Is America Still Making Men?

John Wayne Cowboy Poster

Every society has to answer a few basic questions in order to succeed and even in order to survive. One of them is, “How do we make good men?”

The reason for the importance of this question is simple: Males untutored about how to control their natures will likely do much harm. Conversely, males who are taught to how to control themselves and to channel their drives in positive directions make the world a much better place. The good man is a glory of civilization; the bad man ruins it.

Throughout American history, American society asked, “How do we make men?” (It was understood that “man” meant a good man.) Anyone who thought about the subject knew that boys who are not transformed into men remain boys. And when too many boys do not grow up into men, women suffer and society suffers.

What is a man (as opposed to a boy)? The traditional understanding was that a man is he who takes responsibility for others — for his family, his community and his country — and, of course, for himself. A man stood for ideals and values higher than himself. He conducted himself with dignity. And he was strong.

For much of American history, making boys into men was understood to be of supreme importance, and society was usually successful. When I was a boy in the 1950s, without anyone expressly defining it, I knew what a man was supposed to be. And I knew that society, not to mention my parents, expected me to be one. It went without explicitly saying so that I would have to make a living, support myself as soon as possible and support a family thereafter.

When I acted immaturely, I was told to be or act like a man. I wonder how many boys are told to “be a man” today; and if they were, would they have a clue as to what that meant? It would appear that for millions of American boys, this has not been the reality for decades. Many families and society as a whole seem to have forgotten boys need to be made into men.

There are numerous reasons:

1. The distinction between men and boys has been largely obliterated. The older males that many American boys encounter are essentially older boys, not men. They speak, dress, and act similarly (think of men who “high-five” young boys instead of shaking their hands). And they are almost all called by their first names. Even when a boy (or girl) addresses an adult male as “Mr.,” many men will correct the young boy or girl — “Call me” and then give the young person his first name. This is often true even with regard to teachers, physicians and members of the clergy. When a young person calls an adult by his first name, the status of the two individuals has been essentially equated. Boys need men to respect. It’s not impossible to do so when they call men by their first names, but it makes it much harder.

2. Boys today have fewer adult men in their lives than ever before. Many boys are not raised by any father. More are not raised by a father who lives in the home full time. Nearly every teacher and principal American boys have in elementary and high school is a female. The boy’s clergy person and physician may well be women. And few male figures in contemporary film radiate manhood as defined above.

3. The ideals of masculinity and femininity have been largely rendered extinct. Feminism, arguably the most influential American movement of the 20th century, declared war on the concepts of femininity and masculinity. And for much of the population, it was victorious. Indeed, thanks to the feminist teaching that male and female human beings are essentially the same (note, incidentally, that no one argues that male and female animals are the same, only human beings are), untold numbers of boys have been raised as if they were like girls. They were denied masculine toys such as play guns and toy soldiers, and their male forms of play — e.g., roughhousing — were banned.

4. America has become a rights-centered rather than a responsibility-centered society. Aside from helping to produce a pandemic of narcissism, the rights-centered mindset is the opposite of the obligation/responsibility-centered mindset that makes a boy into a man. It is not good for either sex to be rights-preoccupied; but it is particularly devastating to developing men, as men are supposed to be obligation-directed. The baby boomer generation helped destroy manhood in most of the ways described here. One additional example was its widespread slogan, “Make love, not war.” One cannot come up with a more unmanly piece of advice: “Don’t fight for your country, screw girls.” If the greatest generation had adopted that motto, Hitler and Tojo would have won. A few years ago, the city of Chicago named a street after Hugh Hefner, a man who has played games much of the day and night, lived in pajamas and devoted his life to sex — quite a model of manhood for American boys.

5. There are few places where men can bond with other men. One major way men become men is by associating with other good men. The only places left where this normally takes place are sports teams and the military. The same holds true for boys. And much of society is now working on breaking the most significant all-boys institution, the Boy Scouts.

