anything to a woman who thinks poorly of Black men unless you already know that you have done your best to be a man.
Are you a father to your children? Are you a good example to the females in your family? Are you available to your brothers and friends when they need you? Have you mentored a young Black man? How dare you say anything about the state of Black men unless you are being an upstanding Black man yourself?
Don’t talk about how bad “those folks in the hood” are unless you show up and let them see how much of a man you are. If you are afraid, admit it, and go with some brothers who aren’t. You don’t have to be hardcore to care. You just have to show up. If you spent more time studying than fighting, you are a soldier and we need you.
And if the things I wrote here make you mad, just man up and deal with it. Take inventory of yourself and if you find things that are not manly, delete, delete, delete.
That’s what men do.
Darryl James n is an award-winning author who is now a filmmaker. He released his first mini-movie, “Crack,” and in Spring of this year, will release his first full-length documentary. James’ latest book, “Bridging The Black Gender Gap,” is the basis of his lectures and seminars. Previous installments of this column can now be viewed at www.bridgecolumn.com. James can be reached at