This comment was by Thomas Pluck on the post A Letter to Masculinity
Great way to open a conversation. Of course “masculinity” is just a concept. On the face, it should be however any given male behaves, but we use it to shape that behavior to a vaguely agreed-upon cultural norm. Lately we use it to define a lost era of pioneer outdoorsmanship, as we fear the changes brought on by technology. Few shoot a wildebeest anymore, so we glorify it. Mountain-climbing has been so deified that the line for Everest is longer than one for the latest iPhone. And why? To tick a mark on an imaginary list that says “we are accomplished?”
Don’t let someone else GIVE you a “man card.” Find what matters to you and hunt it down like Teddy Roosevelt would a wildebeest, or Hemingway would a Marlin. Those were symbolic acts. Fighting a fish for 16 hours is a test, but Hemingway did it because he’d already fought fascism as a journalist in Spain, and like the leopard in “Snows of Kilimanjaro,” he’d reached the peak, and ached for the mountain to be higher. He even tried to fight the Nazis (detailed in Islands in the Stream). He constantly fought for what he believed in. Yet we look past that and define his iconic manhood by the animal heads on his wall.
My cause is PROTECT (www.protect.org) who fight child abuse in all its forms. Find yours, focus on it–not to the expense of the rest of your life, but enough to see the difference you make–and I assure you, the thrill is the same if not greater than winning your first mixed-martial arts fight, climbing a mountain, lowering your golf score, or whatever Men’s Journal says makes you a man this week.
You might also like Thomas Pluck’s essay The Little Gold Colt: There Are No Accidental Shootings
Photo: JFK Library, Public Domain Image, Ernest Hemingway posing with a marlin in Havana Harbor, Cuba