Megan Rosker gives an honest take on the idea of gender roles and masculine qualities.
What’s good about masculinity? I am embarrassed to admit this question was at first hard for me to answer. I know there are great things about men. I know there are great things about women as well, but I find it’s very difficult to verbalize what these are. It simply isn’t a “politically correct” thing to do. With the rise of the idea of genders being “the same and equal,” what characteristics are left to be assigned to a specific gender? Can I say that my husband makes me feel safe, without someone pointing out that if I just took a few self-defense classes I could feel just as safe on my own? Can I say that my husband is an excellent provider without being told that I should be able to make just as much money?
But the truth is that each gender has its own unique role. They are different and one gender is simply not better than the other. Before the rise of patriarchy and before the backlash of feminism, before all the social mumbo jumbo that now trips us up when we want to speak honestly about what our best qualities are, there was an organic way we would each respond to the responsibilities that are placed up on us. Granted this was thousands of years ago, before we crawled out from behind the rocks. I’m not suggesting we move back into caves and start hunting with spears. I do think, however, we should question how we would answer this question without the influence of patriarchy and feminism.
Without these influences would it feel so unsettling to say many men are great protectors and providers? They keep their families from harm. They protect them by providing homes and keeping their families well fed and their needs met with the money they work hard to earn.
This is not to say all men are better than women at these things. This is not to say women are bad at these things. This is not to say women can’t do these things, but we need to start respecting the unique and beautiful gifts each gender brings to the world.
Our world would be dim without the imagination and creativity of femininity. In fact we wouldn’t be able to lead our society without the new, imaginative vision that femininity provides our culture. As well our children wouldn’t be as well cared for without our nurturing and tenderness. These are qualities we haven’t valued in our current patriarchy because there is no money associated with them. Since these qualities are not best for protecting and providing and since we are ruled by a male perception of what success is, we deem the most powerful feminine qualities useless.
This simply isn’t the case.
We could look at this way, would a quarterback ever condemn himself for needing an offensive line? Would he condemn himself for not being the biggest, toughest guy on the field? If he did he would be missing the fact that the team can’t operate without him. It requires his vision and his execution to make his team succeed. Eli Manning would never be happy as an offensive lineman, nor I suspect, would he ever be as talented at it.
That is how I feel about men and women. We don’t possess the vision we need to flourish, the power we need to execute, and the strength we need to carry out all that we imagine without the full expression of both the masculine and the feminine. In this scenario, we simply don’t provide the same qualities.
So what is good about masculinity? In my experience, in my personal relationship with my husband, it is his physical strength, endurance, and fierceness that I love. I love that he embraces his duty to provide for our family with a deep understanding and sense of responsibility. Whatever vision it is that I possess, he provides the support that is needed to carry it out.
It’s not to say we can’t each possess these qualities at different times, but generally speaking this is how our roles are divided. These are his greatest assets.
But the key to finding out how we function best in our relationships isn’t to follow a specific social role. Rather it is best that we each express ourselves as completely as we can without the inhibitions of being “politically correct”. Then we’ll begin to see a more natural and general definition arise of what is the masculine and what is the feminine and we can begin to respect what is good about each.