Hmmmm . . . thoughts? I think there is some good stuff here - men need to redefine themselves within the context of the postmodern world. We are not going to be happy with the John Wayne role, or the Grey Flannel Suit role - both of which were beginning to break down for our fathers.
But in order to redefine our societal roles, we need to grow up as individuals. Being a slacker, video game playing, beer guzzling, skirt chasing man is not manliness - it's being an overgrown kid. Each of those three behaviors (and so many others) can be redefined in healthier, more mature ways.
Game playing is a form of escape and relaxation, but we can do that in healthier ways, and not make it a lifestyle. Beer drinking is one way some men socialize, but it need not be over beers, it could be thoughtful conversation over coffee, or a pick-up game of basketball, or a workout at the gym. And chasing women is biological, but rather than seeking variety, we do much better to seek depth with a single women, one with whom we can grow and express our more tender emotions.
When women express their displeasure with us, I suspect these are some of the things they wish we would change - and it goes so much deeper than just these three thoughts. We have some real work to do.
Back in February I gave an Ignite Talk in Tulsa called “The Menaissance: The Death of the Metrosexual and the Rise of the Retrosexual.” If you’re not familiar with Ignite Talks, here’s the jist of the concept from the Ignite Tulsa website:
A dozen or so speakers present on a variety of topics, but they only get 5 minutes and 20 slides. Oh, and their required 20 slides automatically advance every 15 seconds.
I decided to talk about manliness. I discuss the lame stereotypes of manliness that have taken hold in our culture, but then switch gears and talk about some of the signs that indicate a “Menaissance” is taking place in which men are holding themselves to a higher standard.
It was tough to cram all I wanted to say into five minutes. Consequently, I ended up rushing a bit which you notice in the video. But overall, it was a fun experience, and it stretched me a bit personally. And I thought you all might enjoy it as well.
So, without further ado…
This is a related post from a while back (March of 2008) in which Brett calls for a Menaissance.
Men are no longer needed. For the past 40 years, the role of men in Western society has diminished immensely. Before men were seen as providers and protectors. It seems the only thing men are good for is providing sperm for species propagation. But even that’s been taken away from them. Knowing their irrelevancy, many men are reporting feeling lost, depressed, and undervalued.
Solve one problem, create another
Men’s irrelevancy is due in a large part to the feminist movement. I think society owes a great deal to feminism. I don’t think any of us would want to live in a world where the only aspiration a woman has is becoming a wife and a mother. Thanks to feminism, women have more choices and men and women are seen as equals. I like feminism so much, I married a feminist and I unequivocally believe in the equality of the sexes.
In the midst of solving one problem, however, we’ve created another. While the feminist movement focused on the role of women in society, little discussion was given to what men’s role in this new world would be. As a result, we’re left with men who are confused and lost about their purpose as a man.
A survey featured this week in the Telegraph UK sheds some light on how men feel about their role today:
- 52% said they had to live according to women’s rules
- 58% said they would prefer to be the main breadwinner, with 34% preferring their wife to be a full-time mother/homemaker, and 24% preferring their wife to work part-time.
- only 33% felt they could speak freely what they thought
- 67% felt it safer to conceal their opinion
- more than half thought society was turning them into “waxed and coifed metrosexuals”
The Call for a Menaissance
One of the reasons I started The Art of Manliness was because I noticed this sense of disorientation in myself and in my peers. It seems as though as women became more successful men were content to fade in the background and become slackers. The only idea of manliness I saw in popular culture was the crude caricature of it found in Maxim Magazine or on Spike TV.
In response to this vacuum of true manliness, the Telegraph article reports that some American scholars are calling for a “menaissance”- a return to embracing instead of shunning real manliness.
The fact that men and women are equal doesn’t have to mean they are exactly the same. True manliness sees women as equals in every way, but at the same time recognizes and appreciates our differences. Traditional manliness was characterized by ideas of honor, strength, virtue, sacrifice, responsibility, leadership, and integrity. Women rightly argue that their sex embraces these same values. But is it possible that these values and characteristics might manifest themselves differently in each sex?
This is what I think is at the heart of the menaissance-exploring how the way men live out these values gives them a unique identity as men.I hope the Art of Manliness can play a role in bringing back manliness and ringing in the menaissance. I started the blog with the hopes of discovering what manliness means today. I still don’t have all the answers, but I am enjoying delving into the questions. And I hope you all come along for the ride.