The definition of being a man has changed so much over the last 100-150 years that many men now feel confused about how they are supposed to think and behave and what they are supposed to strive for in life.
In the past, life was pretty simple…
Get a job, find a wife, build a house, have children, raise them and then die. These days, life presents us with countless paths to choose from. I could have written about a thousand or more ways that being a man has changed since 1911, but let’s just have a look at 10 for now.
In 1911, slacks, a collared shirt, and shined shoes were minimal attire for the outdoors. A well-to-do man could seldom leave the house without a full suit, coat and hat. There was a lot of emphasis on fitting the mold that society felt every man should fit.
Denim was reserved largely for laborers and kids and open-toed shoes for men were unheard of.
Today, most men are able to don a t-shirt over their jeans and sneakers, even when going to work. Collared shirts are typically reserved for white-collar jobs and going out. The definition of a ‘well-dressed man’ has changed completely to the point where many of us can look great by wearing a good pair of jeans, a t-shirt or polo and good shoes/sneakers.
9. An Even Playing Field With Women
Young women were only sometimes educated and certainly did not have many rights or much of a say in how society functioned. Most women were simply being trained to be good housewives for the husband their parents would often find for them.
Today, not only do women have equal rights, but most have a good education, a career and their own dreams and aspirations, which they are free to pursue.
Women can also pick their own suitor, or even suitors. This, as most men now know, means you have to be compatible with a woman and attract her with your personality instead of expecting to be paired up with her via an arranged marriage.
Dinner dates were and still are common, but premarital sex was considerably less common than it is today. In 1911, dates were usually a short precursor to marriage and had to be worked out with the girl’s father.
At the end of the night they seldom led to anything other than a “Thank you for a wonderful evening” and a kiss on the cheek if you were lucky.
Today, we have the option of meeting as many women as we want in bars, online at singles night (speed dating) and no longer have to ask the woman’s father for permission to take her out. Heck, a lot of modern women now prefer to skip the dates altogether and get right into kissing and having sex.
Not only was marriage the obvious goal of dating 100 years ago, but men who did not get married were thought of as strange, gay or as a freak of nature.
Divorce was uncommon and frowned upon by the religious establishment, family and society at large. Today, most people date for many years before getting married or and many don’t ever intend to get married at all.
Divorce has become a common part of modern life. Strangely, it is often even encouraged by family, workmates and even TV hosts who say things like, “If he isn’t treating you right, leave!”
Understandably, this has turned most modern men off the idea of marriage completely. It no longer seems like a smart decision, especially given the high divorce rates, the legal costs of divorce and the woman eventually taking half of everything you own just for being in a relationship with you.
I used to be completely against marriage, until I realized that it was possible to deepen a woman’s love, respect and attraction for you in a relationship. After enjoying my choice of women for many years (having sex with more than 250 women), I finally decided to accept my girlfriend’s marriage proposal.
Here’s what happened…
In 1911, a strong man did not show any emotion. Emotions and feelings were left to women while men had to bottle up their emotions.
Sharing his emotions about something was seen as unmanly, whereas today it is a necessary part of our more complex dialogue as modern human beings.
After going through many different eras of change, such as the hippy movement, the SNAG (Sensitive New Age Guy) phase and the Metrosexual phase, men have finally realized that women want men to be more emotionally open, but still remain strong, stable and in control.
It is certainly okay to share your feelings with a woman these days, although some men obviously take it too far by crying or looking for pity, which is a huge turn off to women. A man these days is expected to be more complex than the average man a century ago whose job was to simply work and support the family. Complex does not mean wimpy, however.
100 years ago, if you wanted to speak to a woman you were attempt to ‘court’ (attract into a relationship with you), you’d have to write a letter and wait for it to be delivered up to a week later or get on your horse and ride to her home. Her parents would usually listen in, sit nearby in earshot or have many questions to ask to determine your intentions with their daughter.
These days, we’ve got home phones, mobile (cell) phones, e-mail and Facebook, so getting in touch is quick and easy.
Better still, a simple text message to a woman at 1am on a Friday or Saturday night can often lead to some late night sex; otherwise known as a ‘booty call’. In 1911, most men wouldn’t have dreamed of the communication technology we now have. Imagine what human to human communication will be like by 2111.
In 1911, most men didn’t finish school, attend any kind of university or go on to achieve formal qualifications. There was a lot less demand for white collar workers than there was for laborers.
Today, the white collar workforce is becoming more competitive and more employers are now beginning to expect that potential employees arrive with a completed degree.
Luckily however, the internet has come along and is allowing people to use their available skills to find suitable work online. This trend of ‘working from home’ is set to increase and expand over the next decade, as we move more and more of our life online into the cyber world.
3. Smoking and Drinking
100 years ago most men hit the cigarettes and alcohol pretty hard – even in the office, in restaurants, on the bus and anywhere else they felt like it. They hit it so hard, in fact, that by the end of the 1910s American women got so worried that they banded together to prohibit alcohol across the country.
Obviously it didn’t last but heavy drinking and smoking has been becoming increasingly taboo over the past few decades. Certainly you cannot smoke in most places these days and many women will lose interest in a guy if they discover that he is a smoker during their first conversation. Similar is the case with heavy drinking, because it usually leads to unwelcome problems in relationships.
Certainly there were plenty of people who got on their horse or wagon and hit the road for the promise of a better future. In 1911, however, traveling was dangerous and many people were not able to get where they wanted.
Today, hop on the web, book a ticket and you can be across the world tomorrow morning. We no longer have to settle for living where we were born, because a century of global politics and open trading has allowed most cultures to become comfortable with the idea of mixing together.
If you are not happy with your current environment, you are just a few hours and a few hundred bucks away from almost any place in the world.
1. We Don’t Die at 45
Partly because of the above mentioned decline in alcoholism and smoking, as well as lowered infant mortality rates, but mostly thanks to the advances in modern medicine and availability of nutritious food from supermarkets and green grocers, we now live much longer than we did a hundred years ago.
In 1911, the average man did not make it to 50 years old. Today, the average life expectancy for a man is near 80 years old in most of the industrialized world. In the next 30 years, the average life expectancy is set to rise to 120.
If you are 30 years or under now and can make it to 60, you might be able to stay alive to 120. However, during those extra 60 years, experts are now predicting that lifespan will increase even further to 150-170 years (or more), so don’t plan on dying any time soon!
The idea of growing old and sitting with your wife on rocking chairs on the front porch is no longer applicable in the new world that is emerging before us. Who knows what the world will be like in 30-40 years time. I would suggest some things, but most people will think it is science fiction, so I will keep that out of this article.
A longer expected lifespan now means we do not need to rush to get married while we are young. Instead, we need to think about a very long retirement and be open to exploring many career paths throughout our lives.
Being a man has certainly changed incredibly over the past century, but the biggest change is most certainly in our ability to choose what path we want to take in life. We have an unlimited amount of options when it comes to jobs, women and almost everything else…