What Happened to Men?

I realize I am perhaps a Neanderthal, or the Savage in Brave New World, but when I look about at men these days, I have to ask — what happened to us?  Who exemplifies a man these days?  Is Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, or Warren Buffet men to be emulated?  Are they an image and symbol of what we should strive to become – Rich Tech nerds gone wild or stingy smart investor turned saint?  Perhaps a movie actor like Brad Pitt, George Clooney, or Hugh Jackman are ideal– men that make millions because they look good and can pretend like they are someone else.  What about athletes – Tom Brady, Payton Manning, do they represent our peak?  These men make millions simply for throwing a pig skin with immense skill.  There is always Justin Bieber – what a stud.  My friend Justin is a good transition to my next observation. 

I have noticed as of late men seem to becoming more woman-like and generally less masculine as a result of modern concerns.  I am not, in this observation, degrading women or at least that is not my intent.  But our voices seem to be higher and contain more feminine intonations.  We tend to dress with tight-fitting clothes and walk like a model on a runway ramp.   We talk to kids like little puppies and resort to time-outs as opposed to a good spanking.  We sit at desks in front of computers or play with our little tiny phones.  We drive our cars using little skill or muscle other than what is required for a slight left or right turn or pressure on this foot or that.  When we go to war, we rely on guns and bombs as opposed to our horse, shield, and sword.  When we want to train our bodies we run on a treadmill or lift weights as opposed to developing natural strength through one’s profession or pursuits.  When we court women, we don’t use poetry or proper language and etiquette, we simply go to on-line dating sites, or drop some stupid lines at a bar.  We push shopping carts and baby carriages instead of the plow.  Is this what women want?  If so, then one also needs to ask what happened to Women? 

In all honesty, I don’t see many examples of “real” men these days – actors, tech geniuses, jocks, hip-hop stars, businessmen, politicians….maybe a Fireman Poet would be cool.  I think men are simply molded in large part by the culture in which they exist.  Perhaps this is why I often find myself wishing I lived in another era or period of time.  I think it might be preferable to be a man in Ancient Greece, Rome, or during the Renaissance.  Certainly, one could argue men of the past have been glorified beyond reality – just look what we did to the honorable and wise man Jesus.  But, I think if you look at the art of everyday life as well as the higher art of those past peaks of western civilization one can gain a glimpse into manhood. 

Based on my vague notion from prior studies and extended time around European museums, the men of the past seemed to have greater natural physical strength and more skill, immense courage and bravery embroidered with refinement in mind and manners, more respect and reverence towards women (equal rights excluded), a sense of purpose and forward progress – a straight back, broad shoulders, head up high, eyes open, hands and mind employed, clothed in proper attire to match the appropriate situation, tongue that speaks with content, actions that match thoughts and words, broad education and cross training.   Look at the image above.  Achilles, as a young boy, being trained by half man half horse, how to play music.  Now that is one hell of an image don’t you think?  Imagine such a man amidst us here and now.  He would be cast out to the far-reaching perimeter and slowly decay into a forgotten old man…while Justin Bieber sings and dances his way to the top of the Alpha Male inverted pyramid.

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30 thoughts on “What Happened to Men?

  1. I can honestly say that I think about this just about every day. It’s good to know that someone else thinks that a truer, fuller sense of Male revolves around a more natural, holistic notion. I personally live through HBO and SHOTIME series wishing I was some lesser-knight in the Tudors, a centurion in Rome, or a Marine in the Pacific. Funny though, as I ‘live vicariously’ through these shows, they over emphasize the problems you bring up. Too often some modern day theme pops up in HBO’s retelling of two centuries ago…I digress.
    I agree with so much of each point you make that it’d take awhile for me to reiterate each point. I think the Alpha Male inverted pyramid is a blunt way of putting it! Great! Love the Brave New World reference as well. A little of Holden Caulfield’s phoniness wouldn’t hurt in describing the highly esteemed males of today. Hubris would also exist in most men’s vocabulary throughout history. That could be part of the missing link in today’s males.

    I’m new to WordPress and write on similar topics; those that highlight society’s “finest traits.”

    • Hey…I am glad I found you! I look forward to visiting your site. Feel free to comment as much as you want…to add or argue some points…use it as fuel for your next post. I enjoyed your comments. I bet you are sipping some beer or wine watching those HBO movies or show…LOL. I think one my favorite recent movies was Gladiator with Russel Crowe…I know it has Hollywood action…but it was at the time a very powerful movie with great acting.

  2. What you said: Brilliant, should be shared. Might share it myself if you don’t mind. Loving the male perspective. It is both gratifying and encouraging that men have these thoughts and conversations about themselves, the past and the shape of the future.

