[guest post by Dana]
This week there was a silly bit of absurdity in the Men’s Style Section of the New York Times. Tagged as Self-Help, the piece describes the “Modern Man” in all of his feminized glory:
Being a modern man today is no different than it was a century ago. It’s all about adhering to principle. Sure, fashion, technology and architecture change over time, as do standards of etiquette, not to mention ways of carrying oneself in the public sphere. But the modern man will take the bits from the past that strike him as relevant and blend them with the stuff of today.
Here are a few of the 27 examples of the unattractive and unappealing “modern man”:
When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.
*The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.
The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.
On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon. Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.
Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?
**The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.
The modern man cries. He cries often.
Oh dear God. Does anyone doubt that the modern man’s melon balls are kept in his wife’s purse, only to be let out when she deems it necessary?
Now, while I realize this is in the fluff section of the NYT and should not to be taken seriously-under any circumstance-it nonetheless speaks to the efforts made by women to remake men into their own idealized image of manliness: softer, less formidable, less aggressive, less of a risk taker, more pliable, more emotional (hence, all that endless crying…) and certainly, a strong sense of guilt and shame for their basic hard-wiring. As we can see by the list, women are winning, especially when considering how closely the modern man resembles a woman… with a penis.
Anyway, it’s pretty hard not to contrast the NYT divorced-from-reality version of the “modern man” with this real-life modern man:
An Army veteran who bravely blocked the door as the Oregon gunman barged into a community college classroom Thursday, then took at least five bullets while pleading that it was his young son’s birthday, is recovering – and being hailed as a hero, according to his family.
Chris Mintz, 30, a North Carolina native who had moved to the Roseburg, Ore., area and is studying at Umpqua Community College to become a fitness trainer, hurled himself against the door in an effort to stop the gunman, identified as Christopher Harper Mercer, from entering. When Mercer, who killed at least nine people and injured at least seven before being killed by police, shot his way inside, hitting Mintz at least three time, the former soldier called out that it was his son Tyrek’s sixth birthday, according to Mintz’s aunt. His plea was rewarded with two more shots, Wanda Mintz told The Daily Beast.
None of the five shots that hit Mintz struck any vital organs, and he is expected to recover. “His vital signs are OK. He’s going to have to learn to walk again,” cousin Ariana Earnhardt told Q13Fox, “but he walked away with his life and that’s more than so many other people did.”
This modern man appears to have remained defiant in the face of our current cultural norms for males. I’m talking about that which is more deeply embedded in men, or at least used to be: the belief in duty to protect fellow-citizens, and the drive to run toward danger rather than run from it. As David French emphatically states: Men have a duty to defend the weak and the vulnerable. Mintz did his duty under the worst possible circumstances. We should all salute him — and pray that we could show similar courage if the worst happens in our own lives. Just recently, we witnessed the heroic acts of other men like Mintz. At one time in our culture, this reaction was a given. However, along with the re-definition of modern men, this once-given inclination also seems to be going by the wayside and in its place, a less risky, more self-serving approved of behavior.
And while it’s quite possible that the courageous Mintz owns a melon-baller and may use it with artistic flair and precision, I’m sure we can all agree that his melon balls have not been confiscated by a woman, nor would they fit in her purse anyway.
On the upside, thanks to the New York Times’ highly informative look at what constitutes the modern man, I was able to learn that I am the proud parent of a “gauche simpleton” who clearly fails the NYT modern man litmus test: Last night, my son who is a Marine, stopped by after having been away at sea for several weeks in preparation for a long deployment. I cringed as he referred to helicopters as “birds” and described the difficulty of squeezing his 6’4″ gear-laden frame into his seat while holding his machine gun between his legs.
Oh, God. *Using an improper term and having a **gun!!!
It’s true, parenting is not for the fainthearted.
I shared the NYT list with him so that he could courageously strive to become a modern man. He grinned, then apologized for being such a disappointment to me. I just hope I can move past it.