On Male Friendship
Applicable, I think, not just to men. Even women's friendships have become more sparse, harder to maintain in this increasingly busy world.
Thanks to the Sleepy Mommies for the heads up on the article!
Thank you for posting this, it's a challenging topic... one I need to take to heart.
i'm starting to sound redundant, but we gotta do something about this, MamaT.
Yes, because I see it in my own sons. I have close friends, still, from grade school and high school, but none of them live nearby so they are mostly emailish and reunionish. And I have a close family. My sons' closests friends seem to be their cousins of the same age. My son and my brother's son are both going to be freshman at Purdue next year, rooming together. :)
I somewhat agree with the article that our gay-friendly society puts a strain on close, straight male friendships.
I do not know why, but this kind of friendship problem seems to affect me only when I live in the suburbs. When I lived in a not too large city I have had both married and single male friends. Other than my brother, I do not know any suburban males. They seem too absorbed by household and family. Having been raised in the suburbs, I noticed that my father did have a number of male friends...however most of them were friends that he made as a young man in the city. There is something missing from the newer suburbs. There is no agora, no forum. The suburbs also strike me as strangely unisex...but not in the creepy way like '70s clothing and hair...so this set-up cannot be good for women either.
Mark, I think part of this deals with the whole "de-masculinization" of our culture. As the mother of a son, I see this at play all the time. When we grew up in a smaller town in west Texas (at a much earlier age) there was more "guy time" in hunting, fishing, working on cars, playing sports. Kiwanis clubs were 100% male bastions. Ditto other men's service groups--Lions and the like. It was a built in way for guys to get together and be themselves. Forming, in many cases, friendships that lasted beyond the activities themselves.
The integration of those men's clubs left men with literally nowhere to go in a lot of places. When you move more into the city, and hunting and fishing are looked down on as "unenlightened" or "brutal", then that cuts back on those (now scoffed at by the intelligentsia) male bonding activities.
Men's hobbies have even become far more solitary--computers and video games. I think it tends to isolate them even further.
Now I'm on my soapbox, but I think men are underrated, undervalued and underappreciated for what they are. I hate it that there is ANY assumption that they need to become more like women to be "good enough." Bah humbug.
That wasn't the point of the article, but I think it's part of the culture that leads to the problem in the article.
Terry, I think you're on to something. There is such an anti-male bias in our society. If women do something all-female, it's sisterhood and empowerment and yada yada yada. But if men do something all-male, it's oppressive or barbarian, and women must be allowed to enter. Manly traditions get struck down. (Look at the way VMI is slowly being destroyed.)
I wonder how much the attack on fatherhood has to do with this?
Btw, there's an article on women's friendships in the new Faith and Family, but I haven't read it yet.
I think the attack on fatherhood is just another prong of the whole "let's make males useless" attack. I mean, I really read an article that seriously thought that the role of father was unnecessary!
Give me a break. We keep the McBaby. Her mom is a single mom. The McBaby love PapaC (my husband) with a love beyond bounds. She is attracted, and has been from the very beginning, to that strong, less fussy, MALE presence. What the folks talking about the socialization of babies miss is that not only do fathers TREAT babies differently, babies REACT INITIALLY differently to that male presence.
Every single day, the McBaby asks for her "unca Treg". Every day. No matter whether she and I are having a wonderful day. Same thing with the Zteen and the Mc. That big, protective presence is a plus in her 22 month old mind. And it has been from the beginning.
You know, part of the problem is the way we see love--as an ever-expanding amount or as a pie with only so much to go around. Those folks who devalue men see love as only so much to go around. If someone else soaks up a portion, there won't be enough for me. Therefore, we must make certain parts of it "unnecessary." Then we can cut it out and not worry about it negatively impacting *me*. It's an impoverished way to look at the world.
I just want to add that I think there are some class differences as to what is considered masculine. However, almost all of the different classes did have distinct ways of expressing masculinity, e.g. maybe they all fished, but professionals and upper-classers maybe used tied flies instead of worms and wore Orvis gear.
Fr. McCloskey, whom I have once seen celebrate Mass, is in contact with a lot of professionals. That group in particular in latter years has adopted a lot of the accoutrements of the upper middle class without its sporting, i.e. masculine verve, resulting in a more unisex specimen. They have had to buckle under the feminist agenda for the sake of office comity as women were gaining acceptance in the professions.
One could argue that as men have become feminized, women have become masculinized. But this seems to be a problem only in the middle classes and in management-type jobs. Of course, this is the audience for feminist opinion makers.
By contrast, my country cousins have no confusion about gender roles...yet the males still manage to be sensitive, but in a wholly masculine way.
What I was describing in my previous post is a fairly urban type of masculine comraderie more in the style of the Mediterranean culture.
I can't agree with Fr. CJ, much as I like him personally. Encourage men to spend more time with their friends? I know very, very few men who don't already spend far too much time with their friends for their family's well-being. Men need to make friends of their sons, not of their work buddies. And when is all this socializing to take place? A man who doesn't expect his wife to work for wages outside the home already has to work like the dickens just to support the family. Fr. CJ is off-base on this one.
I can see how this is a problem. I, for one, have never seen this problem in myself. When I was in the Army, I enjoyed the friendship and brotherhood of many and our relationships, although forced upon us by military life, were genuine and our friendships grew out of our love and trust of eachother...not football (or whatever).
Since then, I found the same (but somehow different) friendships in the Knights of Columbus.
A big problem that we have is that we live in a mobile society. Many of us either move (or our friends do) multiple times in our lives so close friendships are hard to build.
I've also found that friendships formed in the context of Catholic or Christian projects are different. Without saying a word against Belisarius' Army friends, the men you meet through the Knights are extremely unlikely to try to seduce your wife, molest your children, entice you into sin, or steal all your clients and ruin your business. (Indeed, the best traditions of the Knights expect a man to treat every brother Knight's wife as his own sister, and to encourage one another in both private and professional virtues.) It makes all the difference to Cacciaguida's happiness, for instance, that the men and women he works with are as committed as he is to living a Christian life. Feeling able to rely on someone's good principles enables a person to let down his guard and be more comfortable and confiding than is prudent around strangers in general.
This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on May 20, 2004 9:54 AM.
the besta ALL worlds was the previous entry in this blog.
This is an interesting concept is the next entry in this blog.
Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.