    Especially that Alpha Male inverted pyramid line, so defining. I would suggest that if females are part of this, and we are, that we, too, have become inverted. Time to re-think those lines… who thought them up anyway… and why must we stay this way… let’s shift the thinking… one by one if we must

    Movies: Recently watched Braveheart for the second time and still love it as much as ever. I cannot get scenes in that movie out of my head, the betrayal among men, and women, the slaying of tangible and intangible dragons. Hollywoodized, perhaps, but still a great message of unity when people don’t decieve themselves or others. May watch it again, just because of that

  3. Pingback: Blogs I Follow « AURORA MOREALIST

  4. I stopped by because of Aurora and I’m glad I did. Maybe this is why I like reading para-normal fiction so much. Like Patricia Briggs’ ‘Mercy Thompson’ novels. Those Werewolves are all ‘man’. I’m a bit old fashioned in my opinions of the roles of men and women. I think equal rights are great, but I think my opinions might set the feminist movement back quite a bit. I’ve recently watched some ‘True Blood’ (the more I watch the more ridiculous I think it is, but meh) and the Werewolf Aldice in his lumberjack shirt, mussed up scruffy look, and tanned ‘I work outdoors’ skin really got me going, lol. I don’t really have a problem with a man who works indoors, but if he doesn’t know how to use his hands or work outside at all then I’m not really interested. And Justin Bieber? *shudder* His voice grates on my nerves. And his hair. I try to avoid sound or sight of him at all costs.

    I think the image of a guy who’s all sweaty from working hard outside all day, shirt off, muscles gleaming, is an image to be proud of, lol. Now I want to go find me a lumberjack! Or go hiking. Hmmm…

    • I think my brother and his lady are into that series True Blood…I should try to see if I can find that series. I have a strange mix…I played sports all throughout my youth and into college…but since that period I have found myself working in sterile office environments often in front of computers. I am always so much happier outside doing physcial activity. My dad…an Ex-marine turned CEO…was a big believer in Business and the American Dream…we grew up without learning how to use our hands outside of sports…which I really regret. My hands have grown soft.

      To add to your comment above about man with shirt off and muscles gleaming…I would add…imagine if that same man (whether muscular in hercules sense or muscular in lean and cut sense) with a mind trained and nurtured in higher thoughts and refinement…in otherwords…a powerful strong intelligent and feeling man…one must refine the beast or he ends up being merely a meat head:)

      • It’s funny because my Dad grew up in the city, but he works with his hands. If it’s not his job in heating/cooling, it’s at our farm with scrap and wood and clearing snow and all that stuff. You can tell by looking that he works with his hands. My cousin married a guy who is getting his PhD and works at a university. Not that there’s anything wrong with academics, but when his Father-in-Law gave him a tool set as a wedding gift he replied in his speech that ‘these are academic hands’, lol.

        I totally agree with you on the brains with brawn. I’m definitely not interested in all brawn no brain. My Mom figures I’ll end up with a more white collar guy whereas my sister with a more blue collar guy. I don’t really care what he does as long as we can hold an intelligent (at least somewhat) conversation and he’s not afraid of hard work. Meat heads are a no-no. 😉

      • LOL…you might end up with a slick Wall Street Bangsta…no, I doubt it…maybe a Fireman Poet:)

        A few weekends ago, I drove up to meet my Aunt. She is quite the anithesis of her sister…my mom. She was once married but bailed…she has climbed numerous mountains…taken lots of drugs…is bi-polar…she is also a registered nurse and a very good one…she has lived with another woman for over a decade…longer than most marriages last I might add…she lives on relatively secluded land with her lover. She takes care of troubled dogs…they almost bit me a few times. They live in a type of Utopia…you have to cross a little walk bridge over a stream to get to their house…which is like one of those small modern ski homes in the mountains…they have stove furnaces heated by wood to keep the house warm…they chop wood. I went up there to help them load 5,000 pounds of old roofing into a U-haul truck to take to the dump. I loved it. Got really dirty, sweaty…my muscles were sore, and the land where the old roofing was stacked looked beautiful once removed. Then I chopped some wood for them.

        We sat outside at their fire pit and enjoyed some food and wine. I told my son…you know, this is how it used to be…man would go out hunting or farming during the day…come home tired…and then enjoy a good meal and drink…maybe even make love to his woman that night (I didn’t mention that part but it was in my mind)….oh well…just a long story to make a slight point.

