Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ideal Men or Real Men?

There is a lot of healthy conversation going on about how women are portrayed in the media, much of it spearheaded by the Miss Representation campaign. My perspective is being reshaped as I educate myself and look more critically at films, television shows, books and magazines.

But, some may say, what about men? Aren't we being overlooked in all this? Well, not really. Men are still the ones who hold power and who determine most of what the media portrays. The attitude of men toward women is a key part of the problem, so we also need to be part of the solution by changing the way we view and depict women and by speaking out against biased, inaccurate and prejudical portrayals of women wherever we find them.

Another aspect of the problem, one that is less addressed, is the way men are depicted in media. We too suffer from unrealistic and prejudical images of what it means to be a man. Take a moment and watch this video:

I don't know about you, but I can relate to what she is saying. I certainly don't fit the "ideal" male image. Thankfully I have a wife who loves me despite my lack of ripped muscles and stunningly handsome good looks. I can't say that I've thought too much about this, but I do know that I have spent most of my life feeling like I wasn't "man" enough. I'm not particularly gifted athletically. I'm pretty inept with most construction tools. I'm not physically strong. So when society keeps telling me through various channels that this is what it means to be a "real" man, I see myself as a failure. Unfortunately the Church hasn't done me any favors in this area either. They may add to the categories, such as a "real" man has to be an ideal husband and father, but so much of the chatter coming out of the so-called biblical manhood camp simply reiterates the message of the world in defining manliness.

As I reach mid-life I am slowly coming to accept myself for the man that I am. I'm not going to measure up to the ideal male image pushed on me by our culture. As we work to change the way we view and portray women, we would do well to also reimage manhood so that it allows for a much broader picture, one that accurately reflects the vast majority of real men.

What do you think?

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