Updated: Jun 23
"If you don't initiate the boys they will return to burn down the village." -African Proverb
"A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has it under control." -Jordan Peterson
We live in unprecedented times. Men, boys, and the very essence of masculinity itself are under direct fire. The phrase "toxic masculinity" has seeped into the common vernacular in the past half-century in such an insidious fashion that it has taken control of how we define manhood publically and privately. Frankly, I'm sick of it. In the process of establishing much-needed equality between men and women, certain groups have taken these individualistic arguments to the extreme. They have thrown out traditional, tried-and-true gender qualities and replaced them with chaos instead. In the wake of the latest wave of feminist and gender non-binary movements, we are left with more confusion and destruction than ever before. The second leading cause of death for young people is suicide. The majority of these young people are male. Something needs to change in how we all (women and men) view masculinity.
One in three children from divorced families is estranged from their fathers. This is an extremely depressing statistic. Fathers provide essential elements in a child's development that mothers alone cannot. The masculine energy is like a river's banks. It provides the necessary structure for a child's character. Children preferentially emulate the exercise and self-care habits of their fathers. They rely on their fathers to feel safe and more self-reliant. They learn how to regulate their own interactions with other children better because of their fathers. If you want to create anti-social, violent children, you need only deprive them of their fathers. Given the latest national news, it is important to note that almost every perpetrator of a mass shooting had a poor relationship with his father. I say 'his' because every mass shooter you can think of was male. If we want fewer Sandy Hooks or Robb Elementary Schools, then we need more fathers in the lives of our children.
We have to stop the hatred of men. We have to stop blaming societal troubles on white male privilege. The social norms that exist in our cultures are much older than the history of Western civilization or the patriarchy. Norms, rituals, customs, languages, etc. are all ways to understand the forces that surround us and to gain some kind of harmony and utility in the process. One of these forces is the biological differences between males and females. Separate cultures developed around male and female identities in response to these blatant sexual dimorphisms. It is of the utmost importance that we learn to understand and respect them.
Femininity and masculinity are two different and essential parts of life. Equally important and intertwined. Yin and Yang. Whatever one pole does affects the other. For all intents and purposes, they are the same force. So what happens when you blame the patriarchy for all of today's inequalities and woes? You are simultaneously blaming the matriarchy. All of those who shame males for their behavior are also shaming mothers and daughters. This is why attacking toxic masculinity is unhelpful. It is actually a form of self-hatred. It is time for us to wake up to the destructive message we are sending to our boys. Instead, they need the positive message of noble masculinity. Boys need initiation rites. They need to be honored and encouraged to be strong providers and leaders. They need a group of fathers to help them navigate these transitions and to better understand the emotions involved. Mothers simply cannot do these things alone, nor should they.
Men who grow up with respectful models for fathers are less likely to mistreat women. The relationship is reciprocal, as women with good fathers are less likely to mistreat men. The key to establishing a healthy binary is honoring the strengths of that binary and accepting its weakness. Men are evolutionarily and biologically made to be more taciturn, more logic-based, more competitive, and more driven by sex. Women are made to be more communicative, more intuitive, more risk-averse, and more driven by safety. There is a little wiggle room in what these differences look like, but those are differences of degree, not kind. Men will make more money on average than women because men are naturally more competitive. Women are naturally more nurturing and biologically more inclined to child-rearing. One of the unfortunate side-effects of the last century of feminism is the pressure it has put on women to act more like men and on men to act more like women. As a result, we all lose.
I challenge each and every one of you to think long and hard today about your relationship with the masculine energy in your life. There are bad men out there who have done terrible things, but the fewer new ones we can create the better. The future will be a hard-fought battle for both men and women, but we must endeavor to fight it. We must restore our trust in traditional gender roles by focusing on more cohesive family dynamics. Women need good men to support them financially and emotionally so that they aren't under the impossible modern pressures to be both mothers and providers. Men need respect from good women so they don't abandon their family and benevolent natures and use their powers for destruction. This is a call to all men to step up to the challenge of being better providers, fathers, sons, and husbands. It is also a call to all women to engender and invite these characteristics in men. If it is a monster that we want to fight, then it is a monster that we will get. That is what happens when you declare war on masculinity. It fights back.