by Dr. Daryl D. Green
Kevin thinks he is his own man. He does whatever he wants regardless of the circumstances. He does not listen. Kevin claims to understand manhood because he has fathered several children. However, Kevin lives with his mother and is jobless. He constantly evades child support payments and bill collectors. Yet, reality never sinks in his mind. He proclaims to the world that he’s a ‘real man.’ Sadly, Kevin represents a growing number of weak men in our society.
One night I could not go to sleep. I watched a movie classic, “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” which featured Paul Newman, Burl Ives, and Elizabeth Taylor. Ex-football player and alcoholic Brick (Newman) reunites with his father, Big Daddy (Ives), who is dying of cancer. The movie showcases an assortment of personal conflicts and family drama. One of the strongest conflicts is between father and son. In one scene, Brick is found arguing with his demanding father, “I didn’t want a boss. I wanted a father. All I ever wanted was you to love me.” The movie provides a clear theme for the issues associated with manhood today. In the movie, the father’s controlling behavior contributes to the weakness of his son. Likewise, many people in America share the blame for creating weak men.
Are we unknowingly contributing to the growth of weak men? It is a troubling observation as we look at our society. The hot story today is about the brutal treatment of Rhianna by boyfriend Chris Brown. Many pundits and women’s advocates highlight the negative nature of abusive relationships. While these stories are the tragic realities of our culture, they are often forgotten as a passing snapshot before another sensational news story. Yet, the most disturbing thing to witness is the growing trend of more weak men in our society.
The storyline is very troubling. Weak men are negatively impacting our society. According to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, 25% of women had been raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or dating partner/acquaintance at some time in their lifetime in the 1995-1996 study. Women experienced 20% of all nonfatal violent crimes at the hands of an intimate partner.
Celebrities tout their wealth as a symbol of good character. Consequently, destructive behavior is rewarded with million dollar contracts. The model is developed. Many men consider toughness a virtue and kindness a weakness. Young people follow what we do and not what we say. Therefore, a vicious cycle takes place in our culture where manhood isn’t understood. Men are depending more on women to provide for them and take the leadership role in their homes. Some men do not feel any commitment to the young lady. She is disrespected and taken for granted.
The Masculine Definition
In order to understand a weak man, an individual must understand the meaning of manhood. Being a real man is about possessing responsible character. It involves moving beyond the trivial to the significant in life. This concept is revealed biblically in 1 Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways.” The problem is that so many men have not grown up and are living the lives of grown-up ‘children.’
There is plenty of blame to go around: parents, media, celebrities, and society in general. Young men are growing up confused about the meaning of manhood. Therefore, a fight exists between doing the right things and doing what’s in my own selfish interest. It is the battle of the internal man. General George Patton said, “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.”
Society must allow men to become more self-sufficient. In the movie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Big Daddy operated in ways that enabled Brick, his son. As a consequence, Brick never really experienced the consequences of his bad decisions. Likewise, many people promote the weak man model by cuddling and shielding these men from the realities of life. However, today’s men must be accountable, responsible, and character leaders in society. Giving young boys positive male role models is important in stopping the epidemic of weakness. However, it is crucial that they interface with strong men through organizations like churches and community organizations. If adults take positive steps today, society can prevent this growing problem in communities across this country.
Can we afford to continue to groom weak men in this society? The media constantly bombards us with negative caricatures of manhood. Instead of producing positive results, they generate the negative unintended consequence of weak men. Some parents want to shift the blame to the schools or the government. It is time that we reject this weak man model today. We must be hopeful. Many men and women are attempting to correct this problem in order to raise more dependable men in our society. Real manhood is not glamorous as the movies would have you believe. Real manhood is not an easy process. It is about shouldering your responsibilities, making commitments, and making hard choices. America cannot survive with weak men.
Dr. Daryl D. Green, a Knoxville College professor, investigates societal issues facing everyday Americans. He is a nationally recognized lecturer and author in the Knoxville community. Dr. Green is available as a keynote speaker, lecturer, panelist, or consultant on a variety of complex subjects. You can find other helpful resources at http://stores.lulu.com/darygre. For more information, please visit his website at www.darylgreen.org or email him contact at email@example.com.
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