As Reviewed By A Woman
What a man ‘is’ seems to be the question of the day in today’s society. Criteria for the all-mighty man card has been the highly-debated (and opinionated) subject of TV shows, songs, books, and ‘What My Momma Said’.
Even the dictionary is a walking contraction:
You can be a man, or mankind (both sexes)--or even weaponry (manned the machine)--a verb? We are told to man up, be a man, tuck our mangina and get back into our man cave.
The confusion could stem from the fact that the word ‘man’ was created with a gender-neutral meaning. Isn’t history fun? The 20th century (1901-2000) is the first time that the word man was reserved for males. Before that, man meant person. It gets better. Men are going to love this.
The word men, was not plural for man. The word men meant ‘cognitive mind’ (to think). Guess what fellas, the word men was gender-neutral too. That much hasn’t changed. For those of you that are curious, women were called wif, while men were called wer (as in werewolf).
Popular opinion grew in the last 50-100 years that using ‘man’ to refer to all of mankind was sexist and exclusionary. For a time it got really confusing with a capitalized Man meaning mankind and a lowercase man meaning male.
However, this was highly useful in deciphering prophecies for all you SciFi geeks out there. Bless the English language for overcomplicating everything.
Are you lost yet? The whole thing is quite a hot mess. This is where the man of the hour, James Breakwell comes in to clear it all up for us.
How To Be A Man: (Whatever That Means)
James Breakwell graced my podcast, Playing Devil’s Advocate, with his presence to dish the deets about his questionable qualifications in dissecting what it means to be a man (his words).
I accepted the challenge (and honor) to read his man (lowercase) book and see if I concurred with his assessment. Mind you, I am a woman, but he didn’t seem to mind that trivial fact--in fact, he encouraged it with great enthusiasm.
I LITERALLY could not put this book down. I was hooked. Little did I know (OK, I knew) that I was in the presence of greatness. After I read it, I knew that men, at least Breakwell, are humble. Is it possible for a book to be gender-neutral? I mean, it’s a great read for both men and women--or is it Men?
Breakwell begins the book with disclosures and disclaimers to minimize liability on a book about being a man written by a man -- in case you proclaim this book as some sort of man bible with unwavering reverence.
Come to think of it, How To Be A Man may have trigger words and phrases for those deeply pondering manhood and the use of a lowercase m or capitalized M. However, dark, satirical comedy is near and dear to my heart so I eagerly read on.
I was not disappointed as Breakwell fully immersed me into his he-world and showed me how the other half live. His showcase of man-isms explores the intricacies of the handshake as an aggressive act to endearing, heart-felt passages of his complicated relationship with balls.
A Bill Gates quote came to mind as I was reading:
“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”
Smart. Something that makes you wonder if men don’t have it all figured out. I will let you figure out why I thought about this as you read your copy.
Valuable lessons learned throughout Breakwell’s experiences lurk under a veil of comedic prowess. There are several defining moments that reveal impressive insight on thought processes of what it means to be a man. In several instances, as a woman, I can guarantee we did not have the same ‘take-away’ in several stories--Mars & Venus for sure.
On the Venus end, Breakwell gives well-placed complimentary props to women throughout the book. Ladies, not only did he manage to inflate my ego, I also felt overwhelming compassion (and in some cases empathy) for the plight and pains of males. Yup, got me right in the feels.
How To Be A Man also offers an intimate look at who Breakwell is as a person. His strength of conviction is admirable and his wit is undeniable. What moved me was his personal investment and vulnerability coupled with strength (both make the man list) when faced with matters of the heart.
I live by Paul Coehlo’s quote:
“Writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.”
There is no doubt, Breakwell got naked and it was endearing, engaging, and I was able to identify. Getting a woman to identify with a man speaks to the fantastically compelling story that How To Be A Man divulges behind the cover. It’s magic.
One thing is certain, Breakwell’s contribution to the human condition with How To Be A Man may not provide a definitive answer of man (but it does). On the other hand, the book doesn’t take anything away from manhood either--or is it Menhood?
Either way, How To Be A Man is a must read and soon to be cult classic. Secure your copy by clicking here!