Are modern men confused about what it means to be a man?

Have you ever heard a woman say “Where have all the real men gone?” Have you wondered to yourself, “What does she mean? What does it actually mean to be a man; after all am I NOT a man?”

Although it should be a simple thing for a man to know what it means to be a man, so many conflicting messages from the media (TV, movies, music videos, the internet, etc.) have made it difficult for men to know what is “expected of them”.

After all it’s not like there’s a “How to Be a Man 101” course in school or at university that a guy can go to, to be taught these things, and if you’re like most guys, then your father probably wasn’t the perfect male role model either.

Although many fathers are great guys and will teach their sons many important things, most fathers are as confused about what it means to be a man in the modern world as their sons are.

Fathers have probably turned to the movies and TV to get their advice about being a man too and whatever they’re passing on to their sons is second hand information they got from actors and musicians they admired as young men. But this is not necessarily accurate or relevant to being a man in the modern world.

1940’s and 50’s: Real Men on the Silver Screen

Back in the 1940’s and 50’s it seemed that manliness was in great supply on the big screen. Actors such as Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, Burt Lancaster or Gregory Peck epitomized the image of the “Real Man”. Women swooned and men tried to copy them, and it seemed that both men and women knew their place within the relationship dynamic.

So where did it all go wrong? What happened to cause men to lose track of what it really means to be a man in the modern world? Let’s have a look and see…

1960’s: Men Growing Their Hair Long, Wearing Flowers in Their Hair and Wearing Colorful Clothes

It all started in the early 1960’s with the hippie movement. Its fundamental principles included being in harmony with nature, living in communes, being able to express oneself musically and artistically, and the widespread (and largely acceptable) use of recreational drugs such as marijuana and LSD.¹

Men started growing their hair long and wearing flowery clothes. Flower Power became the slogan of the 1960’s and 1970’s and was a symbol of the non-violent beliefs of the youth at that time, and it was not unusual to see men with flowers in their hair and around their necks.²

Although the hippie movement was great for the peace movement, it was also the beginning of men’s loss of their masculine identity. Suddenly men were no longer behaving like men; they essentially dressed the same as women and they often behaved the same as women.

At the same time, feminism started rearing its head and women started asserting their independence and looking for ways to make men more submissive and docile within a relationship. The relationship dynamic between men and women became blurred.

Suddenly the men became weak and insecure while the women were being dominant and assertive. The gender roles became reversed and because men were no longer behaving like men, most women lost interest in guys who were more interested in emotions, artistic expression, love and who they could so easily dominate and push around.

Even the media of the time was no help. Guys couldn’t turn to TV and movie heroes for guidance because even the actors of the time were displaying this loss of masculinity. Most actors and musicians were swept up by the energy of the times, wore their hair long and spent more time being stoned than asserting their masculinity.

Ultimately, the dominant, assertive and masculine man of the 1940’s and 1950’s became a relic of the past and with them died the role models men admired and looked up to for clues on how to behave like a real man.

But this was only the beginning…

1980’s & 1990’s: Men Being Asked to Cry and to be a S.N.A.G

Enter the 1980’s and close on the heels of the hippies came the S.N.A.G (Sensitive New Aged Guy). During this time, not only were men free to express their artistic sides, they were also encouraged to be more sensitive and not to be afraid to cry.

Slogans such as “Real men DO cry” became popular and guys were convinced that women wanted men who could openly express their emotions and share their tears. The bottom line… women dumped men who cried.

However, even today many men still believe that being a S.N.A.G is the only way they can get a woman to want them. Add to this the fact that today’s women have more voice in the media and are telling men to cry and be emotional, and is it any wonder guys are still confused about how to behave and about what it means to be a man?

Many guys think that if they agree with everything a woman says, and if they take on half (sometimes even more) of the housework, she will be impressed with him and she will want to “reward” him with lots of love, respect and of course extra sex. But is this what happens? No!

Scientific Study: Do Women Prefer to Be Right Than to Be Happy?

When the British Medical Journal conducted an experiment to see what happens when a husband agrees with his wife about everything (even when she’s wrong), the results were quite surprising. According to an L.A. Times report, the husband was asked not to tell the wife what he was up to.

The experiment was “based on the assumption that men would rather be happy than be right, and that women would rather be right than be happy.

Both spouses were asked to rate their quality of life on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the happiest) at the start of the experiment and again on Day 6. It’s not clear how long the experiment was intended to last, but it came to an abrupt halt on Day 12.

“By then the male participant found the female participant to be increasingly critical of everything he did,” the researchers reported. The husband couldn’t take it anymore, so he made his wife a cup of tea and told her what had been going on.

That led the researchers to terminate the study.

