A few things have come together lately that got me thinking. This post is the result.
I am raising two boys. I am going to have to try to teach them about being a man. What does that even mean. I regularly frequent sites, blogs and lists about self defense topics and often the macho BS runs high. There seems to be a current running through this society that thinks having the ability to hurt someone and the willingness to do so makes one a man. I would disagree...kind of.
You see, I think that the essence of being a man is the willingness to do what no one else wants to. If that means digging a well knowing that you will still have to work afterword when you are sore and in pain, you do it. If that means cleaning the warm vomit out of the rug when your child is sick in the night, you do it. If that means letting your ego eat a poop sandwich because it is more important that you lose face than lose your job, you do it. You do it, you smile and you work hard so that maybe next time you won't have to.
We all have seen that movies, read the books and whatever other source of entertainment you would like to choose. They show the man stopping the bad guy. Killer Kung Fu, Master of the Sword or Mace, Gunslinger, these are the men set up as idols.
I have an idea as to what went wrong. In the older movies and many of the stories, this man was set up as the hero precisely because he was willing to go and do the dirty work. Because of the background of the audience living in harsher times, they knew that. The audience understood, and I think that it was somewhat more emphasized, that the hero was not assured of success. Maybe he was even scared. That is where being a man comes in. You are so scared you are about to pee on yourself. You know, going in, that this might change you forever and the odds are good that it won't be in a positive way and you do it anyway because it needs to be done.
Being such a badass that you aren't afraid doesn't make you a man. Hurting or killing things doesn't make you a man. Understanding that life is sometimes unpleasant and requires you to do some unpleasant things is a good start. Learning to deal with those unpleasant things is a step. Doing what needs to be done, not just what you want to do, that makes you a man.
Oh yeah, I work in the emergency room as a nurse, I am surrounded by woman who do this. It isn't just about being a man, it turns a girl into a woman too. It is not about being a man, it is about being an adult.