“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man
One of the great challenges of our times is discerning between what is real and what is a substitute. One only has to take a casual stroll through your local department store or supermarket to see the myriad of items on display with their usually less expensive relative being sold not too far away. If you don’t like eggs, then there are egg-beaters, if you can’t afford leather there’s synthetic or what we affectionately call “pleather”, and on and on it goes. All of these choices and their substitutes are arrayed to give us variety while making choices between desire, need and what is economical for each of us. After contemplating our financial capacity many of us have opted for the less expensive substitute before, and we are acquainted with the short-term savings that quickly turned into long-term expense as the substitute rarely provided us with the quality and longevity of the genuine article. But these expenses and experiences with substitutes are benign. What is more dangerous for us has been the extension and use of substitutes in areas where the cost of opting for the substitute is too high. And while I could opine about religion and morality my present concern is with manhood. Just like the emergence of composite as a substitute for wood a faux manhood is now in vogue. Take a flip through any major male magazine and a theme will emerge of finance, fashion, fitness, and sexuality. These seem to be the pillars of the 21st century male. The emphasis is placed so heavily upon the aesthetic one could argue that the 21st century male is to be nothing more than a hollow mannequin in the storefront window valued for what is on him and not what is in him. In its proper context fashion fitness and sex(if you’re married) and money are appropriate pursuits for any man, but used as a means for defining manhood they are destructive. When we reflect upon the present day scourge of fatherlessness, the rise of illegitimacy in all races and classes, and the crisis of male leadership in the world at large, we have to question the present model of manhood. Have we accepted a substitute? I think we have. It’s been said, “A boy without a father figure is like an explorer without a map.” And we have to be accountable to that statement. Are we holding up an adequate model of manhood for our young to follow or are we handing them the game plan for failure and dereliction of responsibility? Furthermore, are we abandoning them to be cases of arrested development where they remain boys forever chasing after pleasure and riddled with insecurities well into adulthood? The recent trend of middle-aged men from preachers to politicians posting sexually inappropriate “selfies” on social media may be the answer to my question. We continue to promote this neutered image of a man and then become outraged over their delinquency or absence. But the man is not missing, manhood is. Our model of manhood must include again the acceptance of personal responsibility, maturity, and sacrifice. We used to hold up an idea of manhood that sacrificed for family and principle. And yet today men sacrifice both family and principle over the slightest inconveniences. While we are focusing on the superficial development of the male, it seems to be at the expense of the man inside of him. We have in essence become swollen bodies with lean souls. To put it bluntly, the 21st century male’s skin has grown thin. Whatever the case may be we are no longer the men who honored their commitment to wife and kids through financial depression, world wars, and social turmoil. Real manhood may not be as glossy as the 21st century idea, but I learned from a man named Dr. Ed Cole a long time ago the cheaper the product the higher the gloss.