Masculinity is a fascinating topic. I really am quite intrigued by what it means to ‘be a man’ and how that has changed over the last 200 years. There is a biological component (no doubt) but there is also a really prevalent social component. Masculinity is a construct in flux.
I was in College training for ministry during the Promise Keepers years. As a minister interacting with different families, I realized that the PK model didn’t work for every guy (and fewer gals). I loved the subject though and I read everything from “Wild at Heart” to Lads Mags. There was little doubt for me that masculinity was changing even in my lifetime. This was obvious at every level from my Family Reunions to the Church’s men’s retriets and Pastor Conferences to the missions trips we went on to other countries.
The best resource that I ever found was a book called “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: the archetypes of a man“. It is written from a Jungian perspective and it is powerful powerful stuff.
I have been saying for a long time that something is in the air. Part of it is the divorce culture, part of it is the feminist revolution, part of it is the medium of media (video games and internet) and part of it is the economy-work force. But something is up.I try to keep my eyes out, and in the past decade I have seen some really interesting stuff. There was a study a couple of years ago about how guy’s Christmas lists were the exact same whether they were 35 or 18. This was the first time that had happened since researchers started tracking such things. The point was that a man in his mid-thirties should be after very different things than a young man just out of high school. (I think that video games were the top thing on both lists)
In last weekend’s LA Times there was a fascinating article called Day of the Lout. It detailed a pretty fascinating shift in the media. We have always had funny snapshots like “Failure to Launch” about men who refuse to grow up. That is not what this is about. See, always in the past – it was still primarily about chasing women. Even in a genre like Buddy Films there was a pervasive interest in women.
That is the difference here
Louts luxuriate in their lack of sophistication. Louts travel in packs or just hang out with one another. Louts dress in T-shirts and jeans and eschew fashion. Louts guzzle beer rather than sip wine, and they are most likely to be spotted in bars or lounging on living room couches watching football. Louts don’t talk feelings; they talk sports and beer. Louts have few needs and no shackles. Above all, louts may ogle women and snicker about them, but women are pointedly never their top priority. At most, women are objects, just like in the old days. That’s the revenge part. Louts don’t have to make any concessions to women. Louts barely need women. Just give a lout a Bud and his buds and he’s happy.
The article is well worth reading. The trend is baffling… but I think that it is real. This is fascinating because the biology is not changing (evolving) as fast as the social construct is morphing – and I wonder what that will do for both society and family for the next generation.