Expat

I am man hear me roar

Recently a friend of mine gave me Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekend episode: Thai Wives. (Highly recommend: hilarious, disturbing, riveting) and Bangkok Podcast just released a Thai Online Dating episode. This neatly coincided with my brother sending me a link to an article titled: Where Have the Good Men Gone?
Maybe this is just the month of February, the month of love and commitment that has gotten everyone thinking along these love lines but it sure has gotten me thinking about how the roles of men and women have changed. Particularly the article by Kay Hymowitz. I’d like to respond.
I think it is an oversimiplification to say that men has stopped maturing and women have – kept going. The evidence that more women have college degrees doesn’t really reveal anything other than they have more college degrees.
I mean the Seth Rogens of the world are an exaggeration. Now I know, I should say otherwise, especially in Thailand where Playboys are like 1 in every 3 men. But if I was a guy I would resent the idea that I was regressing because I was in my 30s, not married with children and a mortgage yet.
Are we really looking to Hollywood to showcase how men are behaving nowadays? (Am I the only one who noticed the timeline of guys in the article?) Should we even get started on how women are portrayed? Asians have just recently made appearances in Hollywood films and certainly not in leading roles. (Watanabe is an exception) Why don’t we just use Congress as a benchmark for the representation of the people why we are at it?
Although what Hymowitz said that made me nod my head was the idea that men have to pass this “test”. It’s been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test.
I suppose you could say there is an uncertainity that men face today. Men’s traditional roles have changed. We have college degrees, Google maps and power tools so what are the men supposed to do now, right?
I do believe thoroughout time men were seen as the providers and protectors and in today’s culture there does not seem to be any more rites of passages. (Getting into the UFC?) But I have to admit, I resented Hymowitz’s use of the term ‘pre-adult’ in reference to these guys. This begs the question: What is the definition of adulthood?
My friend John retorted: Same thing as always. Being responsible; accepting the responsibility for the well being of others (usually direct family, but there are substitutes). This implies some level of empathy, selflessness, perhaps sacrifice. All the things boys are too afraid of.
I don’t know. For some boys, but for others? I think these boys like everyone else is looking for a reason.
To me a bigger phenomenon at hand is the changing role of men and women as they transistion into so-called adulthood. It is very common in my generation to hear and know someone who is “trying to figure out what they want to do with their lives”. This is a real burden. It’s paralyzing and I know many who have panicked over this seemingly life-changing decision, including me.
I think it’s easy to say: Where have the good men gone? But to me the real issue is What are men and women looking for? What do they want? Are they gone or are they out in the woods? There is a real searching for something meaningful happening among my age group and sometimes it looks messy and immature. I can’t believe I’m defending men here but do you really want a commitment from a guy who’s simply not ready?
Let me put it this way, you have a generation that is looking at their parents and thinking: No way in hell.
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16 thoughts on “I am man hear me roar

  1. “I think it is an oversimiplification to say that men has stopped maturing and women have – kept going.”Agreed. Generalisations are sure to have holes but the article does have a point. For me anyway.The young guys of my teens did seem like boys. Even those in their 20's came across as young colts.At 14 on I often dated older men in their 20-30's ++. To me, they had a firmer foot on the ground. Also, they were more knowledgeable (always a hit). I enjoyed quiet music and going to the theatre. I did not enjoy chaos (unless I created it myself). And I imagine this had a lot to do with my choices in men.Most young guys I dated briefly were into heavy metal, living in jeans and t-shirts and eating junk food, all the while jumping the bones of any gal walking by (or talking about it with their buddies). Their apartments were usually a disaster and some of their bathrooms – ugh – I still cringe.By my 20's I often settled with guys 20-40 years older.It wasn't until I was in my 30's that I married someone my age.So yes, the article did ring bells with me.”Are we really looking to Hollywood to showcase how men are behaving nowadays?”I'm not a huge follower of Hollywood but the roles given to men do look to be dumbed down.Men used to have strong roles and now there are many roles where they are either playing the fools or are wimps with a strong women in charge. For the past… ten years?… women have been given powerful roles as warriors (police, women with superpowers, etc), rulers in their households and work places, and oftentimes the scripts belittle the men in the shows.

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  2. Interesting thoughts. In my opinion the “rites of passage” and the expected social roles for men are generally still the same, but the goal posts on the playing field have been set back another 40 or 50 yards. I have known a lot of men whose periods of “extended adolescence” lasted well into their 30s (I include myself in this category). I think in a way a lot of this is a reaction to the fact that in many ways getting ahead in life is just harder. The extent of male privilege men may have enjoyed decades ago is no longer as rampant as it is now. The job market in general is much more competitive (even without the current global recession). Things cost more. Unless you have loads of capital or are an Einstein-like genius, making a name for yourself as an entrepreneur is becoming increasingly difficult. If you win the lottery you can control your own destiny, but for the millions of us who don't, life means slogging it away in the trenches. My theory is that in this environment, a lot of men feel a sense of comfort in living that extended teenage lifestyle. That comfort is really linked to a sense of being in control. As it becomes harder for men to be in control of their careers, or to get ahead financially, there is a compelling attraction to seek refuge in “slacker” behavior because it allows men to be in control of the time and space around them. Again, just my own theory. And I say this with some humility because I have a black belt in slacking myself. It took me a while to get out of that phase, get married, and “turn the page” so to speak. I think my evolution is actually quite typical nowadays.

