Since man has walked the earth there has been a primitive need for man to be tough. The early cavemen had to hunt and kill their food with primitive weapons or they would starve. When man became “civilized” he had to add fighting in wars to his tough guy list of things to do. Whether someone is building a structure, landscaping, drilling for oil, or doing any other sort of activity that requires you to have strength and endure the elements there is a level of that manly toughness required. It is in our genes to be tough. It’s part of our purpose in life. Men used to have a certain level of pride directly tied to how well they could handle physically demanding, painful, and even life-threatening situations. Unfortunately the whole “tough guy” trait seems to be dying out.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still plenty of tough guys out there. I just remember a time when it seemed like every man had at least a little bit of that tough guy persona. I don’t doubt that most men still have that trait, but if they do then a lot of them are letting it be trumped by their laziness. As technology and the economy have evolved, the nature of our employment opportunities have as well. We still have roughnecks working oil rigs, farmers tending to their crops, and a few other professions where you are required to work long hours in dangerous environments. There are a lot more professions these days that have moved us indoors though. Cities have grown into massive metropolitan meccas of concrete and asphalt so tending to the yard has become a thing of the past for those folks. We no longer have to hunt for our food, and if something around our house or apartment breaks we can just call a repairman to take care of it for us. For the few that actually use tools anymore, they’ve all become electric or pneumatic taking a lot of the hard work out of things for us. Most men do not have to be the epitome of power and stamina anymore.
As a species, with some exceptions, we’ve mostly eliminated the need for testosterone fueled tough guys. I think the genetic groundwork for those traits are still in place though. There are definitely still situations where toughness is needed for any male. An example of this would be working through a minor injury or illness. Now days there are so many people willing to use any excuse they can find to miss work. My dad has grown men that work for him that will call out of work if they have the sniffles or a pulled muscle. Why? Because they can miss work, still get paid, and keep their jobs. There is no sense of pride in one’s work these days. My dad, on the other hand, tore a few of his quad muscles along with tendons and ligaments in his left leg on Thanksgiving day. He is currently trying to get a surgery scheduled to repair the damage he did. Is he hobbling around on crutches and missing work? Hell no. He hasn’t missed a day of work yet. His thigh is purple and black and twice the size it normally is. He is having to be careful with how fast he moves and how much he lifts, but that isn’t stopping him from outperforming folks half his age. He’s still going to work because he knows that the center he works for needs him there being that this is their busiest time of the year. His absence would have a huge effect on how well his center performs right now. A couple of years ago I was in a similar situation. I broke my hand in 9 places and needed a major reconstructive surgery to repair it. Luckily I had the week after the injury occurred scheduled as my vacation long before and I ended up having the surgery on that Friday. The next Monday I was back at work with pins sticking out of my hand, whole arm in a cast and sling, and full of pain pills. Still, I showed up to do my job because no one else in my area does what I do and I didn’t want the work to backup on me. The doctor wanted me to miss 3 weeks of work. I never missed a day. I even handled my normal workload and I was having to do it with one hand.
This decline of general toughness has had an effect in other ways as well. If someone is treated poorly they just quietly move on with life and avoid confrontation. Lots of folks will give up on something at the first sign of resistance. It takes a certain level of inner strength to force your way through a difficult situation and prevail. When a lot of folks are presented with these situations they either run away or let it get the best of them. Let’s use employment status as another example here. Lay-offs are more common than ever. It used to be that the man of the household took pride in his ability to provide. If he was laid off then he would find day labor jobs or take 2 or more lower paying jobs to support his family. You have to be strong willed and determined to get through those kinds of situations well. When a lot of folks lose their job these days they immediately turn to unemployment checks. They will milk that cow and and make no real effort to find employment. Sure, they will casually look for a job with salaries comparable to what they were used to making, but even then a lot of folks don’t put in much time or effort to obtain a position. That shows weakness and laziness to me. The idea of working 2 or more lower paying jobs to make the same amount of money is something that people rarely choose to do now. It used to happen all the time. People were tougher in the old days and had pride. Generally speaking, neither seems to hold true in modern times.
There’s also the matter of a man’s appearance. Women used to prefer strong, burly men that could provide and protect. Muscles were gained through hard work, not by protein shakes and gym memberships. Hell, even the majority of the gym-bodies are focusing their workouts to sculpt their body rather than trying to gain strength. I used to lift weights because I wanted to be able to bench press a house, not because I wanted to have perfectly squared pecs. Hair used to be kept short because we didn’t want to have to spend time taking care of it or kept long because we didn’t want to have to mess with having it cut all the time. Just 20+ years ago, the idea of using hair gel and a blow dryer was a foreign concept to a large number of men. Now there seems to be a majority of guys that spend a significant amount of time and money having their hair cut, died, and styled periodically. Also, why did body hair removal become popular for men? There are tons of guys walking around with carefully waxed chests and abs these days that are smoother than a baby’s bottom. I find it kind of disgusting. Our body hair is a direct result of the fact that we produce large amounts of testosterone. Coincidentally, men go bald on top because testosterone creates more DHT which causes baldness. This is why few women go bald or have thick body hair. More and more you find men removing their body hair and having hair transplants to reverse the balding process, yet these are two byproducts of…well…BEING A MAN! Being covered in hair used to kind of be a sign of toughness as well. Now it seems as if a lot of the population finds it to be a sign that you don’t groom yourself well enough. Men used to refuse to wear pink and purple clothing, and now pink Polo shirts and button ups are fashionable. Why have we allowed ourselves to become “metro”? It is emasculating!
I don’t know there are so many girly men out there now. I don’t understand why men have become over groomed and highly stylized. I’ll stick to wearing my plain jeans, black t-shirts, and black Harley boots. I’ll keep my beard, keep shaving my head, and let the thick, built-in sweater that God gave me stay where it is. I’d rather be an old-fashioned, gruff, burly tough guy any day than be caught wearing girls jeans and sporting a swoopy hairdo. I’d rather go to work with pneumonia and earn my paycheck than call out because I have the sniffles. I’d rather super-glue myself together and slap a bandaid on the wound than run to the ER to be treated and have FMLA paperwork filled out. Man up!