      • What a great story! I know I worked a lot harder growing up than I do now. We heat our house with wood and somehow made a deal with a lumber company that they dump ‘scrap’ wood at our place and my sister and I would have to bag it. I remember in the summer going out in the morning before it became too hot and standing by the ‘mountain’ with grain sacks and filling them with wood. It was hard because we weren’t strong enough to really fill them properly without help, lol. We also had to sort through it at times, and he came up with the most interesting contraptions to sift all the saw dust away from the wood. I also used to have to mow the lawn (push mower, it took like 5 or 6 hours, we have a lot of grass) before we got a riding mower. Now my Mom does it, lol. I’m totally lazy now, ugh. I can get going when I have to, especially when snow shovelling…there’s something so awesome at being able to see the progress you’re making!

        I meant to say in my last comment that True Blood is like an intense version of Twilight – well, the adult version anyway, lol. Everyone’s after this one girl, but you don’t really find out why until the end of the third season. Oh, and it’s the human girl who can read minds – well, everyone’s minus the vamps. I want to watch the rest to finish it, but I’m kind of getting bored, like it’s so far reaching at times and there’s just too many vamp stories out there right now, lol.

      • Wow…you and sis did work hard:) We also did some basic stuff…weeding, sweeping up and bagging leaves…some painting…mowing the lawn…but when it comes to handy man stuff…my dad has no clue and neither do his three sons…completely useless with tools.

        If that show is on HBO I might be able to find it…my brother is a very intelligent guy and rarely watches anything on TV and with your thumbs up…might be worth a watch…certainly better than my current comic relief watching the news.

        Twilight was weak…so much potential…

        Thanks for stopping by…it was nice of Auroa or Janice to put that little blog piece on her site…I will check out your blog and those in her sisterhood. Looks like she has attracted good people.

  5. Certainly an interesting read. I can say that I agree with you in that it seems humanity overall is becoming less impressive, less intelligent. The only thing I don’t quite agree with is your notion of gender stereotypes — are men and women really all that inherently different? Is gender not performative? Anyways, well done!

    • That is a good question Beverly. When I am faced with a question to which I have no answer, I often find myself looking to nature for a potential answer. If we look at the other Apex species on this planet…some of which are more handsome than ourselves (women aside:)), I do see clear differences between male and female…certainly in terms of physcial characteristics and in terms of behavior. But…this in no way says one is in a superior position. If you look at a female Orca, or female Grizzly, or female dolphin…or female lion..tiger…leapord…panther, hawk, they can certainly hold their own and are serious forces to be reckoned with…especially if their offspring are in the vicinity.

      Now, does this mean I am saying women should be powerful housewives? I think we have to think about what a woman can become rather than what we see she currently is. Again, I look to the past. The wealthy woman often had educators and servants in their homes to help with child rearing…as a result, they could concern themselves with artistic endeavors and improve themselves to much greater heights than we see today. There are also many examples of women warriors that were both intelligent, beautiful, but terrifying to the opponent.

      I think if we move into the realm of the ideal…of what both man and woman could become given the right environment…we would see both sexes becoming more powerful and fulfilled leveraging our differences and in fact further developing those differences…as opposed to trying to suppress those differences and in fact attempting to become one sex…as I could argue we see playing out before us today.

      Let me add another thought to this…Economics is unfortunately one of our primary concerns. As such, women have become a huge piece of the economy. Economics has thrived on this concept of liberating women…look how many more economic input and outputs can now be devoured by the concept of economics. Economics…is in my opinion…concerned with just the basics…woman have not reached any greater heights or liberation by becoming part of economics…and our kids aren’t benefiting from this change. I want to see more women warrior poets or philospher queens…not a woman dressed up in a man’s suit with short hair and a low voice…but…if that is considered progress and liberation…I will go hibernate in my cave and prepare for extinction in body and thought.

      • Thanks for this response. I think you are right on the mark here. I also think it is important note that sex and gender are two different things. Our sex is what sets men and women biologically apart, separate — that women carry children, have wider hips, have hormonal differences, etc — are all biological differences between the sexes. However, gender is something I believe to be learned. Women don’t inherently want to wear dresses, have long hair, or be the primary caregiver. In fact, many men are better at child-rearing than women, are better cooks, etc, etc. And like you stated, I think we see gender roles as obviously performative rather than natural when we look at the clashing ideals in different cultures (for example: in some tribes women are the hunters and men raise the children).

