I think I have broken some kind of rule for good writing by creating a title that is longer than my first sentence. (But…wait for it. It does all connect.)
I’m convinced that young men find it a challenge to safely traverse the journey of manhood. I’m also convinced that there must be a lot of confusion out there. I have in my possession an actual piece of writing a male grade 10 student (unsolicitly) submitted… (The teacher instructed the class to “write a poem or draw a picture related to World War 1 on the front of their tests” for a bonus mark…)
On the front of his test he expressed something quite surprising.
In summary, he (the male student) wrote “a rant” and openly spoke of the mixed societal messages regarding manhood. He spoke of his personal ridicule at choosing to practice abstinence. He spoke of an overall confusion of what it meant to be a man and what it meant to be masculine.
Putting aside some of the more omitted inflammatory comments… the main idea I’ve gathered from this situation was about a young man confused about what it meant to be “a man”. While it probably isn’t the norm for a young man to speak so transparently and honestly, I believe that many young men walk silently through these very same dilemmas.
Society does not make it any easier for our young males to reach their destination of manhood. Men and Women are equal, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t different.
Is it only me, or does it appear that to express, define or make masculine and feminine distinctions is a social sin. Gender neutrality rules the day!
It’s like there is something fundamentally wrong about having masculine expectations and associations. In today’s current thinking, boys should be encouraged to wear pink, and girls should be able to dress up as Spiderman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that there is anything particularly wrong with guys wearing pink or girls playing with trucks… But, there are those who promote this idea that gender boarders must be pushed, or at the very least dissolved. I wonder why.
Take for example the Toronto couple who made the news. They decided not to reveal the sex of their baby to their family and friends. In doing so, the child will be free to explore whatever gender they feel so inclined and not be shackled by social expectations and gender restraints. (Check out the you tube link “Toronto couple raising gender-free child” and the Toronto Star article Parents Keep Child’s Gender a Secret.) I couldn’t make this stuff up.
“Boys will be boys.” ?? I’m not so sure of that axiom anymore, at least if some people have their way. Focus on the Family has a very interesting article about helping parents sort through gender confusion. Gender Confusion in Children. (By the way, please let me know if the links do not work.)
Why do I blog about these things?
As men, one of our key functions is to help lead our boys to where we are. We are tasked with the opportunity and privilege to help steer our young men in this journey of manhood. Yes, a lot of us (admittedly) got here on our own. My fathers instructions on male and female relationships were simply and comprehensively put…”Son, in a relationship…one must be the fire and one must be the water.” (End of story.)
Now to be fair, my father was (and is) a man of God, and was (and is) a good provider and role model. But culturally (I suspect), a lot of intimate knowledge just was not shared.
We need to realize that God never intended isolation on a road fraught with dangers. We need men to help make men. Quite frankly, with some of our modern challenges (such as finger tip pornography, and shifting gender identities and ambiguity) I’m not so certain it’s wise to go it alone.
So, what about this “How Not to be a Man” the “What Not to Wear” of pro-masculine movies? I stumbled a few weeks across this movie called “How to be a man.” It was about a guy (Mark McCarthy- the main character) who was dying and therefore decided to make a series of home movies for his unborn son, so that he would learn what it means to be a man -in his absence, especially when faced with critical junctions of masculine development. Through out the process he befriends an impressionable, and somewhat lost, fatherless, early 20 something year old (Bryan) who participates as his sidekick and videographer of his antics.
Before you rush to see this movie, here are a few disclaimers… If you struggle with lust or pornography – there are some sexually explicit scenes. If you struggle with drug abuse – there are scenes that depict drug usage. If you struggle with, or are offended by course language – well… the language is colourfully consistently inappropriate most of the way through.
By now you are probably wondering, did this movie give any meaningful counsel about “How to be a man?”
Stay Tuned for the next blog.