There seems to be a lot of murmuring about the “death on manhood.”
Honestly, I am not sure what to make of it. I do know that historically people have been complaining about the death of manhood since ancient Rome. Yet, there seems to have been marked changes as of late. My boss could not call his father “pops” without being thrown a beating. There used to be television shows with names like, “Father Knows Best.” My wife recounts keeping a respectful distance with her head down at all times when she was in the presence of her father (this was not in America). Many families could not eat until daddy sat down and was served “the big piece of chicken.” Parents, until fairly recently, could discipline their children over sexual matters without being guilty of “emotional abuse.” Being an “assertive man” was an Alpha quality.
Maybe there is something to it, who knows. Kay S. Hymowitz in the Wall Street Journal wrote quite a long, opinionated treatment of the subject that boils down to this: in post-industrial societies, increased economic opportunity has made it affordable to go to college, buy one’s own place, keep living for the weekend without ever assuming responsibility, and be more financially independent.
There’s some truth to this, but I think the issue ultimately is not economic, but it is social. Nothing man’s you up like taking care of a family of your own. However, due to abortion, birth control, children not being very useful for farming, and the social safety net, children are no longer a given nor a retirement insurance policy.
Not coincidentally, the “loss of manhood” is a western phenomena where birthrates have been dropping. Further, all of these societies have made the man “obsolete,” with child support, sperm banks, and the like. You do not need a man in order to have a family.
However, I think it digs a little deeper than this. Why would a woman want a family without a man, or not fight harder to keep him? In third world countries, even horrible husbands are retained due to cultural mores which make women that are not virginal unmarriageable and the financial advantage to having one far better, even if he is a cheat. These are not good reasons, but reasons nonetheless.
So, certainly culture plays a large role and economics enables women, where the cultural shift has taken place, to dump the men. The West has a solidly secular culture at this point. We now have generations of boys brought up in households without a father figure of any sort. Plus, you have a culture that penalizes male assertiveness (unless one is a Muslim in Europe or a racial minority in the US, because we want to be understanding and all.) Therefore, what one is told by society is to not be a prototypical man.
With the success of smutty romance novels, apparently somewhere deep down in the reptilian mind assertive men are desirable, but that is not enough to undo the loss of tradition. In the West, the lost of Christian values where even when the majority of people were not actual Christians at least respected Christianity, has devastated manhood. Male headship, head coverings, women submitting and winning their husbands without words are scandalous ideas. Yet, these things are in Scripture and were taught unapologetically until after World War II.
For example, the other day my wife inadvertently threw $75 in the trash. I freaked out inside and on the outside was quite perturbed without cursing or yelling, not doing anything that would be explicitly sinful. However, I was well aware that even subdued anger in which the hint of it exists constitutes “emotional abuse” these days. Ultimately, this is a disservice to Christian men who need to be equipped to head their households and set family expectations, and a disservice to women where it encourages sensitivity to minor things that would not be acceptable anywhere else in the real world (friendship, Church, family, etcetera.)
Okay, so what do we do? Most men complain, watch their SpikeTV and porn, and retreat to their man-cave. Of course, this is pathetic, because the whole house should be “the man-cave” if he is lovingly heading the household through Christ-like self-sacrifice, and his wife is lovingly submitting to and helping him. Hence, the solution is “not [to] be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2). We need to seek obedience to God, as revealed in His Scriptures. In Him, there is true life.