Over the 12 days of the experiment, the husband’s quality of life score plummeted from a baseline score of 7 all the way down to 3. The wife started out at 8 and rose to 8.5 by Day 6. But by Day 12 her husband’s complacency got so bad and she was so mad at him, that she had no desire to share her quality of life with the researchers on Day 12, according to the report.³

What does this study prove? Essentially, agreeing with everything a woman says and trying to please her will only make her mad at you, so much so, that at the end of it she won’t even want to talk to you; let alone have sex with you. It seems women don’t prefer to be right all the time after all.

Is Doing More Housework the Secret to Getting More Sex?

But maybe you’re saying, “It’s not realistic to agree with everything a woman says; but sharing the housework is different. A woman will definitely appreciate that and want to have more sex.” I bet you’ve even seen the TV commercials showing husbands tip-toeing around their wives, or where the husband is doing the housework hoping to be rewarded with more sex.

You’ve probably even heard comments like this from women, which cause men to think that by doing housework, they will get laid by their wife or turn her on: “We all would like our husbands to mop,” Ms. Amos said in a telephone interview from her home in San Francisco. “This says that real men mop, and it breaks it down to: It can be fun, it can be sexy, and women like it clean.”

And you’ve thought to yourself, “If it’s so prevalent in the media there MUST be some truth to it.” Right?

Yet, in a study by the National Survey of Families and Households which appears in the February 2013 issue of American Sociological Review, men who do more traditional chores such as the cooking, cleaning and shopping are actually getting LESS sex than guys who are not “pulling their weight” in the home.⁵

Why? Because sharing the housework only leads to a relationship without clearly defined roles and without a balanced relationship dynamic. Regardless of how independent a woman gets, the bottom line is that she still needs her man to be the MAN.

When the relationship dynamic goes out of whack, the woman will overcompensate by taking the lead and the man will become hen-pecked.

According to Dr. J.R. Burns, “Many American men are voluntarily giving up control of the romance in return for acceptance, companionship and sexual relations. They bury their needs, feelings and goals to accommodate their mate. They would rather be in a poor relationship than no relationship.”

He also adds, “The hen-pecked man may be a “good” person, but he has bought into the predominant cultural view that the romantic ends justify the means.”⁶ But do the ends justify the means? It seems that the answer is no.

Not only do women lose respect for men that they can control, in the end husbands who are “nice” and accommodating also find themselves being divorced. In fact, according to a Norwegian study, divorce rates are 50% higher among couples who share the housework compared to those in which the woman takes most of the responsibility.

The bottom line… being a S.N.A.G didn’t work in the 1980’s and it doesn’t work now. No doubt at the time, millions of misguided single women thought that having a man who was sensitive and easy to manipulate was a good thing because they were tired of being dominated by men in the past.

However, now almost three decades later, women are waking up to the fact that a man who’s a S.N.A.G is just a bore to be around and nothing like the well-rounded, sensitive yet manly-man they were hoping for, but they’re too proud to actually admit that they were wrong.

1980’s: Men Building Their Muscles to Impress Women

Movie star muscle

From left: Dwayne Johnson, Hulk Hogan, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Of course, not all men became S.N.A.G’s. At the same time the S.N.A.G was crying his eyes out watching chick-flicks with his girlfriend and doing the laundry, another breed of “man” was being created.

These guys were the one’s watching the S.N.A.G and thinking to themselves, “What a bunch of wimps! I’m sure women won’t fall for that!” So these guys turned to Hulk Hogan, Rocky and Arnold Schwarzenegger for “advice” on how to be a real man. Soon there was a bunch of super masculine, tough-as-nails “supermen” flexing their muscles and looking down on the S.N.A.Gs.

Unfortunately, these guys went so overboard with it that they became more interested in their body and appearance than what really matters to a woman.

Just like the S.N.A.G. made the mistake of thinking that being weak and complacent was what women were looking for in men, these muscle-junkies totally missed the point, believing that women would be impressed by their big muscles instead of realizing that what a woman looks for in a man is his confidence and mental and emotional masculinity.

The result was that women lost interest, and guys were no closer to finding out what it means to be a man.

For two decades men vacillated between being a S.N.A.G or a muscle-junkie with neither side attracting the women they wanted, and neither side any wiser on what it really means to be a man.

2000’s: Gay TV Presenters Telling Men to Look Nicer

Queer Eye For the Straight Guy

These gay guys confused the shit out of millions of modern men and helped create the Metrosexual

You would probably think that by the time we hit the 21st century, men would finally have figured it out, but unfortunately with the turn of the century came an increase in the presence of the media in our lives. Now not only do we have TV and movies to contend with, there is also the internet.

Wherever you turn you are sure to come across a gay man, whether he’s a TV presenter, a fashion designer or a department store salesman, telling you how to dress, what to do and how to behave to be more attractive to women.

In the early 2000’s the Metrosexual man became all the rage because guys were being told that, “Women love guys who know how to take care of themselves.”

