Man Deconstructed. Is it any wonder? Come on Ladies…

olena kassian drawings rising, detail 2, 36- x 29-

Jessica Bennett, A Master’s Degree in … Masculinity?:

Michael Kimmel stood in front of a classroom in bluejeans and a blazer with a pen to a whiteboard. “What does it mean,” the 64-year-old sociology professor asked the group, most of them undergraduates, “to be a good man?”

The students looked puzzled.

“Let’s say it was said at your funeral, ‘He was a good man,’ ” Dr. Kimmel explained. “What does that mean to you?”

“Caring,” a male student in the front said.

“Putting other’s needs before yours,” another young man said.

“Honest,” a third said.

Dr. Kimmel listed each term under the heading Good Man, then turned back to the group. “Now,” he said, “tell me what it means to be a real man.”

This time, the students reacted more quickly.

“Take charge; be authoritative,” said James, a sophomore.

“Take risks,” said Amanda, a sociology graduate student.

“It means suppressing any kind of weakness,” another offered.

“I think for me being a real man meant talk like a man,” said a young man who’d grown up in Turkey. “Walk like a man. Never cry.”

Dr. Kimmel had been taking notes. “Now you’re in the wheelhouse,” he said, excitedly. He pointed to the Good Man list on the left side of the board, then to the Real Man list he’d added to the right. “Look at the disparity. I think American men are confused about what it means to be a man.”

Read full post here: A Master’s Degree in … Masculinity?

Notes: Drawing by Olena Kassian @


  1. Perhaps more dissonance for men, tho believe me, women have their own painful dichotomies…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. WMS, most definitely….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It seems, as someone who has three, grown daughters, that our society has trained boys to be more like girls. When they grow up (and start dating my daughters) they are not very “manly” and seem to be more inclined to particiapte in activities that have historically been more femine. I suppose that is where the term “metrosexual” may have arisen from. I just can’t imagine being young today. I acknowledge that my answer is probably worthy of another thousand words of explanation, but no time this moring, .. I have to go compete in the workplace.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think any work that looks within (personal behaviors/beliefs) must include looking without (society/cultural teachings) and has the potential to benefit us all. We need to have these conversations.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I vote for the real good man.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. What is a good woman vs.strong woman ? Might get the same conflicting answers. Just saying. Stay at home/working mom. Leader/bitch. Madonna/whore. etc.

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG. (still laughing)

      Liked by 1 person

    • EXACTLY, vanbytheriver. I was thinking thru my questions on this topic and came to: if you asked the questions in the opposite order where would you be? (scientist in me is wondering…is it just easier to answer once you have been thinking…)
      AND if you asked women the stay at home v. working question (OR good mother/strong mother etc etc) – yea, you would conclude women (Americans only?) are just as conflicted and confused.

      Great thought-provoking topic.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Agreed. And I’ve witnessed the venom exchanged during those “which mom is better” battles…it can get really ugly. With so many more options, lifestyles, career choices available for women must be very confusing. Thanks, MJS


  7. Personally, I blame those damn cowboy stories… There are so many myths in the US that have become a part of the culture. Dichotomy, dissonance and paradox abound.
    I’m with Tiny!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. A good man, my list:

    Willing to protect those who are weaker and in need of protection for their sake rather than for heroics alone

    Able to discern strength from weakness vs. neurotic victimhood from manipulative power

    Hasn’t lost the ability to cry

    Supportive when called to be

    Has a circle of male friends

    Has made his peace with his past

    Can forgive

    Not afraid to say no or yes as the situation calls him to

    Not afraid to read a book or enjoy a sporting event

    Doesn’t need the women in his life as a surrogate mother

    Understands the choices he makes, owns them and doesn’t blame others

    Of course, this list might be applied to women. It’s so hard to make pure distinctions these days.

    And to be fair, my father, who very much influences my idea of men, is an amazing man. Not that he has never made any mistakes, but in his old age, he has become a very articulate and caring guy. Our closeness is something I couldn’t imagine 30 years ago but, on the other hand, I can’t imagine who I’d be without having had his influence and support through the years. He’ll be 84 August 20.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. what makes a man? kindness and compassion.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ha yes a steady job and lots of money!! Poor men, they have a hard time. They all just need a hug and told they are appreciated. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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