Saturday, May 11, 2019

The rebirth of masculinity?

I see articles about the need for men to reclaim masculinity, with the goal being to push back the harm that decades of male-bashing has caused.

This is good, but I’m not sure which masculinity they want to reclaim. I grew up before masculinity was being attacked, and I was taught in a traditional way what men are supposed to be. And then when the male-bashing started most men stood by and did nothing. Or they joined in and started bashing men too.

This was not aberrant behavior on the part of men. This was masculinity in action. It was the same masculinity as men freezing to death in the water while they made sure women were comfortable in the life boats. It was the same masculinity as men beating up other men because a woman called for help and said “he hurt me.” It was the same masculinity telling men to just buck up and “take it like a man.” And it was this same masculinity that guided men when male-bashing showed up in the form of women’s calls for help.

In other words, it was not a lack of masculinity that allowed this to happen. It was men’s blind adherence to outdated codes of masculine chivalry and stoicism. And I’m not suggesting we toss masculinity into the trash. Masculinity is a constructive force that has solved many problems and saved many lives. But we need to get better at saving ourselves, even when it feels like a cowardly thing to do.

This is not going to be easy because our masculinity only provides some of the tools. We need to also dig into our sense of humanity and realize that we deserve to be treated with compassion. And we need to trust that feeling this way does not mean we are weak.