Me Man. Me No Read.

14 Jan

I recently attended a men’s retreat.  It was the first that I have actually ever attended.  My lack of attendance is not due to a lack of faith in their effectiveness for spiritual growth.  Men’s retreats usually scare me off with their image of hyper-masculine advertising (which is a topic for another day.)

I was invited by a close friend who said he would go with me, and promised to not force me to do anything “manly” that I didn’t want to (which he lied about).  Overall, I was glad that I went.

Gender focused groups are notorious for establishing and making light of male and female stereotypes.  Some of these stereotypes are funny.  Some of these stereotypes are helpful.  Some of these stereotypes can be destructive.  During the retreat, stereotypes were constantly used – some of them bothered me more than others, while others I probably didn’t even notice.

One stereotype expressed several times during the weekend was that men don’t read.  It was stated as fact.  It was stated as undisputed fact.  It was stated as the norm with no need to change.

The image portrayed to me (whether intentional or unintentional) is that men are Neanderthalls.  The male human species is not interested in the world of the mind, but only in the world of hunting, fishing, and sports.  Me Man, Therefore, Me No Read.

The Associated Press and Ipsos, a market-research firm, found that the typical American read only four books last year, and one in four adults read no books at all.  This article also claims that women read more than men, and which could be based on the ability of women to empathize with characters.  I could write about how reading is good for the soul and mind, but most of us already know that…I assume.

One reason this image of men bothered me is probably because I have always been a reader.  My love for reading started with the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown (pre-Harry Potter era!).  By Junior High, I was lost in the worlds of Tolkien and Lewis.  By high school, I would lose myself in various types of literature.

Apparently, I am not a stereotypical male, but there really shouldn’t be such a thing.  I think this is an example of a harmful stereotype.

So, I want to make a statement.

Men can read.

Men should read.

Many men like to read.

Obviously, if you are taking the time to read this article, then you are one of the “stereotypical” minority of men who do read (or one of my friends who I guilt and shame into following my posts).  I write to encourage men that it is okay to be a reader.  Your manhood is not threatened if you are a reader.

It is okay to say that you are a reader.

It is okay to talk about the books you read (which isn’t bragging or boasting).

It is okay to stand up for an image of masculinity that includes a desire to feed our humanity through various outlets rather than what cultural stereotypes dictate for us.

(*If you are not a reader, but want to be.  Thanks for making it to the end of this article.  If you want to know where to start, Morethanabeard is a great start!  Then ask yourself what you are most interested in.)

David Boyd is an avid reader of anything from Comic books (Marvel – of course) to theology.  In his spare time, he plays video games with his three little ones.

2 Responses to “Me Man. Me No Read.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Men Mentoring Men | More Than A Beard - February 20, 2015

    […] 2.  Maybe it is because men don’t read. […]

  2. Should Men’s Gatherings Have Singing? | More Than A Beard - October 22, 2015

    […] Real Men don’t Read […]

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