What Does “Take It Like A Man” Even Mean?

October 26th, 2017

NEW!, NOPE!, Red Flag 101, Red Flags


Name: veronica

Comment: Hi there! I know this is a little off the beaten path but I really enjoy your work and I thought you might have some good insight on this situation. My 17 year old son has been dating a lovely young lady for the past few months. Her birthday was last week and he completely forgot about it. When she told him about it, he responded with something like “Oops, I’m sorry I forgot. Let’s do something next weekend since I have plans with the guys this weekend.” I know, cringeworthy to say the least! And if that wasn’t bad enough, there was strike number two when he trivialized her birthday by saying “what’s the big deal, it’s not like it’s your 21st” and then strike three when he told her she was just being silly and taking a “hissy fit”. After a heated exchange, she exclaimed “you just don’t get it!” and then landed a stinging slap across his cheek and stormed off. Needless to say, he has much to learn about the opposite sex, and I teased him about getting
his face slapped by a few more ladies until he starts behaving like a true gentleman ?? To his credit, he took it like a man and seems less concerned about his wounded pride and more concerned about the young woman’s feelings. I think this could be a teachable moment for him, and I also think he can repair his relationship with his girlfriend if he goes about it the right way. Just wondered if you had any nuggets of wisdom to offer.

First of all, none of this is okay. Your son’s girlfriend hit him. She hit him hard enough that it “stung.” You should in no way be encouraging him to get back with her. She. Hit. Him. Forget that they’re seventeen. Forget that he forgot her birthday. If she smacked him over something so trivial, just imagine how angry she gets when the shit really hits the fan. It doesn’t matter that they’re “kids.” They’re both old enough to know that striking another person in anger is wrong. That is, if they’re parents did their job and taught them that. By laughing at what his girlfriend did, you’re telling your son that hitting people in anger is okay.

Also your responsibility? Teaching your son how to be accountable for his mistakes. Deflecting and acting dismissive of his girlfriend’s feelings was wrong and you need to explain that to him. You and his father are to blame for your son being incapable of offering a genuine apology. I’m going to take a wild guess that your relationship with his Dad was pretty toxic. That would explain why you’re being so casual about this. You think this kind of behavior is normal.

It’s not.

Your son’s girlfriend is not a “lovely young lady.” She’s a young adult who doesn’t know how to control her emotions or impulses. Again, she’s not twelve. This sort of behavior does not bode well for her or him. You should not be teaching your son that what she did was okay. The end result of that will be that your son will be one of those, “She hit me first” men. (And I use that term loosely.) You and his Dad need to make it clear that hitting someone in anger is wrong. I don’t care how many episodes of Pretty Little Liars she’s watched. That Drama Queen needs to get it together. Her parents clearly failed at their jobs, too.

As for you? Take up a hobby and stop being so up in your son’s business. If you are going to be up his ass, be productive about it and teach him how to take responsibility for his actions. Explain to him the importance of sensitivity and compassion. That’s what “taking it like a man” means. That’s what being an adult means.



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17 Responses to “What Does “Take It Like A Man” Even Mean?”

  1. fuzzilla Says:

    My BF’s mom will “joke” about how she threw a shoe at her brother’s temple and how he needed stitches for that. And I think the inciting incident was him doing something “ungentlemanly,” though I don’t remember exactly what. Hilarious…not. :/ Yeah, hitting your partner is a dumpable offense, not cute. This should not need to be explained.

    As for blowing off the girlfriend’s birthday…I mean, it was rude and doesn’t bode well for the relationship, but maybe the relationship just isn’t that high of a priority for him right now? Maybe he’s not that into her? Being a bad partner to one particular person at one particular time in your life doesn’t automatically make you a terrible human being. Look at the bigger picture.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      Kinda like dropping out of school might make you a lousy student, but be the right move overall if you hated the program and found something else that was a better fit.

  2. Jeff Smith Says:

    “You and his father are to blame for your son being incapable of offering a genuine apology.”
    Since you don’t have kids, I’ll just explain something to you – no matter what you tried to teach to your kids, they are just born a certain way and that’s it. In fact sometimes if you harp, they purposely rebel and do the opposite.

    They just don’t get it until bad things happen and they learn and listen.
    For all you know the kid could be on the scale and not even be able to perceive the issue.
    Sometimes the parent just needs to stand back and let the bad things happen.
    As for the hitting – totally agree. She should “take it like a woman”.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **She should “take it like a woman”.**

      Who should take what “like a woman”? Since you said you agree, I think you mean girlfriend should accept that hitting him gives him good reason to dump her..? (Incidentally, just wanting to dump someone is a good enough reason).

      • Jeff Smith Says:

        First, I don’t like the saying “take it like a man” (TILAM?), so it was to push back on it a bit. Ironically in this case TILAM (in the mother’s context) means ignore your feeling, which is what the son did in the first place. (I would bet he felt bad about it regards of his perceived behavior)
        Why should men be any more or less resilient, at least emotionally?
        TILAM thinking is partly why men are hesitant to show vulnerability. It’s a form of shaming.

        Yes, hitting it never ok. At this stage, I would consider it a huge red flag.

    • BTownGirl Says:

      Stepmother of three here and, Lord, if this isn’t the truth! The youngest seemed a little preoccupied a few weeks ago and my fiance was away, so I called their mother to ask if maybe the wedding and the new school year was a little too much at once. She laughed and said, “No, you’re fine! This one came out of the womb anxious. She probably just didn’t like her outfit today and it’s thrown her off.” Actual problem? Boy she likes had not yet viewed her story on Snapchat haha!! Kids, man, I tell you!

