In “Manhood: The Elusive Goal”, Mark Gerzon argues that masculinity, or the “masculine code of conduct” is exemplified by smoking, drinking, and violence- acts that would be generally frowned upon in society. Mark Gerzon, attended Harvard University and was considered to be a best selling author by his senior year, due to his book “The Whole World is Watching: A Young Man Looks at Youth Dissent”. Gerzon generally writes about topics dealing with men and masculinity in regard to modern day society.
In “Manhood: The Elusive Goal”, Gerzon reflects back on his own personal experience during his adolescent years, and how he wasn’t considered to be masculine enough since he didn’t conform or follow social protocol to becoming a man. He states that young boys are influenced by media and the rest of the world around them to be tough and hard, quick to use violence, and be wary of women. While pondering the questions, what is manhood and how does one achieve it, Gerzon concludes that since there are no defined rites of passage to manhood, a man must prove not what he is(a man), but instead what he is not, “anything that is feminine.
(10). By using logical, credible and emotional appeal, as well as real life examples, such as sports and media, Gerzon successfully persuades his targeted readers- society in general, that there is no true defined rite of passage to manhood, and that the pressure put on young boys by society is harmful and ultimately leads to their downfall. Gerzon states that there is no clear pathway to manhood, by appealing to his audience’s logic. He writes, “I no longer see my unwillingness to fight as an indictment of my character. ”(2), which shows that one does not simply become a man by being involved in a fight.
Gerzon further goes on to state that while he might’ve been embarrassed at the time of the incident, he later realizes he did himself a favor by not putting his body parts at risk, as “[He] might need them in the future”(2). This highlights the logical appeal of Gerzon argument, as it clearly shows that the stereotypical path to manhood- one of violence, is indeed harmful to young men in an obvious physical manner. Another way Gerzon uses logical appeal to persuade his audience of the undue pressure put on boys is through sports. He states “Sports are games.
Except for the professionals who make their living from them, these games have little connection with real life. ”(5), and by doing so he establishes that while sports do enable a boy to test out his strengths, they do they not in anyway make the boy a man. This attempt to persuade his audience gets them thinking, what is it about sports that make the players manly? It definitely isn’t the fact that professional athletes tend to die at a much earlier age than their non-athletic counterparts, due to the years of strain put on their bones and muscles while competing against other men to prove their manhood.
By bringing these thoughts to the attention of his audience, Gerzon suggests that from a logically standpoint, sports should not be used to measure ones manhood. Gerzon also uses the Army as an example, for its “how boys are turned into men”(Gerzon 6), but then alludes to the Vietnam War and states “the Soldier is no longer the hero”(6), thus making the point that being in the army- or in other words going on foreign land and taking innocent lives- does not make you man.
This once again, allows Gerzon to use logic to appeal to his readers that violence, one of the pressures faced by young men, is just plain harmful and does not guarantee you manhood. However, violence is not the only thing that physically harms these young men. Gerzon states how a boy’s manliness is measured by the amount of alcohol he can withhold. Gerzon uses Richard Ryan, a former alcoholic and nicotine addict, as an example to portray to his audience that while drugs may give you a false sense of manhood, in the long term they just leave you high and dry.
Ryan states, “I realized I was addicted to smoking. And I mean addicted. My withdrawal from nicotine was almost as bad as from booze — the shakes, sweating, couldn’t sleep. ”(4) This allows Gerzon to appeal to the audience’s logic by using reason to make the connection that drugs leave you physically vulnerable and also, by using Richard Ryan as an example, Gerzon is able to use Ryan’s credibility as a former alcoholic to persuade his audience that the so called “bond”(Ryan 4) formed with other men during drug use does not make boys into men, but only leads to their eventual downfall.
Gerzon also persuades his audience, particularly young men looking to prove themselves, through emotional appeal that there is no defined rite of passage to becoming a man. Gerzon states “Young men cannot outmaneuver the Nazis as Indiana Jones did in Raiders of the Lost Ark, or battle Darth Vader, or outsmart. Dr. No with James Bond’s derring-do. To feel like heroes they turn to the other sex. They ask young women for more than companion- ship, or sex, or marriage.
They ask women to give them what their culture could not — their manhood. ”(7) By stating this, Gerzon is informing his readers that the fictional media makes young boys feel unmanly by showing them everything they’re not, but aspire to be, and in turn, boys look for support in the exact opposition of a stereotypical man- a woman. Gerzon supports this statement earlier in his argument when he states “Even if [Diana] was not the most beautiful cheerleader, she was certainly the most magnetic. She made us feel like men. (1) However, no where does Gerzon mention how Diana made him feel like a man, which he does for a reason, as he states later in his argument that “the only way to be a man is essentially negative: to not be a woman. ”(10) This draws on the readers emotions, because Gerzon simply states the only way to prove yourself a man is to be as less of a woman as possible, and how does one do that? By not being sensitive, by solving disputes through physical violence- by simply not crying, for tears are considered to be a “masculine demerit”(Gerzon 3).
This allows Gerzon to appeal to the audience’s emotions, and persuade them that there really is no defining rite of passage to manhood. All in all, Gerzon is able to convince his audience that while manhood is something that must be earned, there is no defined rite of passage and the pressure faced by young men in our modern day society to reach manhood is just harmful. the meaning of manhood, instead, is determined by each man, in his own experience; it is no longer generalized for all men, and all generations .
Gerzon supports his argument by employing logical, emotional, and credible appeals to caution his readers that football games, fights, and drug use will not guarantee you manhood. “Sports teams, social clubs, or professional groups”(Gerzon 11) will guarantee not you manhood. No woman will ever guarantee you manhood. In fact, as presented in the argument by Gerzon, these things will alternatively lead to a young man’s downfall, rather than his rise to manhood, “which is why so many marriages fail”(Gerzon 11).
Cite this Analysis of “Manhood: The Elusive Goal”
Analysis of “Manhood: The Elusive Goal”. (2017, Jan 06). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/path-to-manhood/