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Is it just me, or has it become increasingly difficult to be a confident man these days? Now before you read any further this isn’t a sob-story of how no one understands me or some incel fantasy manifesto. I am just saying that in today’s current climate of political correctness and gender identity, I feel like a Mercenary in a mine-field. If you are a male in your 20s to currently above the expected norm for male lifespan and you aren’t easily insulted by the expressed thoughts of a random stranger through an electronic medium then keep reading.
I grew up in the 90s and was still heavily influence by the unintentional (?) pseudo erotica of the WWF and unnecessarily “bro-ish” nature of 80s action films (think Jean Claude Van Damme arm wrestling Jessie Ventura). Despite being absurd, it still influenced popular culture for young men in terms what being “manly” was truly about. There was a certain bravado or unwavering confidence that was expected of a man. To always be sure of himself and somehow, unrealistically, always make the right decision despite a lack of expertise (McGyver playing the game of life). All of a sudden the 21st Century hits, we crawl out from underneath Y2K and the sweaty embrace of Chris Jericho and we are suppose to now have the emotion intelligence equivalent of Einstein or Tesla; and I thought adolescent erections were confusing.
Now cue the paradox for young men who are either mid-teens and confused enough already or mid-40s and just as confused. We are suppose to be forward but respectful, commanding but compromising, adequately aggressive but socially docile. We are a Wolverine, a Chihuahua, 50 shares of Grey, Matthew McConaughey and a box of Kleenex whipped together in a blender and served Luke warm; everyone is disappointed but it’s all your fault anyway. In the era of #metoo and #itsallyourfault it seems men are in the cross-hairs. Now let me clarify, sexually assaulting women is wrong. Sexually assaulting anyone is wrong. What I am trying to convey is that the definition of manliness is currently under strict scrutiny. If you disagree completely, then try taking your face away from the microscope and evaluate your own actions. So what are we suppose to do? How are we suppose to carve ourselves out and confidently display ourselves in society?
Perhaps is answer lies in the existing behaviour. We were brought up to be confident. This virtue was often mixed and mingled with a cohort of other variable virtues and vices, but nonetheless it was there. Maybe what we need to do is simply be confident in what we are, men. Just like our feminine counterparts we are flawed and don’t always make the best decisions. However, we shouldn’t be ashamed of any of it. We are stumbling through life trying to desperately define ourselves and the last thing we need is to allow everyone else to define us. Just because we are confident and commanding does not mean we assume everyone else to be the contrary. The modern day man needs to blend together the 80s Flex Armstrong with some Bridget Jone’s Diaries. I am man hear my roar, but hey I believe in you too. Being confident in yourself doesn’t mean you can’t extend it to those around you. If your actions and behaviours are being questioned, then challenge it. There is nothing wrong with clarification.
Now I am sorry if you had the box of tissue ready for a bro-session, but it’s true. Part of our upbringing was flawed. While men were portrayed as a virtue-soaked Greek God, women and men who didn’t fit a certain profile were portrayed as being weak, useless and requiring our constant supervision, as if they were a class of kindergarten kids. That portrayal wasn’t our fault, perpetuating it is though. So here is some tough love. Be confident, challenge those who question you and what you stand for, but do it in an agreeable way. If you constantly kick down the door to every confrontation you won’t get past the front gate after awhile. Refinement is the overlooked quality in manliness. Knowing who you are is easy, trying to know others is the challenge.