      • I quite honestly haven’t explored the ideas behind gender too deeply…along with multiple other areas where I remain ignorant…indeed…little girls handed a doll while a boy handed a gun…it all starts with what we do with our little people…but I have to admit…I am a sucker for long flowing hair and dresses…probably gender programming…but…men also can look pretty good with long flowing hair…at least in the movies:)

    • Beverly Penn,

      Your questions really transcend the “common experience”. I’ve had many arguments with people on these matters when I have challenged them on what they define themselves by. I’ve often tried without success to explain to people that they are not “men”, or “women”, not “black” or “white”, not “homosexual” or “heterosexual”, et cetera–in other words, not defined by superficial traits, characteristics, or preferences. Ultimately these things are peripheral to what one really is.

      My experience, far from common I suspect, is that if one carefully and thoroughly peels away all of the layers of social and even “natural” conditioning, one finds something at the bottom that is elusive and defies any kind of superficial definition. One finds that a woman is not really a woman, a man not really a man–there is something there far more profound, complex, enigmatic than mere genitals, hormones, reproductive processes, socially prescribed roles, et al.

      • Dragonstrand,

        Thank you. It is nice and reassuring to see other people thinking this way, peeling off the pretenses and superficial boundaries that colour our lives. I have always believed, as you so eloquently stated, that underneath all the social conditioning we are left with something open, receptive, without knowledge of our gender, sexual preference, etc; and in order to function the way we do as conventional adults a certain amount of programming and indoctrinating is necessary (the way young girls get baby dolls and dresses while boys get guns and sweatpants, and there are so many more examples). Perhaps even more fascinating though is our behaviour towards sexuality — homosexuality is a prevalent behaviour in over 1500 species, and yet humans still label it as “unnatural”. In the same way many animals have homosexual AND heterosexual interactions, if you took away our conditioning, I too believe our sexuality would be free and open. One would be attracted to a person no matter their sex, just based on personal preference. To put it simply, we would all be bisexual and genderless. Imagine that kind of freedom.

        B. Penn

      • B. Penn,

        I imagine that kind of freedom all the time–in fact, I realize it as much as I am able to. However, as you are no doubt well aware, there are so many boundaries in place, so much gravity to constantly thwart even imagining much less living such enlightened emancipation. Deep retreats into Nature are what enable me to most successfully embody this freedom.

        Yes, I am convinced that the prejudices of humanity are all based in these superficial definitions of self and others–“I’m this, you are that”, “I’m right, you are wrong because you are not what I am”. All conditioned misunderstandings at so many levels.

        Humanity’s stubborn insistence on casting homosexuality in a negative or “unnatural” light is one salient if not ludicrous instance of this. Worst of all is when such bigoted conceits come to be mistaken as sanctioned, shared and authorized by “God”, as “absolute truths”. Then we arrive at the utter antithesis of that freedom we imagine and try to realize–the door is closed shut and locked against it in the form of a “blind faith” that believes the “programming and indoctrination” you reference is derived and dictated “from on high”. Imagine that kind of bondage.

        Unfortunately, it’s not difficult to imagine–one can witness it all around one every day. It is the rule.

        Here’s to the exception . . . .

        Cheers,

        ~DS~

  6. Go Marie and Holly, you two rock it out and gave TC a run for his money LOL Hi, TC, I do realize I am writing on your blog, lol. Loved reading everyone’s comments, learned a lot about each of you – thanks so much for sharing yourselves! 🙂

  7. This has been discussed a lot recently. Some have labeled it “the crisis of masculinity”. Some of it is changes in aesthetic (the rise of the “non-threatening boy” archetype as sexy symbol — i.e. “Bieber fever”), but those reflect real social changes. Deeper equality between men and women in terms of earnings, and their roles in the workforce. Also, the disappearance of “traditional” male roles (some of this is connected to the decline in the working class and the value of “labor”, in the classic sense). A lot going on here. There’s a lot of good stuff out there that has been written on this too…

    What you say about physical ideas in the past is just that, an ideal. In reality you are dead wrong (trust me on this, I’m a historian). Men were physically weaker, shorter, smaller, etc. In fact, I would argue that the overemphasis on the buffed creatine-fuelled gym rat these days is an expression of a male stereotype that comes from insecurity and neurosis. And that’s not some justification by a nerdy guy about the whole thing (I spend 8+ hours a week in the gym and I’m 6’5″…). But it is, like many expressions of masculinity these days, unbalanced. An overreaction in one direction or another.

    But then maybe balance is a problem society-wide too, and certainly crosses the gender barrier…

    • Thanks Number Six for dropping by. I think my post focused less on physical size per say…”natural physical strength and skill ” is much different than the steroid pumping iron man….and more on spiritual and content of the male. Also, Beverly and Dragonstrand have added great insight relating to gender which I need to digest. I think the best observation made…by Beverly…is that we seem to be…both as men and women…overall….”less impressive”.

