The building blocks that make up a man begin to fall in place as soon as the new-born is taken from the hospital to the home.
From there, the socialization process begins where a child learns right from wrong and when to behave a certain way in a specific scenario.
But a lot of what we become accustomed to as normal or abnormal began with the original teachings from our parents who, over time, shaped and curated the whole world down to the smallest details.
However, those worlds are presented quite differently to boys than girls so let’s take a look at how the male side is built up.
The burly superhero
From the get-go, many children’s movies portray the male protagonist as a dude with a buff chest and perfect hair that all the women eventually fall in love with.
He’s always there to swoop in and save the day with a few swift kicks and punches, protecting any innocent bystanders as well.
But that’s not always the true story.
Everyone might thank him for doing what he did but nobody ever asks him how he’s doing.
That stereotypical male doesn’t necessarily have to be the superhero type but instead a normal run-of-the-mill journalist (Clark Kent).
Young men might be brought up to never open up or show their emotions in public in fear of looking “weak.”
Some of that stigma has been worn down over time but that sort of lesson is certainly still employed in many households nationwide.
At the end of the day, everyone is allowed to be human and can exemplify emotions and feelings without being judged for it.
For some, please and thank you are some of the first words taught so as to ensure the politeness of the little children running around making noise.
In other cases, manners are taught on a busy city bus, where a seat becomes more valuable to someone with more life experience than you with each additional passenger paying their toll.
But all of the values passed down are there for a purpose, good bad or indifferent.
After a strong push in the women’s suffrage movement, attitudes might have slightly changed whereas women felt as though not everything had to be done for them. ‘I can get my own door,’ or ‘I can lift this heavy box on my own.’
Those feelings might have tapered off some men to jump to do those things in fear of being scolded just for trying to help.
For better or for worse, prominent figures in society end up being models that young people everywhere attempt to emulate after long enough.
Whether it be an athlete or a teacher or even the President of the United States, there’s normally somebody or somebodies that kids look up to with the thought of ‘that’s how I should be like too.’
Beer vs whiskey
The maturation of a palate where alcohol is an acquired taste that takes time to come around on.
Sometimes that maturation can be accelerated and a man makes the jump to regularly choosing hard alcohol over beer, but is that manlier?
Or to be able to put down ten beers and have the empties rattling on the table while a loud belch exits the drinker?
Muscle car vs pickup truck
What’s manlier? The speedy muscle car that can race by you and leave you in the dust while piercing the eardrums of anyone in the vicinity? Or the lifted pickup truck with mud stains and a tool box in the back ready for any terrain or weather?
Or even the overall obsession with any car? Every guy has a dream car in mind and if they do have it, they’ll treat it just like another son and take it on weekend adventures and make sure it’s always running smooth and shines just right.
Speed motorcycle vs Chopper
Bikers are certainly their own breed and can easily get along with some like-minded bike owners.
But there are factions of the type of bike that owner holds in the garage as both bikes elicit different fandom.
Similar to a pickup truck or muscle car, speed is definitely an aspect that is looked into.
Again, along the same lines, the volume of the revving of the engine is another aspect and who’s to say which one is manlier compared to the other?
The term wasn’t printed until 1994 when Mark Simpson, a journalist for the United Kingdom’s The Independent, authored an essay titled, “Here come the mirror men: Why the future is metrosexual.”
In it, he coined the term, stating the “Metrosexual man, the single young man with a high disposable income, living or working in the city (because that’s where all the best shops are), is perhaps the most promising consumer market of the decade. In the Eighties he was only to be found inside fashion magazines such as GQ, in television advertisements for Levis jeans or in gay bars. In the Nineties, he’s everywhere and he’s going shopping.”
Later on he explained how the heterosexual males were the worst consumers on the market since their other halves were the ones doing the majority of the shopping.
Years later, in 2002, Simpson brought the term to the United States in an article on Salon.com where he used soccer star David Beckham as the perfect example of a metrosexual.
Simpson expanded on his first definition by saying the metrosexual man “might be officially gay, straight or bisexual, but this is utterly immaterial because he has clearly taken himself as his own love object and pleasure as his sexual preference.”
Simpson went on to bring up “Spornosexuals,” the newest group of men who are more so concerned about having a fit body over the expensive clothes you put on top.
Is there something that changes in a man that allows him to be more comfortable expressing himself?
In certain regions of countries it can be more common to see the men who take an hour to do their hair after taking multiple other hours picking out the clothes and accessories that match.
Maybe those are the men more in touch with their masculinity.
Maybe it’s the man who criticizes those men who have less of a grip on their masculinity instead.
Rapport talk vs Report talk
Deborah Tannen, a well-versed communication researcher, eventually created her own communication theory stating that men and women speak in completely different dialects or “Genderlects,” as she coined.
In most cases, more women have been found to participate in rapport talk, a two-sided conversation where tag questions are used to insight the opinion of the other person doing the conversing.
For example, she could say something to the effect of, “I really enjoyed that movie, what did you think?”
On the other hand, many men have been found to use report talk, more so stating their own opinion as fact and not opening up the discussion for the other person to submit their thoughts.
