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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

What it means to me to be a good man

<ican culture and media is filled with examples of an almost uniquely male character known which I will call the "quiet bad-ass (QBA)".

The QBA speaks rarely, lets his actions take charge and never takes crap from anyone. Every boy and most men wish they could be a QBA but, unfortunately for the Michael Bays of the world, few of us can be. I argue that the ubiquity of the QBA in American media has negatively impacted how we define masculinity and thus the meaning of what it is to be a good man.

The QBA is, by definition, quiet. Any complaining, discussion, or talking about your feelings makes you seem weak, and in the world of the QBA, weakness leads to confrontation, or worse, a quick death. Luckily for the QBA, they also live in a world of moral black and whites; the terrorist always deserves to die, and the QBA has just been pushed too far. Unluckily for the rest of the American male population, we live in a world of moral grays, where murder is never really the best response, and what counts as too far is often unclear.

So what is the average male to take from the examples of the Eastwoods and Diesels of our time? Well, since most men can’t just bottle their opinions and feelings up indefinitely, only to release them in an acrobatic orgy of murder, they generally fail at becoming quiet bad-asses. While it’s probably a good thing that men don’t have shootouts every day, in trying and failing to define masculinity by the code of the QBA, men generally get the quiet but take a while to wrap their head around the bad-ass.

Walk into a dorm, locker room, or bar right now, holding your copy of the Carletonian, and you may be inclined to disagree with me. “Man, there are all these guys are complaining and/or joking about their wives/girlfriends/jobs/homework a lot, they don’t seem quiet at all to me.” Well, don’t disregard the remainder of this essay just yet, dear reader, because you have just proven my point. Go ahead and take a listen to their problems, most of which could be solved, but would require talking or action that chances exposing weakness, breaking a cardinal rule of being a QBA. Thus, most men just stay quiet.

While there are times when being a good man means holding your tongue or refraining from action, I believe we need to redefine the idea that never showing weakness is a key part of masculinity. Being bad-ass isn’t about being quiet and shying away from problems, it’s about figuring out what needs to be done to solve the problem and doing it. If that means talking it out or getting help, then that is what’s bad-ass. Even John McClane, one of the greatest QBAs of all time, needed help from Sgt. Al Powell.

For a QBA, being bad-ass is easy, but in the real world, the point of being bad-ass is that it’s hard. Even this intrepid author, who was bad-ass enough to write this article over spring break, struggles with being bad-ass enough every day. Being bad-ass in the real world means making the tough decisions, doing the crap work, and sometimes even letting others know what you think. But in the end, it’s probably better for everyone than an orgy of murder.

-Dan Lindvall is fourth-year student

This essay is part of an ongoing series established by Chase Kimball. If you would like to have your own reflections published, please respond to the question “What does it mean to you to be a good man?” in an essay of 400-800 words and e-mail it to [email protected].

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