Most people like to talk about women and the pressure of the stereotypical body types they are under. And most of it is true. However, no one, as far as I know, has EVER brought up the stereotypical pressure that most males are under. I realize I’m diving down a rabbit hole that could offend some people and I do make some gross generalizations but please hear me out.
Lets start with the common characteristics of the male and female personalities. Well, I’m sure every girl and guy that’s ever been slighted could come up with lots of colorful answers for this one. Let’s start with females. What were common characteristics of your mum? Most people would say kind, sensitive, caring. She would bring my lunch to school for me when I forgot it or take care me of me when I was sick and worry about me when I was away. You could easily say this about your father as well however most people identify their moms as nurturing and caring. It’s thus safe to say that women in general can be classified as nurturers, caring and sensitive.
How about fathers? I can remember testing my strength while wrestling with my dad at an early age. I can remember the discipline he instilled in me while doing my pushups and situps with him every night before bed (I can also remember my father disciplining me differently than my mum). My father was a protector and someone I looked up to when I became a man. The provider, strong, not afraid of conflict and leader of the household. Most people when they think of their dads remember playing catch, wrestling, learning how to work on a car, etc. It’s thus safe to say that men in general can be classified as the protectors, strong and providing.
From a recent study in Scientific America:
When offered the choice of playing with either a doll or a toy truck, girls will typically pick the doll and boys will opt for the truck. This isn’t just because society encourages girls to be nurturing and boys to be active, as people once thought. In experiments, male adolescent monkeys also prefer to play with wheeled vehicles while the females prefer dolls — and their societies say nothing on the matter.
More or less, the roles of men and women can be defined through our natural tendencies. In our world, these two energies compliment each other. The yin and yang, masculine and feminine. Men and women are built differently and all for a good reason.
We each have our part. Whether you study eastern religions or Christianity, all understand the importance of this union. The creation story of Adam and Eve does the best job of identifying man’s need for woman and woman’s need for man. Adam needed a companion, a confidant, a friend and a lover. Woman needed a protector, a leader and a lover. If you have ever studied this story closely, you would realize that the fall of man was actually not caused by Eve, as the uneducated would lead you to believe. They were both to blame. Adam, the protector, failed to find his strength to protect Eve from the serpent and stand up for her in the face evil. Eve failed to find her own confidence in herself to trust and follow Adam (and God) to not eat the forbidden fruit. In the end, both were punished. Both because they were a union, one entity. And, if you think about it, these are still the deep seated issues that plague both MEN and WOMEN today. Men’s greatest evil in society is apathy (ie. lack of caring, strength, no balls, etc). Women’s great evil is her lack of confidence in herself and from it, the need to control (ie. physical, emotional, etc).
Men have a deep seated need to feel strong (physically, confidence or otherwise). To test themselves and their strength to see if they have what it takes to “be a man.” When I was growing up, I can remember wrestling with my dad and in doing so, seeking his approval. I dreamed of doing dangerous things. Anything really to test my strength and my will. Flexing my muscles in front of the mirror or jumping off the roof into a pool, the underlying drive was “Am I strong enough? Don’t I have big muscles too?” I can distinctly remember my father telling me when I was 12, as he traveled again for work, that I was responsible for the family while he was gone. It was one of the proudest moments of my childhood. It made me feel LIKE A MAN. However we may direct it, whether it be through business, sports, professional fighting, military or any other personal means, we as men are always wondering, “Am I strong enough? Do I have what it takes to win, lead, etc?” Eventually those thoughts become, “Can I be strong enough to provide for my family, protect them when they need arises?” We are constantly and actively seeking this recognition for ourselves. Thus, it can be said that men actively seek challenges (or should) to affirm in themselves that they are strong.
Women have a deep seated need to feel adored. To be the most fair (remember the evil witch in Snow White?), to be beautiful, lovely, desired and appreciated. My four year old daughter is in her princess stage. Everything from dresses, to pretend makeup, to her dancing and singing is done to win the affection and attention of her daddy. “Aren’t I beautiful daddy?!” Of course, the answer is always a resounding YES! And when it’s time to go to sleep, daddy is the one who clears out the monsters in the closet and slays the dragon. The quest for a woman’s heart begins with her father and she will constantly seek his affirmation; “Am I beautiful? Am I worth fighting for? Am I the apple of your eye?” As women grow older, all sorts of beauty tricks arise to capture the attention of the opposite sex and to be the apple of their lovers eye. It’s written in our fairy tales. Thus it can be said that woman actively seek to be adored by a man and remain the apple of his eye.