6. Males no longer have distinctive roles. Men do best when they are relied upon, when needed; and they feel most needed when they do something distinct from women. This exists today in sports and the military. It is symbolic — significantly so — that there are no more “men at work” signs on highways. Now “people” are at work. “Men” have disappeared.

7. Many churches and synagogues have been feminized. This has occurred in at least three important ways: Clergy are increasingly female (and touchy-feely males) — for the first time in Christian and Jewish history; God is often depicted as androgynous and no longer either demanding or judging (He just loves all the time); and religion has been changed from morally and theologically demanding to a therapeutic model. So religion, too, has become yet another place where boys encounter few men, and few masculine models (even in God, as noted, is no longer masculine).

8. Instead of the traditional American model of masculinity, which was a rare combination of masculine toughness and stoicism with doing good (e.g., Superman), boys are now taught to be preoccupied with their feelings and with (unearned) self-esteem. They are not even allowed to lose; all boys playing a sport are given trophies, not just winners.

9. Increasingly, marriage is regarded as optional. The most obvious expression of men assuming responsibility — marrying a woman and taking care of her and their children — is no longer a male ideal. Vast numbers of men quite openly admit to having problems with the C-word (commitment) and responsibility of being a family’s sole breadwinner.

When boys do not become men, women assume their roles. But they are not happy doing so. There are any number of reasons American women suffer from depression more than ever before and more than men. It is difficult to believe that one of those reasons is not the very emasculation of men that the movement working in their name helped to bring about. And so, a vicious cycle has commenced — men stop being men; women become man-like; men retreat even further from their manly role; and women get sadder.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/bubba4 bubba4

    Hey Robert….why don't you stop spamming the same messages and links on every thread….K? It's a form of trolling and frowned upon by the comment service.

  • kansas

    As a women, I really appreciate your article. I raised a son and daughter. Very different creatures! No strong male figure in their lives and my son has enormous problems and my daughter can be quite overbearing. It's really interesting and sad at the same time to watch we have become. Unfortunately I can't undo the damage created by a "system" that made us all think, women were being oppressed and it was being done by men. Truly a sad state of affairs!

  • Steven Grigsby

    I agree with the author but take exception to item 4 and his blaming baby boomers as a whole group. Sorry I cannot buy this. Yes some baby boomers are quilty but the majority of us were raised by parents from WW II an Korean War generations. I was given everything the author speaks of by my mother (died killed when I was six) on what a man is suppose to be. Most if not all the baby boomers I know are the same way. The media during the 60's focused on just the few while it ignored the fact that most baby boomers were being raised to be men. It appears the author agrees with the version the media would have us believe. IT is a complex issue and to imply that baby boomers as a group are to blame is flat incorrect. Yes things changed but I believe it is because a large part of society didn't get involve to stop it. As a side note the auther forgot to mention that teachers are not taught how to deal with boys but have them medicated for being hyperactive. As a former police officer I saw this all too often. Again the auther is dead on for the rest of his article.

  • Tom Weymouth

    As a 95-year-old World War II male vet and the son of an old- fashioned and strong father and mother, I agree completely with the article. Every day I see male human beings wearing earrings, high-fiving instead of shaking hands, and behaving in general like a half -woman. Their heroes are guitar players with high voices. They don't want to earn anything but expect to be given everything. And I am ashamed to say that I believe all of this was caused by how my generations parents raised their kids.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/Stephen_Brady Stephen_Brady

      I don't disagree with anything you are saying. It's just that I have a high voice. That's because I'm an operatic tenor! When I sing, very few people could think that it's feminine!

      My father fought on the European front in WWII (he was a tank driver … the Sherman … a "Ronson", as he called it), and he was a solid Christian man who showed me how, through his example, how a man works, how he treats his wife, and how he raises his children.

      God bless you, sir, and thank you for your service, and for your example to the rest of us.

