It had to happen. There are no more men or women left on the Earth. At least not in America. As a man writing this piece, I will stick to one side of the argument and proclaim the death of the adult male; it's safer, after all, to criticize one's own ilk. Story: this very morning, while grocery shopping, I saw a person wearing a long-sleeved surfer's shirt covered with goofy logos. Shoes: torn-up Van's. A 23 year-old guy? No, just look at his hang-dog jowls, fat pouches drooping from either side of his mouth, and that combed-over, straw-dry, fake blonde hair. Mid-fifties. Male. But a man?
Children: They're Everywhere
I have a series of colorful Charlie Brown shirts with horizontal stripes. My child son calls them "childish" and girlfriend calls them "women repellent." Fair enough. I have a vintage Alva skateboard that I sheepishly pull out from time to time and take down the block.
Men watch Girls. NFL slathers its players and fields every September with pink for breast cancer awareness. Men say, "Seriously?" as if they were 8 year-old girls. Men watch bro-medies and Judd Apatow movies and Adam Sandler movies and cartoons and porn, which is itself cartoon-sex.
A.O. Scott in The New York Times piece The Death of Adulthood in American Culture, says:
I will admit to feeling a twinge of disapproval when I see one of my peers clutching a volume of “Harry Potter” or “The Hunger Games.” I’m not necessarily proud of this reaction. As cultural critique, it belongs in the same category as the sneer I can’t quite suppress when I see guys my age (pushing 50) riding skateboards or wearing shorts and flip-flops, or the reflexive arching of my eyebrows when I notice that a woman at the office has plastic butterfly barrettes in her hair.
Yet childishness has become so engrained in American male culture that it is often not easy to identify. It's easy to throw darts at anime-watching men. But what about staples of modern life such as men wearing shorts?
Not long ago, only children wore shorts; they were, in fact, a sign of childhood. Men barely even wore shorts during athletic events. Type "1940" into Google Image Search and you'll be confronted with men wearing slacks, women wearing dresses, children wearing shorts.
Little boys toss balls around. Men toss balls around. The latter we call professional sports. Sports as mass entertainment barely existed a century ago. Now, men routinely play with balls, rake in millions, and we love them for that.
Even as I write this--my polemic against the child-ization of American men--I wear a pair of light-weight Nike shorts. I can't help it. Should I go to the gym in jodhpurs, pith helmet, and lace-up engineer's boots? Or is the broader question: why go the gym in the first place? Wouldn't a real man would be slagging coke at a Pittsburgh steel mill, circa 1935, and waiting for quitting time? No need for a gym after that.
The Freakish Man
All of this is to say that in recent years we have overstated masculinity. We have created a distorted, freakish image of what it means to be a man. This twisted icon we created we then began to worship.
Yes, it is a Red Pill backlash against the gender reversals and attempts at gender "equality" of the Hippie era. Many women were sickened to find that they tingled for Don Draper, despite his misogynistic, racist, homophobic antics.
Yet who really wants that?
Men Vs. Childish Traits
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Should it matter if he leases an entire climate-controlled storage unit just for his Star Wars action figures ("But they'll bring in six figures on eBay, honey!"). What about those paintball weekends with "the boys?"
It is so difficult anymore to correlate childish things with a lack of masculinity, that we should identify core values, instead:
- Men not seek your affirmation. Children seek the approval of others.
- Men have gainful employment. Children rely on the money-earning capacity of others.
- Men take care of their dependents. Children are dependent on others.
- Men value the feminine you--that is, you as a woman and your traits. Children value you more as a provider than as a woman.