What Makes a Man

vintage fatherHey there folks!


The past few days have been a bit emotional and I want to dial that back a bit but stay relevant to the ongoing discussion we have been having. The other day a close friend of mine asked me if I thought men were made villains in popular society. As we discussed the question it got me thinking about how we define what a man should and should not be.


The first image that popped into my head was the 50’s Ward Cleaver stereotype. Dad works all week to provide for the family and spends the weekend doing yard work, working on the car, or watching the game. As a result of equal rights movements that have been ongoing since the 50’s I think this image has become as hated as it is respected.


The next image that enters my mind is the dad from the sitcoms of the 90’s that I grew up on. Think of Tim Taylor from Home Improvement. In many ways he is much like the earlier idea; he provides for his family, does the yard work, spends his free time in the garage or watching the game. However, he is also emotionally handicapped and often times portrayed as being flat out stupid. He is a bit of a goof that would most likely be helpless without his wife guiding him through things.


While comparing these two images of a man I do not know that I would say I think men are villains necessarily but I do think they are commonly portrayed as being idiots in modern times. This topic is highly charged based on a history filled with ignorance and oppression, so knocking the image of men down a peg is understandable.


The difficulty of the issue is that there is some value in the traditional idea of what a man should be, but at the same time there is much more that needs to be considered. For example, teaching men that it is ok to have emotions other than being angry or horny. I also feel that we need to separate the idea of being a man from sexuality. Whether gay or straight what it means to be a man should be the same.


If you have been reading me recently you know my position on “normal”. I absolutely feel that our ideas of gender need to evolve as we do as a society. Although, the history major in me also seesfirst-cuddle value in the ideas of the past, so in my mind the best resolution must come from a complete view on the subject.


There are my two cents on the subject. How about yours?


2 thoughts on “What Makes a Man

  1. Dude! Yes. The last couple decades of television completely (okay, not 100%) make men out to idiots, the emotional child, the court jester of the family. What are some of the most popular- how to put this?- shows with families? Going back (and still alive and kicking) you have The Simpsons. Homer Simpson. While the show is a monument to comedy, how much of it is because Homer is an idiot with no clue and only alive from day to day because of all of Marge’s hard work? The template was made and out comes Family Guy and Peter to match, along with the other Seth McFarlane (Cleveland Show and American Dad). Granted, I don’t think McFarlane is targeting men as much as he is playing to the formula, but what would happen if these shows suddenly did a 180 and the women were the idiots? You can imagine the backlash and roars of “sexist,” “mysoginistic,” etc. And yet in real life, men (in my experience) are still supposed to provide, be manly, know all about cars (and tech of all kinds), and do the yard work as you describe. Funny thing is, there almost seems to be a reversal going on among women of our generation (again, this is my experience and not a 100% catch all) where many I have talked to and tried dating are looking for that 1950’s man that can do all the work and they don’t have to. Me, I was raised (had it drilled in) to believe women are equal to men and capable of equal work and responsibility. At some point women need to make up there minds. If we’re equal, stop all the bashing of guys who don’t “show chivalry” anymore. Stop expecting someone else to do the dirty work you don’t “feel” like doing or because it’s “a man’s job” to do. Yes, I hear that from women today which is pretty insulting to women who just did the same job the former was describing.

    Just ranting because it seems like men are caught in a perpetual catch-22/damned if you do, damned if you don’t while women seem to be actually getting the cake and eating it to, to slam a few tired cliches into one sentence 😉 I’m just tired of trying to walk this razors edge of being the 1950s man that women today seem to want (or is it more a Disney prince for all of the “daddy’s little princesses” out there? and why is that what I keep running into? Surely there are others (beyond the 5 I’ve met) not like that??) AND the one that politics tells us is wanted that treats them equally (while not deserving of equal treatment back)…

    Like I said: MY rant and defintely not describing every woman I come across or deal with on a daily basis, just too often given what society tells us is “expected” . . .

    *braces for the onslaught*


  2. I do not know that I think anyone is actually getting their cake and eating it too, but I do feel you highlight the difficulties with gender and equality in our society. It is hard enough to learn how to be a man and a good person and as a society I think we fail many of our young men by filling their heads with ridiculous expectations.


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