I would like to preface this blog by stating up front that I fully expect to offend some people. And even though this is not my intention, I think that the content of this blog makes this an inevitable fact. So, I begin with an apology to those who may become offended at what you are about to read. Perhaps you will see yourself in the content or perhaps you think I am simply being too judgmental or that it is in some way a personal attack on you or a group of individuals. The fact of the matter is that, well, it doesn’t really matter because this is simply my own opinion, which may differ from yours. Keep in mind however that my purpose here is not to offend, but rather educate and spark some personal reflection, perhaps even my own. Thus, my blog begins with a question….
How did men go from this:
Well, let’s examine it.
The first picture is of a young man in 1910.
Now, let’s proceed one decade at a time to see where we started to slide downhill as a society:
Here is where we tend to see a split.
and here we are back again in good old 2010
What is it about our society today that has taught us to walk around like complete imbeciles? Why is it that every time we see a family sitcom, dad is portrayed as being a dim-witted buffoon that just can’t keep himself from making stupid decisions and winding up in trouble with his overbearing, rational and perfectly intelligent wife? Look, I enjoy these shows as much as the next guy, but given how much influence the media has over the way our society conducts itself,I wonder if it’s not time to bring back “Father Knows Best” rather than “Father is a complete moron who just can’t seem to grow up”.
There was once a time when men really took pride in how they looked, how they dressed and how they presented themselves to others. They could hold intelligent conversations about the arts, science, current events, history and literature – and they could do it using an art form called “Conversation” that was conducted in social clubs, not social networking sites.
Today we have names for men that can do these things. Names like, “Metro sexual” , “Geek”, or even “Fag”. How did this occur? I remember when I was in Jr. High school and High School and being terrified to raise my hand to answer a question the teacher had asked for fear of being looked at as “intelligent”, which was also defined as “nerd”. But I was equally terrified at looking like a a dim-witted simpleton, incapable of answering the easiest of questions! Somehow I, and I suspect you as well, were socially forced to walk that fine line of ambiguity in order to avoid one extreme or another. Now who are the sell outs? John Lennon wrote, “They hate if your clever, and they despise a fool”. Well, he wrote that in the late 1960’s so it’s been going on at least that long. Hmmm….isn’t that about the time we see a split in the way men were carrying themselves?
Where are our role models? Who are we supposed to look up to as men? Who today is the embodiment of all that is “man”? It’s tough to find really. Back in the day, our parents and grandparents looked up to guys like John Wayne, Teddy Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, and Gary Cooper. The celebreties they looked up to had values and were willing to give up their stardom to serve their country:
US Army Air Force 1942-1944
US Army 1958-1960
(And no, I have not forgotten about the great Pat Tillman.)
They enjoyed music that didn’t have references to drugs, murder, and prostitution. Oh wait…they did have songs about drugs in the 1960’s. Hmmm……. I’m not saying that everything in those times was something to look up to. But why do we have to throw the baby out with the bath water? Our generation has made huge leaps and bounds that theirs could never have done. We have elected an African American President and woman are exactly where they need to be – side by side to men, not behind them. Feminism did a great job at helping to break a divide in gender relations, I acknowledge and embrace that wholeheartedly. But did it go too far? We are still working towards equal rights for gays, but at least we are further ahead now then ever before!
I’m not saying that our forefathers were perfect, but I do think we need to take a look at some of the things they did right. How did things get so out of control that today’s man feels completely neutered? Have we as a gender lost everything about who we are supposed to be? WHO are we supposed to be? Has feminism shoved us into such a corner that we must live our lives atop a fragile mound of egg shells for fear of shattering them and bringing to light false accusations of male chauvinism? What happened to our gentlemanly mojo?
Today, if a man is filled with testosterone, he is animalistic.
If he is dominant, he is a bully.
If he is educated, he is a geek.
If he appreciates the theater, he is a fag.
If he does good work, he is a suck up.
If he is well dressed and groomed, he is a metro-sexual.
If he enjoys anything but sports, he is eccentric.
If he is confident, he is pretentious.
If he is happily married, he is whipped.
We, as a gender ARE whipped. Whipped by feminists, whipped by the media, whipped by our own misguided ideals of who we are or are not supposed to be. I think that a silent majority of young men today are desperately seeking guidance from other men on how they are supposed to define themselves. I think the silent majority of men today would love the opportunity to break free from their endless purgatory of backward baseball hats, T shirts, and the occasional trips to “SuperCuts”. I think men today are desperate to thrust forward into something more, say…dapper? Suits, sport coats, hats, trousers, good quality shoes, and a even a trip to an actual barber for a proper shave. Being well read, learning to appreciate the arts as much as we appreciate sports. To be respected for their actions and admired for their wit and sense of humor. Not to be ridiculed for their ability to act incapable of getting through life without the rationality of a woman. These are the things that I believe men seek today.
I think that men are looking for other men to grant them permission to grow up. Well, as a man…I am granting it! I think that these are the things men really do desire deep down, but are too afraid to pursue for fear of standing out and facing the possiblity of a public “neutering” by those who wish they could do the same, but are too afraid.
Do I define masculinity in these things? Perhaps I do. But masculinity is like beauty, defined by the eye of the beholder. The difference between us and our forefathers is that they knew who they were and chose to define themselves in that manner. We don’t even seem to have that. It’s sad really.
Men, it’s time to put down the video game controllers and pick up a book – a Kindle even! Wear your baseball hats during baseball games and don those fedora’s that you KNOW you look good in but are too ashamed to purchase! Stop wiping the sweat of your brow onto your sleeve and wipe it with a personalized and embroidered handkerchief that you can hand down to your children or your children’s children! Present yourselves to the world in such a way that brings you the respect you deserve. Because no matter how much you don’t think it’s fair, the reality is that the world DOES judge you on your appearance. Oh, I know you don’t care about what others think. But you know what?
I raise the bullshit flag on that age old argument for “self-expression”.
So how should we conduct ourselves as men? Well, that is the question isn’t it. Is it in the way we dress? Is it in the way we speak? Is it in our ethics or in our grooming or in our education or in our jobs? Well, I happen to think it is in all of that; but that’s just my opinion, yours may be different.
Earlier I posed the question of pinpointing when, in the last 100 years, we seemed to go downhill. Well, I think the downhill slide started in the 1960’s and we have been flailing ever since. The 1960’s gave birth to feminism, radicalism, free love, and a slew of other things. And while there IS good that came from these idealogies, I believe men became lost during this time and have never recovered. So where do we go from here? We go back to 1900. Well, 1899 to be excact. Because that is the year when John Walter Wayland wrote this of what it means to be a man…
“The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct proceeds from good will and an acute sense of propriety, and whose self-control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if necessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or achievements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity and sympathy; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others, rather than his own; and who appears well in any company, a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe.” –
Let us stop acting like idiot frat boys and inept husbands and learn to become gentlemen, husbands and fathers agin. Let us stand beside the women we love and show them we are capable of being men again.