The Lost Boys? Has the Media-Created Image of Men Who Never Grow Up Spawned a New Generation of Males Eager to Prove Their Worth?
Just a few years ago, a minivan commercial showed a father, so eager to shut out the sounds of his children, he couldn’t wait to get them in the car to turn on the DVD players. Dr. Richard Horowitz was so enraged he wrote the automaker who soon removed the commercial.
Jason Hundley, an X-ray Tech in Radcliffe, Kentucky, continually avoids the pack of women at work who constantly refer to men as children, dogs and ‘just like the men on tv’. Incensed even more by the “we know you’re not like that” comments, he’s searched for ways to fight for male rights.
Affected by the omnipresent definition of happily every after being limited to the woman’s determination of the meaning, John Wilder, a marriage coach, has seen the build up of anger in men over the years. He attributes the demeaning media perception of men to misandry and reeducates couples on roles in their relationships.
Dr. David Power, who abhors the Tim the Tool Man stereotype portrayed through various television shows and commercials, routinely does the laundry and cooks for himself. With a baby in the house, his two sons know when he calls a code brown, to get diapers, wipes and help daddy change the baby’s diaper. He’s started a fight club.
While the media continues to portray men as grown kids who need to be coddled and directed by the strong hand of their mother-like spouses, men throughout America are fighting back. Men are growing weary of this characterization, even in a limited tongue and cheek manner.
“Men who are more mature and have families, those men are somewhat confused about the world,” said Dr. Horowitz, who now runs GrowingGreatRelationships.com with his wife.
The appreciation for the everyday male has seemed to wane in recent history. It seems as if a male simply takes care of his home, he’s still doing something wrong. If he does dress well, then he still may not be metrosexual enough. If he is a good guy, he doesn’t possess enough raw aggression to spark the chemistry of a bad boy. And if he is a bad boy, well, of course he’s a project that can be fixed.
But a large amount of confusion seems to be attributed to the power of the feminist movement and the confusion that era has brought to men in America.
Women’s rights began in 1913 but didn’t end in 1920 when women received the right to vote. In her book, Stiffed, Susan Faludi attributes much of the change of women’s gender roles to WWII when many women were needed to work in support of the war effort and take care of both gender roles at home.
This period sparked an undercurrent of misandry as men returned home and attempted to reinsert themselves into their traditional gender roles, roles women now knew they could perform.
However, John Wilder, author of the soon to be published Sex Education for Adults, Secrets to Amazing Sex and Happily Ever After Too, states rearing of women during this period did not significantly change. Many women were not, and still are not, raised in a critique-friendly environment similar to young men.
As women learned to openly analyze men’s actions, there was no education on how receiving it. Even worst, men learned never to say anything.
“The number one complaint I get from men is women do not make it safe to critique women,” said John. “Women say they want equality, but they want absolute dominance. Most [men] had coaches and grew up accepting critique where women take it personally.”
John states that while women sought equality socially, they didn’t accept it within their interpersonal relationships.
Dr. Powers knows too well the application of this thought. Gathering with his church fight club, men often tell stories of intentionally doing some type of chore or assignment wrong. Feeling there is no way to do the task right without being criticized, or being able to make any critical comment, why even try?
Passive aggressive men give in recognizing they’ll eventually lose the fight and she’ll correct whatever he did anyway, John added. Women who feel they’ve been critiqued go through fanatic efforts to teach their male partner to never critique them again.
As female writers, advertisers, marketers and others in media continue to increase their influence, and men who either stay silent or help push the stereotype continue using the perception in the name of ‘what sells’, men continue to see the media images of them grow in ways that are uncomfortable.