Where have all the good men gone? You’ll find them where their values are appreciated and admired.

Me from May 2013, fortified by Church today: Stand by your man.

Things fall apart. What happens when they do?

SkatePark

We walk our dogs late at night at Rio Vista Park in suburban Phoenix. I love to go past the skate park, because the boys are such amazingly hard workers — toiling away at ten at night, and some of them will have been there for twelve hours.

The culture at large has nothing but contempt for exclusively-male pursuits, with skateboarding standing in as the cypher for the whole. But the boys who work at things like skateboarding or softball or skeet shooting or homebrew electronics or ceaseless home-improvement, these guys are amazing in their skill and dedication, their willingness to keep working and working and working until they get it just right.

No one notices their efforts, no one admires their perseverance, no one cares. But if you want to know where all the good men have gone, look for them in places where being a good man is honored and revered, instead of always being denounced or ridiculed.

The position of modern American women puts me in mind of prideful retailer standing under a huge sign that reads “The Customer Is Always Wrong!” Emotionally satisfying, perhaps, but clearly bad for business. Where are all the good men? They’re off doing things they’re appreciated for with people wise enough to appreciate them for what they are.

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  • I think the skateboarders are pretty amazingly athletic. However, I ALSO think disapprovingly of the *damage* they’re doing to property that is not theirs! “Grinding” down the marble curb on a fantastic historical building may be athletically “cool” — but it’s also *defacing* something. Skate parks?! Super! Let’s build more. Skating/damaging wherever/whatever? No cool.

    • Yeah. You can look at a skatepark as a catbox for skateboarders: Everything you guys like — swimming pools, ramps, office plazas — now please do it here. I was celebrating their values, not necessarily anyone else’s. 😉

      And, of course, I’m actually talking about all sorts of guys who display grit, dedication, perseverance, reciprocal justice, etc., with skateboarders as the symbol of male commitment precisely because no one else loves their values. I was talking about this guy

      AManGetsToWork

      and why so many unmarried women complain that they can’t seem to find him.

  • Boys need something that they can feel good about. Mastering the kick-flip is a reason to feel proud. It gives you membership to the kick-flip club. You’re inspiring others who now look up to you. You get cred from those who are already in it. You’re bringing your own style to the move and expressing yourself to this society, earning a unique spot in the hierarchy.

    In Dogtown and Z-boys, technical prowess was highly prized, but it was nothing without good style. You couldn’t look like a dork on the board and hang with them, even if you were a good skater.

    Boarders are creating their own world. It’s come a long way from its subversive, anarchic beginnings, but, it has kept its rebellious nature. It burst forth from the streets to demand acceptance. Skate parks were built to contain and disperse its energy.

    The question is, what is the boy looking for when he makes his way to the skate park? He is looking for something he can take pride in. Meaningful pride, not the fake “self-esteem” they manufacture at school. Pride is meaningful when it can be expressed outwardly, when the source of pride can be demonstrated. Self esteem is inward, feminine. It’s the image one has of oneself. Pride is affected by how others view you. There’s nothing worse than the poseur with false pride, the guy that acts the part but can’t back it up. Skate parks obliterate that.

    In the older days, everyone played baseball. Kids hung out at the diamond and played pick up. Bikes were utilitarian. No bar spins. No jumps. No bunny hops. No half pipes. My father used to put is .22 over the handlebars and ride out to his favourite bush for some rabbit. Riding home with dinner hanging over the handlebars gave him a sense of pride like no other. He understands pride. He may not understand skateboarding, but, he knows why it exists.

    Boys today aren’t allowed to feel proud of themselves. Pride is masculine. Boys being proud are shamed for the “sins” of their fathers. The masculine has been demonized, poisoned. Masculine pride is sullied by its supposed connection to the patriarchy.You want to be a proud father and husband, you’re proud to be an oppressor. Proud to be part of a system that abused and enslaved women.

    Skating rolls right around all that bullshit. Its as artistic as painting. It’s a dance with no partner. A sport with no rules. No one gives a fuck where you’re from or what you think. Land that trick and you’re cool. You’re allowed to be proud.

    Pride is not a negative trait. It’s essential for a person to make good decisions. When every action is first acted upon oneself, only a proud person can be counted on not to commit malicious acts against others. Want to prevent rape? Want to reduce bullying? Want to reduce suicide. Foster pride. Foster pride by self-expression and self-determination.

    Want good men? Pride will turn more boys into good men. Men who can stand alone and be admired by women.

    • Alas, I agree with everything you both have written, but I ALSO still feel great dismay (and a good bit of disapproval) at the damage these boys cause to buildings owned by other people. I wish there were more skateparks –places where boys could test themselves against themselves and each other (and gravity!), could work out the limits of what they can do, and can grow into these men we desire. But the destruction of 100-yr-old church walkways and benches?

      I suppose it’s part-and-parcel of the “we hate any monuments to what this (white/Euro) civilization built, so it if gets damaged, all to the good!” *vandalism* of moderns. “Graffiti = art.” (No, it’s vandalism.) And that “modernism” — that feminism and socialism — is all tied into “we hate men and wish to destroy them — and (since we depend on them and therefore daren’t) we’ll just take nasty petty pleasure in defacing their works.”

      I would wish boys could learn pride in a way that does not deface magnificent buildings.

      • It’s usually a mistake to read too much into what men are doing. Normally, they’re just doing.

        And consider: Many young skateboarders are also young violinists. There is always more to people than what we judge them for; what we see is next to nothing, what we don’t see can be everything.

        And again, skateboarders here are standing in for all men of values — men who don’t just talk but who dig in and do. You may not like what they do, but they do, and they honor their values, if not yours or mine, superbly.

        This is not just admirable, this is the essence of what it means for a man to behave admirably.

        • There is certainly an aspect of territorial pissing to skateboarding. I think that, in part, it is a desire to paint something over what has already been done. On one hand, the boarder sees the steps or the bench as something that is just there, offering a challenging obstacle. On the other hand, it is a structure built by his forebears that he can’t change.

          He wants to ride every singe line and grind every edge that he sees. It’s an art form on the canvas that also happens to be a building. When the owner tries to protect the property, the young man is upset because he can’t express himself. This becomes a power struggle.

          The struggle is caused by the young man’s desire to enjoy the world in his own way. When this causes damage, it becomes a game of power. The boarder only sees it as a limitation imposed on him by the previous generation.

          There’s more to this, but, I’m trying to enjoy Father’s Day with my young ones.

          • Territorial marking is interesting. We see that also in tagging, obviously. I am always interested in vestigial display behaviors — mothertongue displays — because they show us what really matters to a person, irrespective of what he might say.

            Happy Father’s Day! I know it’s a serious matter to you — and I know that your seriousness about fatherhood is the best gift you can bring to your wife and children. Here’s to serious men!

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