  • Janet Wallick

    Defining masculinity as, “toughness and stoicism with doing good” and making a point of opposing masculinity to femininity, implies women are weak, hedonistic and perfidious. No wonder we’re depressed. You say, “a man takes responsibility for others.” But an Adult takes responsibility for others. “If any provide not for his own, he hath denied the faith.” This is part of Paul’s admonition to women to care for widows and therefore is not related to maleness. Saying men stand for ideals and values higher than themselves, and claiming that as masculine virtue, you relegate women to baseness. You complain, “God is often depicted as androgynous and no longer… demanding”. But, “in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” So, male and female are both the image of God, and God is not solely male. The current squishy theology is not a feminization of church, but an invasion of modern liberalism’s denial the existence of sin. We all need to encourage our little boys to grow up. But stop denigrating their sisters in the process.

    • Nicole H

      Thanks for your insightful reply, Janet. This article is such a oversimplification of facts that I want to scream. Both men and women are committment phobic. We have become a society of instant gratification. Internet has made sex available 24/7,
      Many men are afraid of divorce and having a lawyer take all their money for alimony and child support. Many women are tired of having to take care of an "adult child".
      Both men and women are self centered and immature compared to previous generations.

      • Nicole H

        Feminism and equality for women is not the problem. Strong and self reliant women are not the problem. Female clergy are not the problem. Men and women who are self centered, immature, and ignorant are the problem. That will not be corrected by making women subordinate to men or turning men into "John Wayne" or women in to "June Cleaver". I think poor parenting is at the crux of the problem. Too many children grow up in single parent homes and are the victims of divorce. Children are exposed to destructive television, drugs, and sexual and materialistic messages at an early age. They need strong role models to help them learn proper social values. Too many kids are dumped off at Day Care and parents just do not have the time to work a full time job and be a full time parent as well. Very few families can survive on one income like they did in the 1940's and 50's.
        These are complicated social issues. The author's solutions make little sense to me,

    • andrew nitzberg

      This criticism is the problem. Can we not say something nice about men without having someone invert the statement into an attack on someone else?

      It is true that these are adult virtues as much as many virtues; but the male and feminine forms can be subtly different and the distinctions between each noted and nurtured without morphing into an assault on the other.

      The "war between the sexes" is a bit of nonsense and should be banished from polite society instead of being elevated into a dominant principle of modern pedagogy.

    • ADM

      This is a fair comment. The question though of what is meant by masculine and feminine remains. For those concepts to have any meaning at all, they must imply characteristics or behaviors (or the manifestation of those) that are unique or overwhelmingly dominant in one of the two sexes. What then do those concepts refer to?

      Women and men are both brave and can be equally strong in terms of character or determination. But men are physically stronger and more aggressive, and in every field of work that is physically dangerous, disagreeable or uncomfortable, men predominate (and there is no evidence that any significant number of women are pining for work in those areas). This suggests differences from which gender-specific roles emerge. There are others. Does every man or every women fall into this sort of analysis? No. But it is absurd to deny accurate generalizations when so many parts of our lives depend on them.

  • Tim

    Very much to the point, interestingly it is almost seemly impossible for a boy/young man to remain sensitive…and still be a man in adulthood…too many boys today bow to peer pressure or whatever…as the article states (in a differant way)…and allow themselves to be imasculated or feminized….which of course is the problem….although it is possible to remain sensitive and still be a man who is masculine….truth is a man can not be a man without knowing his feminine side…though it is that side which is meant to remain his secret….which is why so many men who are called womanizers are not truly womanizers…they just know what women want….give it to them…and remain men….instead of being afraid of woman/women….or thinking all women are like their mother (which is just crazy…)

    Thanks for the article

  • Frank Burns

    Once a stepfather, I can assure you it's all about parenting – and the (step)father often has to play bad cop to set kids right. I literally had to teach these kids how to eat properly with a knife and fork; yet their mother would often scold me right in front of them about not being 'mean', or the kids 'had a hard day', therefore it's ok to eat with your face like a dog. They finally got the message when I put their dinner plates on the floor beside the pet food dishes. When you decide to eat like a civilized person, you may sit at the table with the adults. I suppose in today's world that would make me not just a bad cop, but a criminal.

