Sunday, December 18, 2011

American Manhood: Piety and Testosterone

When scoring athletes look upward and thank God for His help, why don’t opponents ever shake their fists at the sky for being disfavored?

Debate over piety displays by Denver’s Tim Tebow and a Barry Bonds conviction of using testosterone enhancers prompt broader questions about the definition of manhood today and its manifestations.

We are a long way from the culture’s strong, silent heroes (Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Unitas, Clint Eastwood) to a generation of Dancing with the Stars on the diamond, gridiron, movie screens—-and everywhere else.

In politics, Mitt Romney is punished for trying to look presidential (i.e., dignified), while a cable mating show features an obnoxious dandy trying to impress a first date with condom wrappers bearing his name and likeness.

We are talking about the morphing of American manhood from what may have been idealized stereotypes (Atticus Finch and Shane) to id-driven child-men with no limits in their quest to score on the playing field, at the ballot box and in the bedroom.

That may be dismissed as a matter of style, but what has been lost in these equal-opportunity self-assertions is a component of the traditional ideal of manhood—-protecting not only those in your own family but, insofar as possible, the weak and helpless everywhere.

Men of my ancient generation may have exaggerated that masculine role in society, but in today’s culture only Barack Obama is trying to hold on to a shred of it and being pilloried as a result.

Do we really want our grandsons to take as role models the likes of Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry and Tea Party crybabies in Congress?

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