Men According To Bly Essay, Research Paper
For thousands of years men as a gender have dominated this world, because for the most part men are physically stronger than women. Unfortunately, science and its statistics have proved man to be inferior to women. For example, men have a shorter lifespan than women, men are more likely to have a car accident, and women are safer drivers; some studies have gone as far as to prove that women are smarter than men. Since the 1960s women’s rights have expanded broadly in the United States and around the world, narrowing the gap of inequality. Since then, men as a gender have undergone many changes putting their manhood in question. Robert Bly, an award winning poet and writer, became a leader of the men’s movement because of his writings focused on the modern male. He illuminated masculine consciousness and men’s need to reconnect with themselves and their essential masculinity. In the essay “The Community of Men,” Bly effectively communicates the evolution of the male gender through the decades, and what the ideal male should be. Many people disagree with Bly, and the standards he has set for men, but this essay will argue the positive reinforcements that Bly provides in his literature, demonstrating the reason behind his writing.
In “The Community of Men,” the controlling idea that Bly argues is that contemporary men are out of touch with their own masculinity, an estrangement that causes tremendous grief and alienation. His categorization by decades of the male evolution, give the reader an accurate timetable of the deconstruction of manhood. Starting with the male model of the fifties who “was suppose to like football, be aggressive, stick up for the United States, never cry, and always provide”(Bly 339) to the current “soft” male of the nineties. Bly also attributes the decomposing of the American man to events that occurred throughout history, these events support his claim that males slowly began to loose the vision of what a man was and what were his responsibilities. The woman’s right movement of the sixties forever changed man, being the most significant event in the female gender’s quest for equality. The woman’s typical role of being the standard housewife/caregiver was changed to whatever they set their sites on.
The woman’s right movement also brought upon men to start contemplating feminine issues, which is commonly referred to as getting in touch with your feminine side. Changing times also brought the war in Vietnam, which also shaped the young male way of thinking. If being a man meant going to war to sacrifice your life for God and country, who would want to be a part of it (Bly 339). These events strengthen Bly’s perspective on the changing American man by showing the cause and explaining the effect. Bly’s perspective of the ideal man is represented perfectly by the use of a metaphor involving Odysseus from the book “The Odyssey” by Homer. “He is to lift or show his sword,” (Bly 340) metaphorically the sword represents masculinity. Bly is putting into perspective that the ideal man should be able to raise his sword, show his masculinity, and yet know the difference between raising the sword and thrusting the sword. Bly concludes that the ideal modern man should balance being receptive, keeping in touch with his softness or feminine side and yet preserve the strength to raise the sword, and that the journey that lies ahead will shape man into perfection (Bly 341).
Men’s suffrage? Many would disagree with this notion. That is why Bly’s writings must create a synergy with the reader so that his argument is both credible and persuasive. His argument is a good one, it gets his point across very well. Yet, to strengthen issue he shouldn’t clarify that he is by and large only speaking to heterosexuals, yet it can also apply to homosexuals. Being that heterosexual men don’t identify with homosexual men and vice versa, it lowers the author’s credibility and trust. Saying it can apply to both may turn some of the audience away, instead he should rectify that it applies to all men, without using the label of sexual preference.
Robert Bly wrote other books and essays about men and their tribulations. Critically acclaimed by some and denounced by others. These books have influenced the male gender. We are now in the year 2001 a new decade has started and with it comes a new generation; young men that will soon grow up to be the modern man. If by chance they read this essay I’d like to think that it would bring about a change, a new breed of man be born; a man that can balance his masculinity with his responsibilities and that accepts their female counterparts for who they are, and the role they play in this modern world. Maybe by regaining some of the features of the original American man, the modern man can find stability in their daily lives.
Bly, Robert. “The Community of Men.” American Voices. Ed. Dolores La Guardia and Hans P. Guth. Mountain View: Mayfield, 1993