The other day, while browsing the internet and procrastinating about writing this article, I ran across a website quite by accident. The page that led me there was something about “Manly Men Movies,” but further exploration discovered the site itself was entirely devoted to the notion of manliness. My initial thought was amusement and then a sort of fondness developed toward the writers who put such effort into depicting, celebrating, and affirming traits they perceived to be manly.
It seems like in recent years the concept of “manliness” has become almost taboo. It coincides with an increase in female independence, which I have never fully understood. In my mind, the greatest possible society would allow men and women to strive toward independent and mutual respect, while never denying their obvious differences. I love a strong woman as much as anyone else. I look up to and admire them, but for some reason the modern feminist movement seems devoted to tearing men down rather than raising women up. I have never understood that, because it implies women are not equal to men if you have to tear the men down several notches in order to achieve a level playing field. Isn’t the entire point equality??
Men have been under attack for a long time. I suppose it is fair turn-about in television considering that for so many years depictions of women were relegated to pearl-wearing housewives who had a hot dinner waiting for her husband when he came home and never had a single hair out of place. But isn’t it about time to resume poking gentle fun at both sexes and grant each an equal amount of respect? I am not a sitcom viewer but just from the previews can tell it’s the men who get mocked the most. Television shows have a similar problem. It’s almost always the father who blows up and has some irrational response to his children, and the mother who must go talk common sense into him. Rarely is the father depicted as “leadership” material. Then there is the trend in commercials. It used to be the parents knew best; now the wife knows best, and usually is correcting or enlightening her husband. This was shifted around significantly in a slew of “manly men” ads during the recent Super Bowl that got across a message that resonated with its male viewers – that men, real men, should demand respect and “wear the pants” in the family.
One might shrug and say that television doesn’t make a difference, but it does. Businesses would not advertise if it did not work in pulling in consumers. The more you throw something at an audience the more it becomes ingrained into their belief system. The message being hammered at us is that men are stupid, men are emotionless, men overreact, men are not the leaders in their families, fathers are not to be respected, mother knows best. I’m not sure what the motivation is unless it is some form of radical appeasement to the psychotic feminists who really do hate men. It’s not just entertainment, however… for a long time, men have been encouraged to get in touch with their “feminine side” and express and explore their feelings. I have never understood that concept. I am a woman. I know what women are like. I hang around with and interact with women. Why in the world would I want a man to start acting like a woman?! I love men just as they are! I’m not sure who came up with the notion that men need to be softer and gentler, but they didn’t bother to ask me my opinion. Take a straw poll among the females in your life about which men in entertainment they find attractive and almost all of them are going to be confident and self-assured. (Not arrogant, but comfortable in their own skin and open with their opinions.) It has less to do with being “macho” than it does being a man worthy of respect.
Women and men are different, whatever society attempts to tell us. It is an obvious fact – and I am so glad we are, because we complete one another. Most women are more emotional and in tune with people’s feelings, while many men are more logical and objective. Combine the two different perspectives and any decision can be made bearing in mind all the potential outcomes. Remove either equation and the relationship falls out of balance. I once read a study that stated women covet love more than anything, and men most desire respect. I believe that is true. Remove respect from a man and he is diminished, demeaned, humiliated, just as a woman is demoralized if she believes she is no longer desirable to or loved by her husband. It is this lack of respect toward men in our society that is generating a deep unrest among the male population and is trending toward retaliation. I suspect some of this backlash has to do with the gay rights movement. Homosexuality is off-putting to straight men and so they are seeking to once more differentiate between the sexes. It is not homophobia but a demand to be allowed to be men, to be respected as men.
In case you are wondering, the search that led me to returntomanliness.com was The Godfather, because it is “the manliest movie ever made.” The ethical and moral values in The Godfather are despicable but the protagonist is a strong male character who earns “respect” from his enemies while managing to protect and preserve his family at all costs. Protecting and providing for are hard wired into the male psyche regardless of what the current psycho babble tries to say.
Respect. Give it to the men in your life. They deserve it.