Friday, October 7, 2011

The Wussification of the American Male

Today I was listening to a local radio show and the topic was the wussification of today’s men. It started out innocently enough with a few statistics. Both claims are made by CNN’s William Bennett who states:

“Man's response has been pathetic. Today, 18-to- 34-year-old men spend more time playing video games a day than 12-to- 17-year-old boys. While women are graduating college and finding good jobs, too many men are not going to work, not getting married and not raising families. Women are beginning to take the place of men in many ways. This has led some to ask: do we even need men?

Now admittedly, Bennett is a controversial figure once uttering “ could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down" []. But stupid comment aside, I think he may be on to something here. Growing up, my dad worked 3 jobs to support our family. True, video games were not around at that time, but I can’t see him sitting in front of the television playing Call of Duty while his wife and family of five worried about paying the bills.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying there is anything wrong with playing video games. Everyone needs some time to themselves to do something that they enjoy. But we are not talking 1 hour a few times a week or even a day. No I am talking about the ones that play for 5-6 hours a night. At some point it becomes an escape from reality. It takes time away from your kids, your significant other{unless he/she is a gamer too} and from being productive.

Psychologists believe people, men in particular, game because it provides them with the emotional rewards they need and may not be getting elsewhere. For example, doing well at a game provides a sense of achievement. It also can earn you the respect of others. Not to mention, kicking the crap out of someone in a video game may help you work out anger and frustration. And of course, it can provide a sense of satisfaction. Plus, they can be pretty cool. The graphics are incredible and seriously, where else can you shoot a machine gun or a bazooka while sitting in the comfort of your own home?

But what happened to the satisfaction that comes from doing well at your job? In today’s society, where jobs are hard to come by, two things amaze me. One is the number of people that complain about how much they make at their job. The second is how many people whine about being unemployed but really aren’t doing anything about it.

Listen, I get it. The economy is in the toilet, the price of everything is going up and you should be paid a fair wage. But every job has a ceiling. You cannot expect to make $30 an hour for a job when you were originally hired in at $9. I don't care how long you've been there. No, if you want to make more money, you have to further your education through training or schooling. If that isn’t possible, you have to find a new career.

The same goes for the unemployed. God bless those of you that pound the pavement every day in search of a job. But it amazes me when I ask some people where they have applied and they respond that they haven’t or casually reply, “Maybe 1 or 2 places.” What baffles me even more is when they say, “Why can’t someone just give me a job?” As if the job fairy is going to come down and reward you with some kick-butt job just because you rock at Assassin's Creed, your friends think you are pretty funny and you are an all around wonderful person.

There seems to be a lack of work ethic and an incredible sense of entitlement. The same rings true for relationships. At one point in time, men would call or approach a girl, dress up for a date, have some type of plan in mind to do something, wash their car and put some effort into things. Today, many men talk about how they can’t meet a nice girl, which is very hard to do when you don’t talk to any or sit on your couch all day. And for many of the ones that do get a date, they put minimal effort into it. They usually send a text or email in lieu of the courtesy of a phone call. They dress sloppily, which on the first few dates many girls read as a lack of interest and respect. When a girl asks him what their plans are, many do not have put so little thought into it that they have no suggestions or ideas prepared. They simply respond with, “I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

Some suggest this is the fault of women. A bouncer at a local bar called in to the radio show and said that in his experience, women come into the bar looking to go home with someone and the men are more than happy to oblige. As a result, they have to put little effort into wooing a woman. Before, men had to be well kept, have a decent job, show some type of drive and have manners. Now, the standard has been set so low that some women don’t care if the man is 35 and still living with his parents or working as a cashier at a fast food place. They are just happy he is breathing, has a job and isn’t a felon.

Others blame the mothers for coddling their sons. How many girls have heard the phrase, ”You have to work twice as hard as a man and have more drive to make less money”? While this seems to be changing, boys are also being conditioned that they don’t have to work for what they want. It will just be given to them.

A teacher also called in to the show. She said she could not count how many times mothers came in yelling when their sons didn’t do well on an assignment or test claiming he didn’t understand the material or that a teacher should have given him individual attention. They don’t hold their sons accountable for not studying or not approaching the teacher for extra help. Let’s face it. With cell phones being allowed in class, a shorter attention span coupled with a teacher’s inability to discipline children without the threat of being reprimanded or accosted by irate parents, kids are more out of control than they were years ago because there are little to no consequences for their bad behavior. So if the child is not paying attention because he is texting during class, why should the teacher have to ask the child to stay after for tutoring?

Additionally, if a teacher says that no cell phones are allowed in class and then deducts points off an assignment when a kid is using one, what right does a parent have to be upset with the teacher? Many will even make excuses claiming it was only a cell phone and it wasn’t being used or that their child didn’t want to leave it in his pocket because it was uncomfortable. Hello! When I was in school we didn’t have cell phones. We had to actually go through the day waiting to speak to our friend between classes, at lunch time or after school. Our parents had to trust us when we left the house without them. But that is a whole other subject.

