All Articles Tagged "manhood"
Recently, Shadow and Act writer Sergio Mims pondered on the whereabouts of the manly man in film:
“It started with a conversation I had once with one of my friends, and she brought to my attention an article by the African American film critic Wesley Morris, while he was writing for The Boston Globe (and who is now writing reviews for the website Grantland) about the lack of real, genuine, masculine men in movies nowadays, that are both American and under 40.
Think about it. Practically all male movie stars that are both American and under 40 are really just over-sized boys who maybe haven’t really grown any pubic hair yet. They seem to lack a solid presence and, what I like to call, that “masculine weight”. So my friend and I started to think about what well-known established Black American actors could fill that bill, and I’m afraid, we couldn’t.”
My favorite black action star is Michael Jai White. He is not just my favorite because his body is straight-ridiculous and makes me think scandalous thoughts. He is also my favorite because he is a kick-a** professional martial artist in real life and does all of his stunts in his movies. If you have Netflix or access to YouTube, you can catch some of his handy work in the film, Blood and Bones. The film itself is kind of campy and the dialog is at times laughable, but White’s fight scenes are pure magic. However, despite how awesome White’s kick-a** persona is, his type of flare is no longer wanted in Hollywood. Oh sure, action films are still big, however, the action stars themselves are much smaller, younger, and not really “into” the whole violence thing.
The new visual era of masculinity marks the rise of the anti-hero. Gone are the days of the hyper-masculine, thick-necked Neanderthal drop-kicking a villain through the wall. Instead, we are in a new, more gentle era of manhood, particularly heroism, where ingenuity and creativity outweighs brawn. If anything, the new image of a “manly man” is kind of reflective of what is happening in society today. Today’s modern men are all becoming more vain than ever. In addition to personal grooming habits like manicures, haircuts and pedicures, men today have become more concerned about their personal emotional growth and well-being. You know, the guys that are all about their feelings and can have something to talk about and other interests outside of meat-headed topics like sports and farts? We are talking about men that are less about thug-loving à la Bobby Brown, and more about sitting around in silk pajamas discussing our days, in the vein of Ralph Tresvant.
As such, this new masculinity is reflected back to us in our sub-cultures, including music and television. No longer do He-Man like figures get the girls in the movies; today’s heartthrobs are scrawny and awkward nerds, who use their brain to ward off danger rather than their muscles. Hollywood is no longer about Wesley Snipes in Blade, but instead, our vampires are more akin to the soft-skinned boys in films like Twilight. This new age of the beta man is the reason why actors like Seth Rogen, Jesse Eisenberg and Zac Efron even have careers right now. And we see this more emotionally nuanced man in other areas of popular culture, including in hip hop. Big Daddy Kane, with his chiseled build, street savvy grit and bedroom eyes used to be the epitome of bad playboy swag. Nowadays, that image belongs to rappers like Drake, who while not physically intoxicating, are emotionally expressive enough to talk you right out of your panties.
I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with this new version of the “manly man.” I also like seeing more nuanced versions of manhood on television too. As much as I would like to see more Michael Jai White, bare-chested, karate kicking dudes all across the screen, I kind of like him in the roles where he has his shirt on too. I just hope that pop culture, and society in general, doesn’t decide to move past the beta male and embrace the omega male. That’s when we should begin to worry.
Manuel was the older guy who lived an hour and a half away and wanted to spend more time with me but his car seemed to ALWAYS be in the shop. After a month of telling that lie, he had to come clean and tell me his license was suspended. He paid his cousin to drive us on our date. He was 26 at the time. I was 18. It didn’t work out.
Niko was the ‘round-the-way’ guy. Tons of fun, caring, driven, a manly man. We got pulled over on our first date. The policeman said something about the car being reported stolen. Years later it came up in conversation and he sheepishly admitted that he had been driving his cousin’s car (not stolen) but using his brother’s license since his own was suspended.
Dallas was a middle school crush who at 23, I figured might be as amazing as I thought he was in 1999. He wasn’t. He lied a lot and his car STAYED in the shop for about a month. About a year after I stopped talking to him I found out that his car had not in the shop but in a police impound lot. He too had a suspended license and no car. AT ALL.
