RETRO RELAPSE is a series of older articles from various places where I used to write before Talking Pulp.
*Written in 2014.
*This is the second part of an ongoing series where I am building off of what was discussed in the first part, which was used as an introduction.
One thing that men of my generation and most men after haven’t experienced, is a natural and authentic rite of passage. This can be due to being a generation of men raised by women, as this article’s title implies. Whether a father was completely non-existent or just part-time on weekends and holidays, the young boy didn’t have that male figure there on a full-time basis to show them manly shit.
To be honest, many of these fathers, for whatever reason, weren’t necessarily true men themselves but that is an article I’m saving for a later date. Additionally, in some cases, maybe those fathers weren’t taught what they needed from their fathers as well and they were just part of the cycle.
So what do I mean when I refer to a “rite of passage”?
Well, in most cultures, if not all of them, there is usually some event or test or a passing of the torch where a boy becomes what his people consider a man. This “trial” as we’ll call it here for simplicity’s sake, is usually something that tests the boy or makes the boy have to prove himself before being accepted by his family, peers and community as an adult man. This goes back to the beginning of time and it is something ingrained in our macho testosterone-filled DNA.
Whether a man is aware of it or not, there is a natural desire to be “the man”. Most men become angry at themselves for not feeling like they have achieved full manliness and acceptance by those they perceive as the manly men.
Well, true manly men are a scarce breed in this day and age, anyway. Some men go beyond their own self-loathing in this regard and have a clearer understanding of their situation and find themselves angry at their father for either not being there or not bothering to take the time to pass something on to them. The primal response to this primal desire is anger. And when you do come across a manly man and feel like you don’t measure up, it is demoralizing and thus generates that sense of self-loathing and inner angst.
For me, as I know with many males of my generation and after, I never got that official rite of passage. I just woke up one day and had to come to the realization that I was now living in an adult world. The problem with that is that I didn’t feel prepared, I felt like a boy thrown to the wolves. Now I didn’t panic but I did feel grossly inadequate and ignorant of what I needed to do to survive and most importantly, thrive. And in some respects, I hadn’t grown past the need for a nurturing maternal figure because I hadn’t had a healthy dose of masculine balance in my upbringing.
To this day, I’ve never had that turning point where I’ve felt like “this is it, this is manhood.” Adult life has just been a learning process through trial and error where I’ve had to deal with things as they come and have had to figure out my own solutions. While even if I was prepared and “made a man” by my cultural standards, I understand that life is often times difficult and challenging. The problem is that it is more challenging if you don’t have that edge and the confidence and skills that come with having that edge.
Things can be learned, and that’s the point here.
I couldn’t build anything, I didn’t know how to start a fire, I was really bad with money, I didn’t really know how to swoon a lady, I couldn’t cook and I was lacking in a multitude of other things. I also grew up around kids with money, so it didn’t help when I saw my peers in similar situations just throwing money at the problem and having hired help handle all their adult shit. I didn’t have money, so I had to teach myself and ultimately rely on myself.
Also, technology has made it so that we don’t have to make a fire or even cook really. And maybe technology is part of the problem, in that our fathers didn’t find certain skills a necessity when they could just use an electric heater or a microwave. While I am a fan of technology, I can see where it has made us soft. Hell, it’s a no-brainer that smartphones give us a license to be lazy.
And with technology, a lot of the manlier type jobs are becoming nonexistent. Truthfully, I’m glad that less people have to slave away in a factory and that farming is less strenuous. There are less men risking their lives building skyscrapers and doing dangerous jobs. Technology has its benefits but with pros usually come cons and the con is that there is somewhat of a human evolutionary void because of this.
Sure, men still hunt; they go camping but they don’t have to and these things are mostly considered recreational. The only real exception is where men still hunt to get food, as a deer can feed a family for a long time. It can feed a single man for even longer. And boar hunting has become a necessary practice in order to bring balance back to ecosystems and environments that have become overrun by their invasive nature. Plus, boars are pretty damned tasty; they have a gold mine inside of them called “bacon”.
While I am not one to tell someone else how to raise their kids, I will say, from my experience and others I have talked to over the years, that it would benefit children greatly (boys and girls) to be taught the skills and life lessons they need, in order to be more prepared for the world.
It also wouldn’t hurt to take them camping and to teach them how to handle themselves in a wilderness situation. It builds confidence and character. In fact, even though I was lacking in the father department, I had a grandfather and uncles that did do these things with me and they were not only some of my best childhood memories but they at least showed me what a man could and should be. Unfortunately, I didn’t get as much time with these men as I probably needed and that is why I felt a sort of manliness deficit throughout my twenties.
I think that for a lot of young men out there, you’ve just got to grab the bull by the horns and essentially become your own father and your own man. Unfortunately, I think there is a lot of confusion over what a man is, as there are a lot of people trying to dictate their opinions about it to males desperate to feel more masculine.
Many of these people are the mothers that raised us, who may have a great grasp on how to be a decent human being but have never themselves been a man. And many of them probably even hold some grudges based off of their experiences with the slew of deadbeat dads and man children that populated their “free love” generation.
By the way, I sum up what the essence of manliness is in my article Misconceptions of Manliness. I’ve also written on the topic pretty extensively now on this website, so look around and read some other stuff.
While you may not even know where to start or what to do, I can say with confidence that the website Art of Manliness is a good starting point. Also, find some sort of mentor. You don’t have to be all formal and ask to be his Padawan but just befriend a manlier dude that isn’t an asshole and learn from him. A real man will most likely have sympathy for your situation and not have a problem showing you some things. Of course, don’t get all emo about it. Just hang out, learn how to do some stuff and buy the guy beer and red meat once in a while. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet several great guys over the years that I’ve learned some cool skills from.
The greatest thing that not just men but human beings can do, is to share knowledge and skills with one another.
To guys struggling with these things, just know that you are not alone and that this is a more common problem than most people realize. There is no definitive answer on how to overcome this but just make the effort. Do what makes you feel good and then expand on it. The world has changed drastically in the last century or so, much quicker than our evolution is able to adapt. So it is up to you to adapt in your own way and that is kind of a vital and fundamental principle at the core of what manliness is.