Collective Male ID Crisis

My post below, Collective Male ID Crisis, was first published on the Man Page in 2008.

It’s been a long time since the 70’s and we don’t hear much about women’s lib anymore. My wife called me over to look at an ad of an attractive, bikini clad woman the other day and she was covering her face.

After I agreed it was indeed a beautiful woman, the face clearly revealed it was “a man baby” (in the voice of Austin Powers).

The roles of men and women are blurred and for that matter, so are the genders. We men carry around confusion and anxiety about who we are and more importantly, who we’re supposed to be. I wanted to look at the role of men in society for this post so I sat down and outlined three traditional stereotypes to compare and contrast with 2008:

1. Tough, like Clint Eastwood: No, we’re not expected to be tough anymore. In fact, we are often criticized for being too hard and cold. In the media, men are portrayed more and more as the “touchy feely” type.

Have you seen the ads for the new Patrick Dempsey movie where he is the maid of honor in a wedding? How do we find a middle ground between Eastwood and, in this case, Dempsey?

This is something we struggle with as men these days.

2. Provider, like Bill Cosby: No, many women are the breadwinners in the home these days. This is partly true because of the woman’s movement and the doors it opened to women in the 70’s and also due to recession.

Several men I know have lost their jobs and their wives are filling the gap until something opens up. This is socially acceptable. Men may find this hard to live with though since we are so used to our traditional role as the providers.

3. Wise, like Father Knows Best: Men are seen nowadays as more work-horses than pillars of wisdom. In some ways, this is better.

Men really aren’t all that wise and there is much men are ignorant about. But we do have a lot to offer. Most people will agree after the book “Men are from Mars, Women from Venus” that men and women have something totally unique to bring to the table.

We have learned that the know-it-all dad’s days are over but we should always remember we do have something valuable to offer the world as men.

I won’t get into the issue of gay men roles vs. straight because being straight, the only way I could really analyze it would be through the media. I think its prominence in the media clearly makes the male image more blurry.

After presenting these three stereotypes, I’d like to pose one question I hope you’ll answer for me:

What are men supposed to be today?

6 Replies to “Collective Male ID Crisis”

  1. I think what’s happening is that the gender stereotypes are fading and it’s become acceptable to be whoever you are at any given time. My opinion? Fine, especially for the boys. If there’s one (ok, maybe two) expressions I hate it’s “man up” or “be a man”, as if allowing oneself to experience an emotion is negative in some way. Believe me, I can cry and kick ass at the same time and I know my husband can, too 😉

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