THE QUESTION of maturity lies at the heart of masculinity. A boy is not a man, but must become one. Traditionally, this was associated with taking on a role, like becoming an apprentice, a labourer, a white-collar worker, or a soldier. It meant earning money and being a provider. Most often, it also meant losing his unique identity for the sake of the collective, and becoming a number.
The phrase, “Man up,” has been used by both genders to express the imperative in any situation to put aside your personal complaints, whims and fancies, accept the reality of the situation, and do what needs to be done. At its core, being able to do this willingly and readily, and being able lead and inspire others to do the same, is one of the most fundamental expressions of being a man. Which is probably why getting teenage boys out of their lazy gaming mode and getting them to become disciplined and make a contribution to the household—in the form of doing chores—is the most obvious and immediate challenge of most modern-day parents. However, just getting a boy to an adult age, getting him qualified and into a job is no guarantee of maturity, or of being a man. Many women will testify to their frustration at the lack of responsibility, or the narrow range of emotional responses, that their men demonstrate. Such men tend to be like boys, putting their own needs first, and showing very little self-awareness, temperance or leadership. Ironically, this situation is not helped by those same women nursing their sons, defending their every whim, and protecting them from strong discipline.
Let’s look at the path by which a boy turns into a man.
You’ll see that the first two stages are represented by the colours red and white. As mentioned, those colours originated in ancient mythology. If we were to stay with the mythology sequence, there would only be one more colour, or shade, to come, and that would be black, to represent old age and wisdom. However, Carl Jung identified four stages in the development of the anima—four stages in the development of a man’s inner voice, in other words. It’s also clear that it’s quite a leap from the stage of white (the white knight) to the stage of black (wisdom). Surely, something has to happen in between. Surely, the cake of wisdom has to be baked first. Aha! Maybe that’s what the midlife crisis is all about!
Based on the above reasoning, we’re going to go with Jung’s notion that there are four stages of maturity for men. And we’re going to agree with the muthological sequence that has the last stage being represented by the colour black. What we’re going to do to bring the two together is we’re going to insert a third stage, and allocate the colour grey to that stage.