Masculinity Mental Health

Re-Writing the “Man Code”

 What is The “Man Code”?

Up until now, it’s been widely assumed that there is only one way to be a man (think Terminator meets Rambo) …

You can think of the “Man Code’ as an unwritten rule book which silently keeps guys in check. Kinda like Dan Brown’s Da Vinci code, only more complicated. It tells guys that they should act tough and use violence to resolve their problems. It tells guys that they should be self-sufficient and always in control. It tells them how to dress, who to love, who to be friends with and it’s centred on the heterosexual stereotype of a man, excluding anyone who doesn’t quite fit the mould.

The truth is, this “Man Code” is old and outdated now and in recent times, it’s undergone some pretty dramatic changes. There is a new kind of manliness hitting the streets and it’s all about embracing the guy you really are and sticking two fingers up to the unwritten rules that stop us from doing just that. According to research commissioned by Axe / Lynx and conducted by Promundo, toxic masculinity is alive and kicking. Did you know at least 48% of men agree that they should act strong, even if they feel scared or nervous inside? It’s time we changed that…

Let’s redefine what it means to be a man…


At least 55% of guys surveyed agreed that society tells them: “a guy who doesn’t fight back when others push him around is weak.” (Axe / Lynx, Promundo research). 

When’s the last time when you were told to ‘stand up for yourself’ or ‘man up’? Sure, who hasn’t right? 🙄 New Man Code rule #1: Strength isn’t defined by what you can lift or how hard you can push someone around, it is defined by how you deal with certain situations. Seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness, its a sign of strength. Having the guts to speak out about your problems requires a whole lot more strength than throwing a punch.


At least 38% of guys agreed that in general, a man who talks a lot about his worries, fear and problems doesn’t really get respect.  (Axe / Lynx, Promundo research). 

It’s no secret that repressing your emotions and bottling things up is bad for your physical and mental health. New Man Code rule #2: Respect your emotions, you feel them for a reason. It’s totally ok to talk about how you’re feeling. Find a trusted mate, family member or partner and tell them how you’re really doing.


At least 49% of British guys agreed to the statement: “society tells me that a guy who spends a lot of time on his looks isn’t very manly.”  (Axe / Lynx, Promundo research). 

At the same time, guys are expected to have the body of Zeus and arguably live up to equally unrealistic appearance goal. New Man Code rule #3: Spend as much or as little time on your appearance as you like! Going to the gym, taking care of your body and taking pride in your appearance is good not only for your body, but for your confidence and overall happiness.


At Least 59% of guys agreed that society tells them: “a gay guy is not a real man”. 

We live in a heteronormative society which, in short, means that Straight = Normal. We all know that’s not the case but for some reason, society is a bit slow on the uptake! New Man Code rule #4: A real man is defined as the following: any person who identifies as a man. End of story.

At least 48%, agreed with the statement: “society tells me that I should act strong even if I feel nervous or scared inside”.  (Axe / Lynx, Promundo research). 

Control is an illusion and the more you believe you can control everything, the more unhappy and stressed you’ll become! There is way too much pressure on guys to be in control in their relationships, their family situations, their careers and all other aspects of life – this pressure mounts up and often manifests itself in the form aggression, anger and other more serious issues which,according to the archaic rules of masculinity, “must be suppressed!” New Man Code Rule #4: You don’t have to be in control all of the time.

So, you get the idea… there are literally hundreds of other unwritten rules that men have to live by in order to be seen as a real man and it’s no secret that suicide is the biggest killer of men under forty as a result of this toxic masculinity. The age-old man code above tells guys that it’s not OK to cry. It tells guys that it’s not ok to speak about their worries and their fears and it also tells guys that they’re weak and ‘not a real man’ if they slip up. This is having catastrophic impacts on guys’ self-esteem and emotional wellbeing. It’s time to break the rules!

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