Wanna Learn How to be a Man? Listen to Teenage Boys in the Locker Room

Dear Men of America,

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing about how to learn to be a man, considering that I am a woman and all. But I’ve noticed that there is already something of a consensus among some of you about this subject, so I’m just going to try to reflect that back to you! That’s all.

If you want to know how to be a man, look at other American men, and copy them. Find out what is normal, then challenge yourself to be that “normal” to the best of your ability! Better yet, find out what is normal among American (and many non-American) 15-year-old boys, and do and say what they do.

Better yet, find a bunch of teenage boys who are athletes, who are rewarded for being the male stereotype of physically strong and competitive — even aggressive, if need be. Rule out the rest of the boys, who are hanging out in the band hall, and especially the thoughtful, nerdy kinds in the library. What they are talking and joking about isn’t worth your time.

Better yet, listen in as teenage, male athletes talk, joke, and act out, WITHOUT adult supervision. One of the best places to find these guys is in their locker rooms. Just don’t Β let them know you are there, because I am assuming you are a full-grown man, and teenagers may not “show their real colors” if they know an adult man is present. So sneak in and don’t bother letting them know you are there. Maybe hide a recording device in one of the lockers and come back later? Just a thought.

Anyway, notice what this narrow sample of teenage boys talk about. Notice their words. Notice the tone of their voices. Notice how they laugh. Notice what they say about the new cheerleader. Notice what they say they’re doing on Saturday night. Take careful notes. This will be important because you don’t want to forget any juicy details.

Then, listen to the recording, and find all the clips when the boys are talking about girls. ANYTHING they say about girls! Pull all these clips together into one compilation to review. Throw out the part where the boys discuss their strategy for tonight’s game. Throw out the part where they laugh at their teacher for sticking her foot in her mouth that day in class. Throw out the moment when one boy asks another how his dad is doing after his recent surgery. All that’s a waste of your time! Not relevant at all.

Now you’ve got your clips of teenage guys talking about girls, right? This, my adult male, friend, is where the gold’s at! It’s here, right in the middle of the locker room, that you’ve unlocked (pun totally intended!) the secret to “being a man.” How to talk, how to act, how to plan for the weekend — it’s all right here!

Okay, maybe I’m being a little extreme. Maybe it’s not quite fair to say this is how to be a man, in general. But here’s what I can say with confidence: this is how men should talk about women. This is normal, and thus, it’s appropriate!

Now, I hear you saying, “Wait, why should I — an adultΒ man — take cues on how to be a man fromΒ teenagers, justΒ 4 years into puberty?”

Good question. Usually it’s supposed to be there other way around, I know. But it’s America, okay? And in America we idealize youth, and older people are just…boring, old-fashioned, racist, sexist, and so-not-PC.

But I’m a woman…how should I know this is the best way for men to learn how to behave and talk? Ask a man you respect or look up to! A male leader in American society, perhaps. Our president, for example, who’s in his 70s.

That’s all. Thanks for listening to a woman’s perspective on this!

Yours truly,


P.S. If it’s hard for you to imagine saying aloud the words you recorded in the locker room, not to worry! If they sound inappropriate or like you’re disrespecting women, not to worry! Here is a clip to get you started.


I am a Texan-born Bostonian who wants to understand how we get through hard things in life (aka trauma) using spirituality, meaningful work, life-giving hobbies, connection with other trauma survivors, friendships with non-traumatized people, animals, etc. I am a hospice social worker (LCSW) and I have a bunny named Nadia.

56 Replies to “Wanna Learn How to be a Man? Listen to Teenage Boys in the Locker Room

  1. Thank you for teaching me how to be a man, Anna! I was unsure until I watched the clip you provided. Now I feel confident. πŸ˜‰

    1. Sure thing, Jeff! I had you specifically in mind when I wrote this. Confidence is the main thing, man. You got this! πŸ˜‰

  2. I totally agree with this. I think Parents need to start raising confident men and inculcate more values too.

    For the grown-men, it’s never too old to learn indeed. We improve our lives by learning everyday. Thanks for sharing this interesting piece.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Jessica! And yes, I’m with you on the points you made! I liked the idea that all of us, adults included, are “learning everyday.” Touche! Our brains are indeed malleable and changeable, right through adulthood.

      And thankfully, many parents are already raising wonderful boys. More power to them!!

    1. Ah, I would love that! You know how to win a bloggers heart, Nicole! πŸ™‚ Appreciate the positive feedback and would look forward to hearing more from you, too! Keep it up.

