Manhood In A Certain Time And Place

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First off, I’m giving everyone permission to objectify this man–he’s most likely dead so I don’t think he’d mind. Let’s assume that he’s looking so proud because the baby is his own. A book came out a few years ago describing a study of the present day working class white male which found that the traditional role of man as provider had suddenly disappeared and that any young man still sort of into the idea of raising a family, getting up early for work and being proud of his manhood for doing it was now considered a chump. Better to stay unmarried, father a few kids that the government could take care of and party with the boys. The working class girls had no intention of marrying these guys and fair play to them–why marry a child in a man’s body?

I don’t have a lot of wisdom on this subject, just a few ideas floating around my head about boys and men. My son used to watch me sew on an interesting looking machine. He mentioned he’d want a machine like that so as a joke my father bought him a pink Barbie one for Christmas. He opened the gift, but as soon as he saw how feminine it was he shoved it aside and never talked about sewing again. I sort of bought gender neutral toys for him only because blocks and Lincoln Logs were just that way though I was fine with him being boyish. My daughter was born loving pink and purple.

Boys are just different. Not bad. Different. The good men that I know have this drive inside of them that sometimes they have to hide. It’s a drive to be admired as a hero. Since forever people have enjoyed this about them, but it’s gone out of fashion for a while–as if by forcing men to remain irresponsible children will somehow give women more space to grow into whatever it is we’re aiming for.

I, for one want a place in the world for admiring heroic men–not super men in movies who are still kind of pathetic these days, barely able to hold their own against kick-boxing women. There is way too much ambivalence about manhood! Does this automatically mean I want Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire? No. I just believe that men who claim their roles as strong fathers and brothers, workers and friends are to be celebrated. I laughed at Everybody Loves Raymond, but do all men have to be portrayed as stupid fools?  What a miserable existence for women if when we marry we have to put up with an idiot and turn into a carping old hag.

Take a look at the picture again. This guy is proud of his manhood–as he should be.

9 thoughts on “Manhood In A Certain Time And Place

  1. Amoral, asexual, ahey – glad to see you are keeping away from those hot button issues! It is, and always was, tough to be a man (and a woman). I am entirely a sucker for a “Man” (with a capital M) who has a bit of a (traditional) female side (gentle and kind to women, kids and animals). A woman seems entirely feminine to me when she is “taking care of business” both inside and outside her home.

    I don’t really enjoy the company irresponsible childish adults, male or female. Because I feel this way, I am thinking it is probably wimps you don’t like – and my guess it that male wimps really annoy you! I sort of dismiss these non-men, but if I actually had deal with them and find a man among them I would be bereft. Wimpy women . . . if they are talking, I am likely not listening. They grate on my nerves and I want to smack them (metaphorically) upside the head.

    In some ways young people are less impressive the older you get, and I know the young are dismissive of the old in direct proportion to their increasing antiquity (I know because I already did this – sorry old people). But this is tradition: the young dismissing the old and the old being discouraged by a perceived degradation in the quality of humanity. Sometimes these stances are comical and too harsh – sometimes not. Hopefully, it will work out – maybe there will be a wimpy new world order where nobody moves away from home or does anything on their own. Or maybe the earth is stressed and these wimps are soldiers sent to reduce the world’s population (even wimps don’t want to mate with other wimps). Who knows?

    Elephant

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    • Are you saying I’m old? Haha. I actually wasn’t talking about young wimps at all. I think deep down that young and old men alike having lived in the last 30 years or so have had to endure a lot of misdirected anger.

      Wimpy women . . . hmm. The type of strength I admire in a woman is probably a little different from what I admire in men . . . but let me think about this a bit longer. Supper is about to be served 🙂

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    • Nourished now. They always say that at some point in the past people saw old people as wise. I wonder if that’s true or just wishful thinking. We may personally wise up with age but no one seems that interested in our wisdom but ourselves 🙂
      We all love hearing how long it took old people to walk to school in the snow!

      You may be onto something about the wimp new world order conspiracy. Without strong men we have to rely on the occasional Amazonian female culture to appear. I often heard about these matriarchal societies at college but wondered if they were so great why didn’t they survive? When women take positions of power in government they don’t seem to bring those supposedly feminine traits of being kind to children etc with them. But I do hope a better day will come even for wimpy men and tough broads.

      You know I have a hard time writing strong female characters without turning them mean, but I believe in book five I finally get it right.

      Do any of your children’s illustrations portray a good strong girl? What’s your definition of a strong woman vs. a wimpy one?

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      • I often think old people are wise, but as with walking to school in the snow stories their delivery at times overshadows their message.

        I understand your concept about modern men.

        Wimps – well, they have to wait until tomorrow.

        Elephant

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  2. Not sure I have enough brain power to participate in this discussion but, if I weren’t being totally distracted by a million other things, I would have written a post , by now, that has been wandering in my headspace for a couple of weeks, to be titled, “Good Men and True”. The men I have in mind are probably like the one in your photo. One such man, who passed away on Oct 26th, I honoured in my latest post.

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