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The media, Hollywood being one of the main culprits, often depicts true men as being tall, dark, and physically strong. They don’t feel pain and are able to fight, either with their hands or weapons. They are often emotionally hardened, not showing tenderness. The media presents men as “macho, [and] trigger happy.” (Ehrlich 127).
This presents serious problems for young boys who are starting to mature into men. Young men are often told to be tough and to man up. Many boys are taught that crying is for girls and are called cry-babies if they do cry. This is incredibly hard on young guys who compare themselves to men like Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger and see absolutely no resemblance. These boys are often troubled by a growing insecurity from contrasting themselves to the unrealistic image of men. The insecurity spawned by this idolatry of the machismo can lead young guys to resort to drastic measures in order to be recognized as men. In “The Man Who was Almost a Man,” Dave Sunders, a seventeen-year-old African-American in the years after the Civil War, says that “he was going to get a gun and practice shooting, then they couldn’t talk to him as though he were a little boy” (Wright 144). He later reasons that “He could kill a man with a gun like this… And if he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him; they would have to respect him.”(Wright 148). Dave finally shoots a donkey that will take him two years to pay for, so he runs away from his home and his responsibility (Wright 154). For him, as for many youth today, the desire to be deemed manly leads to many poor choices.
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