History has seen many different types of men come and go, some of which have raised serious questions about what it means to be a man. Probably the most disturbing trends have been those which have come close to annihilating the masculine from the male of the species.
Each age of man has had its positive and negative elements, but until now these ages have been incomplete evolutionary cycles. It is during this, the fourth age of man, that we finally draw towards a more complete picture of man.
Debonair, refined and decidedly charming are just some of the qualities which define this man. He was intelligent, displayed impeccable manners, possessed a most excellent wit and always dressed appropriately. The gentleman was constantly aware of this place in the world and was often considered to be the provider for his family.
SNAGs were all about feelings, being attuned to their emotions and staying in touch with their feminine sides. Men were encouraged to share their innermost thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams with those of the opposite sex. The idea was that in becoming more aware of and developing a greater understanding of their emotions, they would garner more favour from women and connect on a deeper level. Often unthreatening and unintimidating both in personality and physical presence, they were known for their sensitive dispositions.
Sometime after the initial craze of SNAGS had all but disappeared from most social circles, a new ‘ideal’ man appeared. Entitled the metrosexual, these men were encouraged to look after their skin, pluck their eyebrows, wear jewellery, style their hair, dress in the latest fashions such as form fitting coloured jeans and slimfit shirts, wax away chest hair and maintain an almost boyish physique. It is during this age that the sexes became truly difficult to separate.
Real men no longer have to be ashamed to exist. While they have always existed in the shadows, they are being encouraged to step forward. Thank you Mr Jack Bauer.
Jack is unashamedly masculine. He serves his workplace loyally but first and foremost he serves his country and ultimately his President (unless the President is a dirty rotten turncoat). As for personal relationships – when Jack loves, he loves completely and passionately. However he is also well versed in the ways of loss. This well-rounded experience of life and its opposing emotions means that Jack has an innate ability to understand people and their motivations. He would do anything possible to help those he cares about without expecting the same in return. This loyalty is built from his strong ethical code which he would rather die than betray.
He is fit, healthy and generally aware of his strengths and weaknesses without feeling the need to talk incessantly about either. He is tirelessly resourceful and always ready for action, but always finds time to treat people with an appropriate amount of respect. Dressing appropriately for any given situation whether that be in jeans, cargos or a suit, nothing is overly fussy or too complicated. For Jack clothing is simply functional.
While he is always as neat and clean as circumstances allow, Jack doesn’t get too caught up in grooming and personal appearance. His hair is simple and recognising that is isn’t always possible to shave in every 24 hour period he has even been known to let his facial hair grow from time to time.
The composite picture created by Jack Bauer represents the perfect blend of all the positive elements from the ages of men which have come before. This man’s time is now.
The future of man…
Now there is nothing wrong with good hygiene, dressing well and taking care of one’s skin, but somewhere along the way the true essence of what it means to be a man has been eroded away and the line between the sexes has become increasingly blurred. While the previous ages of man will always appeal and continue to be desired by some women, the vast majority of women would not want to see the extinction of all things masculine.
The cycle of these evolutionary ages may not have touched all men, but those that have been swept up or passed by must be left feeling somewhat confused by all the mixed messages. Be a man and yet don’t be a man, care about your appearance but don’t care too much, be stylish but not too trendy. Men are obviously free to choose and follow many different paths but perhaps more attention should be given to the fundamental question of what it means to be a man.
As with so many dilemmas, simplicity is often the best answer. So ignore the trends, be true to yourself, and never neglect your masculinity. If that has you being even a little like Jack Bauer than that can’t be half bad.