James Brown famously sang the line this is a Man’s world in his August 1966 no 1 hit it’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s world.
That is the line the stands out for most people when they think of that song, I would say due to the passion and intensity with which that line was sung by Mr Brown and of course the absolute uniqueness of his voice. How right he was at the time as by his account as the lyrics continue:
You see, man made the cars to take us over the road
Man made the train to carry the heavy load
Man made electric light to take us out of the dark
Man made the boat for the water like Noah made the ark
By all accounts and according to this it certainly was a man’s world at the time, Men were men and women were women and we all knew (supposedly) what our roles were and how we were meant to carry them out (for the most part). Men went to work and women stayed at home and raised kids and so on and so on. This though is not what I’m talking about here today, what I am talking about here is what the line “This is a Man’s World” means for men in society today. Back in the day so to speak there was a social setup of what the done thing was for men, they would go to work, earn money, support families and generally not speak so much about things like feelings and emotions or fears. For the most part and not that it was acceptable, decades ago men would be able to get away with not expressing feelings and emotions other than anger(which strangely was more acceptable and macho in a way) down to fact I feel that the roles of “breadwinners” and men seemed to be a bit more clearly defined.
Today though things are different, equality amongst the sexes reigns ( as it should ), there was the introduction of the more “metrosexual” man, one who took care of his appearance, the “ Hipster” type men who are more “earthy”, and sexual preference has become more diverse and acceptable, and the way the economy has developed ( or degraded ) has changed how we become employed and make an income. We as men don’t simply need to go out and hunt for food and fend off would-be attackers. The hunting and fending off elements are still here, but they look different.
As this has all developed one thing that hasn’t changed that much for men is our ability to be able to identify and express what we are feeling in a confident secure manner and our comfortability around expressing vulnerability whilst still feeling like we still have our balls attached. Something else that has developed over the years is a rise amongst men of the rates of suicide, depression and addiction. These are all symptoms of hiding or running away from something. Something emotional I would say, something that we feel we cannot express for fear of being ridiculed and criticised and something that we feel no one including our wives, lovers, partners, friends and family will accept and understand.
This something is that a lot of the time we are confused, confused about what it means to be a man in today’s world, struggling with boyhood trauma’s and fears and inadequacies over manhood, success, confidence and self-esteem (which is often low).
This permeates into our personal lives as communication breakdowns with family and loved ones occur because we don’t know how to identify and express what we are feeling, it too permeates into our professional lives as we relive memories of being bullied at school and project them onto co-workers who remind us of those that did us wrong a long long time ago, memories of feeling like we could have stood up for ourselves more effectively and if only, so many if only’s.
Not knowing perhaps too how to effectively communicate with women, and I don’t mean in the chat up sense I mean effectively and in a kingly, mature, manly respectful fashion, not because we don’t want to but because we don’t know how. These are all just examples of what could be going on for you as a man in today’s world, confidence and self-esteem are at an all-time low and wearing masks to pretend we are OK is at an all-time high, How beneficial is all of this when we look at the above-mentioned stats?
The rest of that song by James Brown goes like this:
This is a man’s, man’s, man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl
Man thinks about our little bitty baby girls and our baby boys
Man made them happy, ’cause man made them toys
And after man make everything, everything he can
You know that man makes money, to buy from another man
This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing, not one little thing, without a woman or a girl
That’s right men! There is more to that song that one powerfully sung and well-intentioned line. It’s up to us to break down the barriers keeping us back mentally and emotionally and defy the social stereotypes of yesteryear for our own sakes, and by learning to take the power that we own and always have and do it in a good way, the world opens up to more than we could have imagined.
Should James Brown or any other just as talented man re-write and sing this song 50 years later how different would the lyrics be today. It might all be very different but the final 2 lines might still ring true and be the same for those of us that fight the fight to be better men:
He’s lost in the wilderness
He’s lost in bitterness, he’s lost lost.
Facing our fears takes away the power they hold over us and challenging ourselves to be and stay accountable and act with integrity, these three things could be perceived as the keystone that holds up the archway to modern manhood and happiness. Let’s begin to practice these and perhaps when the song is re-written so too will those final 2 lines.