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  3. Hmmm, Very good read Lani but I don't think I subscribe to the roles placed on men and women. Metrosexuals, of course, are a whole nother can of worms.Why Do I have to have a role? Women don't care to be subjugated to a title or role such as homemaker, cook,mother…One thing that always bothers me, although I joke about it frequently , is the whole men not growing up thing. I've been an adult for some time now. I can be serious, intelligent and hard working while still being playful, happy and loving a good fart joke…it really has nothing to do with being mature or growing up it's just personality traits.One problem many men do have though is that they have become effeminate and emasculated by what society tells them their roles are supposed to be now…unfortunately for them they are too stupid to just be themselves. “It's been an almost universal rule of civilization that girls became women simply by reaching physical maturity, but boys had to pass a test.”I don't remember a test so there is probably a good chance I failed it or just never turned up.”My friend John retorted: Same thing as always. Being responsible; accepting the responsibility for the well being of others (usually direct family, but there are substitutes). This implies some level of empathy, selflessness, perhaps sacrifice. All the things boys are too afraid of.”Your friend John kinda hit the nail on the head here. Yes, boys are too afraid….Men are not.”Most young guys I dated briefly were into heavy metal, living in jeans and t-shirts and eating junk food, all the while jumping the bones of any gal walking by (or talking about it with their buddies). Their apartments were usually a disaster and some of their bathrooms – ugh – I still cringe.”Cat,I love heavy metal & JazzJunk food is one of the 4 food groups.Jumping bones sounds so distasteful…Making love though…Levi's and t-shirts are the new slacks and sports jacketMy apartment is clean 🙂

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  4. Aaaa! Where to begin?!@Cat: I'm sorry your experience has been of the overgrown male variety. I can certainly understand where you are coming from but I don't know. I feel like if you think the world is black then the world is black. You do bring up a good point re: Hollywood and role models. I think positive role models can be difficult to find and Hollywood isn't known for producing these kinds of things.Although these “role reversals” of stronger women, weaker men, etc. have been mostly comedies if I am remembering correctly. I think it's fun switch which hopefully in the future will result in a more balanced view.Then again, this is Hollywood we're talking about. . .

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  5. @Mr.T: I really liked what you shared. And I think you hit the buffalo between the eyes.”My theory is that in this environment, a lot of men feel a sense of comfort in living that extended teenage lifestyle. That comfort is really linked to a sense of being in control.”As the choices in life become more seemingly complex and grand, we become paralyzed by the possibilities. In other words, it takes longer for me to order from a 10 page menu than it does from a shorter one.@Talen: I do agree with what you are saying: Why do we need roles? We like to say, boys will be boys and well, girls will be girls too, chai mai?Although let's face it, we live in a world where people want to define and know what their place in society will be. I think more of us are experimenting with those roles and changing things up a bit. And thank god. It's about time.

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  6. Lani,”I feel like if you think the world is black then the world is black. “I'm not even sure how to answer that one…Talen, Totally agree on the Jazz 😉

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  7. What I'm trying to say (I suppose rather poorly) is if you think guys are immature dudes who are shrugging off responsibility then that is what you will see.We see what we want to see and I think the author of the article is seeing these pre-adult apes running around and Hollywood is her proof.

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  8. Lani, I think you are reading too much into this.I didn't so much bother with her opinion of Hollywood (even though I tacked on a bit in the end). As I mentioned before, I'm not majorly into watching movies. When I go to the hairdressers and scan through the mags, I don't know who 90% of those shiny people are.I was merely looking back over the years and noticing a personal taste in older men over their younger versions, and why. Using movie personalities (from back when I did watch movies – mind you, this is mere surface opinion as I don't know either)… Given a chance, I'd pick the classy, quiet, and well-dressed Richard Gere's of the world over the bad boys like Marlon Brando. It's just my personal taste. Sure, I like men who know how to play. But I also go for men that I have something in common with (passion for quiet, nights at the theatre, a penchant for fabulous dinners, middle-class travel experiences, long talks on history and world events). And when I was coming up, it was the more educated, refined, and oftentimes much older men who lasted with me.

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  9. Btw – I dated my fair share of bad boys and 'those guys' along the way. Was it fun? Sometimes yes… and no. But I've learned that I need calm around me (and a different kind of fun).

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