In a 2010 article by Dennis Prager, “Is America Still Making Men?,” I believe the answer to many of our questions about modern male behavior are answered. In it, Prager, single-handedly sums up the premise of several articles I have written on my site prior to reading his article, namely Real Men Lead, Men are from Venus, Women are from Venus, Nine-to-Fiving is for the birds, and even Street Etiquette: Fashion and the Heterosexual Male
I truly believe the answer to the question Prager poses in the title is no. It can be said that America is no longer “making” men, depending on what you feel makes a man, a man. I tend to think of manhood in the traditional sense, but society seems to be redefining manhood, which is what creates a point of contention when considering Prager’s question.
For those of you with short attention spans, I have highlighted Prager’s most insightful points (in my opinion) here:
“The distinction between men and boys has been largely obliterated. The older males that many American boys encounter are essentially older boys, not men. They speak, dress, and act similarly (think of men who “high-five” young boys instead of shaking their hands). And they are almost all called by their first names. Even when a boy (or girl) addresses an adult male as “Mr.,” many men will correct the young boy or girl — “Call me” and then give the young person his first name. This is often true even with regard to teachers, physicians and members of the clergy. When a young person calls an adult by his first name, the status of the two individuals has been essentially equated. Boys need men to respect. It’s not impossible to do so when they call men by their first names, but it makes it much harder.”
“The ideals of masculinity and femininity have been largely rendered extinct. Feminism, arguably the most influential American movement of the 20th century, declared war on the concepts of femininity and masculinity. And for much of the population, it was victorious. Indeed, thanks to the feminist teaching that male and female human beings are essentially the same (note, incidentally, that no one argues that male and female animals are the same, only human beings are), untold numbers of boys have been raised as if they were like girls. They were denied masculine toys such as play guns and toy soldiers, and their male forms of play — e.g., roughhousing — were banned.”
“America has become a rights-centered rather than a responsibility-centered society. Aside from helping to produce a pandemic of narcissism, the rights-centered mindset is the opposite of the obligation/responsibility-centered mindset that makes a boy into a man. It is not good for either sex to be rights-preoccupied; but it is particularly devastating to developing men, as men are supposed to be obligation-directed. The baby boomer generation helped destroy manhood in most of the ways described here. One additional example was its widespread slogan, “Make love, not war.” One cannot come up with a more unmanly piece of advice: “Don’t fight for your country, screw girls.” If the greatest generation had adopted that motto, Hitler and Tojo would have won. A few years ago, the city of Chicago named a street after Hugh Hefner, a man who has played games much of the day and night, lived in pajamas and devoted his life to sex — quite a model of manhood for American boys.”
“Increasingly, marriage is regarded as optional. The most obvious expression of men assuming responsibility — marrying a woman and taking care of her and their children — is no longer a male ideal. Vast numbers of men quite openly admit to having problems with the C-word (commitment) and responsibility of being a family’s sole breadwinner.”
Lastly, Prager poignantly states that “when boys do not become men, women assume their roles. But they are not happy doing so…and so, a vicious cycle has commenced — men stop being men; women become man-like; men retreat even further from their manly role; and women get sadder.”
Do you agree with Prager’s notion that our society is no longer teaching men how to be men? If so, can this be corrected or is the perennial concept of manhood obsolete?