Can you see the yin and yang in this equation? Men seek strength so that one day they may be worthy to provide, protect and lead. Women seek beauty so they may catch the attention of a man and in doing so win affection, affirmation and protection of their heart. Men need women to allow them to lead, provide and protect. Women need men to secure, protect and affirm. The breakdown occurs when these two energies (male and female) are not reciprocated.
The rise of feminism in the 60′s and 70′s did just that. Now, while many good things came out of this movement, such as challenging status quo’s, breaking barriers, opening opportunities etc. the big mistake it made was making us (men and women) feel badly about our traditional roles and about our deepest traditional feelings that make us man and woman (yin and yang). Feminism made it wrong to be a man in the traditional sense. It was wrong to be competitive. It was wrong to be aggressive. At the same time it made women wrong to be beautiful (or the need to feel beautiful), to be captivating for a man and seek attention from him. Thus, the yin and yang cycle was broken and in our society our roles were cast aside. We even labeled such roles as “sexist”, forever tabooing our deepest most desires! It’s no wonder why men, more than ever feel lost and women feel overwhelmed. Men fail to see what their roles are, where they fit in and women try to fullfill all the roles themselves (provider, protector, nurturer, companion, lover…) Overall, this movement has successfully “bleached” our society. No more kickball in school (make the losers feel bad), trophies aren’t given out to the winners (we are all winners, remember?) and stories about the Little Red Hen are turned into a tale that sharing is caring, even if you sat on your lazy ass and didn’t do shit (true story, happened at my daughters school. I almost when ape-shit during the play.)
In bleaching our society, it has bleached our men. Men have lost their roles in a society that won’t allow them to be a man. In the truest sense, to be a dangerous. To seek a challenge. Woman fail to see that by taking this away, they are forced with all the duties of yin and yang circle. In the end, woman get frustrated/overwhelmed trying to be everything and men become apathetic. In the end, you have a society with a nearly 70% divorce rate. In the end, you have a base of men and women who are more apt to stay single rather than face the inevitable current that will pull them under in what they believe is the “right thing” as society would have us believe.
Men, more than ever, need to be told it’s ok to be strong and to lead. Women, more than ever, need to be recognized and affirmed that they are beautiful and a worthy companion worth fighting and adored. If women only knew, they hold the keys to the castle in this regard! A man would fight and die for a woman who shows her support for him, who believes in his strength and trusts in his leadership. Women would die for the opportunity to know and hear that they are adored and worthy of affection. It’s written in the story books we read our children at night.
What we are currently left with is a society of young men who are completely lost in their identity. The common image of a man these days is something out of an episode of “Friends”. The jock whose kind of a retard, the sissy sensitive guy who you want to punch in the face and the aloof goofy guy who doesn’t know his head from his ass (could be the coke problem).
How does this spin into fitness and more specifically the CrossFit community? CrossFit in it’s own sense has redefined our cultural stereotypes. Men have the opportunity to challenge and test themselves in an arena where no blood is spilled yet boasts of masculinity. Women have the opportunity to become strong, independent yet still remain feminine, Athena’s of desire.
To sum it up, men in our culture are missing a RITE OF PASSAGE. Every culture throughout history has had some sort of rite of passage for boys to become men. A challenge that builds confidence, presents a challenge and allows the opportunity to grow. A defining moment. A TEST…
This TEST is of a man’s strength and a gateway into his confidence as a leader, warrior, protector and provider. He must be prove himself worthy in order to accept the responsibilities of manhood.
I once heard a great quote, “Boys cherish their freedoms, men cherish their responsibilities.”
So I ask my men, can you remember your defining moment into manhood? If not, what tasks do you think would constitute a proper rite of passage and would you be interested in doing it yourself?
For my fathers, what do you believe makes a man and what values would you like to bestow upon your sons?
I believe it is up to us (men, fathers, husbands, sons, etc) to reinstate this rite of passage.
Never Let It Rest,