Men's Issues by Robert Bly

Men, The Lost Gender

By Ken Ducote, MA, NCC, LPC


Men.  Hunter’s, gathers, protectors and security for the tribe.  Hum, that was ancient history.  Today roles have changed for genders.  Roles have changed for race, creed and color too.  Everything seems to be an equal opportunity, at least in some parts of the world.  However, in America, where men were the “providers’ of family and the alpha male role model, things have changed.    With equal opportunity to all genders, the job market has crossed the lines of gender and relate to who is most compentent for the position.  In many ways that is a good and great thing.  But it changes the dynamic of stability of years gone past.

So, today we see men and women competing for the same job.  Most with equal pay, however some corporate industries think if they hire women over men and they can get away with paying a salary less than that of a male employee.  This is discrimination and oppression at its best.  Even at a popular hospital in Baton Rouge, they have equal educated staff doing psychiatric evaluations, but because of a glitch in a system, even a large corporation, they cannot get it right.

So one might ask what does this have to do with “men’s issues” in society today?  Everything!  Men today are lost.  They toil, work at jobs that have little or no benefits, lack security, and offer no future.  The sad thing is that corporations really don’t care.  They work for their families (single mom’s do too—none the less), but the level of involvement  for men has become a toil without pride or benefit and one taxed very heavy by a government who penializes one for trying to reach the “American Dream.”

Men are lost in our society today.  In the days of old, men were hunters and gathers, provided food and security for their tribe (family) while women had the most important role, that as a matriarchic of the group.  Men only thought they were in control.  However, that “thought” gave them purpose and the drive to do what was right for their culture to survive.

Today, men have lost that inspiration. They have lost positive role models and see only professional sports players as hero’s.  In truth, their hero’s are drug addicts and losers.  Many social programs have taken away the responsibility of men to “father up” and simply be known as the “baby’s daddy.”  Wake up guys, anyone can procreate.  Animals do it all the time.  However, to be a father takes commitment!  If you are not committed for life, pull you pants up and leave.  A moment in the “hay” affect lives of the future for you to fill a biological need.

If men really want to find themselves in today’s society, may I suggest the readings of Robert Bly. Bly is as well known author who deals with men’s issues and the mythopoetic studies on men’s movement.  Much of Bly’s writings focus on what he perceived as the deeply troubled situation in which most men find themselves in western society.  Simply put, we as men lack mentorship.  Bly believes that what we see in society as failures in the male population that can be connected to the phenomena of depression, juvenile delinquency and the lack of positive role models in their lives.  Bly goes further to explain that the image of men today is weak.  He argues that men today are seen, at least by Hollywood as “soft.”  They lack the outward strength to revitalize their community and are seen as overweight, dependent folks, emotionally dependence on the women of society to rescue them from pain.  They are looking for their mother’s. 

So, what does this have to do with ancient martial arts?  Everything! Martial Arts provides for men, a platform of regaining strength and honor.  It provides a platform of respect and the chance to be the “alpha male, but is a good way by becoming leaders of society and not domestic violence perpetrators  or criminals.  If fact, research has proven that a “family that kicks together, stays together.”  In other words, martial arts can become a bonding factor in a family whereby everyone is a part of a team and is working for the common good as well as self-actualization. 

In summary, men have option in a changing world.  It just so happens that their options lie in the ancient arts of martial combat even though that has softend up to art and sport.  Remember, it is something greater that the individual.  The Arts can teach skills that are applicable both on and off the mat.  Somewhere in all of this, men will once again find themselves.  Who knows, it just might be the bonding glue that salvages the family unit today.

Ken Ducote, MA, NCC, LCC