    1. Oh, thanks so much, Red Riding Hood! I am glad you got a chuckle out of my open letter. πŸ˜‰ Appreciate the encouragement of my writing…means a lot!

    1. Oh, yah — glad you are passing it along! πŸ™‚ And thanks for the compliment on my writing. That’s encouraging to hear! Keep up the writing yourself!

  3. Haha, great post – put seriously… having daughters it’s very scary knowing that one day they will the talk of some boy in a locker room :/

    1. Hi, Ana! Thanks! And yes, that’s where the rubber meets the road and our laugh catches in our throats. πŸ™ I trust when that happens, you will have raised your daughters (imperfectly, of course) to be strong enough to not let what teenage boys say limit them! The boys will be the losers of that situation! Sending you courage…

    1. Mary, you are welcome for the post! Thanks for reading and commenting. It is never too late to learn, indeed, even if changing gets harder as we age! πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, no!! You were probably thinking, “Wow…never going to read anything by this nutcase again!” πŸ˜‰ Glad you realized how sarcastic I can be on occasion…

    1. Jane, thank you for reading and commenting! Glad you got something from this post…and that it sparked an idea for you. I’ll keep writing, indeed! Same to you.

  4. WTH?! That’s the President of United States saying those words! What a great ideal president and an inspiration for the young ones.
    Guys… That’s how to be a real man, follow your president πŸ˜ƒ

    1. Crisly, when I saw the first part of your comment, I thought for a moment that you were standing up for the president and calling me out for disloyalty to him! πŸ˜‰ Whew! Writing this piece did make me think, though, about our right to free speech in America. It’s not something that’s been the norm over the course of history! So I’m thankful for it.

      Anyways, I digress. Thanks for the comment πŸ™‚

    1. Hear, hear! There’s some pretty good ones out there already, thankfully. πŸ™‚ Hope you know some of them!

  5. I totally get what you’re saying. I am a female living in the UK so I’ve never been in a male locker room before, but I can imagine the banter they must have in there!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Jojo! And yeah, I haven’t been in a male locker room, either…which maybe I am okay with, being female and all πŸ˜‰ I don’t want to assume that everything that goes on in a locker room is inappropriate, but perhaps the stereotype for a reason…?

  6. I remember as a young man being disturbed by how guys talked about women. The peer pressure to conform is enormous. But doing the right thing is never easy. You often stand alone. I wish we had adult men to step in and point us in the right direction. It would have made a world of difference. It is nice to hear this from a female perspective.

    1. Hi, Keith! Thanks for the comment! Thank you for your honest feedback and for sharing your experience of the peer pressure to talk disrespectfully about women. It’s a real thing! In my not-so-humble opinion, there is no shame in looking back and realizing you wish you had done this differently. Guilt, perhaps, but not shame! I just appreciate that you are sensitive to this now that you’ve learned other ways of interacting with and talking about women! More power to you, brother! πŸ™‚

  7. WTH?! I can’t believe this! That’s Trump right there acting like s**t! Here you go, young people. A perfect example of being a man


    1. Hey, Jane! I’m having trouble deciphering what you mean by this comment…so just want to double-check: you are being sarcastic back to my piece, which is entirely satire…right? Hope we are on the same page πŸ˜‰ Thanks for reading and commenting!

    1. Hey, Gigi! Thank you for reading and commenting! And I wish you and your boy the best! It’s a good start that you even think about these things, ya know? πŸ™‚ Keep it up!

  8. This makes me think so much of my sister, who always seems to fall for the privileged athletic type. The type who gets away with everything because they’re an amazing player of whatever sport. They all treat her like crap because they think they can, and she ends up crushed every time. Something needs to change, and hopefully this piece opens someone’s eyes!

    1. Nicole, thanks for the comment! And ugh….sorry that your sister keeps having this experience! :/ Sometimes growth into the kind of person that’s able to see what’s happening from a more objective point of view takes time…and it must be hard to watch your sister’s pain in the meantime. Feel free to send this post to her! πŸ™‚

    1. Exactly right, Anna J! Being different in the locker room and similar spaces isn’t an easy thing, especially for teenagers. So support “all the way,” as you said, is so important! And the why. Why be different? There’s got to be a good reason.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

    1. Hi, Nhtech! Thanks for reading and commenting. And makes sense that you would have been confused because there are A LOT of mixed and conflicting messages out there on how to be a decent sort of man…or human, for that matter! Keep learning and searching, and thank you for your humility about this issue. πŸ™‚

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *