Volume Eight: Can I Tell You A Secret?

Posted on 05/14/2009


(The above video will make sense as you read the post. If you can multitask, play the song while reading.)

I’m back people. And this time, it’s faster than before. I’m working hard to keep this blog updated with fresh posts, but you know how life can get in the way sometimes? (Note: I’m listening to “Move B—h!” for inspiration as I’m writing this.) Also, I only like to post when I feel that I have something relevant (or humorous) to say. Mindless ramblings about my day, or some other subject, is not my style. Anyway, I’m starting to do exactly what I hate: ramble. So, I’ll jump in with both feet, rip the band-aid off, etc. This post is about defining and describing a relational phenomenon that most men get without having to go to a seminar or read a book to get. What is that? Two words: MAN CODE.

Many women have heard their significant other mention those two words as an explanation for many events and didn’t understand what the hell we were talking about? Or, better yet, were extremely frustrated by the fact we can say “man code” to another man and he gets it without another utterance. What is this mythical man code? Why is it sooooo simple for men to decipher, and Chinese arithmetic for women? And, most importantly, why would a man rather lie to his significant other before he’ll break man code? For the ladies, I’m gonna break it down for you to understand. Please remember one thing? I said understand, not agree. Those are two different concepts all together. I will never be able to get y’all to agree with man code. I can only hope that in your understanding, you will not ask us to violate it so often. For the fellas, I have a PhD in man code and I vow not to break it with this post. With that being said, let’s get started…

What is Man Code?

A simple definition for man code is, a set of unwritten rules and/or guidelines that men follow that allows them to be aligned with one another without having to confer. These rules are born out of the socialization and gender mapping that happens during growth and development. In layman’s terms, don’t say or do anything that will put your boy out there. Man code is like the police and their thin blue line. The only time you break the line is when someone proves themselves to be unworthy of maintaining silence. Ladies, have you ever told your man that you found out one of their girlfriends was being cheated on, only to have him say, “I’m not surprised?” He may have known for a while. Why didn’t he tell you? Man code.

Why is man code simple for men and hard for women?

In a general sense, women are far more compassionate, understanding, and empathic than men. We get that point. However, when it comes to other men, we are far more empathetic than women are to each other. Translation: We may never find ourselves in a position to need man code; however, we understand that by following the code, it gives us a “just in case.” Call it man-surance.  And, besides the just-in-case scenario, male socialization will swiftly cast out anyone that has shown himself to be, or is suspected of, violating man code. Being cast out of the male social order is a fate worse than death for most men. The mere thought of being relegated to just hanging with women and children makes us more nervous than a hooker in church.

Why would we rather lie than break man code?

I addressed most of the reasoning earlier in this post, but let me reiterate. First, it violates the male social order we have established since we started playing cowboys and Indians (um, I mean, Native Americans). That theme follows us through organized team sports, fraternities, gym locker rooms, sports bars – wherever men congregate in mass. Imagine it like those three monkeys; see no, hear no, speak no. The lying comes in when we are asked directly about a situation that would put us in violation of man code. I must note that I’m only calling it lying because that’s how women assess the silence or withholding of information. I don’t believe it’s a lie if we just don’t say anything. I think the term lie is inflammatory and used only as a tactic to elicit full disclosure. But, I digress…

Well, there you have it. The secret is out. Ladies, man code is real. It’s not something your man made up to avoid conversation. We follow it to the point that it affects all our conversations. We don’t tell all the events – even when there is no code to uphold!  Are we faced with code violations often? No. Are we aware of code violations at all times? Evidence suggests that is not the case. Nevertheless, man code gives us a system or set of rules to follow that keeps us connected as men without have to schedule group pedicures or watch Oprah together. We are men. I’m a man. That’s spelled M. Aaaaaay child. N. That represents man.

That’s just my three cents….


“Peep my ver-na-cular cuz I don’t know how to act…”