      • Tincup,

        I think you suffer from what some would call “Golden Age” thinking. You are intelligent, and frustrated with much of the world you see today (don’t worry – you are not alone). Out of this frustration stems a desire for something else — some look toward the future for this change, others to the past. The latter are golden age thinkers, people who, whether it is true or not, idealize the past and feel disappointed with the less-than-impressive present. This is why I inundate myself in Classic Literature — to escape the anti-intellectualism and pettiness that has pervaded today’s world. However, I often have to remind myself that not everything modern is bad. I appreciate technology, and electricity, and the wonderful possibilities open to me because of these things and more. I guess, like you, I’m more frustrated with today’s people than with the actual atmosphere of the times.

        B. Penn
        (P.S. I recommend watching “Midnight in Paris”).

      • I will get my hands on that movie….thanks for the recommendation.

        I am, I suppose, frustrated on many fronts. First, you say I am intelligent. I am not so sure about that claim. I think I could have been very intelligent given some tweaks to my formative years and education. This process begins with our first breath and continues to the point where the brain stops to grow. As such, I realize now where I could be intellectually had my enivronment in those early years been different. Indeed, I had a happy childhood, but happy isn’t good enough. I think what I am currently equipped with is not intelligence per say, rather, a pretty strong sense of observation and the ability to think broadly..

        I am frustrated that I am not full of energy, motivation, and purpose, thriving and engaged in my daily pursuits. I am frustrated that I don’t have a sense that I am apart of a species that is jointly working towards higher ends and inspiring goals. I am frustrated that by going through the motions I have generally been rewarded by the culture at large, and when I don’t go with the motions and actually use my mind and listen to my heart I get cast aside. I am frustrated that I haven’t been strong enough to accept being cast aside much earlier in my life and focus entirely on using my mind and listening to my heart. Even now, after four decades, I still struggle with this problem even though I am fully aware of its existence. I don’t want to go the route of Robbinson Jeffers even though I know he is probably correct — go off to some secluded spot away from humanity and simply write and enjoy the beauty of nature.

        Perhaps if I were to be raised and alive in the Golden Age, I would be in the same situation if the Golden Age is simply an ideal, a fantasy, over-glorified. I guess I will never know the truth. Perhaps it is I who am merely defective. Perhaps what currently exists around me is what was meant to be and I simply nature’s experiment, a variation, that either thrives in what is or merely goes extinct. Perhaps my idea that the human species can create their own ideal environment to evolve into something greater puts too much weight in our potential, and not enough weight on the fact that we are just another animal with a unique set of assets being tried and tested by nature. Perhaps I should simply jump aboard and no longer think and listen to my heart…or jump off board and live out my life in relative isolation. I don’t think the middle ground is the answer…I lived there most of my life. I think all the posts on this blog are loaded with this frustration…and you will see me looking to the past…reviewing the present…and dreaming about the future or what could be if…things were different…or…we actually create visions and act. I want to act…not bury my head in a book…or go off to seclusion…but perhaps that is the only choice.

    • I think there is evidence that some human beings of the past–key word “some”–did attain to what might best be described as heights (spiritual, intellectual, physical) that make the human being of the present look like a valley dwelling creature capable only of looking up in dumb, open-mouthed bewilderment at the peaks of the past above them. Observe people looking at the Sistine Ceiling for an in concreto example of this. These heights are no myth–there is no human being alive today who could paint the Sistine Ceiling. Why is that?

      I think that is what the original subject of this post is about. I think what TC is really getting at, setting aside questions of gender, is the question of why human beings of a higher order who are able to incorporate the aforementioned heights into a balanced whole within themselves no longer exist? Or, as B. Penn puts it, the question of why are human beings becoming less and less impressive?

  8. Hi Tincup. I think you’re making a valid observation here [because I’ve pondered it a lot myself, so it’s naturally valid, right?]. I suspect it’s real, and it’s the result of male alienation from almost everything connected in human history with being male. Food coming out of grocery stores, never having planted a seed, nurtured and harvested it, prepared and eaten it. Never knowing what color hair the animal wore providing supper, never having killed, skinned, dressed and eaten a single item of the food consumed in a lifetime. Risks taken in the form of office politics, spectator sports being the means of keeping the juices flowing, rather than actual personal daily adventures involving real life risks. Caution caution caution. IMO . Good post. Thanks, Jules

      • Yes I think I need to have a serious talk with my mother about you. Although I think I might be a bit older. This blogging thing is wondrous. A joy to find like minded people.

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