Being a man in our culture can be hard. Yeah, I said it, and I’m not being sarcastic (it’s a rare occasion). I’ll even go further to say that being a straight, white, non-handicapped male has its challenges in our culture because certain people want to hate us. It’s like our gift to the world is to unite all of the politically correct and overzealous minority groups demanding so called equality. I first learned this in my university sociology class, which was majority female. At one point in a tutorial I asked, “Why do white males seem to get blamed for everything?” The female TA answered, “Because you have privileges the rest of us don’t have.” I’m still not sure what these privileges are. I must have screwed something up because economically I dropped from middle class with my parents to being lower-middle class on my own (lower-middle class sounds better than upper-lower class). From my perspective I don’t know when my gender or ethnicity ever put me ahead of the pack. Sure, I didn’t get stopped at the US border as much as my two Muslim friends/classmates did when we commuted to the US for school, but that doesn’t feel like a major win. In fact, my main experience has been the opposite. For instance, twelve years ago I applied for the Peel police force and when I asked why I didn’t get accepted into the second round, the person on the phone said, “It must have been your written test results.” When I said my marks were in the mid nineties, the person said, “Then it must have been the physical test.” When I said I scored even higher on that, the person said, “It must be your volunteer hours.” When I said I had over three hundred hours of community service, the person said, “Well, then… uh… I can’t tell you.” Someone later told me I was overlooked because the police wanted more females and ethnically diverse males. When I was talking to someone else and I claimed this was sexist and racist, that person responded saying I’m not allowed to claim that because I haven’t suffered the way others have. What? How does that make sense? I’m allowed to be treated worse because of my gender and ethnicity and can’t complain? That sounds a lot like sexism and racism to me. And do you know the better question here? Who cares? Answer: No one. And what will I do about this? Absolutely nothing because sometimes it’s easier just to shut up and take it.
The kind of weakness I just demonstrated is a growing phenomenon in our culture. Sure there are still some very ignorant sounding men who believe their being male and/or white means something special (those guy are idiots), but there’s this other growing group of men like me who struggle with weakness. Yes, there are the morons who send “dick pics” to potential dates, which I don’t get because it’s like they want to be charged, but there’s also a growing problem of women complaining that men lack backbone (or something further south that rhymes with dolls) because we do. We are becoming weak as a gender because of the fear of being called sexist or racist. This is a problem that needs to be addressed or we will soon be facing the same crisis that’s taking place in Japan.
Earlier this year I listened to Aziz Ansari’s book, Modern Romance. As someone who is not a fan of his stand up or his arrogant persona on Parks and Recreation, I have to say, he does an excellent job in this book where he teamed up with a sociologist to explain what the dating world is currently like. In the one chapter he discusses his study of Japan’s dating scene, which he points out has been deemed a crisis situation by the Japanese government. For instance, many young Japanese people are NOT interested in sex. What? In 2013, 45% of women and more than 25% of men between 16 and 24 “were not interested in or despised sexual contact.” They also found that only 39% of 18-34 year old men were involved in romantic relationships while 1/3 of Japanese men have never dated, and 25% of men ages 35-39 have never had sex. Add to this, in 2005, almost 50% of Japanese men in their early 30s were single. Based on their studies and birthrate, the population in 2060 will drop from 127 million to 87 million with 40% being 65 or older. Thus, the Japanese government has started dating services and paying couples to marry and have kids in hopes of changing this, but it doesn’t seem to be helping very much.
To give a more specific case, Aziz interviewed a twenty year old male whose daily routine involved going to work and then home to play video games while his parents took care of him. How could a woman not be turned on? On the weekend he would hang out with a buddy, but he would never think of asking out a girl for fear of rejection. What’s crazy is, at the same time, he didn’t care. He was comfortable and wasn’t worried about finding a girlfriend. From his study, Aziz found this guy was more the norm rather than the exception, which is why Japan has cuddling cafes for lonely men who want someone to snuggle and clubs where you can pay women to listen to you talk and pretend to be interested. Ouch. This pathetic male has been deemed the herbivore male. Meanwhile, the women in Japan are often referred to as the carnivorous female because they are confident and strong. The women have become increasingly successful, but this adds to the delicate men being intimidated. The women Aziz talked to said they wished the men would take more initiative and be stronger because even if they ask out a guy many of them are too shy and delicate to handle it. As one gender has been raised up, it appears to be at the expense of the other. From my experience, in Western culture, we are heading down the same path, which I see best demonstrated with the following:
- Women are being pushed to be stronger and stronger through movie and TV characters and marketing. Walking through the mall (something I rarely do) I kept seeing young girl t-shirts celebrating female power and strength. The boys? Comics and video games.
- Video game obsessions are becoming more and more of a problem and taking over many male lives. Boys are even watching videos of other people playing video games. Brutal.
- Men continue to be seen as the bad guy as groups like Me Too scare good guys from taking risks to talk to a woman for fear of an accusation. According to one article, male doctors are now more frequently refusing to work with female students because of the fear Me-Too has caused.
- Daycares and the school system have forgotten that boys need sports with winners and losers and controlled rough housing. Many of my favourite memories as a child revolve around recess time sports while my favourite memories with my dad are him roughhousing with my brother and I. There is a bond in this kind of play that many adults are afraid of allowing today, which has a damaging side to it.
We need to encourage both males and females to be their best and acknowledge that we are equal but different and that’s what makes life more balanced and interesting.
This week may you see the balanced perspective; we are all equal but different.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people