Much has been said of this essay series since it first began. Some have been critical of the series, questioning the wisdom of drawing attention to men’s issues when men in our society already receive the lion’s share of attention. Some have voiced misgivings that the series promotes gender binaries, deferring to male-normative and hetero-normative points of view. Many have praised the series as a forum capable of presenting a wide diversity of opinions.
Who would have thought that a single car accident, where the driver backed out of his driveway onto a private road and struck a fire hydrant, would cause so much damage? Well, Tiger Woods found out how much damage a seemingly inconsequential event could have. In the week following this freakish accident, Tiger Woods went from being one of the most respected and admired people on this planet, viewed as almost a superhuman figure, to a severely flawed adulterer.
Last week’s massacre at Fort Hood last week left 13 American soldiers dead and another 29 injured. What made the attack even more shocking was the fact that it occurred on American soil, where our soldiers should feel safe from war, and that another U.S. soldier committed this terrible crime. So what can we learn from this attack and bring with us into the future as the U.S. continues to fight terrorism around the world?
When Agassi took crystal meth and failed a drug test, he lied to the ATP so that he wouldn’t get suspended. So why is there no palpable outrage as a result of these leaks? The reason is simple (and it’s not because Americans don’t care about tennis).
Major League Baseball, operating without a salary cap (only a luxury tax), is a league in which parity does not exist. This year, the Yankees had a payroll of $201.4 million, compared to the Florida Marlins’ payroll of $36.8 million.
Shouldn’t the Nobel Peace Prize have a higher standard than awarding it to someone who might do something or who garners high expectations? Sure, Barack Obama’s Presidency is young and he might tackle major issues around the world, but so far he has not done anything to deserve this prize.
I’m not sure whether I’m a man yet. Mainly I think this is because no one has sat me down and told me that I am a man, or taken me off into the wilderness to cast off my boyhood by killing and skinning a wild beast with my own hands. I have passed a heap of potentially meaningful milestones so far in my life—graduations, confirmations, awards, summer programs—but nothing so far that’s left me with a glowing, definitive feeling of manliness.
I find in preparing to write responses and essays on topics like these, I usually try to essentialize. I head straight for the dictionary, look up all the words I can, and try to find one, succinct, profound answer; a statement that, if left alone on the page, would say enough. In this case, that method would be fruitless. I think a lot about the man that I want to be, and I’ve never been able to find one attribute or quality that supersedes all others.
Afghanistan is at a crossroads. It has been since eight years since the US invaded the country to rid it of Al Qaeda and prevent further attacks on US soil. President Obama’s top commander there, General Stanley McChrystal, has urged Obama to sign off on a troop surge of 40,000 additional forces, much like the strategy followed in Iraq under General Petraeus. Obama’s Vice President, Joe Biden, has argued against additional forces and instead believes the administration’s focus should shift to Pakistan, which poses a greater threat to US security. While Obama’s options vary significantly, one thing is clear: Obama needs to make a decision soon.
For me, this is a question that cannot possibly have a single answer. Yet, it is interesting how quickly “right” answers come to mind. A good man provides for his family; a good man is strong; a good man treats women well; a good man always stands by his friends…It is a well-hashed checklist of traits that our culture has passed on to men as their yardsticks of masculinity, of virility, and of manhood.
Last Sunday Michael Vick stepped onto the football field during a regular season game for the first time since 2006, bringing his career full circle. Only two years ago, Vick was America’s number one enemy, when it was revealed that he participated in and bankrolled a dog fighting ring. Now, he is back on the field and winning over fans’ hearts and appreciation again. In a country that prides itself on giving people second chances, Vick shows us how forgiving the American public is, no matter what you have done.
This summer I began soliciting essays from male students at Carleton, asking them to respond to the question, “What does it mean to you to be a good man?” The idea was to engage men in thoughtful reflections about manhood, and to promote an important and interesting dialogue by making the essays public to the entire Carleton community. This essay is the first in a series—look in this section of the Carletonian for a new essay each week, written by a different man, responding to the same question.