In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss taming the male and the new film “Think Like a Man.”
First a quick update:
**** Hope – the greatest drug known to mankind – In a new series of video interviews that chronicle leaders and developments in the addiction recovery world presented by Milestones Ranch Malibu Treatment Center, I interview Stan McKnight, Interventionist, Certified Addictions Therapist and Admissions Director of The Palms Detox Center in West Palm, Florida, about medical detox for addiction, the significance of sleep and why he is renowned for being able to reach the toughest patient. Stan also reveals that addicts are always looking for a loophole about why they shouldn’t be getting better and says that the best insurance to prevent a user from relapsing is to help someone else. Watch what Stan (The Hope Dealer) says about the difference between denial and asking for help – how the ego gets in the way – and how he was once using alcohol to curb his fears. http://youtu.be/0TbfUyF2S7s
Now, let’s talk about taming the male and the new film “Think Like a Man.”
Grossing over $33 million dollars for its opening, “Think Like a Man” became the number one film at the US box office this past weekend. The romantic comedy tells the story of four women who are tired of failing in the dating scene and so they start to follow Steve Harvey’s advice to “act like a lady and think like a man.” But when the men realize that they are being manipulated, they turn the tables to teach their women a lesson.
Both the critics and the public generally find the movie to be hysterically funny; and it is – Kevin Hart who plays Cedric steals the show as a highly physical and witty comic. Of course, as expected with most Hollywood films, it features stereotypes where the women appear to be manipulating, nagging, controlling, pushy, long-term planners and the men act immaturely, evade and lie to get everything they want.
The movie covers all of the expected ‘types’: The Player, The Mama’s Boy, The Non-Committer, The Dreamer, “The Woman Who is Her Own Man,” The Single Mom, and The 90-Day-Rule Girl.
Steve Harvey’s main point (the same one as The Rules book from 1995) is that women have to expect more from the arrested-development crowd; “If he hasn’t asked you to marry him, it’s because you haven’t required him to do so” says Steve Harvey in the movie. And he does briefly address the new trend of women settling on careers and moving up the ladder while men cling to childhood longer.
Kristen, the Ring Girl (played by Gabrielle Union) tosses out all the fanboy and fratboy collectibles belonging to her boyfriend of nine years, Jeremy, the Non-Committer (played by Jerry Ferrara.) Accordingly, she is seen as successful in forcing him to become who she wants him to be and to propose to her. In fact, each of the men in the film are portrayed as immature, bumbling types who only grow up and realize their potential with the help of their respective woman. Three of the male characters in the film almost immediately transform their former failing careers into success and new businesses with the help of their respective new female partner.
And thus, the message of the film that all of the critics and reviewers missed is:
Men will fail and will remain as eternal immature men unless women intervene and help them to mature, grow and realize their potential; the woman’s job and purpose is to tame the male.
In the romance novel, the underlying theme and message is that women seek to tame the alpha male (domesticating him and getting him to commit) while in the Hollywood romance film, the woman rescues the man from his immature childhood and nurtures him to responsible manhood (again domesticating him and helping him to realize his potential.) Take for example, the movie, “Wedding Crashers”, where Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson play two immature womanizers who finally commit and are domesticated by the woman whom they each fall in love with.
While it is true that women fall in love with the potential of a man and seek to make him who and what they want him to be, it is also true (away from the Hollywood screen or romance novel) that in real life, women almost always fail in this venture and often walk away feeling disappointed and disillusioned. Read my article: “Why don’t you change?” http://patrickwanis.com/blog/why-dont-you-change/
Also read my article, “Beware of immature men” – http://patrickwanis.com/blog/beware-of-immature-men/
While there are various reasons why men don’t like to change (and will often respond defensively and aggressively to a woman’s desire to tame him), one of the reasons might be due to testosterone.
James Dabbs, Jr., Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, studied 4,462 men in 1990 and found that “the overall picture among the high-testosterone men is one of delinquency, substance abuse and a tendency toward excess…have more trouble with people like teachers while they are growing up, have more sexual partners, are more likely to have gone AWOL in the service and to have used hard drugs,” particularly if they had poor educations and low incomes.
Another reason men stay stuck in immaturity, fail to live up to their potential and often refuse to change might be due to paternal upbringing.
Richard Groves is an expert on male ritual, the male psyche and grief. As co-founder of the Sacred Art of Living Centre in Oregon, Richard believes that the male matures and his ego is tamed based on receiving life-tutoring and mentoring by another male starting at age 12; the older male teaches him about life, giving back, making a difference and living his purpose. Richard claims that untutored men react to the challenges of adulthood with anger, cynicism and violence.
As society continues to place greater emphasis on youth versus knowledge, experience & wisdom, men will continue to be stuck in phases of immaturity, avoiding responsibility and focusing only on materialistic, selfish and self-centered pursuits. Further confounding the situation is the modern woman who seeks to be like the immature male – the warrior – focusing only on conquering and amassing wealth and power but ignoring and unable to form a healthy family and relationships. Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton are two such real life examples. In the movie, “Think Like a Man” Lauren (played by Taraji Henson) awakens to realize she will be alone all her life if she acts like a man and only focuses on career and conquest. But she is inspired to change only when the right man for her comes along – a man who opens her heart and eyes to what truly matters to her.
Of course, some women become confused, hurt and betrayed when their male partner refuses to change for them but then enters a new relationship with another woman and suddenly changes, becoming the man that she always wanted him to be.
The answer might be as simple as the words of Jack Nicholson (Melvin) to Helen Hunt (Carol) in the movie “As Good as It Gets” when he says:
“You make me want to be a better man.”
And feeling truly significant that she has inspired him to realize his potential, Carol responds:
“That’s probably the best compliment of my life.”
Melvin makes changes not because Carol asked him but because he wants to make them for her.
In other words, a man will change for the woman when he wants to change; she can inspire him but she can’t force, cajole or bully him into changing. A man can only be tamed; a man can only live to his potential when he is ready and willing.
Thus, to truly understand the admonition to “think like a man”, a woman must accept that she can’t tame the male unless he wants and until he is ready to be tamed.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist