‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is Nurture, not Nature
In a world striving for gender equality, macho male displays of testosterone both physically and cognitively speaking, or the ‘cave man’ syndrome, are becoming tacky and cliche to say the least. Behaviors once attributed to ‘natural’ gender differences between men and women, such as bullheaded stubbornness and physical or emotional reserve, have been biologically disproved.
The once unquestionably believed ‘boys will be boys’ mythology has been shown in both clinical and real world environments to be nothing more than nurture over nature. Rather, it is solely a result of cultural and ideological stigmas surrounding long accepted gender roles and norms. In American society, these gender norms still follow a paternalistic milieu; stating the male as the king of his castle, with all other court members subservient and silent to his dominance.
Granted, male hormones resulting from puberty lead to emotional and behavioral alterations out of childhood and into physiological adulthood. However, the hormonal and behavioral alteration turning into paternalistic stature and reasoning is entirely of a cultural and ideological upbringing. Basically stated, ‘normal’ male behavior is not genetic or natural. This is, even if it’s still considered ‘normal’ or natural because so many males are still apologetically raised to believe it so.
Changing With the Times
Evolution and with it, flexibility are key in an ever changing society and world. Both single parent male and also equal partnership households, where men assume lead roles in domestic and childcare duties, are steadily on the rise.
In today’s nuclear family, the woman can just as easily be the breadwinner who comes home after a long day at the office to a man bringing her slippers with dinner already on the table, instead of the other way around. Or for that matter, both partners coming home after professional work days, to one another and their family.
In these situations, equality breeds necessity; and necessity breeds the evolution of the male sex and its long assumed gender roles and norms. Therefore, the following five suggestions are for any single or committed male to help them evolve, both inside and out; in order to meet the demands of today’s ever-changing and more human-centered family unit and world.
Skill #1-Kiss the Cook
Learn to Cook. Not just grill, or pouring frozen bagged dinners into a skillet and heating over the stove. Culinary skills are liberating, allowing someone to create unique and tasty, fresh and healthy meals at a fraction of the financial and many times, health costs of dining out. Search out cookbooks and cookware used at garage sales or second hand stores, or nice new items if your budget allows. Use the Internet for the plethora of recipes and preparation tips and information available for little or not cost.
Then, revel in the freedom, as well as empowerment coming from cultivating your own culinary genius. And even the recognition pouring in from your friends, partner or spouse. It is no secret that many women greatly appreciate a man who is willing and able to cook for them, instead of expecting her to slave away in the kitchen for him.
Skill #2-No Such Thing as ‘Woman’s Work’
Learn to sew and perform basic household duties. For generations, the yard, garage, electrical or plumbing venues were considered exclusively male. Today, there are many female mechanics and technicians, electricians and construction workers. It’s time for men to pick up a mop, wash the windows and do the dishes. And in our more frugal world, skills such as sewing can save money when torn shirts, pants or other garments/accessories seem to necessitate the need to go spend money on new ones.
Make no mistake that domestic chores are a skill. This applies equally to a single male wanting to keep his house and life neat and orderly, or a partnered one. The old adage, ‘Your mother doesn’t live or work here’, is something many men need to be told way too often, but still are not, or do not listen and learn if they are. This is for their own good and that of their relationships– with their partners and spouses mental, physical and emotional states included.
Skill #3-Good Things Come in Small Packages
Own and care for small, cuddly pets. We all know, your Pit Bull or German Shepherd is an extension of your rough-and-tumble manhood; as is your large-block V8 sports car, or lifted pick-up truck with matching gun rack too. Well, how about the care and compassion it takes to think small? Try coddling a cuddly little guinea pig or bunny rabbit for a change. Small pets, regarding both interaction with, and daily maintenance duties for, open your heart and mind, as well as your inner child, in ways roughhousing with your dominant larger pet just cannot.
And for men either already, or one day hoping to become an emotionally available and nurturing partner or parent, small pets also help introduce and sustain a level of emotional and physical vulnerability; both with you and the pet alike, and proving invaluable when dealing with other, less macho members of the human species.
Skill #4-Humanities Equal Humanness
Learn to appreciate the humanities and the arts. Sure, the UFC and Monday Night Football are staples of many American households. But they are also brutish and devoid of any higher, finer and more refined cultural or cognitive values. What about the symphony, or a play? Visit art, history and science museums, and learn as you go. Take guided tours if you are not sure what you are looking at, and enlighten yourself as to the many wonderful cultures and contributions all around and ever-present in the world we live.
Pick up an inexpensive art or history book at a used bookstore as a teacher or accompaniment. Allow yourself to empathize with, and learn from important and even uncomfortable lessons and events from humankind’s past. Or, make proactive and productive use of the Internet, by finding a website sharing such information with you, art, history or science wise, free of charge.
Skill #5-Ask for Directions, and Help From Yourself and Others
Ask for directions, i.e. learn to be emotionally and mentally available! Most men deal with their emotions by stuffing them down inside, until they manifest as anger, hostility or depression. Men are still taught the cultural and ideological norm of strength equaling silence and suppression-when all these norms cause are mental and physical health problems; as well as unhealthy relationships that open communication and emotional honesty can effectively stave off. It’s okay for a man not to know everything, and even to need reassurance or praise from females and other males too. Being emotionally vulnerable is not weakness.
Rather, it takes a strong man to be honest and open with his thoughts, feelings, needs and desires to his friends, family, partner but most importantly, himself. After all, to know and love thyself is the highest order of thinking, feeling and being, and only available to someone who is emotionally available inside and out. There are counseling or discussion groups and outlets, both in person and sites all across the Internet; many charging little or no money for services offering clinical help. Also, used book stores are full of self-help literature anyone can pick up, read and learn from at their own pace and in the privacy and comfort of their own homes and spaces.
The New and Improved 21st Century Male
‘Normal’ is really nothing more than a washing machine cycle; smack dab in between delicate and permanent press. Whether you consider yourself a ‘normal’ male or not, chances are there is something about you that is different. This is because ‘normal’ doesn’t really exist. ‘Normal’ is cultural, ideological and perceptual based on shared values and traits, not anything absolute or constant.
The only real constant is change. In this light, it’s a true man’s number one duty to change himself inside and out, thereby meeting the needs of his world and fellow human beings; for the betterment of everyone whether male, female or otherwise, today and tomorrow alike.