Modern men…or the lack thereof…

I haven’t blogged in quite some time…heck, I haven’t even looked at this blog in several months, but two things caught my attention in the last 36 hours in such a way, that I could not ignore them.

To start, I am just going to say that I am not better, more important, above, superior, or anything else compared to anyone else.  But I
do have some pretty strong feelings on the topic of what it means to be a “man” in modern society.  Forget “man” and let’s go with “male” in today’s society.  Let’s include a range of ages in this discussion, because that is really what is at the root of this particular issue.

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Earlier this morning, my friend posted this video to her account.  She is a VERY strong, independent, devoted, loving, kind, generous mother, wife, and friend.  She is in the middle of raising a beautiful family with her pretty awesome husband.  And when she posts things like this, I know that she is concerned.  In short (you should really watch the video before you continue reading this), the video outlines the dangers of societies’ continued stereotyping of young men. The phrase “Be a Man” is the focal point of the video and the accompanying documentary promises to explore the dangers of pigeonholing young males into societies’ stereotype of “what a man should be.”

About ten-hours later I watched the docu-mocumentary Mansome.  I was angered (to put it mildly) at the content, the insinuation, the Imagedichotomy, the contradiction, the paradox presented by this “documentary.”  It is a well-done piece.  It is very tongue in cheek.  It presents many troubling questions and issues.  But moreover, it shines a glaring spotlight on the issue of masculinity in today’s society.

I work with teenagers.  I am a high school teacher.  Every day I see vulnerable young minds exposed to conflicting messages about their worth, value, and identity.  In Mansome one of the “experts” referred to the identity crisis many young men are experiencing as “The Adonis Complex.”  FYI…if you Google “Adonis Complex,” it takes you to a Wikipedia article on muscle dysmorphia a disorder closely related to anorexia.  This is essentially the pressure to appear perfect to satisfy societies’ expectation of what a “man” is.  If I were not a 30something, pretty confident “man,” I would be confused by the conflicting messages of these two (and indeed all) pieces of media.

One piece talks about the danger of pigeonholing young males into the “stereotype” of being a “tough guy.”  The YouTube video warns that telling young males to “man up,” to hide emotion, to be a “strong” man is dangerous in that it teaches young men to stuff their emotions and avoid their problems rather than dealing with them.  Mansome highlights the increasingly stringent societal requirements on men to be more “attractive,” sophisticated, more like women.  A panel of men and women talk about topics from appropriate facial hair, to eyebrow plucking, and “manscaping.”  Here are two very powerful examples of exactly why today’s young males are so freaking confused!  For the LOVE OF GOD, the messages are so mixed that men today need a freaking translator to figure out what the HELL a “man” is supposed to be!

To compound the problem 35% of children today are being raised in single-parent families, of which 72.6% are in households where the mother is the primary provider and there is no (or little) male influence.  First off…mad props to all single parents out there.  This is not a rant on single-parent households.  The GOOD Lord knows, you all deserve medals.  But when all of our “boys” are being exposed to this sort of gender paradox, the inevitable result is confusion, conflict, and some messed up kids.  These poor boys are being told that their identity and personality is represented by whether on not they cry and how much facial/chest/back hair they have.  Because if you cry, you are not “man enough” but if you have back hair (a uniquely manly trait) you are ugly, flawed, “too manly.”  HOLY CRAP…talk about confusing!

And this sort of pressure is coming from all sorts of places.  Media and pop-culture are easy targets, but family and even religion are forcing contradictory expectations on today’s young males.  In the end, is it any wonder that this current generation of teenage boys seems so misguided?  They don’t know what direction they should go?  They don’t know how they should act.  They don’t know who they should follow.  They don’t know how to be men.  And it seems few are willing to step up and help them find their way.

I am afraid that today’s men, both young and old have forgotten something very important: Genesis 1:26 ESV “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” I am less concerned about the “dominion” part and more about the “in our image” part.  In all the noise that is what society is trying to tell us, today’s men, especially the young males, are missing something VERY important.

Under all of the pressures to dress right, to smell right, to look right, to have great teeth, hair, clothes, to be “cool,” today’s men forget that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) just they way they are.  Today I watched a teen male talk about how his dad would beat him if he cried because it wasn’t “manly,” and saw a grown man pay $20 to have four eyebrow hairs removed so he could “look perfect” because he wanted to “pick up some chick.”  It made me realize how blessed I am to have had a dad who didn’t (doesn’t) judge me for how I look, for how I dress, for how I act.  My dad and I don’t always see eye-to-eye, but I know he loves me for who I am.  I truly wish that our society would get its collective act together and figure out what my dad did so long ago.  Image

Guys…you don’t need the newest, most expensive clothes.  You don’t need a six-pack or bulging biceps.  It doesn’t matter how you look.  What really matters is how you act.

  • 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (ESV) Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
  • Titus 2:7 (ESV) Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity…
  • 1 Timothy 6:11 (ESV) But as for you, O man of God…Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.

Jesus laughed, he cried, he sang, he hugged, he flipped tables, he took a stand against evil, and stood up for what is right.  Then He hung on the cross to sacrifice Himself…for everyone… Guys, when you need an example of a man to live up to…

And always remember…Philippians 4:13 (ESV) I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

I pray that today’s young men can see the value they have from God.  I pray that God will use me in anyway He sees fit to guide those who need it.  And I pray that I can be as good of an example as the 6’4″ shaggy bricklayer with the crooked grin God sent to guide me.

Always remember “Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinth 13:13)

One God
One Love
One Way

Jason

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~ by archangel66 on March 8, 2014.

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