Thursday, December 10, 2009

Boys will be boys, and men will be women.

My friends Kyle, Tristan, and I discuss the subject of men and masculinity quite frequently. I believe that the quote goes from Fight Club, "we are a generation of men raised by women" really describes my generation. We are told to act gentler, kinder, and more reserved. To settle down, be quiet, and be sensitive. Not since the days of the Dandy have men been told more often to act more like, well, women.

A comedian, Mark Gungor, said something along the lines of "Really, if you ask most women to describe their ideal man, listen to them, they'll describe another woman!" saying things like, "You need to be more emotional. You need to be in touch with your feelings. You've got to go shopping!"

I don't think we need to go back to the days where women were second class citizens. Far from it. But I think somewhere along the road to gender equality and suffrage, it was thought that in order to achieve equality for the woman, the man needed to be brought down and made inferior. Masculinity has been made out to be something wrong, something that men need to rise above, or grow out of.

A friend of mine is going through a rough time right now. His girlfriend cannot accept that he likes masculine things, like guns, motorcycles, and such. She thinks of these things as juvenile and sophomoric, without realizing that he is just being who he is supposed to be, who he wants to be; he is being who and what he was made to be: a man.

As much as I don't like product plugs, over at Docker's, their ad campaign sums up so much. I'll repost the text here:

ONCE UPON A TIME, MEN WORE THE PANTS, AND WORE THEM WELL. WOMEN RARELY HAD TO OPEN DOORS
AND LITTLE OLD LADIES NEVER CROSSED THE STREET ALONE.
MEN TOOK CHARGE BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY DID.
BUT SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY, THE WORLD DECIDED IT NO LONGER NEEDED MEN.
DISCO BY DISCO, LATTE BY FOAMY NON-FAT LATTE, MEN WERE STRIPPED OF THEIR KHAKIS AND
LEFT STRANDED ON THE ROAD BETWEEN BOYHOOD AND ANDROGYNY.
BUT TODAY, THERE ARE QUESTIONS OUR GENDERLESS SOCIETY HAS TO ANSWER FOR.
THE WORLD SITS IDLY BY AS CITIES CRUMBLE, CHILDREN MISBEHAVE AND THOSE LITTLE OLD LADIES REMAIN ON ONE SIDE OF THE STREET.
FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE BAD GUYS, WE NEED HEROES. WE NEED GROWN-UPS. WE NEED MEN TO PUT DOWN THE PLASTIC FORK, STEP AWAY FROM THE SALAD BAR AND UNTIE THE WORLD FROM THE TRACKS OF COMPLACENCY.
IT'S TIME TO GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY.
IT'S TIME TO ANSWER THE CALL OF MANHOOD.
IT'S TIME TO WEAR THE PANTS."

Susannah, over at Get the Big Idea, also posted on this.





11 comments:

Susannah said...

WONDERFUL post here, James! What great thoughts you have on this. I'd love to be a fly on the wall during one of you guys' conversations. What wisdom you have!! Thank heaven you're swimming up from the messages trying to drown your masculine essence!

Don't let anyone - man, woman, professor - tell you that masculinity is sophomoric or less-than. Be proud of it, be respectful with it, & expect no less of the women in your lives.

p.s. If ever a woman wants a perfect picture of true masculinity in a work of fiction, try "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon.

There's not a woman alive who won't flip for the male protagonist, & it's not about the steamy scenes (though they're rather compelling!). It's about his Man-ness! Irresistable. As it should be.

I would love to see you do a stream of consciousness thing & hear more of your 'voice' on this subject.

"he is just being who he is supposed to be, who he wants to be; he is being who and what he was made to be: a man."

Beautiful.

Pamela D. Hart said...

James: Susannah is RIGHT ON! I am a woman-- a lady and I love it when my husband holds doors for me, helps me down from ladders or high places…like walls, when I climb up on them (I can be a tom-boy sometimes). I like my Man to be MANLY. I don’t want a wimpy guy who wants to “like shopping”. That’s MY gig. He has golfing with his buddies. Men are supposed to get dirty, like trucks, football and scratch themselves (can’t believe I wrote THAT!) and women are supposed to ACCEPT them for who and what they are! I don’t try to change my husband and 2 sons. And they aren’t supposed to change me, either.

Men and women are innate in their differences; as it SHOULD be. My husband and I talk but it’s not like I talk with my girlfriends. I have girlfriends to talk with about “feelings”. Men aren’t “feelings” oriented and women who want to turn their men into girlfriends need to be smacked upside the head.

Don’t EVER let any woman change you! If you come across a female like that…RUN! You are a MAN and you SHOULD act like one. Now, that doesn’t mean you should act like a Neanderthal; of course there are times and places for men to be men. But Manly Men are the BEST!

Great post, James!

rockync said...

