While this is not the only and reasonably not the last of articles regarding the current state of the masculine members of society, I nevertheless felt the necessity to pen down a few of my own findings.
After roaming this planet for about 40 years now, my opinion on what it means to be a “real” man has grown and settled to a particular concept.
Especially during my latest years, I came to realize that the opinions concerning masculinity are widely divided. It was also during these years while being evaluated according to some of these views; my personal opinion took firm shape.
Still, before beginning writing this article, I felt I should scope the internet to see what the general opinions are and if I could relate to them. Naturally, like with every topic discussed on the world wide web, numerous theories are up for grabs.
All depending on whom the author is, what their personal experiences, upbringing, and environment are, the conclusions will be coloured respectively.
For starters, you can write from the viewpoint as a Man or a Woman, but apart from that, you can write as a father, a mother, a soldier, a feminist, a fatherless son, a gay man, and so on. And the results will be very diverse.
When shining lights on a specific object, the shape the shadows casts will give you an idea what it looks like. But depending on where you stand, you might say that the object is square, and another might say it is round. And although both observations have an appearance of truth, the shadows are not the correct representation. Only when the descriptions of all shadows are combined, we can form an idea of what the entire object looks like (or we look at the object itself 😉 ).
Would this logic also work for defining a “real” man?
Alas, if we cast as many lights on the subject “Real Man” as there are opinions about it, the shadow formed would be just one massive blur.
If we combined all those shadows, the “real man” would become something very obscure and unobtainable.
Perhaps we should step down from our point of view, forget about the shadows, and walk around the object itself, so we can get a bright idea of what it means to be a “real” man.
First of all, let’s step away from the term “real.” For starters, I am tired of writing in quotation marks, and second, let us accept there is no such thing as a fake man.
All off these are apples, none of them are fake
Let also be clear that when talking about manliness, I am not talking about gender roles. Besides, many will argue that gender-roles do no longer exist in this time and age.
Which is true, the line that separated men and women has been fading slowly over time. Woman have been taking leading roles, and have been exemplary good at it. Men took jobs as nurses and caregivers and excelled at it. The impact on society by the blurring gender roles might be a good topic for another time.
And last, I am sure that while reading this blog, you certainly will feel that many of the presented defining features should not only be expected of men but all genders. And I concur; still, you should understand that I am not talking about all sexes, but about just one of them. The one I can relate to the most.
Three Wise men
Personally, there were three men I always looked up to as an example;
The knight in shining armor, the bowler hat gentleman, and my father.
No, I am not talking about the valiant knight storming the dragon’s castle to awaken the princess with a kiss. In all of the fairytales, I ever heard, read or saw, there was not much more to the prince than the swinging of a sword, some fiddling with his hair and a magical kiss of freedom. To be honest, for the major part of the tale the princess had to manage on her own.
The knight I am referring to is the one that lived by a code and pledged to hold that code, even to the death:
“Be loyal by hand and by mouth, seeking to serveevery man as best as you may.
Seek the fellowship of good men, listen to their words and remember them.
Be humble and courteous wherever you go, boasting not nor talking too much, neither being dumb altogether.
Allow no woman or child to suffer by your doing, and if you have the chance to give your hand in assist, do so. If you must draw your sword to defend them, do so until your own death.
If you find yourself in the fellowship with boys or men who speak in a disrespectful manner of any woman or maiden, let them know in gracious words that this displeased you, and depart their company directly.”
Even if we no longer live in a world with marauding bands and ferocious beasts, it does not mean we live in a world without danger. There might be no such thing as a fake man, but there are many weak and evil men! Men that do not uphold any code of respect and honor towards any being and have a sick and disgusting idea how women should be treated.
For them, women are objects of entertainment, their bodies to be conquered and minds to be broken.
Aside from the physical threat this demeaning thinking generates, the emotional impact on women and young girls can never be underestimated.
If you find yourself in the company of such men, the way you respond to this disrespectful thinking, will define what man you are. If you let the matter pass, or worse, you join in their thought; you are either weak or evil.
A knight would have risen from the table, asked them graciously to join the pigs in the sty and would have ended his association with them.
Once the threat becomes real and physical, so must the response be.
Sometimes the person attacked, be it a woman or man, are quite capable of handling themselves, and the assailant might receive a well-deserved beating. Unfortunately, this is more rare than common. Being a weak or evil man, is not necessarily synonymous with stupidity, on the contrary, these types of men will select their victims carefully and know exactly the right time to act.
How would a knight react seeing another man intimidating, harassing or groping a girl? He would step up, hand on the hilt, and warn the nincompoop to keep his paws to himself and get out of there.
If the man were persistent or aggressive, actions would join words, and the sword would make the final statement.
Centuries later, when helmets were replaced with bowler hats, breastplates with a tailored suit and sword with an umbrella, the gentleman revealed another model of what it means to be a man.
Just like with the knights, there is a certain code to be followed. And while gentlemen do not formally pledge to this code, it is for them inconceivable to be any other way.
