Modern Male Role Models: The Superhero and the Slacker

Young boys only have two models of masculinity, according to a University of Massachusetts psychologist: Violent, misogynistic superheroes or lazy, funny slackers. What does this mean, for the future of the U.S.? Why, a nation filled with bloggers wearing costumes!

It is hard to be a boy, these days! Except for the whole "patriarchy" thing, and the higher salaries, and the global domination of government, finance, culture and technology, boys just don't have a lot going for them. How bad is it? Unlike girls, who have a plethora of role models, including "sexy secretary" and "sexy nurse," there are only two options for male role models: "Aggressive, sarcastic" superheroes, or responsibility-shirking, school-hating "slackers."

According to UMass Boston professor Sharon Lamb, who surveyed almost 700 boys between the ages of four and 18,

"Today's superhero is too much like an action hero who participates in non-stop violence; he's aggressive, sarcastic and rarely speaks to the virtue of doing good for humanity.

"When not in superhero costume, these men exploit women, flaunt bling and convey their manhood with high-powered guns."...

"Slackers are funny, but slackers are not what boys should strive to be; slackers don't like school and they shirk responsibility.

Oh no! Have you already started dictating your 8,000-word missive to the American Psychological Association demanding the expulsion of Dr. Lamb on the basis of that one issue of Detective Comics where Robin cries, or whatever? Good for you! Superheroes, who are costumed extralegal vigilantes skilled in the use of violence, provide many positive messages for our youth, including "try wearing a cape sometime."

But slackers? Hating school? Shirking their responsibilities? Being... funny? Obviously, I'm all for the constitution. But slacking has no place in the United States of America.

[BBC, Guardian]