I would also like to acknowledge that the same teacher said that while the mothers come in both guns blazing for their little boys, she almost never sees them come in for their little girls. Maybe they believe the girls need to learn to do things themselves and how to handle problems on their own. They don’t transfer them out of class because a teacher is too tough. They want them to learn that they will encounter people in their life that they may butt heads with or obstacles that they must overcome. That is when they must try harder and learn to work out differences. But don’t little boys need to acquire that knowledge too?

Speaking of things little boys need to learn to do, let’s talk about sports. I mean what the heck happened to sports? I don’t agree with this everyone gets a trophy garbage because I-don’t-want-my-kid-to-feel-left-out mentality. I hate to break this to some parents, but your kid is going to suck at some things. In order to do anything about it, they have to know they suck. Unless it is a league for first timers, I don’t think every kid should get to play. Children need to learn that if they want to get off the bench, they need to have the drive to go home and practice and get better. If they don’t want to do that, they need to quit and find something they are good at doing whether it is sports, music, art or something else.

When a kid makes a mistake, although I don’t believe a parent should necessarily scold the kid, they shouldn’t lie about how great he was and make excuses. They need to discuss what happened and how he can do better the next time. If a ground ball goes through his legs, he needs to get out there and practice with his mom or dad until he learns how to field it correctly.

This brings me to the next excuse for coddling: absentee fathers. First let me say that the men need to man up. If you have a child, you need to be a part of that child’s life, which again goes back to lack of responsibility and consequences. That said, many mothers will overcompensate letting the child get away with murder. They don’t demand that little boys do chores, yet they expect their daughters to do them. When a little boy gaffs off on homework to play video games or hangout with his friends, a lot of moms simply take a boys will be boys attitude.

While it is extremely important for a father to be a part of his child’s life, the absence of one shouldn’t mean a license to misbehave and remain immature. Married or single, mothers are doing a disservice to their sons if they don’t teach them how to handle difficult situations and how to take care of themselves. After all, what happens once he is a grown man? Is he going to tell his boss that he should get the promotion over another more qualified individual because his mommy said so? Is Mama going to walk up to Terry Francona or Joe Girardi and tell them that her child should be allowed to play professional baseball because his feelings will get hurt if he doesn’t?

And what happens if the man lives alone or becomes a husband? Is he still going to take his laundry to Mommy’s house every weekend for her to do it? There is an old email that circulated about the difference between when a husband says he is going to bed and when a wife says she is going to bed. The woman gets up, throws a load of clothes in the dryer, runs the dishwasher, checks over the child’s homework and makes certain lunch is made, lets the dog out one last time, washes her face and then gets into bed. The man simply states he is going to bed, gets up and goes to bed. Women often laugh (and are frustrated) with how much this email rings true. They wonder why some husbands need to be asked to cut the grass, load the dishwasher or throw in a load of laundry. It becomes a bone of contention in the marriage. After all, it isn't the 1950s anymore. In most cases, she works too. Does he not see that there aren’t any clean dishes? Many mens response to this is, “Well why doesn’t she just ask me to do it?” While many women see it as a lack of respect and wonder why should I have to ask him? It is his house too. Where is the pride, the respect and the sense of responsibility? Eventually, many women just give up, accept it and do things themselves which again leads to the lack of accountability and responsibility. If there are little to no consequences, why do it?

So far, we have managed to blame sexually active women, mothers and wives for today’s man-child. But at a certain point, don’t men have to take responsibility for their own actions? They want to be treated as adults in some ways and coddled in others. In theory, parents have you until you are 18 years old. If you want to point the finger at them for how they raised you until then, I guess you can. But after you turn 18, you need to turn that finger around at yourself. Instead of whining about low pay, unemployment and how unfair life is while you sit playing video games for hours, go out, take a class and invest in your future. Don’t wait for a job to fall into your lap. Go out and find one. And while you are looking, don’t show up to an interview wearing jeans down to your knees, a t-shirt and tennis shoes and reason, “They have to like me for me.” That is a juvenile mentality. Although it may not be right, upon meeting someone for an interview or a date, you are judged by your appearance. After all,until someone gets to know you they have nothing else to go off of other than your appearance. Show some respect for yourself and the person you are meeting. They can learn how wonderfully fascinating you are after you land the job.

Now, for all you men out there that may be thinking I am a man hater, don’t get your panties in a wad. I am not. Most of my friends are men. It is the “grown” (and I use that term loosely) man-child that annoys the crap out of me. I also fully acknowledge that some women are just as bad when it comes to responsibility. This particular topic about men was discussed on CNN and my local radio show that is why I chose to write about it. I am well aware that there are some terrific, capable single men and husbands out there. There are also some amazing fathers that do everything in their power to stay active in their children’s lives. If you are that man, this blog doesn’t apply to you. It is aimed at the men that think the world is just too tough and believe they should be handed everything on a silver platter. The ones that don’t help around the house because they are watching Sports Center for the 15th time in a day or don’t spend time with their wife and kids because they are too busy gaming for hours. And I don’t care why they are gaming, whether it is because they hate their wives, are frustrated with their career or just feel sad because they aren’t as successful as they thought they’d be. A temporary escape is one thing. Avoidance of the real world and real relationships is a whole other issue.

So turn the X-Box off. Get off that couch. Take your thumb out of your mouth and man up! And for God’s sake, PULL UP YOUR PANTS!

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