How to define a good man
What it means to be a good man is different depending on where you live. If you live in Hamar, you wouldn't dream of asking a father for his daughter's hand in marriage without jumping over some cows first. In the Amazonian Satere-Mawe tribe, you aren't a man unless you've endured the stings of bullet ants without screaming.
Yet no matter who you are, or what rites of passage are considered normal in your neck of the woods, there are a few traits that are considered necessary no matter where you go. Here are four of these universal traits.
Look anywhere in the world, and most of the initiations into manhood are painful or frightening. Whether it's hazing rituals to be allowed into various frats, or being hung from hooks and made to look at the sun.
Having courage in the face of pain, or in scary situations such as those involving heights, or perhaps facing off against a large animal, is a valued trait in men.
We need courage in the world. Courage is what made a single man choose to face down oncoming tanks with nothing but his own body and a sack of groceries during the Tiananmen Square massacre. Courage is what gives us firemen, paramedics, and other brave rescuers. It's a pervasive part of manhood, and something considered necessary in every culture to be manly.
Loyalty is another trait woven into the fabric of masculinity. Depending on where you live, it might be undying reverence to your flag—or simply your football team. Men are expected to be loyal to a fault however, and when something happens to erode that loyalty, such as their political party disappointing them or a divorce, it can erode at their personal identity.
Men are expected not to lose their cool easily, and it can be looked down on if they are throwing tantrums over small things beyond their control. On the flip side, when men handle disappointment stoically, they are viewed as more manly than before.
Although gender roles are shifting, being the provider is still largely considered a masculine role. A good man is expected to go to work, bring home the bacon, and make sure their wife and kids have everything they need.
This can be a source of extreme stress for men who see providing for their families as part of their masculinity, and why it can be so devastating for them when they lose their jobs. Fortunately, this particular trait is starting to become less critical in order for a man to feel like a man.
In developed countries, it's not uncommon for the woman to be the bread winner, and for the man to stay home with the kids if that is what works best for the family. So if you're a manly man painting your daughter's nails pink for her, today's society probably won't think you're less of a man for it. In fact, far from it.