By Pete Helms
Campus Life Editor
It’s amazing how an innocent joke can turn into such complicated and nuanced discussion. One of my lady friends was discussing the sometimes literal pitfalls of home ownership with another student in our class, so in jest I asked, “Why not just get a man to fix the problem? That’s what we’re for.” Her response, in short, was “What men?”
The discussion that followed was full of more questions than answers. What happened to those classically “manly” skills boys were brought up within days past? Why are they seemingly disappearing? The Internet has helped breed a rise in the fetishization of manliness that is paradoxically hopeful and disparaging. We want to enshrine what simply looks manly, not what makes a male a man. I think we need to re-emphasize those qualities for today’s boys in a transformative way.
Much of today’s vision of manliness is the detached, devil-may-care male who does what he wants when he wants to. This has led to a world of divisive politics, violence against the innocent, and a lull in the progress fostered by our forefathers. This devil-may-care attitude (which many women may exhibit as well, but we’re not going there right now) is not the foundation of manliness, however; indeed, it is quite the opposite.
The core of this foundation rests in respect–any “manly” quality will flow from respect. This not only means respect for others, but respect for yourself. It’s easy to think the world owes us respect simply for being, but that’s a false paradigm; respect is earned before it is given, and no one can offer you true respect if you do not respect yourself. This goes beyond simple “self-esteem”. A cavalier attitude towards the future or those around you only indicates how little you respect yourself, and people will treat you accordingly. Do not accept excuses from yourself or others for poor behavior. Better yourself and those around you. Earn your place and work for your keep by respecting yourself and others. You can’t expect a woman to make you a sandwich if you haven’t earned it, which brings me to my final point.
Ladies, if you want to date good men, you must help create them. Do not accept a boy who shows no drive or ambition. Do not enable or otherwise reward failure or self-destructive behavior. Respect yourselves so that men have someone to respect. And gentlemen, hold yourselves and others accountable for their actions. The attitude that we should live-and-let-live because “it’s not my problem” leads to failures both private and public that ripple through our society and rip at its foundations. A flood can start with but a single drop of water, and the more of us there are to stem the tide, the longer we may prosper and grow. A beard simply isn’t enough.