Who’s your Daddy?

Spencer's Dividend

Because real men change Nappies

What do you think it takes to be a real man?

Over the last 60 or so years women have attained some sort of equality. In the west, social norms and practices, especially sexual practices, have meant that the idea of free love, or love without restriction of the Don Juan variety have became the norm. Since then there has been a bit of a backlash and women have found a way to be women who don’t have to be like men to be equal to men. Feminism has slowly started to form and articulate a more mature vision of what it means to be a woman in modern society. I am not so sure that this has happened for men.

Given that men and women do have differences and because we tend to divide society (especially in advertising) between men and women, targeting them just as advertising agencies target other social groupings and stereotypes, I have the sense that men have been left in a bit of ambiguity about what it means to be a man. The latest Short List (links to article) has 6 different “styles” of the evolution of man. The article is worth a read, its fairly broad, but the styles betray a pitfall of aspirational manhood. It also betrays a self centred perspective of what it means to be a man. At one point Short List suggests that men, not women have been the biggest beneficiaries of women’s liberation, as we no longer have to be the sole “breadwinners” of the family and can now go and do our own thing. Of course this was true of men in the past but only if they where willing to keep their own house.WAR & CONFLICT BOOK ERA: WORLD WAR II/REST & RELAXATION

Sociologist and psychologists have talked about the formation of the “self” and part of their research has been about gender.  This is related tangentially to advertising and how ad men target men and women as individuals rather than men as parts of a community. The basic subset of “community” in our society is the nuclear family. The effects that men have as fathers on their children has a huge effect on the development and wellbeing of who they, as girls and boys, as men and women are. It seems to me this “value” or aspiration is something that has been lost in our narrative about what it means to be a real man. Or at least it has for the type of aspirations men who are not yet father have. Of course it is also true that men who are still foot loose and fancy free in their late 20s and sometimes late 30s have more to offer their communities and society than simply being self pleasuring freaks. I think you don’t have to be a daddy or husband to be a real man, I’m just not sure what he looks like?

Whether you are a man or woman, I am interested to hear from you about what you think it means to be a real man in 2010. I am also interested to hear how you think being a man relates to being in “community,” whether that is at work, at home, or in some other capacity.

I have set up a facebook group that is aimed at starting the debate. You can join here.

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4 Responses to Who’s your Daddy?

  1. ellispotter says:

    To be a man in 2010 does not necessarily mean to be a daddy. Where did you get that question? It has other connotations in 2010 than when your photos were taken.

    • Lauri Moyle says:

      Indeed Ellis, the title is meant lighthearted. The picture also, though I find it endearing. The question is a serious one though.

  2. Tabitha Croucher says:

    When I look at my husband, I see a ‘real man’ in a way that I did not see when I looked at my peers just graduated from college, even though when we met he was younger than many of those peers. I think in some ways to “be a man” differs depending on your social class and educational level. Tony comes from a culture where taking responsibility for your family is a huge part of being a respected member of society. When he graduated from high school he got a job and started earning money to help support his grandparents, who had raised him. He is always noticing when someone is in need (even if it’s just of a loan of five bucks for gas) and mentally trying to see what he has to meet those needs. When we first met, before I even knew his name (in fact that was the day I asked what it was) he offered for me to use his name as a reference for a job I was considering applying for where he had previously worked. He works in a low income job he does not enjoy as a gas station attendant, but he is always focusing on serving his customers the best he can even when he’s having such a terrible day that he can barely think of anything but how cranky he is.

    When we married, he moved away from his grandparent’s home so that he could be the head of his own home instead of staying a little boy/workhorse in his grandfather’s eyes as he would have. Since we married he has supported us entirely from his income (I’m much better at conserving money than I am at bringing it in), looks for ways to either earn more income or else help someone in need with the skills he has (this winter he’s been able to do a lot of tree work, some of it pro bono for people who really can’t afford it because of very difficult family circumstances and need it done)… And since our daughter was born two weeks ago, he has in fact changed nearly every diaper she has filled whenever he is home.

    To many Tony would be dismissed as unimportant – considered “just” an “uneducated redneck” or a “gas station attendant.” He’s not even a garbage man, which he has experience with, having helped his late neighbor on his garbage route in high school – and this was a route without one of those fancy automated garbage trucks – just a pick-up with high sides that they would sling the garbage into.

    Yet I can think of no other man I respect more, and none who deserve the name of “real man.”

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