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Run & Hide… Or Man Up

Run & Hide… Or Man Up

Sep 17, 2010

The July 19, 2010 online edi­tion of Psy­chol­ogy Today had an arti­cle enti­tled “Our male iden­tity cri­sis:  What will hap­pen to men?” by Ray B. Williams who writes a blog enti­tled Wired for Suc­cess.  The jest of the arti­cle is that a com­bi­na­tion of the global eco­nomic down­turn of the last two years, and the neg­a­tive por­trayal of men and mas­culin­ity in main­stream media has brought about a male iden­tity cri­sis in West­ern Soci­ety.  The arti­cle idea isn’t unique, you can find sim­i­lar such pieces all over the net, and the Wall Street Jour­nal did a sim­i­lar arti­cle Novem­ber 2009 enti­tled “The Job­less Gen­der Gap”.

A friend of mine, Bob Maistros, who is actu­ally a pro­fes­sional at this writ­ing stuff wrote a piece recently for The North Star National enti­tled “Man up… or is it man down?”  Both of these arti­cles are very thought pro­vok­ing to me in more ways than one.

We know that today’s edu­ca­tion sys­tem was designed for the indus­trial age, when Amer­i­can cor­po­ra­tions needed work­ers who could sit on an assem­bly line for hours on end doing the same task over and over again.  Young boys, and many men, sim­ply aren’t wired for this.  Sure, when we have to we can do it for a period of time but it’s not how we’re designed.

Although things have got­ten bet­ter than the 90’s to early 2000’s when every sit­com por­trayed men as less than intel­li­gent, the adver­tis­ers are more than happy to por­tray men in a neg­a­tive light.  Emas­cu­lat­ing men gets laughs and sells prod­ucts.  And adver­tis­ers know that men, despite their silence, don’t like to be viewed as skirt wear­ing girlie boys, and will often buy prod­ucts the adver­tis­ers sug­gest will make them more of a real man.   Granted men have been in posi­tions of power for a sig­nif­i­cant period of time in our his­tory, but does that make it open sea­son on them… do we need to thin the herd?  Does it really make it OK to emas­cu­late them in prod­uct advertising?

The biggest ques­tion I have is, what are you going to do about it?!!  There’s been a lot, and I mean A LOT of talk about this sub­ject, and almost all of it sim­ply say­ing over and over again that there’s a big prob­lem, watch out the sky is falling.  It’s almost like that lit­tle dog Droopy from old Sat­ur­day morn­ing car­toons who always said “Oh no, we’ll never make it” in a defeated and down trod­den voice.   Some voices and writ­ings on the sub­ject are woe­ful, alarm­ing and down­right depress­ing.  Some voices are angry and ven­omous, rag­ing against the atroc­i­ties being com­mit­ted against men in today’s cul­ture.  And then there are the fem­i­nist voices who are cheer­ing about all of this and say­ing that men are unnec­es­sary and irrelevant.

So what are you going to do about it?!!

We could do noth­ing and hope that this is either all hot air or that it will just blow over.  Essen­tially curl­ing up in a ball in the cor­ner of your room and plug­ging your ears until some­one sounds the “All Clear.”

We could run with our tails between our legs.

Or we could accept that part of this is of our own doing… yes we helped to cre­ate this mess, and then take respon­si­bil­ity for chang­ing things.  This is not a short-term, quick fix type of issue.  This is some­thing that will truly take time and delib­er­ate, con­scious and con­sis­tent effort on our part as men.  And it’s not some­thing that we can do alone, we must band together on this.

Despite what soci­ety or the media may want to say about man­hood, there are many excep­tional qual­i­ties that exist within a man who is com­fort­able with his masculinity.

  • Who else would kill all the spi­ders, flies, and other creepy crawlies in the house,
  • Who else would get up and search the entire house, in his under­wear, when his wife or child hears a noise in the mid­dle of the night.
  • Who else would con­front the thief who breaks into the house in the mid­dle of the night, ready to fight for his home and his family.

The title of Bob Maistros’ arti­cle brought an image to my mind imme­di­ately.  Ask any man you know who is a mil­i­tary vet­eran, active mil­i­tary, police, fire­man, coal miner, etc what the first thing that comes to their mind when some­one yells “Man Down!!”.  The one’s I know would all say that their first thought is we have to go get him and bring him out.

No man left behind!  Dur­ing times of war, dur­ing life and death sit­u­a­tions like a house fire or the sit­u­a­tion that hap­pened on flight 93 over Penn­syl­va­nia dur­ing 9/11/01, men put aside the van­ity and con­cerns for them­selves.  That’s when the nat­ural instincts kick in… pro­tect the women and chil­dren, band together and han­dle the sit­u­a­tion.  Unfor­tu­nately we have largely been shel­tered from any real hard­ship, liv­ing in rel­a­tive lux­ury and sold into the trap­pings of a ‘Me-Centered’ soci­ety that we’ve lost our iden­tity.  Worse yet we’ve largely left our boys to fend for them­selves because we don’t spend real time rais­ing them to be the men they should be.

We have a respon­si­bil­ity to the next gen­er­a­tion of men.  If we fail at our job in help­ing them to develop into men who are con­fi­dent in them­selves, regard­less of their imme­di­ate sit­u­a­tion, and men who can cre­ate and sus­tain healthy rela­tion­ships, well then they have us to blame.  And as if that were not enough pres­sure, there is ample research out there that shows your daugh­ters not only get their sense of fem­i­nin­ity from their father, but also tend to marry guys who are like their fathers.  We all say that we want our chil­dren to have a bet­ter life than we did.  Look at your rela­tion­ship with your wife, at your home life, check your atti­tude about work, neigh­bors, etc.  Is that what you want for your kids?  As they model who and how you are, and you bet­ter believe that they’re watch­ing, what’s their chances of hav­ing a bet­ter life than you?

We can fix the falling sky but we have to hold each other account­able for the work required.  And that can start as small as you and one other guy get­ting together every week or every day to do a check-up, dis­cuss strate­gies and work together to build each other up.  Soci­ety, the media and our enemy wants to iso­late us.  We need to be self-made men, we can fix our own prob­lems, we’re weak when we have to ask for help.  Preda­tors in the wild do this same thing, iso­late and attack.

There’s a great image I heard Ravi Zacharias tell that illus­trates how we need to come together.  When wild stal­lions are under attack they will cir­cle up, fac­ing one another and use their hind legs to kick at their attacker(s).  When don­keys are under attack, they too will cir­cle up, but instead of fac­ing one another, watch­ing out for each oth­ers backs, and kick­ing at the attacker they face the attacker(s) and kick at one another with their hind legs.

I leave you with this last image to first give thanks to those men who have laid down their lives for our free­doms, and to say thank you for the life lessons that our mil­i­tary ser­vice­men can pro­vide.  We should leave no man behind, and always run to the aid of a “man down”.


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