      • Parenting Says:

        This is so true. I have a friend who is the mother of 5 and all she ever wanted was motherhood, her older brother is a never married accomplished professional who thinks children are a disease, and two younger brothers: a very sweet natured laborer who livesbwith his mom and a meth addict who has 2 kids and robbed his mom to feed his habit. Its hard to believe these kids are from the same neighborhood much less the same family.

        The thing that stood out to me about the young couple in this story is that they are 17. Teenagers are by nature self absorbed. Im not sure the boys behavior wasnt age appropriate although obviously not desirable. The girl…I agree. Not ok on any level.

    • Sheba Says:

      I’m a mother, not that that’s actually relevant. And even if you can’t control your child’s character or actions, you model the person you want them to be. And you sure as fuck do not laugh off assault and domestic violence.

  3. Ashley Says:

    This is the oddest question on this blog to date.

  4. Mandy Says:

    So much wrong with this before we even get to the slap! Some people don’t think birthdays are a big deal. There’s nothing wrong with forgetting a birthday, then apologizing and offering to make plans when you’re free. The girlfriend needs to learn how to convey her wants and needs, and set expectations, and then trust herself enough to be with people who meet her wants and needs. The boyfriend needs to learn that everyone’s different, and if someone tells you something upsets them–even if it doesn’t upset you–then you need to take it seriously and respect their feelings. This has nothing to do with gender. It’s about respect and communication for both parties. That’s what you should teach your son. And if your needs aren’t being met, or the person is hitting instead of communicating, you should get the F out as soon as possible.

    Let’s try it again…

    Her: “It was my birthday last week”.
    Him: “Oops, I’m sorry I forgot. Let’s do something next weekend since I have plans with the guys this weekend.”
    Her: “Actually birthdays are a big deal to me, it upsets me that you’re not making a big deal out of it”
    Him: “I usually only make a big deal out of milestone birthdays, I didn’t realize other people make a big deal out of every birthday”
    Her: “Yea, I feel like you forgot about me and don’t care about me if you don’t celebrate my birthday”.
    Him: “OK, let me plan something to make it up to you, and I’ll be sure to remember your birthday next time now that I know it’s important to you”

  5. Nia Says:

    Yeah, slapping a man across the face to make a point was acceptable in the era when domestic violence was “not police business” and whaling on your kid with a strap or a belt was seen as a normal way to punish them.

    While the % of men who experience violence from female partners is much, much lower than the opposite, it’s not okay to normalize any kind of violence, including telling a teenager that they should accept slaps as “a man”.

    In my personal opinion (bracing for downvotes, heh) I don’t want to date or be around men who make a big stink or point that they “don’t hit women”. Howsabout you don’t hit ANYONE? I would much rather be with a man who has never been in a fistfight than a man who’s been in 40 bar brawls or street fights or whatever but who’s “never hit a woman”.

    A person who makes a distinction between men and women as targets of his pent up and barely controlled violence is a sexist (“well, women are weak, they can’t defend themselves against my rage like a man can”) and a throwback and eventually, he WILL hit women. “I don’t ever hit a woman” is the on ramp to either a) everything but technically striking her or b) “unless she hits me first”.

    Toxic masculinity hurts men too. It creates men who believe that violence is a type of communication, that women are inherently illogical, dramatic, and emotional, and that “taking it like a man” means that violence and abuse are part of your world.

    • fuzzilla Says:

      **Toxic masculinity hurts men too.**

      Yeah, I was gonna say the same thing. I remember a guy telling me he wouldn’t get his prostate checked because “that’s gay.” Unpleasant, maybe, but “gay” (and therefore “bad”) to give a shit about your health..?

  6. Em Says:

    Um, this is a grown folks site…

  7. 40something Says:

    Bad behavior is simply bad behavior. Gender
    Is no excuse.

  8. EANx Says:

    The last time it was acceptable for a woman to hit a man was, oddly enough, the last moment it was acceptable for a man to hit a woman.

  9. Zaire Says:

    I haven’t read Moxie’s commentary yet but this letter REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. As his mother, you really are siding with the girl who slapped your son? I get that the girl didn’t beat him up but I don’t think you should be endorsing her behavior. If you want to explain to him where the girl was coming from and the importance of being more considerate that’s fine, but don’t imply this will happen more often unless he starts “acting like a true gentleman”

  10. Mark Says:


    First and foremost I think it’s great that you at least have some sort of dialog with your son about this sort of thing. A fair number of parents don’t although they think they do.

    Second: It seems to me to me that your son is on a learning curve. For some that curve is short because they quickly pick up social signals. They are like ducks to water. They simply understand. Others need to make mistakes in order to better read people given the lay of the land. It seems to me, based on your letter, that your son falls into the latter category. That’s not good or bad per se, rather it means he needs to play to his strengths and work on his short comings. Don’t we all?

    Third: The slapping thing. Umm…. no. It’s not ok if a man slaps a woman. Nor is it ok if woman slaps a man. That seems especially true here even though your son uttered what many might consider an insensitive response remark who is nominally his ‘girlfriend’. He should not try to make up with that girl. She was wrong for slapping him, he was wrong for being insensitive. Hopefully, both take to heart this incident.

    There is a phrase – Youth is wasted on the young. Both your son and the young woman should take stock and ask themselves if this is is behavior they would condone five years from today.

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