Since the dawn of the new millennium, there has been a plethora of commentary about the issue of contemporary masculinity. Diversity and pluralism personify this phenomenon in a world where men of varied ethnic backgrounds, sexual persuasions, ages, physical distinctions, religious beliefs, etc… are having a crucial impact on the greater society. At no time in history have we seen so much intense attention given to men from all walks of life, involved in assorted professions, various educational levels, and races and ethnicities. In the last two decades, terms such as alpha male, metrosexual, ubbersexual, bromance, man crush, male bonding, and less flattering terms such as “punk bitch” and “mangina,” entered the public lexicon.
For much of our nation’s history, the image of the traditional American man has been associated with viral and impervious stereotypes such as the provider, emotional rock, power broker, cowboy, jock, good ole boy, macho man, etc. Today, in our current culture, such previously rugged depictions have been joined by the stay-at-home dad, the content, married dad, the kind, sensitive, emotional father. He is the self-respecting man who strives to be honest and transparent, and who has no problem crying.
He is polite to others. He is comfortable being friends with gay or bisexual men. He loves his children and is much more deeply involved in their lives than his own father was. He has discipline. He has no problem being intimate with other men. He is altruistic. He knows how to acclimate to various situations that arise. In short, he is about as close to perfection as one can be. Of course, we know that, in reality, the truth is more complex.
We still have our share of bad boys, men who are manipulative, racist, sexist, homophobic, indifferent, or downright evil. Yes, sad to say, these men still exist (although in the minority), and they frequently wreak havoc of all sorts where ever they go. Whatever they get involved in or touch can quickly turn to poison, so-to-speak. Wherever they go or make their presence known, trouble or discord is bound to rear its tumultuous spirit. They are bad news.
Excerpt from “Talkin’ To YOU, Bro! Liberate Yourself from the Confusing, Ambiguous Messages of Contemporary Masculinity” (Lasting Impact Press) by Elwood David Watson, Ph.D., Professor of History at East Tennessee State University. Professor Watson can also be found on Twitter.