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Olawunmi Esan: What Does It Really Mean To Be A Man?


 on - Downloads-12The word ‘Man’, though a three letter word seems to carry a lot of weight. The word ‘Man’ makes you think of strength, pride and formidability.

Unfortunately, in our society today, that word has been abused and grossly distorted.

What does it really mean to be a man?

Does being a man mean showing strength in an abusive way? Does it mean responding with slaps and punches at the slightest provocation? Does it mean the ability the juggle multiple women at once without getting caught? Does it mean the ability to steal and get away with it? Does it mean intimidating others with material wealth? Does it mean the ability to show your woman you are the boss by physically and emotionally abusing her?

Sadly in today’s world, being a man has come to mean all of those things cited above. What is more disheartening is that the younger generation of men have picked up on this faulty definition of manhood and have begun to exhibit these negative traits.

I keep repeating the word ‘Man’ over and again in my mind. The more I repeat it, the more formidable it sounds to me.

I think of a man and I think of strength, I think of a protector. A man by default has more physical strength than a woman but his strength is not meant for intimidation and opposition. His strength was given to him to be a protector of his family. He should be the defender of his family and not the adversary. A man protects his family from harm, physical or otherwise.

His woman and children run to him and know they are safe. His woman knows that he will welcome her into his lovingly protective arms, when she has had a bad day and needs to be soothed. She feels calm and happy to know that his approval is all she needs to move forward. When she is faced with opposition, knowing her man is in her corner, makes her feel ready to take on the world.

A man is a protector and a rock; however, because he is human, there are times he will feel worn out and need protection himself. At that point, those whom he protects become his protectors. The nurturing nature of his woman and the non-judgemental and naturally protective instincts of his children become his fortress when he needs it.

A man who has protected no one has no place to seek solace when he is naked, exposed and in dire need of protection.

A man should be honorable. In recent times, the reaction to you get when you speak about men comprises of hissing, eyeballing and a lot of bad mouthing. Simply because a lot of men are not honorable. Men have become synonymous with dishonor. Quite a number of men will not hesitate to steal, cheat in business, cheat in their love lives and lie without remorse.

This trait has become so synonymous with men that by default, they are ‘Guilty until proven innocent’. Men have abused the prestige that should come with who they are and sadly see nothing wrong with it. The younger generation of men are being taught by example, this defective definition of what a man should be.

Please let honor be restored to the word ‘Man’ once again. Let it be said that if a man gives you his word, he will stand by it. Let it be said that his word is his bond.

Just as ‘Respect begets Respect’ so does ‘Honor beget Honor’.  Women will arise and give honor to a man who has placed himself in a position of honor.

Being a man should be about taking pride in being honorable. It should not be about having an over bloated ego exhibited by pompous and pretentious behaviour.

I long for the day the word ‘Man’ will command the respect and honor that it truly deserves. I may be waiting a long time for that to happen if men do not begin to have a paradigm shift about who they truly ought to be.

This doesn’t have to be a massive ‘Movement for Change’; this is a change that can start with one man. All it takes is one man who lives right, teaches his sons to live right and by example, teaches others to live right….this change can begin with YOU.

This is a call to men to restore honor to manhood.

Man, discover thy true self.

Photo Credit: | Nsoedo Frank

Olawunmi Esan is a trained Psychotherapist, who specializes as a Sex Therapist & Coach. She helps couples take Sexual Intimacy from Routine to Mind-blowing and has worked with over 1,000 individuals and couples to help them enjoy more fulfilling Intimacy and Sex lives. She is a founding member of The African Association of Professional Counsellors (ANEPCO) and the Founder of The Thriving Family, a Counselling Organisation working to promote positive and well balanced family life. You can learn more about her work HERE Olawunmi is married with children.


  1. Ify

    April 11, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Well said!,

  2. ElessarisElendil

    April 11, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    “Does it mean the ability the juggle multiple women at once without getting caught?”:
    Okay I tend to have a problem with this argument anytime it comes up. Yes that is what it means to be a MAN. We are literally genetically wired to seek as many mates as possible. Denying that natural instinct is now where your moral views come in.

    Second, can you guys make up your minds; is it now okay again to set societal standards? Because I was under the impression women were chafing about the ones men want to set. Perhaps its alright because men are the rock right??

    Basically men are different and the way the genetic game works is that women(some) spend their lives looking for an ideal mate. If you’re lucky, good on you if you’re not; just the way the world works.

    Unless of-course you guys are fine with a “what does it really mean to be a woman article”??? Leave the definition of manhood to you know Men!

