Smoking and the Social Trigger – Is It Manly to Smoke?
It’s sad but standards like masculinity have plagued our society for long. Luckily the present day man is way more mature and intelligent than the one who roamed 30-40 years back. During those days it was considered manly to smoke or rather it was the norm that it was unmanly not to smoke. Events such as passing cigarettes in huge cartons to the soldiers at war, insisting that they should smoke because smoking gives courage, shows how ridiculous the thinking of a man was in those days. Almost 60% of the male population in America used to smoke only 40 years back, presently the number has significantly reduced to 23%. There has definitely been a change in the social trend. Society plays a very important role in setting standards which youngsters follow blindly.
Smoking is manly syndrome
In today’s society smoking is consider to be filthy and marks a man as a weakling, who finds it difficult to stave his addiction. People keep away from smokers knowing that they would smell obnoxious. Girls think twice about having a boyfriend who smokes. The “smoking is manly syndrome” is disappearing for good. It never was manly to smoke, do you think it’s manly to get addicted to heroin? Then what made you think that it’s manly to smoke? Mostly the people around you. The friends you had in the college, your elder brother, your father, the men around the bar and streets, the big shots puffing away in their offices, the movies showing brave soldiers smoking, all of this would have you believe that smoking was a manly thing to do. That was one primary reason I got into smoking initially, to keep track with my friends. I did not want to be the lone one out who would get ridiculed to be a sissy. Smokers seemed to believe they had a one up compared to non-smokers. Men were classified as smoking braves and non-smoking health nuts. It was all a result of conditioning, the smoking campaign was reaping results. The brain washing was on. The reality was totally different but the perception became that smoking was manly.
Smoking does not hide a lack which is always there
I will make a statement here, smoking does not make a man out of you. On contrary it makes a weakling, who gave in to peer pressure, out of you and you will remember this for life. When you die of smoking addiction you will know the stupid reason why you had started smoking in the first place. Just because your friends smoked, just because your dad smoked, just because you thought real men smoke, I give you this much it was not your fault. I know what it feels like. If you actually started smoking due to this reason just know that there is a lack somewhere inside you and smoking will not cure it.
At some level your self esteem was hurt or dented badly and you are trying to fill it up by appearing manly through smoking. Men get hurt easily when someone hurts their manhood. If a girl calls you a wimp you will live with that ego bash all your life and subconsciously will try to do things that are associated as manly. It’s a pity that this should happen. Our society lacked real role models for men, the ones which were around were all smokers. No wonder I thought smoking was manly, I never saw a manly figure not smoke. Smoking is far from being manly and is just another illusion created subconsciously thanks to the brain washing meted by the society.
Characteristics of a real man
I am no authority in psychology of men but being a man myself I can come up with a list of values which makes a real man. I remember there was a lack of confidence in me during my school days and college days. I was impressed by the studs who had the best girls, I was impressed by the foul talking, arrogant guys who seemed so full of confidence. I was neither of them, I was no stud and neither was I arrogant. I did not have any girlfriend either and I thought that it meant that I was not being looked at as manly by the girls, that really wounded my male ego. I wanted to be a real man and act like a stud. This is what I thought real men did back in my college days.
My list of values for a real man (in my college days)
- A real man smokes tobacco with reckless ease
- He drinks alcohol and drinks it neat
- He is great at swearing
- He has an arrogant look and he rarely smiles
- He walks with a swagger and usually with a cigarette hanging by his mouth
- He flirts with girls and they swoon over him
- He is reckless and drives speed cars and motor bikes
- He hates working
- He does care or fear about anyone
I tried to imbibe several of these qualities and my starting point was to get smoking. I still remember the first pack of cigarettes I got for myself and how I experimented smoking standing in front of a mirror. I wanted to look cool and tried several ways of holding the cigarette. That’s how I got hooked. I started smoking in the college to impress my friends and get noticed by girls. A few girls did notice but now I realize that such girls have very little self worth as it were. A girl who really loves you wouldn’t love you for your smoking. I started drinking and acting like some flirt. I tried being everything except being myself. The problem was that I was at a point in my life where I needed a role model because I was not sure of what it was to grow up and be a real man in this society. The role models I found were the ones who made me come up with such a list of values. It was not long before I got hooked to cigarettes and there were no longer something I did to look manly, I had just become an addict and there was nothing manly about it. It did not feel manly either because I felt weak about my addiction. If you had to ask me today what are real values a man should have I would list the below
- He has supreme confidence in himself and his decisions
- His confidence comes from his ability and not from anything external like drugs
- He is strong minded and is not afraid of dealing with life
- Pressures don’t faze him because he knows they don’t last for long
- He does not feel the need to drink or smoke to look manly in a crowd
- His presence makes smokers realize that a real man does not need to smoke and hence he becomes a role model to several youngsters
- There is nothing delicate about a man and he never succumbs to weaknesses like smoking, through a conscious decision that addiction is for the weak. Men are not weak.
- His toughness comes from a force of character, his principles and his ability to focus, and not from an external source
- He does not believe he needs to woo girls to feel manly. On contrary girls & sex are not the center of his life. He life centers around his principles, his strength of character, his love for his life and mental strength.
- He exudes a sense of security and has no place for nonsense
- He values his time and energy
- He loves his wife and feels responsible towards her and his kids.
This is what makes a man. Do you imagine a guy who keeps sucking on a weed out of his weakness, a guy who has fallen prey to addiction, someone who derives his sense of identity as a addict can ever be a real man? There are several smokers who have all the values I listed above, they are men not because of their smoking but due to the other values in them. Smoking does not make a man out of you, your character and sense of respect does.