Contribution by the Polish magazin “LAMAgazyn”
What has happened to you, guys?
Mass culture - officially held in contempt and very often considered something wrong - is a device which fascinates almost all of us. Recently, it has become extremely popular to use this device when talking about men and when creating their new image. by Katarzyna Kozikowska, Anna Małyszko
“Where are the real men?”, journalists, artists and researchers ask. Scientists have announced the fall of masculinity and degeneracy of chromosome Y, whereas journalists have noticed some transformation in traditional masculine patterns - in other words, changes in man's behaviour. Beyond the shadow of a doubt we can say that the last 10 years have been an extension of new men's models in mass culture, such as a loving father and an open-minded, successful partner. What's more, not only must he behave in a certain way, but he has to look good as well - an appointment with a barber once a month is not enough. So that is why we ask ourselves this question: Do these new patterns signify the end of the real man?
Where does it come from?
First of all, we need to reflect on whether men walking on the catwalk wearing skirts or men weeping in a romantic comedy are anything new and unusual for us, because it may turn out that we are merely coming back to the past. Just bear in mind the fashion of the 18th century, when men used to wear high-heeled shoes, wigs, laces and used to put make-up on their faces. They also used to wear jewellery, often more expensive and provocative than their wives did.
Not to mention that, in the epoch of romanticism, the most popular portrait was the one depicting the weeping man and a picture of a caring and loving father that came into being already during the 19th century. So where is this sudden interest in men's shape coming from?
The fact is that it was the end of the 20th century which brought the massed attack of new models of masculinity, and all of this because of mass culture as usual. The shape of masculinity has come to be greatly important, because there always must be something to talk about and to wonder about. So all our attention is focused on men until… something more interesting comes up.
Honey, I'll feed the kids
Currently, the least controversial model is a loving and caring father. We can come across this kind of man everywhere - in TV series and films, and especially in advertising. The image of a young, handsome man holding a baby is present in many commercials, not only these with baby products, but also with those for men's cosmetics just to show how mild these products are. Besides, this kind of, let's say, propaganda, is going to convince us that a father is as important in a child's life as its mother, a fact very often forgotten when talking about raising children. The traditional model of a father was of a hard-working man, earning money for the whole family and sometimes playing with children, but not too often or too long, because he was tired.
Nowadays, this has been changed. A good father takes part in everything concerning his children - beginning with napkin, bathing and feeding, and ending up with spending his free time playing football with them or taking them on a trip.
What is new about the contemporary man is woman's expectation. A perfect partner should be (and here counting out rhyme): indulgent, tender, gentle, caring, loving, understanding, reliable, responsible etc. Fortunately, women realise there is no guy like this, so they let men be a little bit less perfect, but still, even if a man is allowed to have some little disadvantages, he needs to have most of the virtues mentioned above.
If you ask men what they think of it, it seems that they are not against the partnership, but on the other hand, they seem to be confused as they do not have a pattern they could model on. They do not know how to form a relationship in a way different from their parents' one.
How guy with guy
The biggest issue associated with problems with men is that women very often do not understand why men's behaviour is so different from theirs. For example, women do not get it that men do not have to hug every time they see each other or kiss or touch - for them it is natural just to shake hands. Our generation is finally going to realise that, showing this kind of situation in films and serials. Very popular in the USA and in Europe as well, “Friends” seems to be a good example. Actors performing in this sitcom very often make fun of this misunderstanding between men and women, trying to show a better way of understanding each other conversation.
The only exception, when men are not so calm and insensitive, is during the socermatch. Then they hug each other and pat each other on their shoulder. Does it mean that only during the match they are themselves?
When mass culture did its homework about gentlemen's psyche, it's time for a body. Obviously, because women have made such a deal out of this, it turned out that men, to continue being handsome and good-looking, need to take care of their bodies as well. Little wonder, then, that there are now so many products for men and that the current icon for men is David Beckham, taking care of himself even too much. Men try to cloth themselves and look like he does, and there's nothing for them to be shy of going to a beautician or a stylist, buying fashionable clothes and good perfumes in order to become worth women. Men stopped being ashamed of putting creams on their faces and moisturising their bodies, and they openly admit caring about their appearance in order to be attractive for their wives or girlfriends. And women admit that they like this new image of men.
Do men often change?
After this mini-review about new types of men, it is time to answer the question of whether something is up with men or not. Generally speaking, man's model has changed as well as woman's one. A few years ago, the most popular and desirable image of men was a shaggy cowboy in dusty trousers from the advertisement for Marlboro cigarettes. Nowadays, it is a neat and well-groomed guy wearing a Gucci suit. What's wrong with that? Nothing - until there are women who like and accept it.