01/07/2013 10:15 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Tell Us: Is There Such A Thing As A "Real Man"?

Be a real man. It's a ridiculous instruction -- all men are, after all, real -- but we've all heard said or strongly insinuated -- usually in movies or advertisements for sporting venues or beer or other things marketed to men, and only occasionally with irony.

In the wake of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we wrote about an ad for the Bushmaster rifle, the same gun the shooter used, promoting deadly weapons as a measure of true masculinity.

We couldn't help but notice that two of your most favorited comments were about what makes a boy a "real man."


So, we decided to pose the question again and received mixed responses.

Some suggested that a man is someone with strong values and convictions. (How does this distinguish men from women? And if it doesn't, how is it a defining feature of masculinity? Discuss.)


Others were skeptical about the question and the original idea that some men are "real" and others aren't. "Isn't that kind of offensive?" many of our community members asked, wondering if questions like these only provoke gender conflict, not understanding.


All of which points to a problem the gun ad illustrated so well: Tired stereotypes don't describe masculinity accurately -- we need a new definition.

What do you think? How do you define masculinity now, or femininity for that matter?