Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Ideal Man

For as long as I can remember, there's been talk about the "Femenine Ideal" and how it's unrealistic and/or unhealthy. And sure, there are times when I look at the skeleton shaped clothes hangers with their giant bobble heads slowly drooping from one side to the other because they have no neck muscles left to hold them up, and I feel bad that they felt the need to do that to themselves in order to feel "pretty" or whatever, and I'll be the first to admit that a J.Lo ass and/or some Christina Hendricks chest cushions (and I JUST realized that there's no classy yet non-clinical way to say "boobs") are WAY better to look at! And I totally dig that they seem to be coming into favor again! The fact that we have "size 0" clothes for women has always been confusing and a bit disturbing to me. But what we're talking about today isn't the "Femenine Ideal"! What we're discussing is the "Masculine Ideal"...and you better believe that there is one!

The problem with discussing this is that there are conflicting messages out there. On one hand, we're told that the ideal man is a man of action who shoots first and doesn't even bother to ask questions later, let alone ask his woman how her day was! And there's something very "50's chic" about that dynamic! The MAN (!), having expended  a great amount of energy doing something important, comes home, kicks off his shoes and there's a cold beer (or drink of his liking) waiting for him! And as soon as he's done with that drink, dinner is served. It's hard not to find that appealing...the "Master of all he surveys" "King of the Castle" sounds like a good deal! And a critical component of that notion is that the man is emotionally reserved! This shouldn't be confused with emotionally detached! He cares, but he doesn't gush about it! The fact that he pays the bills is his grand gesture! "I feed and shelter you in my magnanimity because I care for you" is the underlying theme.

Of course, that idea has been supplanted by the idea that men should be caring and emotionally engaged. Sure, there's an argument to made from a mental health angle that being open and honest about emotions is better for you than keeping things bottled up. But then there's a risk of running afoul of the double standard that this idea creates. Basically, what I'm saying is this; Women say they want a man who shares his emotions and is open and caring and will cry in front of them (I actually knew a girl who said she wanted her boyfriend to be able to cry in front of her) ...but in reality, that guy (I don't care what you say) will overwhelmingly end up as a "friend" while a considerably less "emotionally engaged" guy whose more of the old-school "alpha male" winds up being prime dating material... despite the "date-rapey" vibe he gives off. The truth is, women want him to "be able" to cry... but he better not ever actually cry.

I've always felt that there's no shame in crying...if you've broken a bone or something.  I'm only half joking with that last sentence. Yeah, physical injury is a good cause for crying out in pain, and even the shedding of tears but, emotional crying should be as dignified as possible. The emotional climax of certain movies, (Armageddon for example,or any movie featuring a sacrifice of life for another or some great and noble principle/cause) is a perfectly acceptable time to shed a tear...A tear...singular. No need to go all weepy and sobbing into a hanky. The only time you should sob, as a man, is the death of an immediate family member! Other than that, leave the whole crying thing to children and women. (p.s. ladies, you shouldn't be big weepy messes confuses, frustrates, and/or angers us...particularly when there doesn't seem to be a legitimate reason for it, like the death of an immediate family member).

Worse, than the emotional aspect of the "Ideal Man" is the physical aspect. Yes, women, who have been objectified for years (and I agree that was wrong) are now taking their revenge! I can't be physically desirable unless I have abs like Usher and a face like Brad Pitt and an "ever so Bohemian" style like Johnny Depp. Sure, being funny and having money can relax the standards, but let's remember the first time we saw Brad Pitt...he was dirt poor but he was chiseled from stone in Thelma and Louise. Let's not dance around this, women, y'all drool over what you see as a sexy body just as much as men just have the nerve to act indignant when we do it!

Now please understand, I'm not saying that these things are universal. Any individual will like what that individual will like. But society presents these images of the "Masculine Ideal" the same way they do the "Feminine Ideal" and just because all my emotions seem to get processed through the lenses of anger or sexuality (like most men) doesn't mean that I don't feel hurt or insulted or have emotions in general. 

So the question to you today is this: What "IDEAL" do you feel society tells you to live up to and what do you figure is wrong (or right) with that ideal!

And just to illustrate my's the State Farm commercial that got me started on this train of thought!

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