Thursday, March 22, 2012

Manly Thor's Day Special: Did men declare victory and go home?

I want you to consider what might initially seem a preposterous suggestion: that a lot of men got what they wanted and that that is a problem.

I own the 1962 edition of Esquire's What Every Young Man Should Know and it is a nice guide to what men once wanted. For example, there is a section in the book devoted to preparing for military service. And it makes perfect sense because every young man had to be prepared. It was just taken as a given that any man, simply because he was a man, might be expected to kill others for his country and perhaps to die for his country.

No one expects that of us anymore do they.

Guys back then were expected to marry a girl if they got her pregnant too. Now it's her responsibility not to get pregnant. Yes, there is still an expectancy to pay support for any child you've fathered, assuming the mother allows the child to come to term and you have no say in that, but that burden is small beer compared to having to tie your life to hers.

And then there is sex. People have always been doing it and some have always been doing it before and outside of marriage but there was a presumption that it didn't happen and that gave women in a non-married relationship a huge advantage when it came to discussions of whether or not sex would happen. Because the presumption was that it would not, guys back then had a huge burden of proof to carry. Nowadays the burden of proof is with the woman in a relationship who has to explain why she doesn't want sex and she has to accept that the guy might simply choose to leaver her if she doesn't. That's a huge shift in attitudes.

Are you a gentleman? I hope you are but whether you are or not is now your choice. It's not an expected social ideal that everyone from your mother to your school teacher to women you don't even know can foist on you. Nowadays, a man might decide to behave in a gentlemanly fashion it's an ideal he embraces or just because he wants to make a positive impression on others but it's always because of what he wants.

And let's face it, most men don't so decide. Most men are slobs with not even the vaguest notion of how to behave.

Nowadays a man's hobbies can be whatever he wants. Hobbies for men used to come partly as obligations. Did you ever have to kill something, dress and clean it and eat it. Men used to be expected to know how. Not because it was needed but because men were expected to know how to do that sort of thing. Men were expected to know, amongst other things, how to fix a toaster, light a fire, understand how your car worked and how to take care of it, be athletic, and know how to dance and sing.

And then, of course, there was the assumption that men would make the money that paid the bills. All the bills.

You read a lot of stuff these days about men in trouble because so many of them are sitting around in their parent's basement through their late twenties playing video games. But what if that is what they want? What if they aren't failing but succeeding at doing exactly what they want to be doing.

Yes, they'd rather be playing video games in a luxury condo downtown or a big house of their own somewhere but achieving that would mean making sacrifices and doing a lot of hard work they aren't prepared to do. And the odd thing is that guys willing and able to do the things that will get them the luxury condo or big house usually don't like playing video games  much. In other words, the guy in his parent's basement is there because of choices he willingly made himself.

The odd possibility is that maybe getting what you want isn't as good a thing as it appears to be.

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