Charlie LeDuff On What An American Male Is Supposed To Be

I often discuss the strange set of demands made upon the American male in this society. Take a look at this. I ran across this quote in my internet meanderings. It’s delicious.

The following to the end of the last quote is from wikipedia.

The preface of US Guys includes this quote on Leduff’s view of the American male:

The American man has been taught that while it is better to avoid a fight; that honor cannot always be defended with reason. He should never admit fear. He should always strive to put the blade in his adversary’s chest, not his back. An American man should know how to load and fire a gun. He should know how to ride a horse, bet on a horse, bet on the stock market, and bet on the cards. A good man should know a woman’s body and know how to please her. His woman, in turn, should never speak anything but well of him in public. An American man should have been raised in the church, rejected the church and eventually found virtue in the church.

The American man should be educated. He should work. He should honor his debts and live within his means. He should be able to recite poetry and have bits of true philosophy at his fingertips. He should be able to play an instrument and know how to help a rose grow. An American man should know how to dress and speak his language well. He should be handy and mechanically inclined and yet his nails must be clean. A man should have children, and at some point his children should reject him. And in the course of his life, a man’s children should return and find virtue in him.

This is what an American man should be. Of course, no such man has ever existed, and no man probably ever will.

Here’s Charlie LeDuff talking about “Greed.” (It’s a documentary.)

2 thoughts on “Charlie LeDuff On What An American Male Is Supposed To Be

  1. James,

    i found the definition of American man extremely absurd. Pardon me for saying so, I am not saying it to ridicule, I shall clarify. The exectation set here is that the man an intellectual, a sports man, a man of honour, a great lover, a religious person, a great fighter. It is quite impossible for any person ( man or woman) to have these traits in one body. Most would fall short of these expectations, and if American women are raised to expect all these traits in one man, then the possiblity of disappointments are going to be very high. And most probably result in divorces etc.

    In Hindu mythology, there is a female character in Mahabharat- Princess Draupadi. It is said that she prayed to God to give her a good husband. When God appeared to grant her wish, she listed the above mentioned qualities. God granted her wish and she ended up marrying five men. God told her that, what you are expecting in one man, is not possible. It will take five men to fulfill your wish.

    I think there is a lesson to be learnt here for both genders, as to our expectations from the other. No one is perfect, everyone will have flaws, so accept those with the good part, and be happy with what you are and what others are. I think these kind of expectations set some crazy standards, and then we like to reform the other. Which is not possible since character generally gets defined by age 4, and all damage is done by age 10. Habits change, there is some modification with behavior, but basic character only changes when one wishes it, which is very rare.

    My two cents 🙂



  2. Last year, I had an infection of the salivary glands on the left side of my face. It got seriously painful and my doctor gave me hefty pain killers but she warned me that the antibiotics wouldn’t kick in for a couple of day and it was likely to get much worse on the next day.
    She took me aside and said, “James, don’t be full of pride and not call an ambulance if the pain gets too bad.”
    So, the rest of the day went okay. But the next day, the pain got really good, the high quality stuff.
    American males are not supposed to give into pain. We’re just not.
    And so the left side of my face swelled up like a balloon and I would not call an ambulance. I just took the pain until it got better.
    Now, I’m quite well educated. I understand the strange duties of males in our society. I often find our role models to full of folly, nonsense.
    Yet, when I was there with all my knowledge and experience facing the pain, I could not give in. I stood and fought if only in silent endurance.
    The truly strange thing about the experience is that I feel good about it. It ratified my sense of maleness.
    Yet, it could have killed me.
    What’s more, however ridiculous it might sound to other people and I was well aware that to many it would sound ridiculous, it didn’t matter.
    It only to mattered to me, whether or not I could take it.
    And I could.
    James Pilant


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