The days of the man of the family being the breadwinner are well and truly in the past, or is it? The dichotomy of being a manly man or just being part of the male sex is something that shouldn’t even be debated in the modern world. But, when we look to these classic images of what men are, you might think of your James Deans, Steve McQueens, or even something a bit more up-to-date, a la the 80s action stars. Is there any room for these types of men in the modern world?

The Idea Of Masculine

Hopefully, we’ve seen a big shift in what being masculine actually means. It used to be that the typical man would go to forage, or they would spend their weekends on hunting ranches, but now we are seeing the change in dynamics. And this is very evident in popular culture, and even something like a show on TV now, it has a lot more imagery where the manliness of years gone by are put alongside so-called masculine activities. Something like Dancing With The Stars, or Strictly Come Dancing, depending on where you live in the world, shows these muscular characters embracing the softer side. And this is great as we are hoping to raise our children in a more tolerable world. On the other side, there are still people trying to get back to the old-fashioned idea that men fix cars, and don’t do much else. Is this seriously damaging the image of men for years to come?

The Conflicted Environment

So, where does this leave the modern boy? In growing up in a background where the idea of “men” is still adhering to the image of yesteryear, depending on the patriarch of the family, it definitely leaves them with mixed messages. And this pull can cause a lot of confusion for children growing up in this conflicted environment. What we need to start doing is to communicate a broad palette of what being masculine actually means. There are some excellent images of men who eschew the idea of what masculine actually is, and people like The Rock, or Ryan Reynolds, are frequently seen in so-called “feminine” clothing. But with these two actors, they are still, in a classic sense, ripped. So, for many of those websites that push manliness, they get a pass.

Changing The Perspective

This is, unfortunately, a long battle, but while this is nothing new, and in fact, the male heroes weren’t always the clichéd image of cool. Let’s not forget about people like Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire, those were people who survived in a less tolerant time. So, while there are still those who view shows like dancing with the stars as weak, or un-masculine, this is something that will still take a long time to address.

Manliness is what you decide it should be. And so, with the clichéd image of the man chopping down trees, fighting, and so forth, it might be time to say goodbye.