  • Barry Cooper

    I think the deeper problem is moral relativism. How are you supposed to take a strong stand–be a man–when everything is up for negotiation? How do find the footing to resist the impositions of others when nothing is absolutely right or wrong?

    I got one of those chain emails yesterday, claiming the PM of Australia had, among other things: told Muslims to either accept Australia as a secular state or leave; told them Australia was founded as a Christian nation, and they just needed to deal with it; and that English was the official language, period. No more whining. Strong stand. The subject line was "How do we vote for this guy?"

    When I looked it up in Snopes, of course no one had said those things. John Howard (I think it was) came close, but he hedged when the reporter pressed him if he was really saying "love it or leave it". He said it, in effect, but diplomatically.

  • Barry Cooper

    People fear the Left. The left has used the fundamental decency of our cultural order to create a climate in which intolerable situations are accepted in relative silence because no one wants to be defamed. They are thugs, and thuggery works.

    So we breed young men who don't know who they are supposed to be. We breed young women who go with the young men who also don't know who they are supposed to be. Identity, in the Leftist mindset, is a crime, and adulthood is an identity.

    Is the close connection of moral relativism and our modern acculturatio practices–which we might refer to as "breeding in captivity"–not clear? Both have the effect of infantilizing people, thereby making them more ready to believe nonsensical promises of "hope and change". Obama was the leader of a Cargo Cult, the members of which were the products of a largescale rejection of our cultural traditions, which necessarily increased the role of propaganda in their education.

    We are slipping. Everyone sees that. This need not continue forever though. Those who know they are sick are not sick.

  • Michael McCanles

    Knew the feminists would rise to the bait on this one. Feminism is not about equality, it's about demonizing men and creating conflict between the sexes. Having spent a quarter century being insulted to my face by feminists in academe, I concluded by the time I retired that femminists are infantile, narcissistic, snarky, and otherwise wholly repellant. Look at NOW, which is still preaching the line "Woman good, male (heterosexual, that is) bad." None of this are the feminist on this thread going to like, and on that score I couldn't care less. I've never met a male who didn't despise feminists, and that not because they wanted women "to be kept down," but because they are so obnoxious. Frankly, the only way to be a "real man" today is to ignore feminists, but that also means cutting off relations with a specific number of women. Well, so be it. But as long as feminists act like as anti-heterosexual male hatemongers, they can expect to be treated as such.

    "Real" men ignore feminists as best they can. When they can't, they treat them like the infantile spoiled brats that they are. There can be no peace between the sexes as long as feminist continue this line of behavior.

  • http://www.parentsofgaychildren.org joseschwartz

    It is well documented the "womens rights" movement and "gay rights" movement have feminized men and masculanized women over the past 40 years. The key to getting the world in balance is for society to embrase more traditional roles. The socialist and progressive agendas are quite arrogant to think every one who walked this earth prior to their existece were idiots. If you are a parent, grand parent, or hope to be one someday, it would be wise to learn about the subject of homosexuality. A good place to start is at http://www.preventhomosexuality.com.

  • Robert Wargas

    Michael,

    Ignoring feminists is much more difficult than severing a few relationships. Since the sixties, misandry and feminism have slowly seeped into every aspect of American life, and certainly into every large American institution, especially if they are public–academia, the media, the public sector, the military. This is all in accordance with the Frankfurt School modus operandi.

    Ignoring feminism, therefore, is tantamount to banishing yourself from the new American society. Along with Christianity and "whiteness," being male is politically incorrect.

  • http://www.seoexperts.org.uk SEO

    Good Read. I’ll be back for your next article

  • Dr.Jerry

    I sat in the barber chair getting my monthly haircut and over heard this conversation taking place between two other customers: "Hey, I see ya got married recently! That's great! When are you guys having a baby?"

    The other guy grimaced and shook his head, " Are you nuts! I told my wife she's gotta get a job! I ain't breaking my ass! Let her go and make a few bucks."

    Ah! the American man! What a speciman.