“Without a strict observance of the fundamental Code of Honor [cf., that a gentleman does not lie, cheat, steal, nor tolerate those who do], no man, no matter how ‘polished’, can be considered a gentleman. The honor of a gentleman demands the inviolability of his word, and the incorruptibility of his principles. He is the descendant of the knight, the crusader; he is the defender of the defenseless and the champion of justice… or he is not a Gentleman.” – A gentleman’s code – (VMI), circa 1839–1997
Like their predecessors, they will stand up for the ones that cannot defend themselves, be it verbally or with deeds. They will not tolerate when someone’s actions strike against their principles, and when a word is given, they will move mountains to uphold it.
But there is more to them; To quote Colin Firth in Kingsmen: “Manners maketh man.”
The measure of a true gentleman is marked by how he treats people around him. In his interaction and conversation with a lady or man, he will always be polite and respectful.
As his kindness towards others is not based on who they are, but on who he is, it is consistent.
Especially with a female companion, he will be approaching her with consideration and utmost respect. These behaviours are not limited to when he is pursuing her, he will always treat any woman the same way, be it his date, his sister or a business partner.
There was a time when men stood up from the table when a lady joined their party or showed intent to leave.
There was a time when men opened doors and pulled out chairs for their female companions.
Part of being considerate involved that they always stayed conscious and in charge of their behaviour. This meant that they were moderate drinkers and avoided becoming intoxicated. As there was a chance they might act inappropriately or stupidly, they rather enjoyed the quality than the quantity of the drinks. A gentleman found drunk, was considered a gentleman no more.
Being a gentleman meant more than a slight nod and raising the bowler hat.
Finally, there is one man left.
The knight and the gentleman; my father.
While he was not a wielder of swords and did not wear a bowler hat, there is no greater man in my life.
I am not saying he is a perfect man, but he strives every day to become a little better than the day before. There is no pledge or oath required to keep him in check or true to his values, and that makes him perfect to me.
And while he was a man of few words, the same could not be said of his deeds.
Observing him taught me lessons in the importance of values and the need for it.
From the way he interacted with women and particularly my mother, I learned respect and courtesy. In none of these moments did I observe contempt or display of power.
I learned from him it was alright to make mistakes, as long you acknowledged them and learned from them. It was not right to make the same mistake twice.
I always admired how he could stand up for what he believed, and never failed to defend his point of views. As vigorously he defended his beliefs, so strongly he upheld his principles.
He worked day in day out to provide for his family, and even when struggling with his health, he never gave up or complained. There was never lack of food and clothing, and we learned contentment.
And while me and my father have taken different paths in life, there is not a day that goes by that reminds me who I have to thank for being the man I am today.
So, where do we stand today?
Sadly, many young men today are growing up confused and left to their own devices. In a society that favours vice, these boys are in dire need of a role model that teaches them virtue, character, and responsibility. Many boys grow up without a father, even if there is a man in the house, or they grow up in a family where the man lacks respect to their mothers and sisters, or any woman for that matter.
Apart from that, without a set of values and virtues, they are left open to the influence of other men, men that sometimes themselves still are boys.
Boys that believe they know how the world works, but have been shown to objectify women, to become racist, talk down to others and never show any emotion but anger.
When they are showing emotions: “boys don’t cry”, when they are too rough including playing with plastic guns: “they will end up as criminals”.
So, they grow up, not to be a pussy, not to be macho’s, but to be indifferent and unemotional.
If you are a father, you should be aware that your kids will grow up following your example, not your advice. It is your responsibility to raise your sons into men, men that have values and character, that treat fellow men and woman alike, but understands the fundamental differences between them. So, they grow up to be knights and gentlemen…
Call me old-fashioned, but simple acts like opening the door for a lady (or anyone), walking her home or offering her your arm, standing up when all seats are taken, are all part of being a gentleman. There is no need for a bowler hat to be one.
Perhaps these acts might seem minor, or maybe you get mocked for it.
Some even might feel offended by it. But It does not matter if others believe chivalry is dead or should be dead, your kindness towards others is not based on who they are, but on you are; therefore, you show kindness to all.
And maybe we no longer live in a world of shining armor and swords, but that does not mean there is no need for knights.
Every single day, somewhere in this world, be it by a single villain, a group of criminals, a band of rebels or an authorized army; men, women, and children are being threatened, assaulted, raped and murdered.
Nothing new? True, but are we not claiming to be the enlighted generation? Should we not be better than the ones that came before us?
Should we not put aside our apathetic thinking and step out of our self-centred bubble?
Results of studies and polls imply that most of the interviewed would not intervene when they witnessed an assault or rape of another individual. Most reasoned that they were concerned for their own safety and would instead call the authorities.
How many videos are not roaming the internet of injustice being done? Those mobile recordings seem to be going on for minutes.
Do we believe somehow, by taping it that justice is served to the degraded idiot that is humiliating or harming a fellow being?
Just imagine yourself being on the other side of the lens, do you still feel that is the right course of action?
There is, more than ever, a dire need for true knights.
It is time to stand up, hand on the hilt, and warn the nincompoop to keep his paws to himself and get out of here.