Women believe men lead easier lives than them. In their views, men are given more opportunities and are valued more, thus having more chances to excel in life. While it’s true that women have had to fight over the years to become more equal to men, being a man doesn’t guarantee prosperity. Women can rely on men for emotional and financial support, but the opposite is frowned upon. If a man relies on a woman for financial and emotional support, he is deemed weak and useless. At any time and place, men are always to be independent – they are to bring in money, take care of themselves and their family, and lead.
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Being a man means a lot more than having a certain anatomical projection. The pain that men go through is understood best by fellow men – mostly because part of being a man is to disclose one’s feelings. Being commanding, independent, intelligent, stoic, and fearless are just a few of the characteristics of being a man. These traits are not inborn and being a man isn’t easy at all. Men face much stress being manly – upholding society’s determined traits of masculinity.
How do I get to be a man?
Being a man is more than simply having a biologically male body. Therefore, to be a male also means, in relationships with family and work, social acceptance of the role. While the male role is often presented as one of freedom and great opportunity, for many males it means being trapped in a boring or dangerous job for most of the years of their life to support a family. This contradicts the general opinion of it being a male dominated world. In fact many males feel dominated by their role, by their need to work, and by people in positions of power. There are also expectations involved in being a partner in marriage or sex. The awful dragging down of self esteem that arises from not being able to be the husband or lover that brings fulfillment to ones partner ruins the life of many men. The pain of not getting it right, of not being able to be the person your partner could feel happy with, the sight of the love fading from the face of the woman you want so much to give your best to, may end in violent outbursts.
The new manhood, has to accomplish a sense of positive identity without the certain help of a work role. For many, it means confronting real independence. They must live and love, meet changes and make decisions without the support or authority of close family life – away from people they grew up with – without political, religious, trade union or other group power to augment their own. This is the new manhood.
However, in the context according to Theroux, the concept of manhood is to “be stupid, be unfeeling, obedient, soldierly, and stop thinking” (Clem, 2002-2008). Furthermore, “The whole idea of manhood in America is pitiful, a little like having to wear an ill-fitting coat for one’s entire life.” And what is that coat made out of? Strength, independence, competitiveness, power, and guarded feelings. “Be a man!” is enough to send chills up one’s spine (Theroux, 2007).
By calling man stupid he implies that men are looked upon as slow witted, dull, foolish, and irrational. Theroux believes that society looks at men in this manner. However, they do not look at men as being stupid. Society looks at men as being dominant leaders and the strong hold of the world. As the years have passed by, women have been fighting for better jobs and offices, but yet men still hold the most powerful offices and the better paid jobs.
To be soldierly as discussed by Theroux (2007) is to have characteristics of a person who works zealously for a specified cause. Theroux contradicts himself by saying that society looks at man as stupid and soldierly. Obviously these two definitions form an oxymoron, and clearly man can not be both at the same time. Men do work zealously to get good jobs, high office positions, and to maintain the dominant leadership status. For man to be stupid and soldierly at the same time isn’t possible.
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American manhood is pitiful. This implies that someone has pity on men. Who? Women? Men? Women are out trying to obtain the offices, leadership’s positions, and soldierly status man has. It doesn’t seem like women would have pity on the men who have the status they want. Men compete with each other over offices and positions; so why would they pity each other? Therefore, it’s just not true that men are pitied.
Basically ill fitted coat means a wrong external form or appearance of a profession or class. Man works to achieve status, position, office, rank, leadership, family provider, or insured manhood. When he achieves this he also achieves an external form that fits his profession or class. It is not necessarily true that American manhood is an ill-fitted coat worn for a man’s lifetime.
In Theroux (2007) “The Male Myth”, he emphasized that a man had more pressure to keep a family together. Not many women worked, so the income of the family was placed on the man’s shoulders. Whereas now the women are more present in the workforce and some of the work load has been lifted off man. The Vietnam War was fought from 1959-1975, and at the time man was pressured into being “manly” and going to war. Men, who rejected the war, were looked on as “hippies” who didn’t quite feel the shoes of manhood. Being a man in that time period was more pressured than an average male today.
Mansfiled (2008) says, Manliness “is a quality that causes individuals to stand for something.” The Greeks used the term thumos to denote the bristling, spirited element shared by human beings and animals that makes them fight back when threatened. Every human being possesses thumos. But those who are manly possess it in abundance, and sometimes in excess. The manly man is not satisfied to let things be as they are, and he makes sure everyone knows it. He invests his perception of injustice with cosmic importance. It can be noble and heroic too.
As a man you’re supposed to be self-reliant. You’re always strong. In ordinary daily life, a man was expected to dominate to take care of his family. He has all the say within his family. In the outside of family context, men looked up by women to be the protector, that women feel safe with men. Theroux described “being a man” as stupid, because at times men would hide their true emotion when put in situations that involves risk while women acted impulsively.
Being a man, one should stand with high dignity and honor; however, it cannot be taken from them for being compassionate to women and suppressed their true feelings. They know how to listen.
Clem, Regan. “Easy Reviews: Being a Man, by Paul Theroux”. Helium. 2002-2008. Web.
Mansfield, Harvey C. “Manliness”. Being A Man. The Weekly Standard. 2008. Web.
Meyers, Nancy. “What Women Want”. Film Review. Spirituality & Practice. 1970-2007. Web.
Paul Theroux Analysis:”The Male Myth” Is a Myth. Web.