And finally, Marcus. Good grief. Marcus. Nothing about him was right. He was a bat who thrived at night and slept all day barely completing college. He drank/smoke and drove… on a suspended license… with unpaid parking tickets…and warrants out for his ARREST because of those unpaid parking tickets. None of this came clear until I heard him joking about it with his boy. I wouldn’t leave it alone so he unwillingly spilled the beans.
Besides my poorly judged, hit-and-miss dating history, I didn’t catch the interesting commonality surrounding vehicles until I sat in reflection all these years later. Each of those guys was able to become very vulnerable with me in their own way. One revealed a prior arrest to me. One told me about how he wept as a new college freshman being dropped off on move-in day. Another told me how lost he felt having been adopted and not knowing who he truly was. One told me how he was struggling so badly, working overtime trying to make ends meet. Another told me about his gang banger past.
They all opened up with these embarrassing, take-it-to-the-grave secrets that most guys would take forever or just never tell but not one of them could come right out and tell me that they had been forbidden (by law) to drive or that they simply didn’t have a car. They would have rather used their brother’s license and risk jail time; pay their greedy cousin some obscene amount to chauffeur; or LIE incessantly and badly than just to tell the truth from the gate. I didn’t understand completely. Did they think I would be turned off by their lack of transportation? Did they peg me for being just that materialistic? Honestly, if anything turned me off it was the lying, sneaking and illegal activity all done to keep the truth from me.
That got me thinking: Is a man’s car the ultimate material symbol of his manhood? If a guy has his own transportation, even if he is still living at home with mom and pops, he seems to feel better about himself. He can pick his girl up and take her out. He can get away to play ball with his boys. He has options, choices. But take away his car and – at least in my experience – it’s the end of his world and one of, if not THE biggest blow to his self-esteem. Again, in my experience, they fear that it proves them weak or that they have little or nothing to offer.
Why? Do we, as women, give off a materialistic air? Are we not understanding enough? Is wanting a man who at least has his own vehicle in his 20s, asking too much? Or is it all just an internal male pride thing? What say you?
La Truly is a late-blooming Natural-haired Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself and a passion for young women’s empowerment, La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change through her writing. Check out her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and her thoughts/jokes/rants on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.
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Fatherless homes are at the root of a lot of problems in the black community. Children born out of wedlock are more likely to grow up in poverty, attend poor schools and find their way to jail. This means 72 percent of black children are born disadvantaged. To keep living the same way and expect different results is the definition of insanity. In order to see a change, there must be a change in our attitudes and way of life.
Here are a few ways we can help retard the epidemic of single parenting:
1. Abstain from sex without commitment: Abstinence is the only form of contraception that works 100% of the time. Whenever you have sex outside of marriage, you are taking the chance of becoming a single parent.
2. Wear a condom or use birth control: Duh. Raw-dogging is just stupid unless you’re itching for a baby or STD.
3. Eat chocolate: Subduing sexual desires isn’t always easy and typically has to be replaced with another vice. Sometimes giving in to your sweet tooth helps.
4. Be a best friend to your daughters: Fathers set the tone for the type of treatment their daughters expect. When girls feel love and companionship from their fathers, they don’t go looking for it in a boyfriend.
5. Embrace real manhood: Real men have self-control and don’t measure their worth by a slew of sex partners. Promiscuity is for boys. It’s a display of weakness.
6. Limit hip-hop and rap music: The sexually overt lyrics in hip-hop and rap music promote promiscuity and irresponsible behaviors that perpetuate the cycle of fatherless homes. What goes in is what comes out. As much as you are what you eat, you are also a reflection of what you hear.
7. Stay focused: Keep your mind on the future and use your free will to make decisions that keep you free. When children come into the equation, they become the priority. Be selfish about what you want to accomplish and the type of life you want to create for yourself, unmarried and childless.
8. Pass on the Adult Videos: Pornography negatively affects the psyche in regard to appropriate sexual behavior. It is a vice that skews the way men view women and their worth.
9. Mentor a child being raised by a single mother: If you haven’t experienced the effects of being raised without a father, spending time with a child dealing with daddy issues can be enlightening. So much so that you make a point not to recklessly put your own child in the same situation.
10. Limit alcohol consumption around the opposite sex: Any type of drug use, really. Drugs lower your inhibitions and, with enough, anything with anyone goes. Drunken nights are just “accidents” waiting to happen. It’s not a matter of if but when.