Do you refrain from sitting in judgment of your fellow man for what you see as his economic, athletic, sexual, academic, physical or other deficiencies?
A couple of weeks ago, I was in the locker room at one of the local gyms in town where I had just completed an intense workout on the tread mill. I was feeling exhilarated. I was in the midst of gathering my belongings out of the locker as I planned to go directly home to shower and clean up (which I did). I overheard a conversation between three guys who were in chatting in the next set of lockers.
These guys were going on and on about some other men they knew. The conversation proceeded as such “so and so is a real di*khead, “he’s fooling nobody, you know he’s probably taking steroids.” “he is a total asshat.” “no wonder he and his wife are having sexual …” and so on. Initially, I was like “wow these guys are jerks.”. Yes, I will concede to engaging in judgmental behavior myself. However, it was in response to the brash commentary I overheard. Being my curious self, I slowly walked by the set of lockers where the men in question were deeply immersed in downgrading their fellow male brethren. To be frank, they looked like run of the mill guys. Average looking, average weight, two of the men were average height. The other was slightly over 6’0.
A few days later, I was having a drink at one of the local bars where I managed to hear (I must be a magnet for these sorts of situations) two men go back and forth about some other guys they knew. Unlike the previous conversation that took place in the campus locker room, the level of discourse between these two men was even more blunt, direct, and critical. Without venturing into specific detail, suffice it to say the language that was being used was far more brutal and colorful.
To be sure, as an early middle aged man, I have certainly heard people make harsher comments than those I witnessed in these two specific incidents. That being said, I was still taken aback by the acerbic and in some cases, malicious tone that underlined such rhetoric. As I saw it, it was an example of grown men behaving badly, sadly, and madly.
If we are being honest with ourselves, most people associate such catty, gossipy behavior with women. Is this a sexist assumption? I would argue no, it is not given the constructed context in which I have described such situations. Rather, it is being truthful to how society has historically ascribed such stereotypes. The cold, hard truth is that men are not immune to engaging in such judgmental attitudes.
The fact is that men have always been critical of both women and one another. Such vicious critiques usually start in elementary school where certain boys are targeted or isolated for not being as masculine or tough as their peers. These sorts of divisions become more acute in junior high school and they reach their pinnacle during high school. This is the time period where some young men, particularly those who embody traits that are seen as less than sufficiently masculine or are outright defiant or resistant to conforming to such rigid stereotypes are often targeted either verbally or in some cases, physically for daring to be different.
When men reach adulthood, this mindset is still largely prevalent. Although, as time progresses, other factors come into play. Economics, level of success or lack of, sexual prowess, physical attributes etc… are just a few of the items that become ever more prevalent in the ever hyper competitive world of masculinity. They have become permanently etched in the culture of manhood. There are a number of reasons as to why some men (not all) engage in such behavior. Some of the most common reasons are :
- Arrogance – There are certain men who feel that their looks, body, height, level of success, bank account etc… puts them light years ahead of their fellow less successful brethren and thus affords them the opportunity to look down on and mistreat others.
- Insecurity – Some men exercise their insecurities in varied ways. They hide them behind their six pack abs. They allow their bank accounts to do the talking. They let others know about their MBA’s, Ph.D’s, Medical Degrees or Law Degrees at every opportunity. Such boasting frequently disguises their own lack of confidence.
- Jealousy – Yes, the green eyed monster is often a factor that causes certain men to venture off into judgmental territory. Such unflattering behavior often results in negative outcomes for the man who often exposes himself as a petty, undesirable human being.
- Pessimism – Studies show that people who tend to be pessimistic are more likely to be judgmental of others. They see the world around them in a negative light and they are likely to transfer such a gloomy attitude and foist it onto others.
- Character – There are some people who have made the claim that it is “in their DNA.” While debatable, the fact is that there are some some people who are judgmental by nature. They are judgmental toward their children, their spouse, their co-workers, their siblings, in some cases, themselves. It is just a part of who they are. Some men are decent human beings. Others are not.
While there are those who argue there are a number of solutions or various ways to combat judgmental behavior, to me there is one simple suggestion:
DO NOT BE SO QUICK TO JUDGE OTHER PEOPLE!
The fact is that we are all humans are prone to imperfections. I am certain that none of us want every single minute detail of the less than glorious aspects of our lives dissected and critiqued by everyone under the sun. Goodness knows that as men, many, more likely, most of us, (especially those of us who have reached middle age or older), have stumbled along the way at some point in our lives.
If you are among the abnormally few men who are almost perfect, (highly unlikely) then you are a rare aberration. Good for you. Even so, you should count your good fortune and refrain from sitting in judgment of your fellow man for what you see as his economic, athletic, sexual, academic, physical or other deficiencies. To paraphrase the saying “judge not, lest ye be judged.” This is sound advice for all of us to adhere to.
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