Thursday, 15 March 2012
Opinion: The Shape Of Men To Come
"Masculinity is in crisis!" A phrase offered all too often by critical social theorists. As to the answer to the debate of whether it actually is or isn't however, the most likely correct conclusion is that it depends on the way that you percieve what masculinity is. If you look at it from the viewpoint of the seemingly inherently robotic "man", the near- perfect depiction of the male stereotype, then no it isn't. If however your own mind calls for a complete shift in the male mentality and almost entirely in the way that the stereotypical man thinks, then yes it is.
Let me explain...
The stereotypical man is a brash, often bullish but at the same time heroic figure. At his most idealistically beautiful, the stereotypical man is strong, loving, caring and always able to defend his sweetheart if ever the occurance should arise. At his most ugly, the stereotypical man is sexist, oafish and violent. Any male reading this shouldn't have any problems identifying just what sect they belong to. For the stereotypical man, there is no shame is bearing the aforementioned traits, and in fact it is often these characteristics that make him proud and and concious of the identity that he feels he has to fulfil. But why do men feel the need to fit such an image? Why do they feel such an attraction to the ugly side of masculinity? The answer, of course, is pressure; pressure from society, history and a stereotypical view that is largely yet to be proven wrong.
Ever since the Romans and probably a long time before, the subjugation of women has been a favoured hobby of men. It's almost certain that the most primal forms of the male being enacted a certain dominance of women, but the Romans are perhaps the most earliest well- documented example of the theoretical idea of women as second class citizens. During the Victorian age, almost 2000 years later, when social class was the domineering factor in life, women were still expected to understand their place, namely that they could have social standing and democratic power, but the man would always have more, and his judgement would always overrule that of his spouse. As much as men like myself would like to distance ourselves from such a poor show, unfortunately it's remnants are all around us. Sexism is still rife, across all sectors of working and domestic life. Young men of my own age still think in terms of "lad points", which are usually depicted by how many one night stands you've had, or how many girls you've snogged at a party, got a hand- job from and then never spoken to again. Unfortunately, it's unlikely such attitudes will ever change, and that is largely down to the fundamental, flawed precedent set down for men today by men of the past. As men have always enacted dominance over women (both sexually and mentally), the stereotypical man of today feels he must endorse that same mentality for fear of being not being dubbed a "real man."
Similar examples can be found in the 21st century's culture of violence. The mentality that "violence solves everything" is still a common nugget of the male's brain. For example, gang wars are often started upon the death of a member of one gang, to which the apparently victimised gang retaliates by proving an equally animalistic streak by then going and killing a member of the initial offending group. And Lo and behold, track back through several thousand years of history and you'll find most disputes were solved in a similar fashion. That's not a justification, just surefire proof that no matter how much a man can change his own ideas and idiosyncracies, the primal, fundamental instincts of mankind still force their way into 21st century life.
On the grounds of this argument, a conspirital, theoretical extremist may suggest that after so many thousands of years of the same mentality and actions, men have abided by sociological "musts" impressed on their minds and perhaps even passed down through the centuries like some genetical inheritance purely reserved for men. What's more likely is that there has never been a strong or large enough force to attempt to dispense of such mentalities. The most mournful thing is that it'll never change. There will always be sexists. There will always be gangs. Mankind has become so wrapped up in its own stereotype that those who believe in that stereotype will always be a majority. The only hope that reminds for the JUST man is to ignore any preconceptions, and to make sure that that mentality is dispelled from his mind forever.