Children of the y-chromosome
ISU community discusses the essence of manhood
Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012 00:11
President Theodore Roosevelt, “one of the manliest men”, showed compassion to a baby bear cub while hunting. Observing that it was without a mother he took it in and made sure it was raised healthy. For André Brousseau, Student Government Association president Roosevelt’s actions and life represented qualities men want, a combination of strength, class, confidence but at the same time compassion.
Brousseau said he was “lucky” to have numerous male role models growing up teaching him what it means to be a man. Jacoby Waldron, SGA director of campus life said his experience was different, living in a single-parent home his mom taught him about masculinity.
Senior construction management major and Brian Martin added that while he agrees that moms play an important role in developing a young man, there are some things that men can really only learn from men. Martin added he too grew up in single-mom household where the mother had to play the role of both parents but not every man has a mother who can successfully pull off those dual roles.
While upbringing is one factor in young men and boys’ lives when it comes to understanding what it means to be masculine, ideals of masculinity influence what being a man really means.
“Empirical evidence suggests that ideals of masculinity are affecting men’s and boys’ understanding of their self-identities and behaviors,” author of the article “Stylish Hard Bodies: Branded Masculinity in Men’s Health Magazine Susan Alexander wrote. “These concerns range from preoccupation with building muscles, eliminating fat, using anabolic steroids, binge eating, hair loss and penis size.”
Senior automotive engineer Jeremy Pratt said his role model on what it meant to be a man was his grandfather, who represented the more “traditional” man. Alexander wrote that this man carries traits such as a man who represses all emotions, has power through his occupation, is confident and self-reliable and has a paunch for aggression and violence. An image, Alexander added, that was made popular by male celebrities such as Humphrey Bogart and John Wayne.
“The whole point of being a man is to do things that are uncomfortable, to do the things you don’t like to do, to get dirty not because you don’t want to get dirty but because you have to,” Pratt said. Being a man is not about doing the things that are the most comfortable to you but about doing what needs to get done in order to be around tomorrow.”
However, Alexander added that the ideals of masculinity are not stagnant but change over time. This change can happen generation to generation or even within the same generation.
Zach Watkins, SGA director of governmental affairs and Waldron said that the “traditional” view of masculinity, at least to it’s extreme, is outdated.
“I think that image of the John Wayne, the ultimate man … at this point especially in college age is extremely outdated and I think that if a man aspired to be that and acted like that he would be looked down upon rather than idolized like those men used to be,” Watkins said.
Others view it as becoming more “fine-tuned.” Brousseau said it is more about adapting to the changing culture. For him, one part of being a man is awareness of his surroundings and changes within society.
“I think it is completely relevant. It’s just fine-tuned,” Jeremy Butcher, SGA director of pride and traditions said. “Those practices that you learn that have been passed down from generation to generation just get fine-tuned into the way society is as a whole.”
Another factor affecting masculinity is women. One shift in understanding gender in the last few decades was the changing role of women. Butcher said society is moving to that point where it isn’t men are superior and women are inferior but the understanding it is a more equal relationship. Brousseau agreed that while payrolls may not reflect that in some instances, the idea is men are looking more for a partner than just the “housewife” type of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
However, this does not make you less of a man, senior physical education major Steven Swinford said. Instead of the behind every good man is a good woman the term is changing to besides. Brousseau said that for the most part men at his age thinking of settling down are looking more for a partner.