    • Ginger

      April 11, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      @elessaris Please stop always lying on this site. If men were genetically modified to be polygamous then God would have made Adam and EVES, or Adam and Eve and Bianca. The same Old Testament that even Solomon that had so many women had one main wife, the same Bible with 10 Commandments that said thou shalt not commit adultery, and a man shall cleave to his WIFE. Be there picking and choosing from religion when it suits you. Just say you’re weak with no moral compass or no guts to stand up to a man with one. Ugh, Christians really disgust me and I can’t even hide it anymore. Never met an atheist that thought it was right to cheat on his wife or have more than one wife, and they are the scientists and philosophers. Be there defending rubbish

    • ElessarisElendil

      April 12, 2016 at 3:38 pm

      But? But? Its like actual scientific fact. Constantly referred to in passing by countless books. Men evolved to chase more mates, women(most) evolved to chose quality over quantity. I clearly state that’s where morals come in, so I don’t understand the reason for your ad hominens. I don’t recall ever offending you.

    • Mechi Onu Maifrien

      April 11, 2016 at 5:12 pm

      Please shift abeg. Women are also genetically wired to recieve different sperm from different men. Your sperm is meant to compete with another man’s sperm. And the fastest most viable sperm fertilizes the egg. So you think as you are perambulating the earth spreading your seed like a farmer, she is In the caves waiting for you twiddling her thumbs. See ya big empty coconut head. My guy the woman dey collect prick from another man

    • Jades

      April 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      Abeg leave that “men are genetically wired to stick their D around” for mumus. That excuse has been used far too long. fortunately most women caught up and are beyond that. You think, we women are not tempted to run after a more good looking, attractive, taller, bigger or smaller D, richer, more fun, makes us laugh type of men but we control ourselves because we use our brain more knowing it will lead to disaster.
      People have different definition of what it is to be a man. I honestly like the traditional gender roles with a little bit of twist. I like a manly man, go out there work, provide for the family and take care of us. And I love being a woman, doing the feminine roles. I have a job, making my money but if times calls for me to be a stay home mom to take care of my children. I will gladly do it. The twist comes in, when it’s abused. For example, if I’m being a good, dedicated wife(including sexually satisfying you) to hubby but he decides to cheat, commit adultery that reduces him as a man. You become zero to you.

    • Jades

      April 11, 2016 at 9:53 pm


    • ElessarisElendil

      April 12, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      “we women are not tempted to run after a more good looking, attractive, taller, bigger or smaller D, richer, more fun, makes us laugh type of men ”

      You’re proving my point. Note where I said, women constantly look for an ideal mate. My point which everybody seems to be missing but its there(if you guys didn’t get all excited to attack me) is that fidelity is a social not genetic construct. I literally say “Denying that natural instinct is now where your moral views come in.”. MORAL!!

  3. Mr. Egghead

    April 11, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    To be a man is not easy. Honestly, that is the hardest job there is.

    He pays the rents and the school fees, ensures there is money for food and DSTV for the wifey to watch. He busts his balls at work erriday to keep the lights on and the water running. Sometimes, he won’t have m0ney to buy those new shoes he likes; just because Junior needs to buy crayons or Mrs. Wife’s church group wants to buy new george/adire for their next outing.

    And after this what does he get? What is his reward for all his hard labor?

    The big piece of chicken on Sundays

    • Spicy

      April 11, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      You’re talking about men of the “olden” days..Men of the nowadays share bills and responsibilities with the woman..Therefore the woman gets the big piece of chicken on Sundays too 🙂

    • Seriously

      April 11, 2016 at 9:30 pm

      You know what he gets, sex to relax him from his “hard work”, even when she’s not in the mood and pleases him other ways.
      If they have children, carries baby(ies) for 9month body, hormones switching on you and can’t even explain why and how. Although, babymama/daddy business turned it into a lucrative job worth all the pain but it’s still the most difficult experience how a baby develops and comes out. Some women struggle for life getting back to being their best emotionally, mentally and definitely physically. Kids crying, women caring for them everybody saying go to mommy, Aunty as if she’s an octopus.

    • Pretty girl

      April 12, 2016 at 2:12 am

      @mr.Egghead And after all these the woman gives u the very best sex with all the good position u and her knw and also prepares u a good meal like a good wifey that she is.

  4. Cheekie

    April 11, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    I find the cultural expectations of manhood to be a bit challenging and confusing.. There’s the mild mannered and sensitive man(who has a soft,compassionate side), the Macho die hard man(who elicits strength,albeit for beating his wife or lording himself over people)

    To be a man means to be responsible,a provider and protector.. A man of integrity,Valor, honor,pride,to live for others ahead of self. Standing up for what is true,rather than take advantage of women’s vulnerability.. A man brings together,joins forces to make a unit work,rather than be the destroyer. To be a man means to uphold peace,uprightness,strength of character and sincerity. Be tough yet have empathy,and be able to compartmentalize his anger,hate etc Ability to show restraint in the face of provocation.

