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ianwilkins

What do you mean by "men" and "manly"?

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Genuinely, and I'm not, at least, I don't think I am, asking you to hand me a stick to beat you with...

 

It's just I'm from the UK, and I'm curious, because I don't quite understand, and I'd like to understand more about where you're coming from...

 

In the various girls in the BSA threads, there's a fair bit comments along the lines of "we're turning boys into men" "we're teaching boys to be manly", and so on.

 

What do you mean when you say boy scouts is for turning boys into men? Or making them "manly"?

 

Is it "just"* getting them to live the scout law in everyday life? Or is there more to it that that?

 

* Yes, no "just" about it.

 

Ian

Edited by ianwilkins

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I will preface this by stating I speak for me and me alone.

 

When I speak of "making men" or being "manly" I am generally looking toward the idyllic icon of the WWII vets that came home, got down to work, worked hard, did not complain and did what needed to be done.

 

That being said, hand in hand with this conversation is the "feminization" of young men. Men were the bread winners, did not openly whine about problems, rather sought a solution to the problem.  Men were about doing not talking. Many feel that the "cult of manlyness" has been assaulted and degraded to the point that many look for women with male genitalia rather than "men". Men are no longer encouraged by society to be aggressive, to be physical, to be strong in their opinions, to shoot, to hunt, to fish, to camp to be outdoors, to chop wood, to build fires, to build anything.

 

I am not sure if this change is good or bad, but it has certainly brought about a different "breed" of man than was prevalent 60 years ago.  Some still long for the "good old days".

 

I hope my muddled meanderings help.

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I will preface this by stating I speak for me and me alone.

 

Me too.  The following is my private thoughts and not really trying to push a "standard".  

 

I want my boys to be comfortable being manly in a society that often diminishes those traits.  Strong.  Proud.  Capable.  Action oriented.  Standing tall.  Not complaining, whining or gossiping.  Not prone to tears when someone challenges them.  Not automatically depending on help in hard situations.  I want my sons to develop the best traits that we see in John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, etc.  I'd like them to be comfortable in hard situations.  

 

At the same time, I want my sons polite, sensitive and caring of others.  Also, I don't want them embarrassed by tears or emotions.  I don't think those are mutually exclusive.  

 

I see scouts to be very compatible with these goals.  The scouting program provides many challenging situations that scouts can learn to just handle and to get through.  For example when we have a major storm in camp and everything gets wet, we don't dry the scouts clothes and sleeping bags.  Instead, the leaders goal is to grow the scouts so they get themselves through the situation.  How to stay warm.  How to get things dried.  How to get through the night.  There is no need to wait for a parent / adult to rescue the scout unless there is a real danger. 

 

To be honest, I see 25% of the scouting value coming from patrol method and all the other hot button debates.  I find the vast majority scouting's value to come from the scouts learning to overcome adversity and our not rescuing them everytime they are challenged.  Heck, even learning to sleep in a tent with a spider or use a less-than-ideal outhouse is  maturing experience.

Edited by fred johnson
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To protect the weak, stand for your beliefs, respect women, seek adventure, be self-sufficient, and take charge when needed. Respect and civility toward the other. Showing leadership when it is needed. Doing the right thing even if it is the tough thing. Knowing enough self-sufficient skills so you can help your self and others in an emergency. Being adaptable. Learning to work in a band of brothers. 

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What does it mean to be a man?

 

A Man is: Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

 

What does in mean to be manly?  I have no idea.  There are too many converging opinions out there on what it means to be "manly".  People who hunt with civilian versions of AR-15s think they're manly.  People who hunt with shotguns and rifles often think they're the manly ones and that the AR-15 wielders are children.  Of course, people that hunt with bow and arrow often think gun hunters of any kind are wimps  So tell me, what is manly?

 

In high school, I was a skinny little geek yet no one picked on me.  I learned at my first high school reunion that the word had gone out not to pick on me because I was the only guy brave enough to make friends with a girl with muscular dystrophy that was being mainstreamed in to high school with us during freshman year.  The manly jocks were terrified of her.  So tell me, what is manly?

 

I know dads who love to work on their cars - a good manly pursuit - who gag at thought of changing their children's diapers.  So tell me, what is manly?

 

Don't get me started on this whole "feminization of men" BS out there - that's being pushed by misogynistic people who want to keep women in the kitchen. 

Edited by CalicoPenn
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Would somebody please reference the BSA source material for "manly" or "turning boys into men"?  I've read and re-read the "Aims and Methods of Scouting" and the word "man" doesn't appear and the only derivative that does is "humankind". 

 

Just as the Guide to Advancement delineates the requirement as written - no more and no less - as the standard by which a Scout's merit badge or an advancement is attained, I believe Scouters are bound to the Aims and Methods - no more and no less - as our purpose.

 

We get ourselves into trouble when we invent our own aims & methods.  We're much better off when we stick to the book.

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I see Jesus as the roll model for men and manly behavior.

