Blog week three Then and Now so much has changed
This week I thought id have a think about how time changes and how this has had impacted on how it means to me to be a man. It must have had some impact surely. Born in the early 70s when being a man in society had such a different meaning to how it does now. Obviously I wasnt a man in the early 70s but how could the environment and society not have an impact on me and how I grew up. I thought I could talk about what society in the 70 80 and 90s told me about being a man and how this shaped how I, or more importantly, how I struggle to be able to just express how I feel in an ordinary way.
What was I exposed to in society? Well TV was my main friend and of course my record and then tape and then CD. I know some people reading this may be confused about some of the ways in which life was and what strange devices compared to now. The fact that there wasnt really an accessible internet, no mobile phones to speak of and no computers in the early days. January sales were an unusual event unlike the continuous sales that seem to be now, and I would have to carry some change in my pocket if I wanted to make a call. One of the biggest things I think is odd now is no Google..... I had to go to the library, when it was open and Now dont get me wrong im not an old man although some might think so, im only talking about 40-50 years although when i write it like that it does have spinklings of museum material. What toys and cartoons were around then? What heros did I have as a child and how did these influence me. What did they tell me about what it was to be a man?
So firstly tv and cartoons. I remember watching He-man, the stuntman, the A-team, Airwolf, reading comics like the beano or Dandy, desperate Dan.. All these cartoons, tv programs and comics have one thing in common. You need to be strong and a kick ass to be a man. You can’t simply just go about your days and enjoy your life, the only way in the late 70s and 80s and into the early 90s you could be a real man was if you were a kick as Mr T, face, He man and then there was always ‘howling mad murdoch’ but lets not go there. I looked up to these characters but never really felt that I was anything like them. Sure I played like any other kid my age but I just knew that the tiny fragile frame I was blessed with as a then would never really would look good in the disapointed eye of Mr Motivator. Now it isnt like I or many other kids were ever going to be a world wrestling champ like Big Daddy or Giant Haystacks but the message was out there. If your not a power house of a man then you might as well just keep your head down and try to muddle through. Even James bond told me that I should be strong, deadly and ‘good with the ladies’.
So in the media, cartoons, tv programs and movies the message was that as a man I needes to be strong. This meant , it seemed to me at the time to be able to cope. To be able to cope with whatever emotional problem, relationahip breakdown, traumatic event in my life brought me and just ‘get on with it'. Im not saying that this was necessarily all bad. I did go to the gym a lot and felt confident with my body. But quite often it felt like a shell around me that I could hide behind. A Tank that Captain America would have trouble destroying. Well maybe not that good but I did feel I could tick off the list of things that you should be when you grow up that I had a good strong manly body. I could charm ladies in my early days with my quick and suave chat. That was another thing, in the early days before mobiles you were expected to go out with your mates to the pub and actually approach complete strangers and strike up a conversation in which you would try to be the James Bond of your group and always get the girl.
Now I hear what your saying that these outdated ideas have no place in todays society surely? But what them am I to do? I am in todays society. I am divorced, now overweight and pushing 50... The age of James Bond has passed and now if you talk to a lady in the pub she thinks your a weirdo. This is what I mean by past and present collide. What it meant to be a man in the 70s 80s and 90s is not now valid. Mr T lied to me... Not entirley as I am aware that there is an even more emphasis on the perfect body. But now there seems more than ever a conflict in me as a man. I must now be strong and cope, be the pillar in which people can rely, be ready to fight off attackers but also be sensitive and in touch with how I feel. I never once saw Mr T cry to Murdock and say that really wasnt going to go on the plane this time because he was terrified and it was an earlier trauma from his childhoos that made him feel that way, perhaps he needed therapy or medication but never quite seemed to get it, instead his mates drugged him, kidnapped him and quite probably traumatiswd him all over again. I sometimes feel that as a man now you need to have a split personality. Kind, caring, loving, strong, assertive, like a man but not too much. I mean Uncle Daniel , that i talked about in last weeks blog was a soldier. He killed for a living and fought for freedom. He didnt talk to me about it but there you have it I suppose, how could he. Maybe its getting to be a little better now. Maybe people can see that the pressure to cope is going to kill more men, maybe its time to change and move on from the idea that to be a man you have to be strong, able to cope and keep it all in. Perhaps but I think it will take all of us to do that, media, comics, tv, cartoons. Heres hoping because my belly isnt going to be packing any other sixes apart from the barrel that now rests there.