In their example, a man would instead say something along the lines of, “That movie had the craziest ending ever.”
Obviously, there are outliers in each scenario but for the most part, Tannen found that women tend to build each other up while men tend to challenge one another and foist their thoughts in front of others in order to be more right.
It is not in the genetic makeup for men to always speak in report talk but instead it is a learned behavior to converse in that way and therefore is an intercultural disconnect between the sexes.
Birds vs Bees
The age-old, super uncomfortable conversation about what happens when a mature man meets a mature woman and they go to a room, turn off the lights and … you know the rest.
For those who do not yet know, many times, it’s the parents’ undertaking to guide children through that tumultuous road to make sure they’re prepared for whatever happens.
Other groups of parents instead wait it out until the student reaches health education in middle school where instead it is the teacher’s job to relay the happenings of what goes on behind that closed door.
The question then becomes, how old do you start to target children to know when they’re ready to have the talk.
Or, it’s how do the parents follow up and smoothen out the school’s teaching of the topic in order to ensure the child is indeed prepared.
A professor at a small college just outside of Boston shared a story about his 15-year-old son, mentioning how his life was trending in the upward direction where his grades were where they were supposed to be, allowing him to participate in athletics where he could be making a varsity basketball roster in the coming year.
He followed that up with the next logical step being that he “needed to have sex.”
The professor mentioned that idea was not concocted by him but he made sure to tell him that it doesn’t necessarily have to go that way but to be safe about it.
That idea could have been generated from another father or another peer who could have developed the pressure that sex was indeed the next step to achieving manhood.
Access to pornography
First the only pornography was the one you can see with your eyes, in person.
Exotic dance joints eventually gave way to photos in magazines where anyone could then get their hands and eyes on these pages and see just about everything you’d want to see.
Soon enough, the internet wasn’t far behind but the long loading times sometimes left women on the screen without a head or legs as the dial-up was being dragged down by a phone call.
Now, there are trillions of videos and games and stories that anyone with access to the internet can reach and yes that includes those kids running around the little league field.
With unfiltered access, anyone in the world at any time can be on a porn site consuming things that children should not be.
Social Media’s role in socialization
For the longest time the biggest teachers in the home were the parents but now with internet and information being accessible 24/7, children are instead turning to YouTube to figure out the questions they have.
It’s becoming harder and harder for parents to keep things under their hat and prevent their children from learning information before they’re ready.
Young kids, with iPhones seemingly glued to their hands, can instantly look up anything in the world and leave the parents rendered practically useless.
Real hangouts vs Google hangouts
However, other times, that technology that renders teachers useless also breaks the confines of, say, a hospital’s walls.
Kids can now hangout all day long and never actually see each other.
FaceTime or even Xbox live parties can connect kids to one another so they have friends to play with.
It’s just not the same as playing with a real ball and hoop like most other adults grew up doing.
But for someone who might be home-bound with an illness or unable to physically play basketball due to a broken leg, that child can instead play a video game with their friends, simulating the competition while being able to communicate in real time through Xbox live.
Kids who might not be able to leave the house can still feel involved with their friends and participate in the joking and story-telling with them as if they were actually with each other in person.
“Do it, you won’t.”
Sometimes it can be the little push that a kid needs to ask a question in class or even talk to a girl.
Other times, peer pressure can get children into trouble, pushing the limits of what is truly acceptable.
There’s a little give and take here but in certain situations, maybe something wouldn’t happen without a friendly push off the jump but too hard of a push can surely lead down the wrong road.
Men’s health as you get older
Let’s face it, not everyone retains the body they had when they were 21.
You just can’t do the same things you did in college when you’re in a retirement home.
The clock that constantly clicks away, Father Time, catches up to all of us at one point or another and the rapidity of his call might depend on the kind of use and abuse the body sustains over a lifetime.
If it’s fed fast food every day for years on end, it won’t last as long as a marathon runner’s body.
At any age, there are workouts available not necessarily to transform your life and turn you into a body-builder quick, but ones that can simply keep your body running the way it’s supposed to.
What even is considered old?
To elementary-aged students, a recent college graduate could be considered elderly with a nearly 20-year gap in between them. But that graduate is still more than young compared to 80-year-old men who can’t hear as well anymore.
At the same time, that 80 year old can go to Disneyland and feel like a kid again.
How’s the saying go? “You’re only as old as you feel?” Sure, let’s go with that.
But most Grandpa’s can’t wake up one day and think, “Yeah, maybe I can keep up at an open tryout for the NFL.”
Stories/dad jokes that stand the test of time
Little kids will always need to be picked up with a laugh or a story that makes them think and there always seems to be an uncle or an older cousin or even a grandfather who can sit a kid down and have him smiling in seconds.
Whether it’s pulling a quarter out from behind his ear or pretending to remove his index finger from his hand or making them look down at their shirt only to be given a flick to the nose as soon as their head goes down.
When in doubt, there’s a male figure in your life that you can go to because you know they’re going to cheer you up. Go thank that man today.