A man who died and went to heaven to find two signs above two different lines. The first sign read:
“MEN WHO HAVE BEEN DOMINATED
BY THEIR WIVES, STAND HERE.”
That line of men seemed to stretch off through the clouds into infinity.
The second sign read:
“MEN WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN DOMINATED
BY THEIR WIVES, STAND HERE.”
Underneath the sign stood one man.
He went over to the man, grabbed his arm and said, “What’s the secret, how did you do it? That other line has millions of men and you are the only one standing in this line.”
The man looked around with a puzzled expression and said, “I am not sure I know. My wife just told me to stand here.”
It’s an old joke, of course. However, when we reflect on leadership and male/female roles there is a historical context that bears discussion. One one hand, the “Ozzie & Harriet” days have been replaced with “Everyone Loves Raymond.” When it comes to role models on TV, movies and print, the family man of strength, harmony and leadership has been supplanted with an emasculated, “Oprah-fied” shell of men…men who are stupid, dominated and/or weak.
It’s funny because it is out of character from a masculine standpoint.
Masculinity (in media) is generally portrayed through action heroes…men who shoot first and ask questions later. While this may make for entertaining escapism, it creates confusion in men about who they are. In young men, it creates confusion on whom they should become as leaders.
Does emulating James Bond require a man to be strong-yet cold? Certainly true strength can be a foundational characteristic in concert with having a heart. However, in many portrayals of strength, the loner or fallen hero is showcased, honored and emulated.
It’s is certainly important to continually improve your self worth. It is quite fulfilling to improve our habits, refine our positions and redeem ourselves from the mistakes of our past. We all have flaws and it is our ability to overcome those flaws which fuel our motivation to change and improve. Permanent self-development can create a great role model for our children, our co-workers and our community. When the fallen hero gets up, redeems himself and improves his life, family and community, it’s a good thing. (See the movie “Chef” immediately)
How does all of this relate to the male role of leadership in our family?
Does the old saying, “A happy wife makes for a happy life” hold true? Of course. When mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. No family enjoys it when anyone is upset. But is Mom’s happiness, at the expense of grounded male leadership, a good thing? Is putting ANY individual ahead of others a path to family harmony? (Selfish teenagers aside…that is an entirely different topic)
In many USA households, the emasculated father has permeated the culture for quite some time and the trend shows no signs of abating. I’m not speaking from a misogynistic angle, here. Feminism had its run and continues to have an important role. Like all movements, there were some unbalanced items (equal pay, respect, etc.) that needed to be repaired. The rise of the female, single family household has further compounded the topic. However, when the scales tip so terribly to either side, the negative cultural ramifications can spill over into other areas.
The continual emasculation of Western men is not good for our society, business or our families.
A happy wife is nice, but where is the saying, “A husband who leads is the foundation for a happy family?” Ok…it not only doesn’t rhyme, but it also is not being reinforced in our Western culture. Where is Ozzie? (the 50’s TV icon, not the other guy…)
The continued dilution of masculine leadership is not only destroying our families, but our nation as a whole. I’d enjoy hearing your comments below:
If you are a man, who is your role model for leadership…and why?
If you are a woman, is there a male role model you respect?
Your answers will not only help create a better path for our youth to follow and emulate, but it may end up in my upcoming book, Family Leadership. Please comment or send me a message to be considered for an interview.
Also published on Medium.