In my first post in this two-part series, I explained what I call “the lie of the loner,” the toxic stereotype of the man as an aloof lone wolf, who avoids seeking help and companionship for fear of seeming “weak.”
Speaking of wolves, let’s dive into the other keystone toxic male stereotypes: the hyper-aggressive, hyper-competitive male.
Before we move ahead, just a reminder: yes, I know we could parse down toxic masculinity into more than two areas. I’ve chosen to combine the major behaviors identified as adverse male behavior into two broad categories for ease of discussion. This doesn’t mean I’m trying to simplify or “dumb down” male behavior.
In this article, I’ve pooled aggression and competition together because I believe they are intimately connected. Yes, the argument could be made that the extreme “lonerism” discussed in the first article contributes to extreme aggression and competition. I agree. But again, I wanted to split focus to allow for more in-depth consideration and discussion.
Unfortunately, some men won’t even read articles like this one. They’re the guys I worry about most. They’re the ones lost in the darker realms of male socialization, or should I say “indoctrination,” when it comes to “how men are supposed to act.” They may be part of a groupthink ideology that has convinced them to react rather than think. There is no room left in them for subtlety and nuance. There is just the belief system of the “gang.”
By writing these articles, I hope to contribute to the mentality that men can be whoever they want to be, rather than a narrow set of stereotypes. We don’t have to be caricatures of just a few of our behaviors.
I shouldn’t have to clarify this concept, but here goes: too much of anything can be toxic. Even water. Water’s good for you, right? Not if you drink too much in a short period. Ever heard of hyperhydration?
Yeah, drinking too much water can kill you. So can being too competitive and too aggressive.
Competition is good. Being competitive is good. It’s a driver of change, a source of energy and dynamism and creativity. Competition is what helps us, as individuals and a species, become better.
I hope that makes it clear I’m not against competition. I fear that those who have aligned themselves with narrow-minded ideological gangs will have a predictable knee-jerk reaction and “all-caps shout” at me that I’m a “cultural Marxist” who wants everyone to have “equality of outcome.”
Competition is good. What ISN’T good is the level of competition that demands humiliating one’s opponent, or seeking to “destroy” one’s competitor in some way, such as their reputation.
I try to stay away from war metaphors, but I want to use the concept of “honor thy enemy” here. Let’s call it “honor thy competitor.” Disrespecting a competitor creates many problems:
- It blunts your effort because in underestimating someone else you become complacent and therefore decrease your effectiveness.
- Rejoicing in the failure or destruction of others takes us to dark personal places, making us cruel and vain, reducing our humanity.
- Seeking to humiliate and dominate others may drive them to seek revenge.
Friendly, positive competition is key to a healthy self and healthy society. It’s equivalent to “sportsman-like conduct.” If you win, it’s good to be humble in victory. If your opponent sees you as humble, they will see you as someone to strive to emulate, rather than a tyrant to topple. Honoring one’s competition helps you avoid needless complication.
If someone else is not being honorable toward YOU, treating you as an enemy, you have the right to defend yourself. But you can maintain your self-respect by not answering their poor behavior with your dishonor. Defend yourself and be better than them. Give respect, even when you aren’t getting it in return.
Yes, men, sometimes you will have to fight for what you want. But let your fight be about creation, not destruction. One can be aggressive in a positive way. I’m talking about ambition as aggression, not aggressiveness as in physical, mental, or emotional threats.
Many men today buy into the idea of the “alpha male.” This concept has become a mainstay championed by groups like MGTOW. The supposition is that men can be classified simplistically as either “alphas” or “betas.”
I bet you’ve already guessed that alpha male humans are supposed to be hyper-aggressive, hyper-competitive loners. The flip side is, anyone who doesn’t display these traits is a “beta male.” MGTOW followers call betas “simps” or “manginas,” considering them dupes to some vast “feminist” conspiracy to dominate men. This whole philosophy is tantamount to the insidious pseudoscience that justified Nazi eugenics.
Come on, folks. Let’s use our common sense. Human behavior is much more complicated than the rest of the animal kingdom. We have consciousness. We have more motivations than just breeding dominance. Being the biggest, strongest, and most aggressive male doesn’t guarantee dominance in human society. Power can come from many sources in the human world.
By the way, the guy who popularized the idea of alpha males now believes it to be “incorrect.” Watch the video of Dr. L. David Mech being humble enough to acknowledge the alpha male wolf concept was basically disproven. You know, because that’s how science works.
But hey, don’t listen to me. Keep perpetuating the idea of the alpha male. Heck, why not be like former MMA fighter Jonathan Koppenhaver, a.k.a. War Machine, and help start a clothing line that sells shirts that say “I Do Alpha Male Shit.”
Oh, why is War Machine a “former” MMA fighter? Because he’s now serving life in prison for almost beating a woman to death.
I think it’s safe to say violent hyper-aggression isn’t good for us, guys. Be ambitious, not aggressive.
The Battle for the Male Soul
As I said, I don’t get angry anymore at men’s rights extremists. I pity them. I’m worried about them. They are my fellow men. They’ve been duped into believing the toxic male stereotype. They’re so lost, so desperate for direction, that they will cling to a philosophy that robs them of their complexity. They follow a shallow interpretation of masculinity.
So, if you’re reading this and you’re open-minded enough to believe that men are more than just alphas and betas, please help me in spreading the word. If you’re a guy who wants to be more than just a stereotype, don’t be afraid to show it. Be an example of a better type of man to other guys around you.
Make no mistake; there’s an ideological battle going on right now for the male soul. Let’s help each other avoid limited, unfulfilling lives. All men are brothers. It’s time to be your brother’s keeper.
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