Men Need a God-Given Identity if They Are to Fulfil their true Purpose.
What makes our current cultural situation unsettling for men is that males have traditionally defined their manhood by their roles: the functions they perform for their families and in society. However, there‘s been a major shift in the roles of both males and females. The rules of society are changing. This has happened just in the last forty years or so. We‘re in the middle of a cultural
transition, and competing ideas of masculinity are causing perplexing problems for men. They are being pulled in several directions at once while they try to figure out what it means to be a real man in today‘s world.
In recent years, literature focusing on changes in men‘s lives has indicated that the male is in a state of crisis and internal conflict. An array of studies are telling us that males aren‘t quite sure who they are or what women expect from them. Without a clear idea of their identity, men are trying to
cope with the collision of new societal expectations and traditional ideas of what a man should be, which they have internalized through family, culture, or natural inclination. Men‘s basic conceptions of manhood are therefore being
disrupted. They feel displaced. They are either frustrated and struggling to adapt to a new but vague concept of who they are, or they‘re angry and trying to reverse the flow of change.
Are traditional roles to be totally abandoned? If so, what will replace them? Many men have unanswered questions, such as these:
- Is a man still supposed to be the breadwinner and protector?
Today, the woman goes out and makes her own bread and says she doesn‘t need protection. A man isn‘t sure what he‘s supposed to do for a woman anymore.
- Is a man still the leader and authority in the home? This isn‘t clear anymore. The woman says, ―You‘re not my authority. I‘m not a slave. I make my own money and my own decisions. I do what I want to. I‘ll call you when I‘m ready for you. A man doesn‘t know how he‘s supposed to relate to a woman any longer.
- Should a man still show chivalry? Should he open the door for a woman, escort her, pay for her meal on a
date, and so on? A man will pull out a chair for a woman and she‘ll say, ―That‘s all right. Thank you very much, but I‘ll pull my own chair out. Sometimes a man will open a door for a woman and she‘ll be offended. ―Do you think I‘m crippled? she‘ll demand. If a woman walks into a room and a man stands up out of respect, she might look at him as if he‘s crazy. A man isn‘t sure if he should be nice to a woman anymore.
- Is a man still the defender of his family, property, and
country? More women are entering law enforcement and
the armed forces and are carrying guns. Some men don‘t know how to react to these changes. A woman walks into the house with her uniform on and her husband is scared to say hello to her. He‘ll jump up and say, ―Sergeant!!
Many men are thinking, ―She really doesn‘t require me to protect her. Men don‘t know if women even need them anymore.
Is there anything now that marks a man as different
from his female counterpart? Based on the above scenarios,
that‘s a difficult question to answer. Males and females are
in a state of gender upheaval and confusion.
If you are a male and feel that your work, your relationships, and your view of the world are being turned upside down, you‘re not alone. This is the most complex time in the world to be a man. Men of all ages are grappling with
competing views and values of manhood.
What has happened?
In pre-modern times, biology contributed largely to the roles of men and women. Males are generally physically stronger than women, so the men were the ones who went out to hunt and provide for the family. Females are biologically equipped to have babies, so they cared for the children.
In general, there were no birth control options and no abortion alternatives with which a woman could supersede biology. A man didn‘t have to wonder whether he or his wife would stay home and raise the children. Roles were less
complicated because they were predetermined by biology.
In addition, people lived in a more hostile physical environment in which day-to-day living was a struggle for survival. This was another reason why the man, who was physically stronger, naturally became the provider and protector
of the family. At that time, making a living was an especially precarious job. The man literally had to risk his life to take care of his family. This caused his wife and children to look to him for leadership and to value his crucial
contribution to their survival. They depended on him. When a man went out to get food for his family, there was no guarantee that he would come back alive. He might be fatally wounded by an animal or die of exposure. Therefore,
the woman rejoiced to see him come home again. The same basic attitude held true in our parents‘ and grandparents‘ time when most husbands were the sole breadwinners of their families and their wives stayed at home. In the evening, the whole family was happy that the father had returned.
Why? He had been out there in a risky world trying to make a living. Sometimes jobs were hard to come by. Sometimes the only job a man could get was working long hours in the fields or underground in a coal mine. When a
man came home limping, his wife knew he had risked his health or even his life to keep bread on the table.
In this way, although survival was difficult, relationships were comparatively easy because there was no confusion over gender roles. A man and a woman didn‘t have to wonder whether one was infringing on the other‘s territory. Her role was to keep the house, cook the food, and care for the children.
His job was to hunt or harvest the crops and build a dwelling in order to provide food and shelter for the family. Life was straightforward and so, in that sense, relationships were less complicated.
Men and women used to exist in different spheres. A man‘s sphere was work and survival. The woman‘s world was the home and children. There was no confusion of roles. They knew exactly where they were supposed to be.
A woman leaving the home and entering the workplace means that the home is no longer kept by her specifically. The man isn‘t sure what his job in the home is, and the woman isn‘t sure what her job in the home is. They‘re confused.
What does a man do when his wife makes more money than he does, and he believes he‘s supposed to be the provider and protector of the home? He‘s frustrated and even ashamed. That‘s one of the reasons why there‘s so much
quarrelling in our modern marriages. We keep arguing over who‘s supposed to do what. These and other similar situations have changed our perspectives dramatically and altered our traditional roles.
The male isn‘t sure what a man is anymore, and the female isn‘t sure what a woman is anymore. This change has caused tension for women as well as men.
It used to be much easier for the woman who stayed at home with her children. She had support in this role because every woman in the neighbourhood was at home. Today, people think something is wrong with a woman if she is a homemaker. They think things like: ―What‘s the matter
with her? Is she lazy? or ―She‘s not very creative, or ―She
must not be smart enough to have a career, or ―She needs
to get a life. The idea is being promoted in society that ―only
dumb women stay home.
The results of changing gender roles can be distressing for both men and women. People are confused about how to act in this new world. It has become a psychological dilemma for them. Many are feeling tense and displaced, and they are trying to figure out what is wrong with them.
… TO BE CONTINUED