Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Man up. Be a man.

"Anything you can do, I can do better" is rapidly redefining what it means to be a man, and men simply do not know what they are supposed to do about it.

Now, as a man who has never been a macho-man, I have no problems here.  So, do not jump all over me thinking that I am going to engage in griping sad stories.  No woe-is-me here.  I am doing fine, thank you.  But, as I have been blogging for years, and talking about this for even longer time, we live in a world where the old formula for masculinity is being thrown out--which is an awesome thing--but without a replacement formula for what it means to be a man.  This is especially troublesome for young men of today, and for middle-aged and older men who are used to operating in the old ways.

I completely agree with President Obama's bottom-line on twenty-first century feminism: "the idea that when everybody is equal, we are all more free."  But, ...

This is leaving muddled what it means to be a man in the twenty-first century.
Pandering political rhetoric aside, there is a genuine question here: What is masculinity today? Is it flexing steel pecs and biceps? Is it bringing home the bacon? Is it possessing testicles and a functional urinary tube? Or is it merely the possession of a Y-chromosome in an era when the value of muscles plummets before a digital economy?
I am glad I am not a young man, at least for this reason.  I have had my own share of angst right from my teens, thank you.

It is also getting reflected in the crazy political soap opera theatre:
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are tapping into what I’m calling a “Lean Out” generation of young, discouraged and angry men—men who are feeling abandoned by the thousands of years of history that defined what it meant to be a real man: to be strong; to be a provider; to be in authority; to be the ultimate decision maker; and to be economically, educationally, physically and politically dominant. A growing percentage of young men are being out-earned by young women, as women capture 60% of the higher education degrees required for success in today’s economy.
Maybe you want to counter argue that the Trump and Sanders supporters were/are mainly those who are struggling for what used to be a guaranteed American Middle Class life.  But, ahem, dig deeper and the economic issue is mostly a male problem.

So, any words of wisdom here?
Today’s chorus of angry men might want to revisit Benjamin Franklin. Drawing on the Latin word vir, or virtue, he characterized manliness as tranquillity, resolution and orderliness

Hey, young men, listen up: It looks like good ol' Uncle Ben was talking about me after all! I am delighted to be highly masculine, by Franklin's definition.  And I have a manly beard too! ;)


Ramesh said...

This is not troublesome at all for this "middle-aged and older man" !!

Where is the issue ? I am happy to compete/cooperate/work with/live with man, woman, transgender, orangutan, whatever, on merit. Full stop.

Mike Hoth said...

Tranquility, resolution and orderliness are all BORING, though! As a young man, I can assure you that doing something stupid and reckless for no reason is an American pastime for young men.

Sriram Khé said...

The comments are flippant for me to engage in discussions :(

Anne in Salem said...

Why set a specific definition on terms that are changing? I rarely use the terms masculine and feminine to describe people. There are so many more terms that are much more meaningful - curious, caring, intelligent, interesting, funny, capable. There is no reason men can't be nurturing or caring, traits more often ascribed to femininity, and that women can't be tough and aggressive, which are generally considered more masculine.

I agree with Mike that recklessness is much more an XY trait.

Sriram Khé said...

I am so glad you are back, Anne ... for some meaningful and substantive comments, even if disagree ;)

"There is no reason" indeed ... and it is up to individuals on what kind of a human they want to be. But, that requires thinking--and a significant number appear comfortable to carry on with the kinds of ideas and practices that mirror their elders--even if those ideas and practices are not the healthiest. yet again, the key is to have to thinking people ...

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