“Mayor Thomas Masters, a Baptist minister, said in an interview that Riviera Beach voters “just got tired of having to look at people’s behinds or their undergarments,” but the public defenders argued that sagging pants were a constitutionally protected expression of identity.
Their star witness was Chelsea Rousso, a former New York fashion designer who is now a fashion instructor at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
Ms. Rousso, 48, looking uptown chic on the witness stand in a three-quarter-length embroidered jacket and a knit black dress by Ellen Tracy, conceded that sagging pants were not for her. They look “uncomfortable,” she said, and “comfort is very important in the things I wear.”
Still, the low-slung pants look is one that has gone from “tribal” to mainstream, she said, displaying pictures of the soccer star David Beckham, the teenage heartthrob Zac Efron, Prince Harry and others sporting it.” (Photo from the NYT by Maggie Steiber)
What is one to do when older men wear “low-slung pants” and seem to have no aspiration toward maturity? Seriously, take a look around–how many 40-year-olds are trying desperately to look like the college days?
Being a man, at the core, means not being a boy. Though one can justly point out that there is no clearly defined fault line separating the two, cultures throughout human history have recognized a distinction, whether tribal or sophisticated. Manhood rituals can be glimpsed, for example, in Spartan society, Jewish upbringing, and the collegiate system of the West. The fundamental idea behind all of these things: there is a point at which a boy needs to stop being a boy and become a man.
Here are a few random thoughts on this point and what it might mean for contemporary masculinity.
1. The mark of a boy, or a child, more generally, is that a child has little self-control and thus needs a parent to direct them. If you want proof of this, become a parent. That’s all the empirical evidence you need of this.
2. A man, then, is one who fundamentally possesses self-control. Not height, not weight, not the ability to beat people up or play sports well or argue cogently. Self-control. Maturity.
3. This means that men should not act, look like, and talk like boys. There should be a clear difference. Boys say whatever comes to mind; men do not. Boys act, sometimes, like idiots, as if there are no rules; men do not.
4. Men control themselves in public. They think before they talk. They show restraint and an understanding of the context. They don’t make lots of stupid jokes. They don’t call attention to themselves.
5. Men dress maturely. There’s clearly room for different styles here, but it makes no sense for a man to dress like a boy. Don’t look like a little boy. Embrace the way a man dresses. If you do so with your own flair, great. But look presentable and mature.
6. Men look after others. They take responsibility for others. They look out for the weak and needy. They don’t indulge their own selfish desires, ignoring others, doing whatever they want. They act as agents of responsibility, order, kindness, and goodness.
There is a huge difference between a man and a boy. We need to recover these differences.