It’s been an interesting couple of weeks for me. Indeed it has been a time that I continue to be disappointed in my fellow men. Not the generic word man as in “mankind” but the very specific “male,” variety of our species. I keep asking myself the same question, “when will we grow up?”
My oldest son has been dealing with a group of bullies at school for the better part of a year. They tease him with cursing and insults. Calling him a “fag” and telling him he isn’t good enough to go out for sports. They gang up on him in a group, like a pack of jackals circling a gazelle. This past week we made the decision to move him to another school that, from our research, seems to have a better handle on such issues.
Oh, I have heard all the jargon about this type of situation. “Toughen ’em up!” or “Let him kick their asses!” All that sounds great until you realize that, number one that isn’t how the real world works. Number two he was outnumbered and could have ended up in an even worse situation. My son is a good looking intelligent kid. He is an accomplished swimmer and an extreme extrovert. Yet, he was targeted.
Bullying isn’t about just going after weaker victims; it’s also going after those you view as a threat. It’s a defense mechanism of the insecure and unproperly trained. Unfortunately, it begins at home and is fueled by parents who are either themselves bullies, or unable to see any fault in their own offspring.
I never really had a problem being bullied in school. Sure there was the occasional jerk you had to deal with but not to the extent I saw it happen to others, or to the degree that it happens today. I am well aware of those around me who had a much worse experience.
We’ve not grown at all as a country in this area. No matter what we say this problem is increasing. Social media is the new hunting ground for these predators. Every picture posted, every status update, every tweet and opinion in public view open you up to attack from the faceless trolls who never grew out of middle school.
We live to attack those who are different from us, be it based on skin color, sexuality, religion, atheism, weight, political views, or even socio-economic status. This country seems to thrive on it. Go to a political rally, especially this year, and listen. Not just to the speakers but also to what is being said in the crowds. We have no respect for each other, and we have no restraint in voicing those opinions.
I have had an acquaintance who’s son committed suicide at 11 because of bullying. And seeing stories like this are becoming all too common. When a kid is left feeling that his only option is to “give up” and take their own life, it is an indictment on the entire civilization.
Bullying isn’t just an issue that is relegated to the male of the species either. Girls are victims and participants as well. We however rarely tell our daughters they should “suck it up and deal with it!”
Then today as I am scrolling Facebook I see this article from David French, and I realized, we may never grow up.
French goes on a long diatribe about how we are a culture that is no longer raising men basically because we don’t enroll them all in gym memberships. That because we don’t make them change oil or build porches, they aren’t able to develop masculinity. He states that we should “never ever underestimate the positive effect that raw physical strength can have on a young man’s development.”
While all that sounds great, and it hits on the key points of a Trump testosterone driven movement. It’s bullshit!
To simply focus in on this generation and claim that we are in some extreme moment of de-masculinity is to ignore human history. It’s also an argument that has been used in previous generations. It’s an argument that again, says women aren’t equal and can’t compete. It’s an argument against education, technology advancement, and innovation!
Mainly it’s an argument used by bullies!
Do we tell someone that doesn’t do manual labor for a living, say a writer for the National Review, that he is less of a man because of his chosen profession? We shouldn’t, but apparently that is what we are supposed to do. Do we tell a physically challenged male that he isn’t really a man? I mean after all his grip strength may not be on par with a coal miner from 1935!
I would ask Mr. French to compare his requirements as a youth to that of his father’s. Then compare his father’s to his grandfather’s. They aren’t equal for a couple of reasons. Technology, and intelligence. Human’s are intelligent, we are constantly looking for better, and yes easier, ways of doing things. When is the last time you saw a farmer plowing a field behind a mule? When is the last time you heard of a logging company that only used axes and hand saws? They don’t because that would be inefficient and stupid! But according to French’s argument, using a chainsaw, or riding in an air conditioned tractor means you’ve been brainwashed by militant feminists, hellbent on putting you in a dress!
French makes an argument against the instant oil change. While I do like to change my oil and my sons do help me occasionally, the argument has a problem. Who do you think is doing the oil changes at the local quick lube? It certainly, at least so far, isn’t done by robots. For the most part, it’s younger men, and yes some women, who are working entry level automotive jobs to learn a skill.
The article also ignores another fact of generational difference. Humans get smarter with the passage of time. I suppose we should harken back to a day when we died of chickenpox, but we could bare knuckle fight a bear.
What do bullies say? You’re not as strong, you’re fat, you’re slow, you can’t do what I can do! Those types of beliefs lead to things like 13-year-olds taking their his life because he didn’t think he could ever fit in. A belief he would never measure up to some trivial standard that “men” should reach.
It’s not only an incorrect argument Mr. French; it’s dangerous.
So while David French may not agree, I am raising men. Three of them. Men who will respect their fellow “man”. Who will judge people on the content of their character and not by how much they can bench. Men who will be secure in their masculinity enough to know that women in the workforce aren’t a threat if you’re willing to work and compete on an equal playing field. Men who can lay their heads down at night knowing that all they’ve received in life was earned, not because of their sex, but because of their drive.
Then I will be able to sleep at night knowing, in some part, I contributed to the betterment of society. Not just from my own actions, but through the legacy of real men that will follow me.
That, Mr. French, is what real strength is.
Photo: Getty Images