 

I would agree once one looks past the modern perception of his gentleness = wimpiness. Like the guy who jumps on the grenade to save his squad--if you can forgive the theological crudeness. 

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It's a little different for me.  I'm in scouting to be the old guy, who isn't dad, who can empathize with what the boys are going through.  Sometimes turning boys into men is just being able to listen, say "yeah, that sucks" and let the boy know he's not the first 15 year old to get dumped, or be scared to ask a girl out, or be told he's a geek for being in band, choir, scouts, or it's ok to be scared the first time your butt hangs out over the edge of a cliff before you rappel down, etc.  The scouts will turn into men regardless of what we do.  If we can ease the transition, provide some guidance, give some empathy, they'll figure out what kind of man they want to be.  

 

From my perspective, this is where female scoutmasters can't compete.  If you've never been a 14-year old boy you can't empathize.  I've never been a 14-year old girl so I will have the same issue if I happen to be involved with a co-ed troop down the line.

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From my perspective, this is where female scoutmasters can't compete.  If you've never been a 14-year old boy you can't empathize.  I've never been a 14-year old girl so I will have the same issue if I happen to be involved with a co-ed troop down the line.

 

Well... the fact that something is difficult or challenging, or that you aren't the best at something, doesn't mean you can't do it.  I have two daughters and a son, all now adults, but they were all 14 once.  It was not my wife's sole job to "parent" our daughters and it was not my sole job to "parent" our son, even though I had never been a 14-year-old girl and my wife had never been a 14-year-old boy.  It was both of our jobs to be parents to all of them.  Maybe I wasn't as good a parent to our daughters as my wife was, but it was still my job to do it.

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I would agree once one looks past the modern perception of his gentleness = wimpiness. Like the guy who jumps on the grenade to save his squad--if you can forgive the theological crudeness. 

 

I agree. I wasn't thinking of the movie portrayals. I was talking about the biblical Jesus who hiked across deserts, climbed mountains, and sailed a boat in a raging storm.

 

I don't like to interject religion into most scouting discussions, but my unit has a very clear mission statement which explicitly identifies Jesus as the inspiration and primary role model for our scouting program. He is our ideal of manhood and manliness.

Edited by David CO
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Well... the fact that something is difficult or challenging, or that you aren't the best at something, doesn't mean you can't do it.  I have two daughters and a son, all now adults, but they were all 14 once.  It was not my wife's sole job to "parent" our daughters and it was not my sole job to "parent" our son, even though I had never been a 14-year-old girl and my wife had never been a 14-year-old boy.  It was both of our jobs to be parents to all of them.  Maybe I wasn't as good a parent to our daughters as my wife was, but it was still my job to do it.

I'd argue that parenting is a different job than mentoring.

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I agree. I wasn't thinking of the movie portrayals. I was talking about the biblical Jesus who hiked across deserts, climbed mountains, and sailed a boat in a raging storm.

 

I don't like to interject religion into most scouting discussions, but my unit has a very clear mission statement which explicitly identifies Jesus as the inspiration and primary role model for our scouting program. He is our ideal of manhood and manliness.

Oh I GET that. When I went to Israel with my scout sons we thought "man, Jesus and his Disciples were really good hikers, he had to have some serious calves", there are hills everywhere. Small place, big changes in elevation. Every time my minister said "and they went back up to the Mount of Olives" I visualized that slope. We followed some of the Jesus Trail from Nazareth to Arbel...I was not gonna do that hand over hand cliff part! And we saw the Sea of Galillee it was a week after one of their storms rolled through and trashed the docks. Real eye opener. 

 

And I meant by the hand grenade comment that the Gospels record a very manly and stoic Jesus at the Crucifixion. 

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Honestly I think the whole "manly" argument in the context of the discussion of girls in the BSA is a red herring. It's the easy answer to give if you're against girls in Boy Scouts, because it attempts to cut off any argument to the contrary based on a gender divide alone. Reduce the discussion to physical qualities that men are believed to more often possess, and it's harder for someone to argue against that. 

 

I think it is intended to distract from the fact that scouting is almost entirely about things that are not exclusivly "manly". We go camping a lot, sure. And there's a bit of a manly element to that certainly. But camping and the outdoors is just a vehicle for delivering the scouting purposes and methods. The top thing people always say when asked what scouting is about is "character development". There's no "manly" requirement for character development. No gender advantage. Girls are equally capable of developing strong character as boys are. 

 

I also think the idea of girls in the BSA hurts some folks' sense of what scouting is all about to them. Adding girls into the mix makes some people believe that scouting is now less manly just because of the possibility of girls being present. Look at social media responses to this and you'll see lots of teenage boys saying they're quitting, even though many are of an age where they could finish out their youth scouting careers without ever seeing a girl in their troop or at camp. It's about ego, and some people are struggling with the fact that Boy Scouts really wasn't quite as manly as they thought it was.

 

Just the idea that girls can do this is enough to make some boys want to quit. The BSA portrayed manliness through policy, not program. Now that policy is gone, and with it goes the one thing that let many people think scouting was primarily about building up manly men. 

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