Monday, July 15, 2013

Men Battle Culture, too

"Have you noticed the men?"
asked my friend as we strolled down the beach. "Some of them are
 grossly overweight, but it doesn't seem to bother them to go shirt-less."

Men don't seem to struggle as much with body image. But a male friend
 told me that he has his own battles with our culture. He feels pressure to
 meet an achievement standard. The culture lies to men, too. It tells them,
 "You're not a real man unless you're strong, wealthy, powerful."

But at least man is judged on the fruit of his hard work and ingenuity.
 A woman is judged on her looks -- which are more the result of genes than
genius. There's something healthy about recognizing a person's determination
and talent. On the other hand, a perverse understanding of success can infect
our esteem of men. Sometimes a man of integrity watches his profits go south
 because he makes a moral business decision. Our culture calls him a failure.

I have a fourteen-year-old son and a seven-year old daughter. I don't want him judged by his wealth and power, and I don't want her judged by her physical beauty. I want both of them to be measured "by the content of their character," as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., put it.

Women are not the only victims of our culture. We need to help our brothers battle the culture's lies about manhood, and we need their help as we fight lies about beauty. Sisters, have you ever shown a blog like this to men in your life?  I'm not above shameless self-promotion. All in the name of fighting the culture's lies. That's what I call success. It's a beautiful thing.

4 comments:

  1. Wonderful perspective, Wendy!

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    1. Thanks. When your son gets a little older, I'd like to hear his thoughts on this. Maybe age 4.

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  2. Terrific entry, Wendy. I might add that a person's success is very rarely - if EVER - the result of that person's hard work and sweat alone. The concept our culture likes to throw around of "pulling yourself up by your own boot straps" is for all intents and purposes false. Behind, beside, or somewhere along the way, the successful person has had some sort of advantage. Granted, the person had to see the advantage and grab or accept it, and usually they did indeed have to work hard. However, someone can do everything right, work very hard, and never achieve even fleeting success. Success can be traced to when you were born (about 90% of Canadian professional hockey players were born in Jan., Feb., or Mar. Is there something magic about those months? No, it all has to do with the date that kids are allowed to begin playing hockey. Kids born in the first three months of the year as much as almost a full year older than their counter parts. Kids in December will be the youngest on the team. Thus, they are usually the smallest, have had the least amount of time to play hockey before they started on an actual team, etc. This is called cumulative advantage.) It can also have to do with the year in which you were born. The twelve richest people(men)in the history of the world (when adjusted for monetary value) were all born within the same 10 year or so period. And what was magic about that? It was the age of American industrialization before there were any laws about monopolies, successful struggles for workers' rights, etc. It was basically the free for all years of unleashed capitalism. There were lots of poor people who worked their fingers to the bone, and yet they were not considered successful. It is all very interesting. Check into Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers for a more complete picture of the real story of success.

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    1. Fascinating. As a "have" (not a have-not) I feel a weight of responsibility to give to the have-nots and have-lesses, but I can never make up for how much I've been given by virtue of the time and place in which I live and the parents to whom I was born. Maybe my struggle with my church is where I can stand up for something. Oy veh.

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