Friday, June 3, 2011

Robert Stein - Defining Macho Down (Looking in all the Wrong Places)

The media has been focused quite a bit lately on men behaving badly - from Charlie Sheen and his paranoid narcissism to the Govenator and his wayward sperm donations, and a whole lot of other crazy sh!t in between.

This piece comes from Connecting.the.Dots, a blog by Robert Stein.

Stein is essentially arguing that we lack the male (read = masculine) role models that we had in the middle of the last century. As far as I am concerned, that's a good thing. We don't need the archaic role models of the past, the limited and limiting models our fathers looked up to as kids (at least for those of us older than 40).

He misses macho - I think macho sucks.

We need new, more complex and more real role models, but the men in the media these days are setting men (and masculinity) back a few decades at best. I don't know that we will ever have good public role models again - all men have always been flawed, but now those flaws are on the news and in the magazines, while in the past they were kept quiet (even when the media knew about them, witness President Kennedy and his affairs).

Public figures in the current media climate probably can never be good role models - and maybe we should not expect that of them.

Instead, fathers and brothers and teachers and grandfathers and coaches and neighbors and pastors and other men who are a part of our daily lives - these men should be our role models, these men should mentor boys and young men. It is not their responsibility (whoever they are), it is our responsibility.

Defining Macho Down

Never mind men in outer space or those slogging in Middle East mud, media attention is on a horny old Frenchman in Manhattan detention, a former body builder with no procreative self-control and a preening pack of politicians playing Chicken with the national debt limit.

In the Age of Viagra, masculinity is being downgraded everywhere. Even 60 Minutes is obsessed with strength cheating by Lance Armstrong and other cycling idols.

The Bogart-Eastwood days of strong, silent men are long gone, replaced by caricatures on the national stage, flexing fake muscles and abandoning all the responsibilities that used to be associated with responsible manhood.

A nation still composed more of families headed by breadwinners and Little League fathers than cases of arrested development watches survivor and “reality” shows featuring selfishness and low cunning as well as “news” about creatures with no sense of what’s involved in taking care of dependent people at home or in the public arena.

When moments of old-fashioned heroism, such as Seal Team Six’s takeout of Osama bin Laden, jolt us into awareness of reality, Disney is right there to trademark the name in order to convert it into toys, games and other distractions.

All this is happening against an almost complete takeover of the mental health profession by women, who comprise 90 percent of counselors now as compared to 70 in 1982.

A study finds that a man’s willingness to seek therapy is directly related to how strongly he agreed with traditionally male assumptions, like “I can usually handle whatever comes my way” and that men undecided about treatment may be discouraged by the prospect of talking to a woman.

The coming election year will only inflate male bluster about leadership and strength in the effort to unseat a President more prone to professorial lecturing about national problems than playing dress-up to land on an airplane carrier bedecked with “Mission Accomplished” signs.

But then again, Bogie is long gone and Eastwood is a very senior citizen in an era of noisy blowhards and sexual sneaks.

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