In one of the recent issues of The Newsweek there is an article by Steve Martin 'Dead Suite Walking' It tells a story about 50+ white men who lost their jobs and cannot find new ones. Those people now have a definition -- Beached White Males, BWMs. This means they lost their course and beached themselves to die. The article presents several cases of such people and talks a lot about how they experienced many things for the first time- rejections, humiliation, helplessness. That lack of experience made them very vulnerable. I agree wholeheartedly. I am 55. And it looks like I am on my way to the beach.
Recently I passed a very tough exam and got another highly praised technical certificate. I was not even sure if I could pass that exam because I forgot a lot of that materiel but I made it. Now I am maybe the only person in my company at least among the technical people who has this kind of certificate. I remember when we had celebrations whenever someone of our people would raise his/her qualifications.. Not anymore. The Boiler room approach seems to prevail. Anyone remembers that movie with young Ben Affleck? A group of young, aggressive financiers started a boiler- room brokerage The last thing they wanted were the professionals: all certified brokers were let go. The new firm was not there to do business- it was there to do cookery
It is rather well-known that a man becomes more distinguished with experience. Sort of the Picture of Dorian Grey syndrome. Achievements, victories and struggle are the ideal painters of the man's countenance. And in the ironic kind of a way sexual prowess does not make you more distinguished. It just makes you attractive and that's not the same thing.
There were times when people got their experiences very early in life. Napoleon I was a general in his twenties, commanding the Army of Italy. He was very self- confident indeed. Right now a majority young men in their twenties live with their parents. Oh yes, they take care of themselves, have terrific abs and do sex nearly every day but their female partners treat them as living toys; they have nothing to offer emotionally. Mature emotions develop with personal achievements.. Those are the endeavors you started and succeeded in developing against all odds. How many of us can boas t those and how do we distinguish the real ones from the surrogates? Is becoming the PowerPoint warrior an achievement? Or getting a major account? How do your prove yourself to your wife and kids? And do you have to?
Men are judged by their ability to secure the income. That's the mantra of the US psyche. This makes every man intrinsically very insecure. I would imagine it also drives a man to the life of solitude; family becomes really a burden when your children come to your room every day and ask if you had found any job. It is much easier to be a boyfriend with no ties, no children, no judgments. Paradoxically, the physical disconnection of a boyfriend life makes you feel less alone than the case when you are alone in the family. Maybe that's the root cause of the problem?
I saw a documentary once about a high- class hooker who serviced very successful young financiers in NY. All of those men, real people in their late twenties and early thirties had psychotherapists. They used that hooker as a medicine too. She soothed their nerves. It was interesting that some of them were married or had girlfriends but only that hooker gave them what they wanted- total relaxation. I guess it was because it was so simple with her. They did not have to think. It was like slavery- you summon your female slave and f&ck her. That's not love or even lust. That's a moment of satisfaction and pure pleasure like moving your bowels.
Here is a note of mine: I think one of the reasons we have a perpetual financial crisis is the very fact that those folks are the ones in the profession. They are not cut for it. They got a wrong message in childhood. The message was that you needed to procure a pot of gold. That pot does everything. It defines you as a person. In the mad run after the pot of gold they forgot to ask the two questions: how big must it be and what kind of a person you become. And the answers are: it has no bottom and you become a leprechaun.
Leprechaun guards the pot of gold he cannot use himself. Try it sometimes. That way of life can make you very grumpy indeed. In reality it means that those folks realize that they are just servants, people who are there only for chores. Yes, the crumbs are sometimes very filling but you cannot deceive thyself -- those are still just crumbs and you are still nothing. That nothingness becomes unbearable, overwhelming, it hovers over you like a black helicopter and follows you everywhere. The whole tragedy of the current male generation is associated with that nothingness; even a successful person does not know why he is successful but what he knows for sure is that it is not due to his professional skills; it is due to something subjective like his looks or his ability to please or even maybe due to a simple fact that he is young. How does it feel to be nothing but a screw? How does it feel to be humiliated all your life.
It is the problem of all people and in all countries but in the US it becomes a real double jeopardy. For years the secure employment was promulgated as a criteria for true manhood; the man employed is a moving aphrodisiac. There were no other criteria. That's why, as a matter of fact, it was and is so tough to reach the economic equality for women; it takes away the ONLY manhood our men know. Without it they all are eunuchs. As such criteria was never applied to women ( female sexuality was never associated with money and power, quite the opposite in fact), men feel the intrinsic unfairness in the game; they lose while women gain without sacrifice.
No man can imagine an upside- down situation like his wife is unemployed and he nags her every day about getting a job and n ot being picky at it. No man imagines himself as a person who needs and expects support of others. No, men are not beached. They are lost.
I am an engineer and if there is a problem, there should be a solution. Usually wrong as HL Mencken said. But you have to try anyway. Thus I think that our male misery can be broken only if we break that chain of mutual humiliation and adopt a strategy of raising. That means that we should associate our success with other people involved. It is not I, UNO, against the world; It is E Pluribus Unum, we all. I was wondering, with all those contacts those 50+ men have, did any of them offer a cooperation? Did any of them offer help for free? Did any of them gather not just to exchange the experience on the resume- polishing but to perpetually help, keep afloat, progress. I can do so many things: I can teach math, I can teach science, I can teach history, I can design, I can analyze, I can write. But I don't know how to do woodwork, how to talk to contractors, how to invest. I thus can offer and I could use help. I am who I am and here I stand- if we are beached or close to the beach maybe we should make it our new habitat and become amphibious. That will be an evolution indeed.
Many years ago when I was a UN refugee I offered English lessons for free to any refugee who wanted it. It turned out a tough endeavor and I was not there long enough. But I dearly hope those people I taught, they will offer something too. Respect, honor, appreciation and humility. As Kipling said, 'I send them over land and sea, I send them East and West.' That's my God of Fair Beginnings.