A while ago, Paul Spinrad suggested that Guys need a coming-of-age ritual that has some teeth, like exist in other cultures. I like the idea, because the more I look around, the more disturbed I am by the infantilization of America. Spinrad points to consumerism as one cause, but I suspect there's a lot more to it than that. Whatever the background, we'd be better off with manlier men, men with spine and integrity. But what's standing in the way?
If you bounce this idea off people, you'll get a mix of blank stares and wrinkled faces. The blank stares will come from people who have been taught that everyone is great and no one needs to change. Wrinkled faces from people who are offended at the implication that they need to grow up. Before you can like the idea of a coming-of-age ritual, you have to admit there's a problem.
Partly it's a question of separating real manliness from the trappings of manliness. It's one thing to grunt at pretty girls and defend your territory. It's something else to fulfill your commitments and live consistently with your principles. This is really fundamental: when you think about the men in your life, your coworkers, your acquaintances, do you know what they stand for? Are you sure they've even thought about what they absolutely will and absolutely won't do? What they're committed to making happen or preventing?
If you're a man ... are you sure you've thought about those things?
I think there needs to be a little more recognition of and respect for men who act like adults. Then maybe there will be an appetite for a coming-of-age ritual.