Yesterday, I wrote about Mark Driscoll’s “Act Like a Man” conference. Now, whenever I write something, I always include a picture related to the subject of the article and yesterday was no exception. In looking for that perfect picture, I came across a few that showed me just how skewed our ideas of manliness and manhood really are. Take a look:
I’m not really sure what facial hair has to do with manliness since almost any nimrod past puberty can grow a beard.
Yes, actors playing soldier is the height of manliness.
Tattoos and power tools, the epitome of manliness.
Then, I found this:
One of the best representatives of men I’ve ever known was my father. While he did serve (U.S. Air Force, 1954-58), he never heard a shot fired in anger and he didn’t grow his beard until I was grown. He did use power tools, but had no tattoos. But, responsibility, sacrifice,hard work, patience, compassion and love were all hallmarks of his character. He personified these traits by getting up every morning and going to a job that wasn’t exactly his dream. He told me once that working for the Post Office was not what he planned to do with his life, but he had a family to provide for. If that meant doing something he didn’t really care to do, well, that’s just what a man does. A funny thing happened along the way, though. In striving to make a better life for us, the job he didn’t like that much turned out better than he ever dreamed.
True manliness is not found in beards, violence or objects, it’s found in the character of a man. It seems we’ve forgotten that over the last 20 years. Instead of holding up men who spend their lives trying to improve the lot of others, we idolize childish, selfish boys because they’re celebrities or they’re “tough”. Combine the two and they receive adulation that rivals what we give God. No wonder young men are so screwed up these days.
I know it’s not really cool to talk about men in progressive circles, especially white men. Men haven’t done such a great job with which things we’ve been entrusted. We’ve started unnecessary wars, oppressed people and used our power to advance ourselves rather than society. All these things are wrong and needed to be brought into the light. Otherwise, how could we fix them? But, in doing so, we’ve gone too far and it’s become more demonization than honest critique. If we want our boys to evolve into the men we want them to be, maybe we should give them better examples. At home and in the media.