I’m really getting tired of the “men are clueless, lazy, stupid oafs” premise, so common to advertisements, TV shows, movies, and pop culture in general. As just one of many examples of this, Samsung recently unveiled a viral ad centering around this totally hilarious and unique narrative. Here’s the plot summary: A woman walks into the living room and finds her husband sitting on the couch with a dazed grin, watching TV in a stupor while shoveling chips into his mouth. She then pulls out a contraption, plugs it into his back, and suddenly he springs off the sofa and becomes an intelligent, helpful, well groomed gentleman. The joke is that this gadget, if used on your husband, can cause him to “evolve.”
Now, imagine the same advertisement, except with the roles reversed. Imagine that the husband comes in the house after a long day’s work to find his wife zoned out, binging on candy and ice cream, sitting under a blanket of gossip magazines while watching soap operas. Imagine he uses a device to make her “evolve” into a better wife and woman. The outrage from an ad like that would be enough to put Samsung out of business. But painting men as worthless unevolved morons? Hey, just standard operating procedure. No big deal.
Ok, it’s just a Samsung commercial, who cares? Well, I don’t care about it specifically. I do however care about the pervasive cultural atmosphere that has made the emasculation and degradation of men not only acceptable but profitable. No doubt there are men in this country who, in fact, really are horribly stupid couch potatoes. There are plenty of women who fit that label as well. I don’t think the propensity to be a leech and a buffoon is necessarily more prevalent amongst one gender or another.
Look, I’ve been outspoken in my defense of women. I’ve written many times about the difficult job of being a mother and a wife. I’ve said, and I still say, that women are generally superior in grace and beauty, both physically and spiritually. The entire concept of chivalry rests on this point. But now I’d like to take a second to speak up for the fellas. Powerful forces in our society have spent the last 40 years attempting to neuter men. They’ve worked tirelessly to remove every unique and positive quality inherent to masculinity. Of course, in order for this emasculation to take hold, many men had to be complacent and cooperative with the process throughout the past several decades. Men, therefore, are not victims. Manhood is the victim. Now we’re left with a culture that has no clear idea about what a man is supposed to be and how he is supposed to act. Young boys are told they shouldn’t be lazy and apathetic, but if they say they want to be a leader and a provider they’re called “sexist” and “old fashioned.” Don’t sit back but don’t take charge. Don’t be a parasite but don’t be a provider. Don’t acknowledge women as being different but do respect women for their differences. Don’t be submissive but don’t be aggressive. And so on and so on, one nonsensical conflicting message after another. And as our kids are trying to make heads or tails of this lunacy, they turn on the TV to see men depicted as cartoonish frat boys.
I reject all of this. I’m lucky, I happen to have been blessed with a Dad who showed me a great example of what a real man is. A man is a leader. He is the head of his household. And as the head, he serves and protects his wife and his children. He is intelligent. He shows courage. He works. He doesn’t complain. He is a moral example for his family. He is their spiritual rock and foundation. He shoulders a heavy burden for those he loves, he never expects to be congratulated for it. And, nowadays, he never will be. That’s a man. He might also drink beer and watch TV sometimes, but neither of those activities define him.
But I’m not crazy. I don’t expect this version, the true version, of masculinity to appear on television anytime soon.