What Does it Mean to be a Man Today?
T he world is different now from our parents, grandparents, great grandparents. The roles between man and woman have become so difficult to navigate today but have they really? In metropolitan areas its pretty much a level playing field, or is it really?

In suburban areas, there is still the prevalence of a more traditional family set up, only both parents tend to be working unless the income of one spouse is sufficient to be able to support a home, a family, a house-spouse, with or without state help of benefits in the form of child support or tax relief or is this yet another generalisation?

This is a standard view of the world according to North West European lifestyle, or Metropolitan areas of the USA, Canada, Australia, the rest of the world is just as polarised along the lines of gender as it has ever been. Southern European mediterranean lifestyle still has an extended family set up where papa goes to work and mama stays at home with the children. Or is this a sweeping generalisation too?

The country life is as it has always been, with the large landowning gentry, then multigenerational farming families, be they tenant farmers or the Crown, Duchy of Cornwall or some other landed gentry, then there come the independent farming families that have owned land and farmed it for generations, small holders and the labouring tenants and their families… the influence of new age “Good Life” sustainable farmers, and off grid seeking households are changing some pockets of the country life but it’s a minor dent in the overall tapestry. Country life has its own endemic social issues, along with pressures on housing and access to affordable housing.

The mass migration of young Spaniards and Italians in search of work in London and the South East of England has had an effect. The lack of work in their home nations due to the economic crisis of 2008 and subsequent euro crisis’s which is ongoing has left an indelible imprint on the psychology of the people affected by it.

The european migrant crisis is another issue that presents the younger generation with an added issue and or concern, what will the tapestry of Europe look like in a few years? People fleeing war and economic stagnation in search of a better life in Europe where its perceived freedoms and social justice outweigh the risk to life and limb during the increasingly perilous journeys they take.

The truth be said, this generation of young men and women are the first generation that will be poorer than their parents. The Chinese slowdown is going to slow the economic engine of the rest of the world even further. Recent closures and threats of further closures of steel mills in the UK is further evidence of economic recovery being on more softer ground than we can assume to presume or expect.

The differences in culture faith and expectations and the roles of men and women in their respective societies are a genuine concern when one considers the attitudes of sub saharan cultures and FGM, along with middle eastern values and expectations placed upon the women in their societies. How does this gel with North West and West value systems and structures. Latin American treatment of women and expectations of men in their societies is still pretty much in conflict of gender equality.

The media and fashion industries do little to de-objectify women and expectations of women among themselves and how they project themselves in accordance with a ideal size when three quarters of the population of the UK are obese, we ask the question again, what does it mean to be a man today?

The next issue is the question of orientation; the old stereotypes of homosexuals are frowned upon and are rightly treated as a criminal offence if used to objectify in a derogatory manner. This is a cornerstone of a socially just society, but in some quarters its still a matter of some debate but not in open.

So, in the old view of a man being a man is being a heterosexual, red-blooded man, who courts the affections of women and avails himself of them when opportunity allows for it. But what are the circumstances when a man can pursue this method or ideal without becoming branded as a misogynist or homophobe? Yet still the media propagates imagery of beautiful (or depiction of beautiful) scantily clad, slim women, in music, in theatres, in film and TV, not withstanding the prevalence of porn on the web which is largely consumed by heterosexual men providing an opportunity for beautiful young women to profit from their good looks far more so than they have ever before. Where does this leave us with the question; what does it mean to be a Man today?

History is littered with great men who were gay, bi or merely heterosexual, what made them great men was not their sexuality, it was their intellect, their guile, their prowess in the field of battle, in the conquering of nations and peoples? It was them setting themselves out as an example to others. Their sexuality was deemed unacceptable to the norms according to the time in which they existed. For Alexander the Great and the Greeks it was an acceptable cultural practice to have a male lover as a boy in exchange for an education of sorts and patronage from an older man despite the older man being wed to a woman. In the time of Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Alan Turing it wasn't so. Does that make them any less men? We think not. So; what does it mean to be a man today?

If we remove religious doctrine from the proposition, we can distill the question more. If we remove the cultural constructs of post-war depictions of women, they beauty, their sexual attractiveness and desirability in the eyes of men we can come to some semblance of an answer.

The answer is to many as different as there are shades of grey and we know there are more than fifty. But we can only define something given our understanding of the time and place in which we exist which is early 21st century London, the greatest city on Earth, the most diverse, the most accepting, yet conversely fiercely proud of its traditions, its cuisines, its ability for different races, cultures, and religious communities to live together in relative peace, far more so than many places on this planet. The most successful civilisations are the ones that allowed for cross cultural fertilisation, where cultures and communities from far and wide came to live together in a society of tolerance and interracial mixing of relationships, cuisine and societies (be it to varying degrees of success).

A man is a man today who is not intimidated by another man because of his sexuality, because he is confident of his own, a man is a man today who need not shout down his partner or spouse but can communicate his dissatisfaction in a manner that does not entail having to go outside to slug it out in an alley, or pull a knife or bring a knife to a gun fight. The days of the wild west and depictions of so called men standing in front of each other goading each other to draw are long gone thankfully, but the ethos of the past still ripple in todays world. A man is a man today who can still step out and slug it out but only if he has to but would yield in the event of meeting his match or better and will not let stubbornness be his undoing.

A man is a man today that can approach a woman and communicate his attraction to her without having to objectify a woman and say crude things unless invited to do so. A man is a man today who knows what or who is good for him and what or who is not. A man is a man today who will stick by his decision regardless of outside influence unless he is wrong and is prepared to accept he is wrong. A man is a man today when he accepts his limits and does not try to compete with another out of ignorance or stubbornness. A man is a man today when he realises the error of his ways and takes steps to rectify them and acknowledges his shortcomings.

A man is a man today when he gives up trying to compete with another man and instead begins to collaborate because competing in a losing team is a waste of resource and energy and collaborating as part of a larger more competitive and more successful team is a better use of his energies. A man is a man today when he sticks by his principles of the above and does not sell out his principles for a small time gain. A man is a man today when he strives to improve himself for himself and for the people he loves, for his community, for his country, for his faith which needn't be a religion but faith in his principles too. A man is a man today if he does not use or abuse his position to further his own selfish needs for sexual gratification or economic gain.

In a gender equal society doesn't this equally apply to a woman?


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