I live and I breath. I've been out of town the last few days and its time to get back to work. (But seriously I was shocked to see over 600 hits on my Google Reader when I got back.)
Wow has it already been over a month since I first brought this up? I've been a bit busy the last few weeks and my scheduled stuff has run out (except for the end of my 30 Day Song Challenge) so its time to get real again. To get back into the swing of things I'm bring up what will be the first of many entries in this FAQ.
I'm going straight for the jugular on this one. Work.
Now if you recall I said I was building this 101 up as a place where one can come and read up on the basics of being a man. By basics I mean to lay out the topic at hand as it relates to men, cover some of the pitfalls of that topic as they relate to men, perhaps try to throw in a few nuggets of wisdom on how to address them, and most importantly spur conversation on the subject. There's a chance you are burning up inside to talk about something. Come on in and talk. There's a chance you might have a question that you can get some beginner's insight on. Glad I can help. There's a chance you'll see something here you disagree with. By all means point it out and let's talk it out. There's a chance you may read this and think to yourself that there's nothing here you haven't seen already. Fair enough and peace be with you.
I was thinking about starting this off with sex but that's a pretty tall order to start Being A Man 101 with. So I'm gonna tap on another subject that's near and dear to the hearts of men: work.
Society teaches that a defining mark of a man is what occupation he holds.
In decades/centuries long past a man's occupation was so ingrained into his identity that he sometimes drew his very name from it. Meaning that almost quite literally a man was his job. If a man had no job then he had no identity (or at least a negative identity) and he was not a real man (or at least not a real honest man). Not only was having a job important but also what type of job a man held would hold sway over his status as a man. Not just as a man but as a person in general.
CEO of a large coporation? Then you're counted as a important man with the power to rule the world (or at least a noticable portion of it). Work at a steel factory? Then you're an unsophisticated brute that doesn't know the finer things in life. A professor at a high end college? Then you're a knowledgable man whose words should be heeded. However bear in mind that these mindsets are not universal but rather vary from person to person or culture to culture. That CEO could be seen as a greedy fiendish man that would kill his own family for a buck while making a fortune on the backs of others. That steel factory worker could be seen as a hardworking man that everyone should spire to be. And that professor could be seen as a know it who deals in theory but has little actual experience to back it up. Its mostly about how one perceives the job but at the end of the day there are people who base their assessment of a man on nothing but his job.
Now a days a man's status may not be as rigidly associated with this job as it once but the link is still there and its still strong.
How often do you hear people saying that a man that doesn't provide for his wife (yes heteromomative but we'll get back to that in the future) is a real man or try to measure a man's worth and character by his job? It still happens and because of this times have not boded well for men. In the recent economic downturn people seem to be in a state of confusion over what men are supposed to do now that what society tells us is a core part of being a man has been lost. This is the result of not just some rough patch that works itself out but rather this is a big case of a lot of those jobs simply not coming back (remember a large chunk of those jobs that were lost were in manufacturing and who makes up most of the people in those field?).
Something needs to change.
Despite things not quite being like they were a few centuries ago we still have the issue of boys being raised under the belief that they are supposed to be the provider in order to matter or to be worthy of finding a partner. This gives those boys (and men they will become) an expectation that they are unfairly expected to meet (there's a big difference between being expected to be a productive member of society and being treated like you don't count as a man, human, or potential partner unless you have a certain job or have x amount of money).
So what do you think reader? I'm not pretending that this is the absolute definitive word on the subject of men and work, its a work in progress and will probably in progress for a long time. Have something you want to share? By all means come on over and chime in. We'd be doing everyone a lot of good to talk this out.