Same job, different uniform.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it." Vincent Van Gogh

Like my peers, I wonder at the apparent absence of honorable men in social circles. (If you are going to retort that modern men have wondered the same thing about women, skip it for now.)

In some ways it's easier to be honorable today, in an age where indifference and meanness abound, than it was in a more courteous age; which makes me wonder, Why aren't more men trying to do it? I suppose honor isn't as sexy as some of the more cherished virtues of our day (intellectual curiosity, physical prowess and success come to mind).

We mistake clever, sensitive men for honorable ones. We even fall into the trap of believing that nice, "red-blooded" American boys are honorable. Niceness should not be the standard. When we set the bar higher, we're derided.

Why are so many content to be paper-doll boys: pasty, one-dimensional imitations of real men? You could be great lovers but for your cowardice! Even if love eludes you (through fortune or choice) you can still be an honorable man; a man worth being loved.

You can be honorable by having the courage to admit that a woman may take your affection and attention seriously, regardless of how cavalierly you bestow them.

You can be honorable by imagining that she has something to teach you by virtue of being a woman.

You can be honorable by talking to and with her in social situations and returning her calls and emails. Is this difficult? If you decide, after honest reflection, that you'd rather not be the one with whom she is most interested in talking (and chances are good that you are), you will let her go at once and not leave her dripping in a muddy pool of self-doubt.

If you have made public or private claims of single-minded interest in her, you can be honorable by gritting your teeth and daring to be faithful.

If one of you makes the decision to part ways, the honorable man will allow that dreaded conversation to happen--all the awkwardness and pain be damned!

Finally, an honorable man will respect a woman's prerogative to say, "No thank you."

Warm your hands in the blazing hearth of a good woman's soul. You might burn, but it's better than being half-baked the rest of life.

Labels: , , , , ,

SHARE THIS: Facebook | Stumble It! | | DiggIt! | Technorati


Blogger Rey said...

You have posed a question that bears some serious consideration. Are there no honorable men today? Or is it that they exist in much fewer numbers than times past?

I refuse to believe that honor and chivalry are dead, for if they are, then there is little hope for civilization. There are honorable men out there, although I venture a guess that most are already taken.

So the issue is why are there so many fewer honorable men? Perhaps there is no one answer. I think the courseness of our society, the crassness of popular culture, bear some of the blame. Of course, this is only a very small part (to give it too much weight would be to provide an excuse, not an explanation) of the equation.

But I also believe that it is one more reflection of theconsequences of parents abdicating their parental responsibility. There is too much emphasis on not upsetting the child, on being best buddies, on not denying any experience the child expresses an interest in having, on ensuring that the chile have the best possible self-image and self-esteem. What happened to teaching manners, societal norms, respect for oneself and for others?

I suspect that these issues may have more to do with the lack of honorable men than anything else. There are way too many preening, narcisistic, self-absorbed individuals out there. They most assuredly outnumber those who were fortunate enough to have parents who still believe in parenting.

I don't want to appear too pessimistic and discouraging for the single women out there. As I said, I do believe there are honorable men. I just believe it requires more effort to find them than in times past.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blogger elphaba said...

"A man worth being loved." Sound like it could be a movie title.
Speaking from my own experiences, which admittedly are limited, women need to know themselves really well, try to figure out what they want in a relationship and then not be afraid to require their "lovers" to be up to their standards.
In my twenties before I was married and then after I was married as well, it was very difficult for me to know what in wanted in those uncharted waters. Of course I don't have it all figured out now, but the last paragraph would be my advice to my younger self.
Hopefully, we can all agree that we can't change men, but we can change ourselves. We shouldn't be afraid to set a high standard for ourselves. Confidence, my fellow females!!!!

P.S. I love the line ".. she has something to teach you by virtue of being a woman." They say women want to be loved and men, respected, but I would like.....both. (smile)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blogger Lois E. Lane said...