Interesting topic, James. I am old enough to have been discriminated against for being a woman, in life and in the workplace, so I'm happy to see you add that line that you don't want to go backwards to women as second class citizens.
When I think of gender roles, it seems that while women have made some great strides, men are still asea in some respects. They have had no gender revolution mostly because they have always been perceived as the "privileged" gender.
In generations past men worked, wives stayed home and men felt they "earned" the right to pursue their own interests.
Well, the times they are a' changin'! With a large majority of women in the workforce, many earning comparably if sometimes more than their mates, men and women are now more in a partnership.
The men in my family love their cars and speed. I'm more practical when it comes to vehicles, I own a big truck. My husband recently bought a slightly pricier car that he really wanted but this was done AFTER we had a discussion about it. Had he gone out and made a purchase like that without my input, he'd still be sleeping in it.
I want men to find their own center in the universe and pursue their dreams without regard to whether their interest is seen as a "male" or "female" activity.
It would be nice for men to share in the freedom of gender equality while maintaining any traditional roles they enjoy, like opening doors and helping old ladies across the street.
But James, if this post was written just because you want to strut around as king of the roost and your wife is blowing you shit about it, you're on your own! :)

James' Muse said...

Thanks, Ladies.

Susannah: I'll have to check that out! I'll try to write more on this, but the time'll have to be right.

Pamela: Not all guys are like that either, and they shouldn't be told that they have to be more masculine. Nor should they be told they need to be less masculine. Growing up with three sisters and my dad on the road alot for work, I did learn to be able to talk about feelings and such. But my mom was shocked the other day when I told her about my guns and motorcycle interests.

James' Muse said...

Rocky: My wife is actually really supportive of me pursuing these things. We both work and we both pursue individual interests and goals while fitting them into joint goals.

Friends of mine, however, are not so lucky. In my generation, there are many women who equate traditional masculinity with immaturity, and want their men to act more like them. Another friend of mine who is married constantly argues with his wife, who disapproves of him buying boots and other things. She told him that he needs to act more "urban and chic" and stop being interested in these immature kinds of things.

I think men in their twenties and thirties are beginning our own gender revolution, where we reclaim our mantle of masculinity, but with the respect of women that we've grown up with. Women ARE equal. But growing up, I've definitely noticed that all too often women strive for equality and more by pushing the men down around them. And I think many of us are saying "ENOUGH!"

Another huge part of reclaiming masculinity is reclaiming responsibility. Too often men leave their families, their children, and have all but abandoned the heroic elements of chivalry when they abandoned the unpleasant parts.

rockync said...

James - I would love to see men take back their lives and become who THEY want to be. I think that men have been stereotyped for too long as irresponsible and childish. We have done men a huge disservice by not allowing them the freedom to explore their own inner being.
I think men and women should form more equal partnerships where each shares equal responsibility.
I'm glad you and your wife have a working relationship; I fear some of the other ones you described won't last much longer.
Without mutual respect and support, there really isn't much hope.

the malcontent said...

Saw this at Suz's
She always does a great job..

I am still the Gentleman, I give the fairer sex my seat and always open the car door for them.

Pamela D. Hart said...

Rocky always does such as terrific job expressing herself. And you’re right, James, there are men out there who aren’t very “masculine” and shouldn’t be forced to be such. But the men who are “manly” shouldn’t be forced to change either. Men AND woman need to accept each other for who and what we are. Rocky likes trucks, so do I. I’m a Girly-girl but I have a bit of a tom-boy nature as well. I LOVE to dress up when I go out, even if it’s just to a simple restaurant, however, my husband is a jeans and boots kind of guy. I NEVER tell him how to dress. He dresses the way he wants and I dress my way and we’re BOTH happy. We have great communication, but when I want to talk about something 100 different ways from Sunday, I call my girlfriend, because guys are the type that like to “fix it” and sometimes I don’t want it “fixed”, I just want to “talk”. There are also times when my husband just wants to be “alone”, so I give him his “space”. I see this with my 17 yr old son, too. I “get it”, and I don’t pressure them. When they are ready, they come around. I also don’t get on their case when they act like “guys”. They are always respectful of me, because my husband has raised our sons to be that way—respectful of women. HOWEVER, they know that women are EQUAL. My husband also helps with the rearing of our children and with household chores. There is no reason to emasculate men. They are perfectly fine just the way they are and should be celebrated as such, just like women.

A American That Still Cares About America said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James' Muse said...

Two things, American that scares:

1. Read my comment policy above. Your post was off topic, and therefore trolling. I don't abide trolls. If you want to post on topic, you are welcome to.

2. Just because you vote one way doesn't mean you "still care" about America and others don't. Knock it off. This isn't a sandbox.

Susannah said...

rockync said~ "Had he gone out and made a purchase like that without my input, he'd still be sleeping in it."

Well, yeah. This is a mutual respect issue; NOT a gender issue. Any man or woman who would make a major purchase w/o consulting their mate first is a just being a jerk.

"It would be nice for men to share in the freedom of gender equality while maintaining any traditional roles they enjoy"

This sounds all nice & equality/accepting...until you say your next line, rocky:
"if this post was written just because you want to strut around as king of the roost and your wife is blowing you shit about it, you're on your own!"

My point about Feminists, exactly. They have forced men to bend to their will, & do not ALLOW men to 'pursue their own interests,' unless it conforms to what a woman says is okay. Anything not conforming is viewed as 'strutting around,' & therefore men are kicked out 'on their own' patutie.

Nice.

I know you were kidding, rocky, but your statement still reflects the attitude that so many women have - and is why so many marriages fail. Too many women will not allow their men to be men. It's sad, really.

rockync said~ "Without mutual respect and support, there really isn't much hope"

Indeed.

Merry Christmas!