With my 24th birthday having just rolled by, I find myself sitting here contemplatively, pondering over what it is to be a man in these days. I hardly consider myself a boy anymore, but, looking at our gender in this era, I can’t help but wonder if we’d be considered ‘pansies’ by those men before us. Thinking back to the times of old, in comparison to today’s 21st century male, most ‘boys’ my age were out of the Defence Force, hardened after ‘af kak’ and P.T and the like. So I put this question out there: What does it take - in the technological age - to become a man? Does it include owning a car, having your own lavish place fitted with the latest in high tech gadgets? Strings of failed relationships? World travels?
It’s evident that nowadays, we are faced with work stresses, social intricacies and relationship dances from a younger age. I'm sure if we’d lived 20 years ago it would all seem ‘alien’ and sort of unnatural. We seem to be far more grown up these days but, dare I say it, far less mature in our decisions and actions.
I admit that I hardly feel older than the day I stepped out into my teens. Sure, I've learnt some things and my vocab has grown and I have to shave every day: but are these things worthy of being characteristics that classify a ‘man’? I can change a plug, fix a car, light a fire and braai meat. Do these things make me a man in the world’s eyes? I still want to go karting at any given moment, play putt-putt and trivial pranks...
Which makes me think that, although these things seem immature to some, that which actually makes the difference is not what we do or how we do it, but comes down to how we conduct ourselves, what our attitudes reflect and effect, what our decisions at crucial times are and the way that we treat people who are deemed ‘inferior’ to us. In my opinion: That is how we measure whether or not we are men. Men of this new digital age.
This saying rings true for me: "If you want to run with the big dogs, then don't piss like a puppy.” If you wish to be a man then my advice is to grow a pair and start acting like one. While watching the Green Mile last night, I saw a perfect example of ‘running with the big dogs’ and one of ‘pissing like a puppy’. The antagonist, Percy, is grabbed by ‘Wild Bill’ and pisses his pants after trying to exert his bought authority.
After asking a few of my friends what their opinions on what it takes in this age to be a man, I found a variety of answers:
- "Taking responsibility for your actions, facing your fears"
- "Being a real man doesn't mean you fuck 100 girls. Being a real man means you fight for one girl, even when 99 others are chasing you."
- "A man is a person who in every situation thinks of others and does what is needed in a bad situation to pull others through"
- “I think, nowadays, being a man and being a woman are pretty much the same though I guess a few key elements still exist from the pre-feminism days.”
- "Having a penis"
- "Successful in whatever you take on and compassionate and caring in a relationship"
- "Loyalty, honesty, and living with the decisions you make in life. There are not many people you can trust now days."
What better way for a man to know he is a man than to get an opinion from the fairer sex:
"Men are destined to live hard and die young. That is not to say this is how things are done in our modern cultures. All too often humans forget that they are indeed mammals created by and of this planet to exist on this planet. I believe a man is meant to be one who assumes responsibility for his actions and destiny, and if he is in a position of authority, does the same for those who he is responsible for. A man doesn’t point and make excuses, he recognizes and fixes if allowed. A man shows emotion. A man is truthful even though the truth hurts. A man is kind in the face of adversity and doesn’t freak out. He treats all people with respect no matter how hard it may be. To be a man is to have knowledge of one’s desires, the courage to pursue those desires, and the willpower to make real those desires, regardless of obstacles and resistance from others. That, and the ability to piss wherever, and whenever he pleases."
I think Eric Sevareid said it best “Men want power in order to do something. Boys want power in order to be something.”