What does it take to be a man?

By Gray Hughes

Hill City Prevailer News Editor Gray Hughes putting up a fence on a trail outside Hill City in September of 2017.

Chances are, you might have seen or heard about Gillette’s newest advertisement campaign.

While I’m not going to respond to the commercial itself, the commercial did get me thinking: what does it take to be a man?

I am by no means a “man’s man.” Yes, I love sports, grilling and doing things outside, but there are many things that the stereotypical “man’s man” does that I do not do.

I cannot build you anything. I cannot fix your car.  I’ve never been hunting (although I love to fish). I am not strong or fast or athletically gifted. Lord help me if I ever need to defend myself in a fight.

I like baths, watching romantic comedies with my girlfriend and I love pumpkin spice products. I am just as comfortable hanging out with my girlfriend’s friends (who are some of my best friends, too) as I am hanging out with my own friends.

You would think that these attributes about myself would have gotten me bullied as a kid and even into adulthood on my high school’s lacrosse team and in my fraternity.

Yes, there was good-natured teasing but nothing serious. They accepted me for who I am. I guess I was pretty lucky to surround myself with people who thought similarly to myself.

And that brings me to my main point.

To me, what makes a man is how he treats another person.

A man will respect all opinions and treat others with respect. A man feels just as comfortable helping out in the kitchen as he does watching a football game.

A man isn’t afraid to hold his girlfriend’s or wife’s purse at the store or have a tea party with his daughter.

A man feels comfortable in his own skin and isn’t afraid to be himself.

Have I violated my own rules? Of course I have. No one is perfect. But I am trying to be a better man throughout my life.

Which is my second point. A man tries to better himself.

We all need to learn from our mistakes – I certainty have – but a man will see the errors in his way and vow to make himself better.

And, perhaps most importantly, a man would not stand for harassment of any type or tolerate those who do harass.

A man treats everyone as an equal.

I would be just as happy having a daughter as I would a son, but if I have a son, these are the lessons I want to pass on to him.

I want to teach him it’s okay to help out in the kitchen and around the house, it’s okay to like things such as pumpkin spice products and Uggs (another “not masculine” item that I like) and it’s okay to treat others with respect — no matter how different they may be — to go along with liking sports, grilling and doing things outside.

I would drill into his head that it is not okay to harass anyone for any reason and to speak out if he sees someone being harassed — even if the harasser is his best friend.

And if he doesn’t want to watch the Phillies game with me, becomes a vegetarian or doesn’t like fishing or hiking or skiing, I’ll be just as happy so long as he’s happy.

The Gillette commercial ends by showing young boys and saying “the boys watching today will become the men of tomorrow.”

That is something, as men, we need to keep in mind. We need to remember that children are very impressionable, and if we set a good example for them, then they will grow up to be extraordinary young men.