Just Let Others Do It
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Masculinity these days appears to be under threat as never before and, maybe out of a fear of repeating the mistakes made by overly dominant patriarchies of the past, men young and old now find themselves unclear about what is expected of them in a modern society.
Millennials in particular seem to be in a real state of confusion over what it actually means to be male as we hurtle through this current century; many others appear to have no idea why it’s even important to achieve clarity around this issue.
No longer clear regarding what they believe about themselves or their place in society, far too many men appear to be washed up on a shore of confusion; beached somewhere between the hard headlands of pointless tradition and the anchorless flotsam of the open seas.
The old was never perfect and there were many negative traits stitched into the fabric of patriarchal institutions – and yet the ‘anything goes’ alternative touted now by many has robbed us of vital traits that once protected society as a whole and ensured a more stable environment for the nurture and sound development of the rising generations.
Yet the onslaught continues.
A quick Google search reveals that whilst there are around 33,400 results for the phrase “Toxic Femininity”, there are around 997,000 results for the phrase “Toxic Masculinity”. These figures indicate that much more is being said these days about how ‘poisonous’ men can be. There is no smoke without fire, that is true, but it’s fair to ask if the scales are really this imbalanced.
Instead of being celebrated, the media has increasingly sought to undermine many very positive masculine qualities. Of course it's perfectly true that any gender trait can become ‘poisonous’ if taken too far but, as any toxicologist will tell you, it’s the *dosage* that makes any substance become a poison rather than the substance itself.
“Are you a man – or just a rather tall boy?”
The ultimate result of this programming has triggered in some men a demeanour of constant apology - as if, deep down, they’re actually embarrassed to be a man.
Under the acid rain of the media supported by numerous academic studies that apparently ‘prove’ that all women are being disadvantaged and all men are by their nature somehow deficient, the lionhearts of many young men have seen their strength greatly eroded.
With this, their sense of personal responsibility has also dissolved and many young men have abandoned the helm of their ship for others to take control - often the exasperated females in their lives who are then forced to step in and rescue the situation.
Whatever age a boy might now be regarded to have become a man, it certainly seems to have risen sharply in the past few decades.
The new slogan in a post-Nike generation might as well read,
“Just let others do it.”
With this the new measure of a young man’s achievement seems to be scored by how much they got away with doing - or not doing - to the present date.
I’m all for the empowerment of women, in fact I’ve conducted workshops that are designed to do just that, but I'm left wondering why the television ads and shows apparently incapable of elevating the amazing virtues of womanhood without presenting the modern man alongside her as weak, slow, slovenly and indecisive. We need to acknowledge:
“The media does not
describe modern life;
it prescribes modern life.”
Far too many men have sought to defer to the women in their lives on matters that they should have ‘owned’. But, from what I’ve heard, many women are not celebrating this shift: they want their guy to carry his own weight, to guard their families, protect their homes, work their territory and earn well, to be clear on what they want, proactively lead and support and act in such a way that she, and others, honour what he stands for.
Whilst there are a few women who might long for the day when they finally have their man trained to act merely as a ‘butler, with benefits’, I hear a considerable number more crying out for a man who can stand up, remain wholly present, make clear decisions, take command and boldly captain their ship to a desirable haven.
Many women I’ve spoken to feel a lot more happy and secure when their man acts like a man, takes responsibility, looks out for her, protects and provides, sets direction and boundaries.
Of course, there are still many men on this planet who are unaware, insensitive and selfish; qualities that need to be removed from each of us – for none of us are immune to at least some measure of these traits. But as we embark on our clean-up operation, we need to be very careful that we are not throwing out the baby with the bath-water; not exorcising the inspiration in our efforts to oust the demons.
Pad is a trusted adviser to business leaders across the globe. He is Director at Come Alive Success Coaching ltd. and the Author of TEAM ME - How to Play Your Best Game in Life, and TEAM GUY - Forging Men of Soul & Steel.