Monday, August 29, 2011

The new "macho"..what happened to the risk of "balance" for masculinity?

By Tom Matlack, from goodmenproject website, August 25, 2011
In his New York Times piece, David Streitfeld quoted Jobs biographer, Alan Deutschman, as saying:

The big thing about Steve Jobs is not his genius or his charisma but his extraordinary risk-taking. Apple has been so innovative because Jobs takes major risks, which is rare in corporate America. He doesn’t market-test anything. It’s all his own judgment and perfectionism and gut.
Steve Jobs is the new macho
“The New Macho” is a guy who has an aggressive moral compass that prioritizes the things that he finds important—family, being honest, making a difference in the world. He goes all out to figure that out, yet he is also more apt to take risks “and stare down things that seem impossible.”

The piece demonstrates the risk-taking of both Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame as proof of the "new macho" in masculinity.
However, while risk-taking is certainly an integral part of being male, it is their business success and fortune that make them models for perusal of a different image of "macho". Rather than gut-toting and law-flaunting bank robbers of the frontier west in Amercan movies, we are now supposed to emulate the occasional male geek whose genius is to develop the most advanced application of digital media to the North American lifestyle.
What about the new macho being a more likely college grad who is not fully into perfectionism and not fully into making a billion dollars, and not even into sacrificing everything to reach the top rung on the ladder of financial success? What about a macho man who can see clearly when his life is heading toward any form of "ism" like workaholism or alcoholism or perfectionism and understands the risks that such compulsiveness includes for his own person, and for the persons with whom he lives, like his family, whose lives too must be driven by his "ism".
What about the hero who grasps the dangers of too much money, too much fame, too much narcissism and too much achievment in the corporate sense of the word and transitions into a more modest deployment of his unique gifts and talents, that includes a balanced approach to whatever it is that seems to best express his genius?
Isn't there enough risk-taking for mature masculinity in seeking some authentic balance between the needs of children of all ages, work that does indeed draw out and expect the best of his contributions, while at the same time drawing out more hidden talents and gifts like those of the creative imagination, and those of giving back, and those of engaging the family and neighbours who lead less "driven" lives?
In a culture of rock stars, why do males consider it necessary and appropriate to reapply many of the worst and most dangerous attributes of masculinity to the new techno-stars, in a search for the new "macho"...??

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