Shows like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy took it upon themselves to tell men that they had no idea how to make themselves attractive to women and that “gay men are superior in matters of fashion, style, personal grooming, interior design and culture.”⁷

Now no matter which channel you look on there’s a gay guy telling you “You HAVE to have x pairs of shoes, pluck your eyebrows, dye your hair, wear this MUST-HAVE cologne, and of course, pink is the new black!” Really! Now don’t get me wrong, pink is a great color… on a 6 year old GIRL, but is it really the color of a real man?

Is a gay man the best authority on what makes a man attractive to a woman? The fact is, TV presenters, whether gay or not, are only doing what they’ve been paid to do.

They are selling you a myth. They want you to believe that if you have the “right” clothes, bling, cologne, hairstyle, car, etc. you will become more attractive to women and because the modern man feels so desperate, he’s willing to believe anything if it will get him laid.

However, the modern woman is not that easily seduced by material things because she knows that none of those things can make her feel like a real woman. Clothes, cars and even money cannot replace confidence, masculinity, mental and emotional strength and all the other qualities of a real man.

The Loveable Loser: Women LOVE Him – Right?

If you’ve managed to avoid being influenced by the propaganda being spewed by the gay TV presenters and the product manufacturers and their advertising think tanks, there’s a second trap – TV sitcoms and the movies. Because so many men ARE struggling “to get the girl”, Hollywood has found a way to capitalize on this.

What better way than to convince gullible guys who haven’t been on a date in years, that it’s okay to be the “loveable loser” because in the end, if you hang in there long enough and make a doormat of yourself, the girl will eventually feel sorry for you and want to date you.

TV sitcoms are rife with these guys and they are trying to convince us that Alan Harper from “Two and a Half Men”, or Adam Brody from “The O.C.,” are actually attractive to women in the real world.

According to Kate White, the editor of Cosmopolitan, “Seth, the sensitive, moody character played by Adam Brody on “The O.C.,” who is constantly razzed by the straight jocks on the show for seeming gay, has become the surprise heartthrob among viewers.”⁸

Of course, she doesn’t say which viewers because I highly doubt that a real woman will give “Seth” a second look.

Then there’s the movies where stuttering, self conscious guys like Hugh Grant convince guys that being a bumbling, self-effacing, insecure guy is actually okay as long as you’re sweet and nice because eventually a really hot woman like Elizabeth Hurley, Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock will feel sorry for you and want to date you.

It’s this type of misleading information that makes men think that to “get the girl” you’ve got to act vulnerable and hope that she eventually takes pity on you.

Just because an actor behaves like a wimp in the movies, it doesn’t mean that it will actually work the same way in real life. In fact, when a guy acts like this in real life, a woman can’t feel sexual attraction for him and in almost every case she will simply reject him; which only makes him even more insecure and clumsy around women.

Today: A New Man for a New Era

Way back in 2013, the Neosexual Man was born. A man who is moving away from his predecessors and finally moving back towards being more of a man. According to Wikipedia a Neosexual is described as “James Bond with a sense of humor”; a man who can be “sensitive to his partner’s needs without losing his masculinity”.⁹

Somewhere along the line men began to realize that being a hippie, a S.N.A.G., a muscle-junkie or the “lovable loser” wasn’t quite panning out as they hoped.

Women were still saying “Where have all the real men gone” and guys were still unsure of where to go to get proper advice on how to behave like a man in the modern world. So what does this all mean? Is there a way to know if you’re a real man in today’s world?

Ultimately, we have found that being a man in the modern world boils down to 5 essential qualities. Being the kind of guy who:

  • Believes in himself and his purpose no matter what life throws at him.
  • Can rise through the levels of life, reach for his true potential and go after his true purpose in life without fear.
  • Is loving and caring to everyone around him but not a doormat for others to wipe their feet on.
  • Is mentally and emotionally strong while others around him are crumbling under the pressure of what life throws at them.
  • Always “wears the pants” in the relationship and who knows how to make his woman feel the way she wants to feel when she’s with her man.

Resources

¹ History of the hippie movement. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_hippie_movement

² Cultural Expressions in the 1960s. Retrieved from http://macahe.wordpress.com/4-fashion/

³ Drudge, M. (2013. December, 18). STUDY: Happiness is overrated; It’s better to be right… Drudge Report Archives. Retrieved from http://www.drudgereportarchives.net/Article.php?ID=457174&

⁴ Newman, A.A. (2009, November, 12). Selling a Household Cleaning Product on Its … Sex Appeal? The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/13/business/media/13adco.html?_r=0

⁵ Berger, E. (2013, January, 30). Study: Husbands who do more housework have less sex. Chron. Retrieved from http://blog.chron.com/sciguy/2013/01/study-husbands-who-do-more-housework-have-less-sex/

⁶ Burns, J.R., M.D. (2011, January, 19). The hen-pecked man. Psychology Today. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/repairing-relationships/201101/the-hen-pecked-man

⁷ Queer Eye. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queer_Eye

⁸ Colman, D. (2005, June, 19). Gay or Straight? Hard to Tell. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/19/fashion/sundaystyles/19GAYDAR.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

⁹ Neosexual. Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neosexual

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