So... this photo has been reblogged over 2,000 times on castle nail fuck:

Click on the image to see the post itself. Or click here, whatevs.

If you go through some of the responses, they're extremely polarized. And they're mostly from dumb 15-year-old kids (who don't know who Sean Connery is). Some of the more intelligent comments articulate the need for, or rather the necessary destruction of, gender norms, and how they've changed over the last 50 years. It's a good thing that we've come down from the false, rigid, and patriarchal figure of Sean Connery to the more sensitive, effeminate, and gentle notion of many boy-bands. There are yet other reblogs viciously commenting on Sean Connery's checkered past when it comes to beating women:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FgMLROTqJ0

Oh look at that sassy Barbara Walters glance. Where has that gone? Anyway... I find it very interesting, this whole assertion of "where has masculinity gone?" Largely, I think the image macro is wrong. Nothing has really happened at all on a purely superficial level. Instead of Sean Connery, today we have Don Draper, any one of George Clooney's characters, Vin Diesel, et cetera. We still have a plethora of "classic Men" embodying a rather patriarchal chivalry. The difference is that the more contemporary male figures are not so much anti-woman, as Connery once was; they are now more and more pro-man in response to feminism. And what's wrong with that? We have feminist movements, why can't we have masculine movements? (I have touched upon this before.)

And if you say well men have always had the upper hand, then fuck you, you double-standard asshole. You stand for nothing if you think it's okay for us to have feminist movements but disallow masculine movements. This is largely rhetorical, however, since many would argue that third-wave feminism has largely overcome this problem, myself being one of them. Equality cannot be found through revenge. Likewise, the world has changed since Sean Connery was our patriarch of choice. None of our current patriarchal figures would agree with him. Not because they think he's fundamentally flawed, but simply because as a culture we've finally begun to move on as a collective.

The ultimate goal of feminism, affirmative action, etc, should not be to raise up their constituents above all others, but to make them equal to all others. Conversely, their aim should never be to lower their opponents, because that makes even less sense. What has happened to men? We have gradually moved closer to the realm of equilibrium with women. Sure, there are still problems, but I have no doubt that we simply have to wait for the old people in charge to die. We lack the self-confidence of our hippie parents to take an active role; we must simply wait until there is no opposition. As miserable as this is, it might be for the best.

But then, additionally, there is the question not of man versus woman but of boy versus man. This is, again, a deeper question than the superficial can provide, because not much really has changed besides our understanding. Further, the question I like to ask is: what changes in a culture when the "male role models", or let's just say "role models", have gone from being very rigid, patriarchal, masculine figures to more effeminate, sensitive, and caring ones. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, I'm merely curious. Is it an equalizing force? Is it a rational, rather than sensational, force? Are children's role models becoming more real, rather than stereotypical and fantasty-oriented? Are we moving away from boy-escapism Superman and gesturing towards PBS realism? Is this a good thing?

I would argue... at least begin to argue... that there is an important place for both. It is beneficial for kids to have escapist, world-avoiding perspectives. Superman is a worthy role model simply because he can never exist, and yet a child believes he can and does, and eventually he will realize the values and morals of Superman that transcend the fact that he's a comic book character. However, it is also important to teach a child that they exist in a real world with real consequences. The younger they learn this, potentially the better, right? I am not so sure. I think a lot of the world's problems would eventually be resolved faster if we allowed children to be wild, to be unreal, to be other-worldly, rather than constrain what they eat, keep them on leashes, and make them watch Dora the Explorer to learn Spanish. Please, let children be children, and let parenting be more about guiding than ruling.

Few of today's role models teach self-confidence and self-reliance. Few of them favor "figure it out yourself" over "let's figure this out together", to the point that I fear children will become more and more emotionally dependent upon their peers or (worse) their fictional role models. Empathy is an important perspective that is certainly not yet properly represented in our society, and never really has been, but it's also paramount to remember our inherent independence alongside our inherent sociability. A child must learn how to take care of themselves before they can learn to take care of others.

My favorite reactions to the image:

"they both need beards."

"I want a boyfriend not a girlfriend."

"does anyone need any preparation h for their butthurt"

"There’s another one with a picture of Audrey Hepburn and Ke$ha, too."

"Seriously. If you’re a dude with a straightener in your bathroom, I’m done. ESPECIALLY IF IT’S BETTER THAN MINE."

I'm happy there were reactions. Tumblr is pretty great.