“The world is changed by examples, not by opinions”
The 19th of November was International Men’s Day. One of it’s main pillars of this day is the development of positive male role models, which we touched on in last week’s article, but it sparked a debate over the course of the week. The debate raised an important question: where are all the positive male role models, in various fields of endeavour, and why don’t we hear more about the ones that are out there?
As we have frequently discussed, we are at a crux in the development of male cultural influences. Men have changing roles in society and the gender equation. They need to be shown great role models in all fields, to be held up as examples of what is correct, right and forward thinking.
I think we are going some way to showing what isn’t right, but we are still a long way off. How do people like Dapper Laughs get TV airtime? How does Ray Rice not receive punishment for his behaviour, and why have the media not complained? Absolutely, these people need to be brought to account, but why did they get where they are in the first place? Why is their example seen to be acceptable? Why are these men allowed to be in positions of influence?
How does Julien Blanc, the controversial pick up artist, have men flocking to his door? Why is his example seen to be the way to boost your confidence in the field of romance?
I am sorry to have to single out a sport, but football is a great example of one with a dearth of role models. From the violent and aggressive on pitch behaviour that players show toward referees, to the extreme and debauched behaviour that is frequently highlighted off the pitch.
I could go into other fields and shower you with examples of poor behaviour. I understand that ‘Bad News’ and ‘Naughty Behaviour’ sells papers and makes good headlines, but why should it? It only does so because we have been conditioned for it to be that way. We can change our conditioning and, from the looks of things, in the last year there has been a groundswell of feeling that it does need to change.
No one is perfect and we all have secrets or even sometimes a past that we would rather forget. If we do go wrong or make a mistake, have the decency to hold your hands up and sincerely acknowledge and repent, then take actions to rectify it immediately. If we have a past that is less than stellar, acknowledge it and then demonstrate that we have taken action and changed for the better. Both of these things are traits of a good male role model.
One of the key ways to stop these and other incidents before they happen is to show examples of good behaviour. Instead of showing only what is wrong, we need to display to our young men and women conduct that is appropriate for them to understand what is right, highlighting men who behave with respect and courtesy, who show chivalry and thought for their fellow men and women. These men really do exist.
By their very nature, role models need to be in the public eye, they need to be profiled and we need all the media to make an effort to interview them, to highlight their exemplary aspects and actions. We need to show that there are ways to build confidence without resorting to aggression. That sport can be played with fairness and good nature along with competitiveness. That business can be successful and profitable without misogyny and malevolence. That relationships can be beautifully built without deviousness and sleaze.
We need to show that men can be masculine and yet intelligent, sensitive, thoughtful and mostly respectful of themselves, others and of their position in the world.