Male Stereotypes At The Edges of Society
In finding this role men will be placing themselves between the male stereotypes of the Macho Hard Men and the Soft New Men so often portrayed in today's society. This is a position of normality where men show strength rather than domination or submission. This is where men are seen as a 'rock' with focus and certainty.
The portrayal of men as male stereotypes gives me great cause for concern. When you search around under Men and Masculinity, on Google, there is a picture of men which does not encourage them to shift from the often weak places they are in currently. It is difficult for them to find a 'normal' presentation of what it is to be a man, rather than un-edifying male stereotypes. What I found are types of portrayal that are beyond the norm.
This does not mean that these types of men are not normal or outside of society in any way. They each have their place in society and are all perfectly acceptable. They are, however, not what I would be recommending to men seeking to become more of themselves. In this context it helps to understand what puts women off men.
The first common type of masculinity portrayed is that of the 'Alpha Male'. This is by far the most worrying of the three and the most abiding of the male stereotypes. In this category I would also place 'Pick Up Artists'. They all play what they call 'The Game' which teaches men how to become successful in picking up and having sex with women. I have written on this before (Are Alpha Males Real) and am very concerned about their effect on men and how they are seen by others.
My issue with them is their domination of women for a short-term, selfish goal. They use elements of truth to justify their actions and demean people who don't agree with them as 'Betas'. The fact is that women like and enjoy strength and certainty in men, they look for power and that certain something that oozes from men who are totally comfortable with themselves. This does not mean domination. It can and should incorporate compassion and a sense of leadership that used to be inherent in the male role in society.
There are many Alpha Males on the internet who blog about their experiences but there are also many who seek to profit from the desperation of many men seeking help. To do this they perpetuate the myth of this view of male stereotypes.
Gay men are, by their nature, active in trying to create legitimacy for themselves and trying to create a more normal role in society. This I support and have no issue with. They are not trying to propose being gay as a solution for men who are unsure of their role. The difficulty comes with the effect on those very men of the sheer quantity of sites around.
Gay men use the term 'masculinity' in a provocative, sexual sense which makes sense to them but confuses others. It tends to scare off the man who is seeking and often ensures he retreats to his cave. It is difficult to use the term masculinity without the overtones the gay community put on it causing fear over what masculinity and sexuality actually mean for men.
In fact there is no threat to men who are comfortable with themselves. They know who and what they are and never feel threatened by other's portrayal of them. It is, however, on of the male stereotypes often picked up by the media, so distorting our view of society.
This was the most surprising discovery for me. I am a christian myself and have been part of men's groups in the past. They are admirable and can be very helpful to men trying to understand themselves and the society in which they find themselves. The portrayal of the christian male, as one of the male stereotypes, is interesting and somewhat close to the truth of what is needed for men, it shows an internal strength and a role in the family which can be helpful.
I struggle to find fault with it whilst knowing that it is not the way for men to go, unless they already have deep christian faith. This is part of the issue, that it suggests that to become a man you need to find faith. I have no problem with men finding faith, but I don't think it is a necessary pre-requisite for finding your masculinity. This will frighten men off who only know the dominating images of men from the Bible.
The New Man has become the norm for men in recent times, and is the most difficult of the male stereotypes to deal with. It has been his response to the strength of women and the aggression of feminists. Many men have retreated into their caves and become submissive and compassionate partners who let their women rule the roost and give up all attempts to be strong or certain. This has caused much anxiety amongst men who only see domination as an alternative.
They confuse strength with abuse and are confused by the constant portayal of men as abusive to women and children in the media. It is precisely because many men are abusive that they retreat from their potential position of strength. They do not know how to be a man.
What should Men do?
The easy answer is 'be a man', ignore the males stereotypes and judge carefully what you read on the internet. To be a man you need to go inside yourself and find your own strength. This will never be provided by others, even by me. It will only come from getting to know yourself and how you portray yourself to the world.
If being Alpha, Gay or Christian is part of this, then so be it. If not don't let that frighten you away from your destiny. Men are not frightened away from anything!