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Five types of men for the modern era — and their shadows

By Pieta Woolley


Manliness – the idea of what a man should be – is a swiftly shifting concept, as Trisha Elliott writes in her article, “Man Problems,” published in the February edition of the Observer. Indeed, as her sons point out, there are different kinds of men out there. Each man is his own person.

That’s true. But a quick survey of men in the public eye reveals that they can be grouped into at least five modern archetypes. You won’t find many lone, tough Paul Bunyans out there; even Mad Men’s Don Draper evolved by 1970 — or at least, he pretended to do the same.

Here are five acceptable male ideals for the 21st century — and their shadows.

1. The pretty, popular idealist

In summary: This guy knows how the world should be, and will gently tell you about it over a cup of organic, fairly-traded Earl Grey tea.

Famous iterations:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau; former AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo; activists Marc and Craig Kielburger; and Republican candidate Marco Rubio

Shadow side: Fired CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi, who is on trial for sexual assault

2. The spiritual juggernaut

In summary: They’ll wow you with their genuine connection to the divine – and their attention-grabbing gentleness.

Famous iterations: Pope Francis; the Dalai Lama and L’Arche founder Jean Vanier

Shadow side: Disgraced hot yoga biz whiz Bikram Choudhury and the predatory priest epidemic

3. The gritty corrector

In summary: He’ll fix what ails and razzle-dazzle us with gusto while doing it.

Famous iterations: Reality star Donald Trump; democratic candidate Bernie Sanders; UNIFOR president Jerry Dias and performer Russell Brand

Shadow side: Roosh V, the woman-hating activist blogger who recently cancelled his male meetups across Canada and elsewhere

4. The smarty-pants

In summary:
Woah! Someone get these guys to cover up their protruding intellects. 

Famous iterations: Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi; New York Times columnist David Brooks; author Malcolm Gladwell, author Andrew Nikiforuk and U.S. President Barack Obama

Shadow side: The billionaire climate change-denying Koch brothers

5. The protector

In summary: In an era of gentle, desk-bound men, these guys are a welcome blast from the past.

Famous iterations: Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan; environmental activist David Suzuki; musician and activist Neil Young; and former UN Force Commander in Rwanda Romeo Dallaire

Shadow side: The RCMP officers complicit in Tazering Robert Dziekanski’s death at the Vancouver International Airport


Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
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