07/15/2014 09:52 am ET

7 Positive Phrases We Should Be Teaching America's Boys About Masculinity

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"Watch me man up like nobody else; I'm gonna man up all over myself."

That line, from the song "Man Up" in hit Broadway musical The Book of Mormon, is meant to be somewhat satirical. But the messaging rings true even without hilarious musical accompaniment and choreography. The truth is, much of the language we commonly use to speak with boys about their behavior inherently pushes them to adhere to gendered, hyper-masculine stereotypes (e.g., domineering, heterosexual, aggressive). Common phrases like "man up," "be a man" and "suck it up" are all part of this rhetorical tradition. What we usually want to communicate with these phrases is that our boys should learn to be independent, responsible, honorable and capable. These are all qualities essential to becoming a respectable adult man, but they are poorly communicated with chauvinistic, ambiguous phrases like "grow a pair" that send dubious messages about binary gender characteristics and what defines being a man.

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