By Bob Ruff and Carol Costello
(CNN) – Where have all the real men gone? You know, confident, take charge guys like Rough Rider and former President Teddy Roosevelt, or the manly character Jack Bauer from “24”?
Brett McKay, who has made a career out of teaching men to act like men, has a Web site that teaches a new generation of men how to do things that their fathers and grandfathers took for granted.
“Hot to Tie a Tie." “How to Buy a Used Car.” “How to Get a Drink at a Busy Bar.”
But the problem, says McKay, runs deeper than not knowing how to do things. He says more and more boys grow up fatherless, “so they don’t have that male presence.” He also says that most men have “lost some of the traditional rights of passage,” such as serving in the military or getting married in your early 20’s.
“You have this kind of period from adolescence through their 20s and early 30s where men aren’t really sure, am I a man yet? And you can ask a lot of men … and a lot of them will tell you, I still feel the same way as I was at 17-years-old.”
Exhibit one: the television show “Entourage,” where actors play men approaching thirty, yet live their lives as though they’re living in a frat house.
Rutgers professor of anthropology Lionel Tiger is part of a small group of professors who support a new academic discipline: Male Studies. It explores the biology behind masculinity—and was born out of concern that our culture is “feminizing boys.”
One of Tiger’s observations: so many boys are being given drugs such as Ritalin to “make them less active, more physically complaint, less likely to bounce around the room.”
Tiger also notes that fewer men than women are attending college—and that those men who don’t are facing a job market where traditional blue collar jobs that require muscle are disappearing forever from a changing American economy. What will happen to them?
There are some cultural signs that some men are paying attention to all of this. The popular television show “Mad Men” features men from the early 1960’s who know how to dress well and succeed at work. Both Banana Republic and Brooks Brothers says guys are “into” the “Mad Men” look. Both clothing chains are promoting and selling suits and ties from that era.
Whether it’s the recession or not, men do seem to be dressing more formally at work. But will wearing retro clothes and the study of “Maleness” encourage more young men to attend college or get jobs?