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Can 'manhood' be learned?
Dr. Lalit Kishore | 20 Nov 2013

A composite dictionary meaning of ‘manhood’ is that it is the state or time of being a male human described through certain qualities like resolve, bravery, courage, determination, vigour, striving, hard work, accountability, chivalry, etc. These qualities are often thought to be appropriate to a man or are ascribed to manliness. One has to teach oneself to achieve manhood by acquiring the foregoing qualities.

 Human beings have to learn everything and acquire qualities with constructed experiences in the families and through institutionalized education. The modern management science is of the view, if you can define a thing; you can always action-plan it to be achieved. On learning manhood, men see women as their equals; not inferior or superior.

Certain bad qualities and doings can destroy one's manhood. Commenting on destruction of manhood, Lucy Larcom says, "The curse of covetousness is that it destroys manhood by substituting money for character." According to Jeb, manhood is not determined by a man’s physical attributes but his qualities and character. He urges men not to lead boys to a path of violence rather help redefine manhood for them.

One achieves true manhood or ascribing qualities through striving and hard work. Another thing in learning manhood is to look for role models and learn from their struggle. As Adam Clarke puts it, "Few men can be said to have inimitable excellencies: let us watch them in their progress from infancy to manhood, and we shall soon be convinced that what they attained was the necessary consequence of the line they pursued, and the means they used."

Taking about ‘what not to do’ for being a 'man' in his work titled "Every-Day Religion” says, “All boys wish to be manly; but they often try to become so by copying the vices of men rather than their virtues. They see men drinking, smoking, and swearing; so these poor little fellows sedulously imitate such bad habits, thinking they are making themselves more like men. They mistake rudeness for strength, disrespect to parents for independence. They read wretched stories about boy brigands and boy detectives, and fancy themselves heroes when they break the laws, and become troublesome and mischievous. Out of such false influences the criminal classes are recruited.”

Stressing the need of value education and presence of role models, Clarke adds, “Many a little boy, who only wishes to be manly, becomes corrupted and debased by the bad examples around him and the bad literature which he reads. The cure for this is to give him good books, show him truly noble examples from life and history, and make him understand how infinitely above this mock-manliness is the true courage which ennobles human nature.”

So, it is through the presence of role models in the families, schools and neighbourhood along the value-based constructed experiences manhood can be learned consciously.