  • Juice

    I would like to make a case against Hollywood. We get a vast amount of information about "how to be from watching the tube. Examine what messages Hollywood is sending yo on how to be. Children are shown as outsmarting their parents (as good thing), men are seen as manyly by how many women they bed, hard working people who try to get ahead are depicted as greedy, bad guys are shown with redeeming characteristics while LE is shown as stupid unthinking rule followers, religious people are depicted as nut cases, etc. I could make a list much longer than this but the whole thing is supportive of the left's agenda.
    Some men, fathers, were too harsh on their families in the past. More like drill sergeants than parents. Women were judged entirely on their sexuality. Appealing/not appealing. Virgins/sluts.

    What I'm trying to say is that a lot of good things came out of the new way of thinking along with all the bad things the articles speaks about. America lost out when the military became a volunteer organization. America benefited from how these people grew up from their military service. Religion basically taught religion and not politics and not hate. We have a lot of churches who urge their flock to demonstrate against military funerals. Our leadership in this country is in shambles from kindergarten to the presidency. That's why Reagan was so beloved. He knew what he stood for and he was able to touch many people. Yes, I know, the left isn't touched by much other than Mao, Stalin, Che, Castro and Obama. They are bound by as lack of common sense.

  • http://dossiernoir.blogspot.com/ Michael Shaw

    "…and women get sadder." Makes me think of fish yearning for bicycles.

  • Mr. X

    Aside from insitutional sexism against men. Lets examine why Western women vote left. Its a sexual proclivity, as they want the enemy to win. The Western male is too emasculated and intimidated and with good reason. And the "enemy," will dominate.

    My suggestion to American and Israeli men, I cannot extol the virtues of third world women enough. Choose your wives from amongst them or stay single.

  • Don

    So if I disagree with your nonsense I am not a man. And yet I can vote. How unfortunate for you. When things go your way "Men" are in charge when they don't , Who? Chicks?
    Why even bother to have a God? Men are the answer, Men being Men.

  • http://www.datingfast.com/dating/DatingArticleMen.asp?ArtID=198 body-language-techniques

    Hi, nice article. I’d add from my experience few points out. Even the most positive somebody can direct combined subject matters with their body terminology. These general body language tips will help you stay focused, and give a positive impression when gathering new people. Sometimes when you relate with a soul you unconsciously mirror their body language. If they incline forward when verbalizing to you, you may lean wise as well. The signals that you broadcast other people can get a sensory faculty of trust and desire for connection if done properly. On the other hand if done wrong you can yield neutrality and distrust. “The eyes are the window to the soul,” as they enunciate, and this form of touch can be as mighty as touch. Then, once the liar body language, you’ve got to get escalating in a material sense.

  • http://web.mac.com/writecoast/iWeb/Site/Blog/Blog.html Peggy McGilligan

    Nowhere is this topic more apparent than in California. Take the Beach Boys. They never became the Beach Men. Seriously, there are so many good points expressed herein. Ditto, ditto, and ditto. What happened in Calif., was that through politics and education (while men were out working) women succeeded to the authority positions. If women hated the male authority figure, they despised the weak or insignificant male. Who lost? The children lost. Thankfully, God made them male and female. Our very chemistry may be the answer. At least we agree as late we've been on the wrong track.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/thestate thestate

    Instead of the other knee jerk objections laid out by other posters, I'd like to voice my objections reasonably.

    The article is offensive and degrading. It is offensive to those males (and there are many) who are not meeting the so-called societal obligations of a "good man" because the labor market cannot employ them. It is degrading because it contends that a male MUST exchange their time for wages (regardless of how insignificant or menial the labor) for society to consider that male a "good man".

    Is it really honorable for a college educated male to be flipping burgers to feed a family full processed food which consequences are poor health and hygiene? To the economically literate the answer is, NO. It is poor and inefficient use of resources, and to simply excuse the inefficiency by extolling the poor schmuck who makes it all possible a "good man" borders on malice.