  5. Mannie

    April 11, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    I personally don’t think of myself (as a man) as a protector of a woman & child simply because I am a man; It is what I owe to humanity (man or woman, rich or poor etc) and nature while I exist on earth. Nor do I have to take pride in being honourable because I am a man. One does not take pride in being honourable on the account of his/her gender, honour is bequeathed to an individual in spite of gender.

    It’s time we tear off gender norms universally, and understand that men and women should be put on an equal pedestal and not on disparate platforms. Feminism has gone a long way to improve society’s understanding of women (and the place of woman in society). It’s about time that we educate society on the role of men in it (which is far from the conventional “protector”, “honourable” idea)

    Apologies for the epistle people!

  6. Ikido

    April 11, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    …..As being asked by a woman?? Really? Really??
    I mean, i can only imagine the 1000-comment-bashing of an article of “What it really means to experience the menstrual cycle”, if it is written by a man. I am sure BellaNaija’s server would crash!

    • Mannie

      April 11, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      ironically, your name means “she speaks so” in Japanese. Is this intentional? If so, Nihongo o hanashimasu ka? or, are you keen on Aikido by any chance?

    • Ikido

      April 12, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Nah….it ain’t that deep. Its just a variation of Ike.

  7. Rampage

    April 11, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    “there are times he will feel worn out and need protection himself. At that point, those whom he protects become his protectors.”

    Wrong. At no point does a man get protection from wife or kids except his sons are already real men themselves. The average man below 75 never wants protection, he wants sex and his own kids to be comfortable. If he’s worn out, at the least, a beer and an enthusiastic hand job will allow him to sleep and wake up happy.

    Women very rarely understand what it is to be a man, so I didn’t expect much from the author anyway.

  8. Late bloomer

    April 11, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Just curious how does a person becomes a sex coach ? She said she’s a sex coach

  9. PEN

    April 11, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    See men defending themselves!!! How women are bashed everyday with lists of how to please men….Abeg. Kudos to the writer. Truth. If men can posses their manhood with honour, we will have less problems on earth!

    • Mr. Egghead

      April 11, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      “possess their manhood with honour” lmao
      Men, have you heard?

  10. Paul Babalola

    April 11, 2016 at 6:42 pm

    Lol, a man is a man anytime anyday. He works hard, provide for his family and love his family especially a loyal WIFEY. Where there is a problem is when WIFEY wants to compete especially in terms of cheating because African men are wired to be polygamous. Before the advent of Christianity, Igbos in the south east were more polygamous than even an average Hausa man, China Achebe’s famous Things fall apart depicted the pre-colonial times in Igbo land. My grand father had 4 wives. African men by socio cultural nature are polygamous, Christianity and Nigeria constitution has limited men to one wife with men having harem of side chicks. A Moslem man however can have 4 wives . We should go back to the pre colonial times of having more than one WIFEY. Women must not compete with men when it comes to cheating, more women have died in hotel cheating on their husband. Adultery does not end well for women, Google it and you will see the evidence. If you can cope with the philandering ways of your man, divorce him. When guys see you are divorced, they always have better intention for you if they like u, but when they know you are a married woman, their thoughts is more than evil. It takes a mean man to sleep with another man’s wife when single women abound plentifully.

  11. Md

    April 11, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    I always find it funny when a woman tries to educate men on how to be men…the grandeur of delusions

    • Zeeebby

      April 12, 2016 at 10:56 am

      That my dear is why MEN will never change…. most times people don’t change until they see from a differnt perspective….. Listen and learn.

    • doal

      April 12, 2016 at 11:08 am

      can a man teach you how to be a woman?
      Can a Man be more “WOMAN” than a woman

      comot jo

  12. Princess

    April 12, 2016 at 9:16 am

    My heart sinks a little when I read some of these comments. Most people are looking out for themselves only. All I can say is may God grant me the grace to raise sons and daughters who will be an example to their society. Amen

  13. Dead on Arrival

    April 12, 2016 at 9:31 am

    You are not a man. How can you describe and attempt to explain what being a real man i?

    You already have F9 my friend.

    Dead on arrival.

    No more no less. That concludes it

  14. That C.girl

    April 12, 2016 at 11:36 pm

    The writer raised valid points but I agree with @dead on arrival that the points would have been more satisfactory coming from a man

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