There was a time when being a man was considered a simple job. Just club the meat and lug it back to the cave. The original paleo-veto diet didn’t involve much other work save for the occasional warding off of wild animals to protect the family. In that sense, we weren’t very different from the wild animals we lived amidst.

As humans evolved, societies emerged and civilisations were established, the role took on new chores. To cut to  the chase, it all went pretty fast -—from going to war and whipping the slaves to mowing the lawn and changing diapers. Today, being a man has a whole different connotation.

Here are five qualities among a few others, that in my opinion, make one worthy of being a man circa 2021. 

Respect: No means no. If a boy learns just that for all his time in school, I think it’s worthy of a summa cum laude – that’s just how low the average currently is. Knowing what consent is, respecting the opinion of others, and being tolerant to criticism in all its forms are a solid start for being considered a man. The bravest don’t win fights, they know how to politely diffuse one and walk away.

Hygiene: Gone are the days when a man could eschew mani-pedis and facials. Today, if you don’t work at personal grooming, chances are no one will bother to explore you any further either. As for pheromones, the new science says that they don’t work (like, at all) so I’d rely  less on them and a lot more on Un Jardin sur la Mediterranée by Hermes.

Woke: I mean it in the positive sense. It isn’t enough to be scrubbed and soft-spoken, one also needs to be savvy about the world we live in. Today, more than ever before, it’s important to have an opinion, not one merely formed by Whatsapp  University and Facebook groups but a sound understanding of the goings-on in the world that is grounded in hard facts and an objective sense of the reality of the situation. Be informed, knowledge is indeed power.

Arts Quotient: Emotional quotient is a given; today, a man needs an arts quotient. What is it that a man does when not making money or chasing ambitions, something that  displays his passion beyond the  workplace. Life would be boring without a  bit of vanity. Every man ought to have an interest that is merely an indulgence without

any gain whatsoever. So yeah, gymming and horse-race betting certainly won’t cut it. It’s narcissism turned inside out and then put on display for everyone to see, and poke!

Eloquence: In the age of emojis and dancing to express everything (I think I have seen a video where someone danced and explained filing tax returns), using words may seem like a lost art. But words will get you where no amount of footwork or smiley-face childishness can. There’s a reason Shakespeare still sells, a reason why even cover versions of the hits of Queen and the BeeGees will outlive K-Pop and Boy bands. 

Words – they have the power to convey not just what is heard but even the unsaid. So, read a good  book and get smart.

It might be easy being a boy, but being a man, especially now, in 2021, and going forward, will take a lot of effort. Sure it will afford you some privileges – peeing standing up is but a small one among them – but you definitely need to earn them hereon.