    Wake the hell up sheeple.

  • Edward L. Peffer

    Please download free, two prophetic encyclicals that relate to human life in today's world. Read Humanae Vitae of Pope Paul VI, nd then Caritas in Veritate by today's Pope Benedict XVI, who refers in it to Humanae Vitae. The major problem is that some Catholic cardinals and bishops have rejected (by silence) these great writings, and thus we see the scandals and homosexual uprising for legal same-sex marriage. The fall of Rome probably was in the same situation. Also read Divini Redemptoris on socialism or communism. Prophetic. Ed Peffer <elpeffer@sbcglobal.net> 714 220-0210

  • Jenna Ray

    As an attractive & educated youthful looking gal in her mid 40's, I can say for sure I've noticed major differences in the ways men act in the last 20 yrs, especially around & towards women. Seems regardless of their age, they act detached and don't seem to care about conversing with women they don't actually know- unless its either from their work, school, or through their friends. It may seem like a normal scenario, but that would have applied more to women in the past, compared to men in general who shouldn't have social fears of women.

    I do agree these fears are attributed to the emasculation of men, and thus they cannot relate to women as "females", but as either "mother types" or "sexpots" IF your unlucky & only get men who see you as either and not capable of being both. If your married and your husband can see you as a healthy combination of both archetypes, that benefits your marriage & family life, you are lucky & hopefully do have a nice marriage & family life- which as the article states, is becoming less as men don't see benefit in "Commitment".

    One major problem is many American men seem to think "the grass is greener"…they change girlfriends/wives,. cheat (not that cheating is a new thing with anyone), but the main point is they don't seem satisfied with what they have. They "assume" foreign women are better, and believe me, there are tons of dating sites for them to seek these women, and alongside the sites are always articles on how horrible American women are in every imaginable way. Try looking yourself, its almost seems like a conspiracy against American women, and a set up for perhaps foolish men (or desperate men) to pay out in money, but lose out in the end to get non American women. They may get lucky & meet a nice foreign woman, but they also learn foreign women are not that different from American females, but maybe just culturally different is all.

    As this article was honest & to the point, there is the question that goes beyond even that, and that's what we can to do about it. If there are decent families that raise their kids, especially their male children, in a normative way, does that guarantee that he can be able to learn and behave like a "man?" If he goes out of his house, he is inundated with influences that his family can't control, & may be learning things about or how to treat women that don't serve him or females well in the end.

    Yes, we have a problem, but the solution starts in the home, in teaching young men not to imitate what they see in the media or think that is reality, and to also start to talk about this problem with friends, family, neighbors, churches, clubs, and anywhere you can dialogue with people. I think we aren't discussing it enough, and that is part of the problem.

  • Michael McCanles

    Thanks for the trash-talk reply–tells me how seriously to take you.

  • tellit

    All Men (Asian, Latino, Indian, &Caucasian) are prejudice against African American Women and their parents tell them all not to marry us. All of the black men are either athles that only marry Caucasian white women and not African or African American women, are in jail or prison, are gay or homosexual, or already have kids. The rest of the black men worship white women because they have been thoroughly brain washed by television (so have whites,indians,latinos, and mulattos) to see fully black women as inferior by the violent white media images which work tirelessly to bleach away all honor and beauty from black women. Black women are seen as ugly, ghetto, sex objects, undesirable, untamed, and inferior and it is subliminally hammered into all men by the songs, music, movies, TV shoes , & magazines every single day. I am tiered of you brainless men saying that ” beauty is in the eye of the beholder” because it’s not true. Men only think that any white woman is pretty but never a dark skinned black woman. We need love too but you men are pure evil stupid bitch ass devils who hate us black women for no reason and even black men refuse to love us. We are defamed by media every day, ridiculed and misrepresented (I.e. Nikki minaj and Beyonce) . Black women are beautiful Nice

    Classy intelligent, gentle, graceful, useful, and love the best. We are the best wives, girlfriends, and lovers but all men are too brainwashed to believe it and the hate us.