Eric Moody gives us an updated definition of masculinity.
This is kind of personal to me, and I really don’t like showing my underbelly and all my soft vulnerable parts; but having said that, I think it takes a wee bit of courage to admit faults, to think critically about the person you are, to seek guidance, and start an inner monologue to address issues and ultimately fix them. If not “fix” at least strive to overcome the most negative—the benefit is in the struggle. The struggle to overcome whatever it is you’re dealing with is what I believe to be a key principle in redemption, for lack of a better word (faith-driven, for me, use whatever fits).
Most everything I’m putting down here I have been guilty of. People who know me personally know this is fact, and although I’m not too proud of it, I’m admitting it. The reason I’m penning this is to think about it and perhaps change my inner thought process so I can help myself.
I’ve been married for a couple of decades now, and frankly, I’m surprised my wife sticks around. She is a stronger “man” than I’ll ever be. This brings me to another point which I find totally amusing—the term “masculinity” has commonly been given associated words such as “robust, strong, manly, manliness, muscular, vibrant,” etc. I’ve watched my wife carry and give birth to our children. I have to say, that of all the things I’ve been through, and all the “strength” I’ve had and have, all the “manly” things I’ve done—nothing could EVER make me want to even attempt that. The ‘weaker’ sex? HA! Anyway, let’s move on…
[Note: I saw the term ‘heteronormative’ used the other day. I am who I am and this is for me. I do not intend nor encourage any disrespect to any walks of life; this is me and me only. Use whatever language suits your situation.]
Here is your updated definition of masculinity from some random guy (me). Not everything suits every man, so if something resonates, great.
- Taking care of your family: providing food and shelter for them OR providing care for them if Mom is the one providing food and shelter.
- Providing your children an education; both on the world and on basic fundamental education.
- Protecting your family at all costs; protecting your spouse from physical AND verbal abuse, and not being a party to supporting either, in any way shape or form—protecting your children in all stages of life.
- Teaching your sons how to treat women, beginning with their sisters and their mother and any other female relatives or close friends you have.
- Accepting your children for who they are and who they turn out to be—no matter what form that might take.
- Teaching your children your faith, if you have one and it’s important to you; but not forcing them if they choose to stray or find a different calling later in life. Love them no matter what they choose—but you should guide them if their decisions will ultimately result in danger.
- Acting like a responsible adult and not giving in to anger, especially in front of your children.
- Showing the value of hard work and responsibility, and helping others less fortunate either with time or money, if you can.
- Showing love and affection to your spouse and your children—often.
- Treating women with dignity and respect and not objectifying them for their physical attributes.
- Not offering unsolicited advice or becoming guilty of body shaming, whether against larger or smaller women.
- Avoiding playing into the “real man” garbage in sexualizing everything.
- Not having irresponsible sex or EVER forcing a woman into having sex and knowing exactly when to back off when you get that first signal.
- You don’t undress a woman with your eyes, even though they are extremely beautiful to you. Appreciation is one thing; blatant visual fornication is not cool.
- Stopping sexually charged conversations in the workplace, especially when women are in employment. (This is a tough one and very common. Guilty as charged.)
- Not scoffing at women in power by assuming “they don’t deserve to be there, they’re not men, they don’t know…” This might seem ancient, but I have heard this in my lifetime.
- Respecting women in power, but not necessarily agreeing with everything they stand for if you do not support their political stance, just because they are women. There are three off the top of my head I could name right now which I’m extremely disappointed in, but it’s NOT because they’re women.
- Supporting and NOT criticizing a “stay at home dad” because he’s “not a real man”. If my wife could make as much or more than me, and I could do it, I would. However, I’d probably wait till most of my kids were out on their own (literally laughing out loud-in-my-head at that one; because it is a much tougher job than the one I have, you can trust me on that).
- Avoiding using female-oriented “words” (derogatory in nature) in reference to someone “less-than” in your opinion; you know the words I’m referring to: “don’t be such a…”
- Admitting when you have done, or not done, all or one or some of these things and accepting the fact that perhaps you should change your way of thinking.
- Helping to change a long-standing culture of sexual objectification of women by being the first man you know to change how you think about these things.
- Knowing and observing other respectable men, the men YOU respect as ones who would do or not do these things, and try emulating their actions. Be the man you respect in other men, and convince others to do the same.
- Changing the culture by changing your inner self—first.
Some of my “manly” friends might think this is silly, especially some of the ones I’ve had personal relationships, friendships and many—experiences—with, and they’d be ok to do that; because if I saw this from a few of my friends, I would probably laugh my ass off. Then I would shut up quick because I’d be guilty of perpetuating the thoughts and actions he’s writing about. I’m throwing this out there because I know I have a problem with a number of these things and I want to fix them. My first step in doing that is admitting it. I can be a jerk. I know this.
This article I read had far less words than mine, but his bulleted remarks hit on many of the things (some) “real men” might be guilty of, and I’m included. All the sexual harassment training the military and civilian sector are throwing out—I understand why they do it and it’s needed; but perhaps as we evaluate ourselves and seriously consider why we think about certain things the way we do, we’ll begin to change the culture of this ‘thing’ beginning with each person—share it and teach our children something worthy to pass on to their children. Over time maybe we’ll reach a balance where we’re not as dehumanizing as what we appear to be.
Not to say that there are not great people out there; there sure are. Many men I have met and have become friends with are men I consider to be respectable gentlemen, and when I think of what it means to be a “real man” those friends’ names come into my mind—and many of them are on my Facebook friends list and probably reading this. They’re everywhere; but as we know, our culture hasn’t yet evolved enough to say they might not overpopulate the negative, selfish thinkers (like me)—just food for thought.
All of these things I need help with and all those things I described, in my opinion (in a brief part) should be what a “real man” is made of and…
…ALL of it…
I learned from my wife.
She has taught me more about what it is to be a real man than any of the “real men” out there. Without her, I’d still be the stupid, teenage idiot, women-bashing fool that I had been for so long. She isn’t responsible for saying “you need to act this way or do these things,” she just exudes a personality I desire as a man through her example. I hope you are as lucky.
Every now and then, something makes me really think about who I am and how I can improve myself. This is one of those times.
Peace, and be well.
Photo credit: Getty Images