Posts Tagged ‘pick up artists’

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The Vacuum of the American Male

May 17, 2013

If you want a divisive conversation opener in mixed company, I can’t think of a better one these days than to ask, “Who do you think is a good role model for young American men?” No one will agree on any political leader, and a sports figure only works if the young man in question actually cares about athletics, which I could never say as a child and can’t say now.

Perhaps, like many men of my generation, I had less than stellar personal role models. My step father, a quiet and often brooding man, did many of the most stereotypically masculine pursuits imaginable, from home repair, to fishing, to camping, but had little patience for dealing with children or explaining his methods. It gave a lot of the old fashioned tropes of masculinity a bitter edge to me, a sense that it was a club full of mean spirited bearded men who would sneer with derision at liberal-arts-loving, video-game-playing nerds such as myself.

Combining this with a liberal mother who did most of the actual teaching around the home, and I ended up with a notion of correct masculine ideals that looks like a gray haze, like a guest star not yet be revealed.

Americans can’t really agree on how they want men to behave, just how they would like them not to behave. They shouldn’t say anything sexist or disrespect women, but equally loud voices will tell them that this is weak and effeminate. They play on underlying notion of homophobia while others chide them for sneering at anything they might deem gay. You can only send so many different sets of memes into the population before some men get overwhelmed by the choices and simply opt out of the normal social constructs altogether. And most of the alternatives are incredibly unsavory.

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