Like I always say, anyone can be "nice." Niceness is not a character trait -- kindness is.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blogger Jon S. said...

A quick response. Perhaps the problem here is not the "lack of honorable men," the the ubiquity of boys in men's bodies (recognizing that these are different ways of saying the same thing).

We give precious few opportunities for boys to become men. Our schools now are devoted to reigning in boyish aggressiveness. It is it an accident that the vast majority of "ADD" kids are boys? They act like boys should and we so we drug them. The stories used to teach reading are now largely about personal relationships and overcoming personal problems. Where are the stories about battles and adventures that appeal to boys? Answer: not in schools. Is it any accident that boys drop out of school far more than girls and that now 60% of all college students are women?

Where do boys go to be boys? It isn't the sports field, because that would be sexist. So we must spend as much on girls sports as boys, living in the fiction that proving one's self on the playing field is as important to females as to males.

And let's not let women off the hook. If women demanded men be gentlemen, gentlemen they'd be. One reason we have a dearth of "nobility" is that no one demands it anymore.

Everywhere you look masculinity is mocked and shunted to the side. So is it an accident that we have no men, but instead a bunch of grown up boys.

Yes, that what passes for being brief in my book.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blogger Julie said...

Good points, Cattle King.

Reminds me of a book I read a few years ago: The Language Police, by Diane Ravitch. She talks about the things you mentioned regarding boys in school and the suppression of their natural "boy-ishness."

Regarding women not demanding men be general, you're correct.

I personally don't know how to go about demanding that for myself other than paying no attention to those who are not gentlemen. Is that the only option? Gentlemen/honorable men have qualities that are seen as detrimental in the get-ahead world now.

(I do have a long and family-famous history of teaching my nephews to use a knife and fork while we were eating pancakes, to the annoyance of my brother-in-law, who finally told them to stop because it was taking too long to eat. On a serious note, however, I do make efforts at showing them more than mere politeness and manners, but much of that needs to come from another man's example and...there you go.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the mother of three boys, I strive to raise them to be honorable men who respect women & are themselves worthy of respect. And I strive to raise my daughter to be an honorable, respectful woman whose virtue should speak for itself. And I hope to teach all I encounter that it is not only polite, but necessary, to return calls & emails promptly. But that's just me. :)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blogger Unknown said...

I think there is a real dearth of honorable men today, and as has been mentioned previously, part of this is due to way boys are raised. Part of it also has to do with society and the way relationships are portrayed in culture. Movies, TV shows, and many books make it seem as though initiating a relationship with the member of the opposite sex is simple and will quickly lead both parites into the sack, which would seem to be the primary goal according to culture. How can boys and men not be affected by these all but unavoidable cultural norms?

For me, to be honorable means several things, including:

attentiveness to the other person and his/her needs,
the practice of common courtesy (including the opening of doors for women and other forms of politeness that are not often taught today),
kindness (it was William James I believe who once told his nephew three things he wanted him to remember. The first was to be kind, the second was to be kind, and the third was to be kind). It is often a brutal world out there and kindness never hurts.
honesty - including the need to be upfront about one's wants and desires with another and to tell the other what one is really thinking (unless a woman asks if such or such a piece of clothing makes her look fat : )
vulnerabilty - this goes hand in hand with honesty, but to be vulnerable to another means that the other is important and cared about, and what the other says and does has meaning and impact on me.

While not by any means an exhaustive list, these traits are, for me, the foundation for being honorable.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Blogger "Molly McGee" said...

I think it goes back to what girlfriday said would need to be a topic for a different blog: the lack of honorable women. As a whole, women don't demand respect from men. The "modern day woman" would rather be equals with them than insist upon chivalry. I am not removing myself from this category. It's tricky.

But I love this quote, absolutely love it.

Great post, GF! I mean, it had nothing to do with American Idol, and I still liked it! Who knew?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Post a Comment

<< Home