I’ve mentioned once or twice in the past that I am a 90’s kid, having grown up during the era when the generations switch from “Generation X” to “Millenial”. Depending on which definition you choose, I’m either at the very tail end of Gen X or the very start of the millenial generation. As such, I tend to be a mix of highly contrasting ideas about many subjects when it comes to society. I like to believe that my natural tendency leans toward the old ways, but I’m self aware enough to realize that many of my views are skewed by a childhood tainted with certain ideas designed to change the status quo.
This new millenial generation has been taught some very unconventional ideas about what it is to be a man. It is a logical thought process to want to make improvements to any system, and I personally take a great deal of pleasure in finding ways to make something better or more efficient. On the surface, trying to revamp human relationships by making either sex more understandable or better makes a lot of sense. However, like many things in life it’s never as simple as we hope it will be.
Human beings still have a lot of primitive processes that get in the way of our ability to positively interact with each other. The primal urges that still reside within us fight for dominance over what we have decided are the higher ideals of our existence. This is fine because it allows us to maintain a certain drive to do more or be more, the baser part of us never being satisfied and propelling us forward to new levels of greatness.
Where we run into trouble is when we start looking at this primitive side of our being as a negative and begin to believe that we can somehow train it out of us. The reality is that it is a part of who we are and it makes up a very large portion of what has made us the most successful species on the planet. Were we to truly take out human aggression, it’s quite possible that we would stagnate into self-extinction as we lose that drive that forces us to keep moving; to keep improving.
Growing up in the 90’s, I was taught many conflicting ideas between my home life and school and media and various other sources of information. In the home, I was exposed to more traditional male qualities, much of it very negative from an objective standpoint, but in retrospect I value it because it taught me to be resilient as an adult. Steel can only be hardened by fire, and the same is true with men. However, this process was highly tempered by the softer message of the progressive propaganda that has been pushed for the last several decades that men should set aside their “toxic male attitudes” and strive to be more like women.
Much of the conflict we see in our society today has an underlying source in the drastic change in relationships between men and women. At some point we decided that it made sense for men to stop being what we truly are and capitulate to the female way of thinking. Men no longer act with confidence and aggression and dominance; we’re too afraid of offending someone anymore. Rather than standing firm in what we think, we bend and flex and contort until we no longer recognize what we believe in and just follow the crowd, hoping that we can find some form of acceptance in our platitudes.
Recently in my life, I have reached the point where I am no longer satisfied with just “getting through” things anymore. I have a certain way that I want things to be and I am no longer willing to compromise on them. It no longer matters to me whether anyone approves of who I am or how I think about things or if I behave in the way that they think is best. A man is a natural born leader, even if it just means leading himself. Despite what the more communal minded amongst us might try to plead, there is nothing wrong with going your own way. Many times it’s the only way to satisfy your soul.
I started writing this article with a vague intent of listing some of the qualities that makes a man a man, but the truth is that it is unnecessary. Both genders intuitively understand what being a man is all about; we respond to it when we see it and secretly yearn for it when it isn’t present. The confidence, competence and even slight arrogance of a strong man is something that real men admire and strive to become, and women secretly find attractive and compelling regardless of how much they try to deny it. It’s hard wired into who we are.
One of my favorite turns of phrase is the idea that “you can’t legislate behavior”, the idea being that no matter how many rules you put in place, people are ultimately going to do what they want. The same thing applies to gender roles in that you can try to legislate and propagandize human behavior to shape what people are, but in the end we are going to be what we are and no amount of brainwashing will ever get rid of it. It will always be there under the surface, ready to burst forth and show what we really are.
So we have two choices, really: we can continue to try to appease the ridiculous idea that the genders should try to be something they’re not, or we can embrace what we are and learn to maximize the benefits of that way of being. Instead of wasting our energy fighting against nature, we should be using it to further enhance who we are as a people. If we can learn to recognize and appreciate the things that make us different, perhaps we can stop finding reasons to hate each other.
It’s the differences that makes life interesting anyway.
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