I think we can all agree that men and masculinity are on the defensive. There is a disturbing trend in society that says we are simply not needed. This could not be further from the truth. And, unfortunately, it will take something catastrophic before society, as a whole, realizes the value of strong and noble men.
I’m not interested in waiting until that happens because I believe our job as men is to provide, even if it isn’t all that appreciated. Unfortunately, we’ll continue to see the ramifications of a lack of men and masculinity: suicide rates, drug use, violent crimes, school drop out rate, child abuse, etc.
So, in an attempt to begin the dialogue around reversing the trend, I made a post on Instagram with ten steps to reclaiming masculinity. Here they are:
DISMISS THE FALLACY THAT MEN AND WOMEN ARE THE SAME
Men and women are not the same. Period. That doesn’t mean men are better than women or that women are better than men. It simply means that we’re different. This debate (if it ever should have been one) has been settled – scientifically settled. I can’t say it any more plainly. We’re different and it’s time we start playing into those differences rather than pretending they don’t exist.
EMBRACE MASCULINE VIRTUES IN OURSELVES AND OUR BOYS
Grit, toughness, fortitude, dominance, aggression, strength. These are all virtues I would consider masculine. Does that mean that women can’t possess the virtues? Of course not. There are feminine virtues men have the capacity for expressing too: love, kindness, compassion, and empathy, to name a few. Men and women do not have an exclusive right to a set of virtues but we, as men, are naturally inclined to lean more towards the masculine virtues. For good reason too. It’s our job to protect, provide, and preside which means that these virtues will be utilized more often than our female counterparts. We should not dismiss these masculine virtues as inherently bad just because a few boys haven’t learned to harness them correctly – mainstream media would call that toxic masculinity. I call it childlike behavior.
TEACH AND MODEL ACCURATE GENDER ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
I get a lot of push back on this one because people say there are no gender roles – or gender for that matter. I disagree. It’s very clear to me that we, as men, are more capable and likely of stepping into the role of protector, provider, and presider. If we don’t foster this in our young men and continue to allow them to be raised exclusively by women, they will not learn how to harness the biological hardwiring (and, yes, that is a real thing, contrary to what some may have you believe).
REJECT THE ASSAULT AND DISMISSAL OF MASCULINITY
Yes, there are those who are working hard to reject masculinity and men altogether. The quieter we are about this, the more likely we allow the loud minority to dictate the tone of the conversation. I refuse to sit back and let a group or angry, bitter, and resentful people to tell me how valuable I, as a man, am in the collective advancement of society. This is why I do this work and ask that you share it with everyone that you know.
LEAD OUR FAMILIES, BUSINESSES, AND COMMUNITIES EFFECTIVELY
As I mentioned before, we are presiders, which is synonymous with leadership. It is apparent to me that men are neglecting the leadership responsibilities inside the walls of the homes, businesses, and in their communities. We are called to lead. We need to learn how to do it effectively and step into that calling.
SERVE THE YOUNG MEN IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS
The amount of young men growing up without father figures is alarmingly high. If these boys don’t have male influences in their homes, they will never learn how to harness all that makes them male for the betterment of themselves, their families, and society. This is why it’s crucial we step up to serve our young men whether it’s through teaching, coaching, mentorship programs, Boys Scouts, and other organizations that serve the young men in our area. And, as another point of interest, we need to work towards maintaining programs dedicated to serving boys exclusively. Boy Scouts of America has begun to lose its way. We must help maintain its integrity or find other organizations what will.
ONLY HAVE CHILDREN ONCE WE ARE PHYSICALLY, FINANCIALLY, MENTALLY, AND EMOTIONALLY PREPARED TO DO SO
I got a lot of push back on this one too. A lot of people said, “if you wait until you are ready, you’ll never have kids.” But notice I didn’t say “ready.” I said “mature enough.” You don’t need to have everything figured out but you damn well better be capable of taking care of the obligation that children are. If your mind, body, and bank account aren’t able to support bringing children into this world, it’s better for everyone to wait.
COMMIT TO OUR MARRIAGES AND DO EVERYTHING WE CAN TO HONOR OUR MARITAL VOWS
Our children have the right to be raised by a father and a mother because both bring something powerful to the equation that is the family dynamic. I realize that there are situations in which it doesn’t and can’t work out but, I urge anyone getting married to think long and hard about their ability to work through the hard times – and consider whether your potential spouse has the ability to do so as well. Fatherless homes are a plague on society and, when you look at the numbers, it’s not hard to see why our youth (especially our boys) seem to be struggling so much. Honor your commitments to your spouse or don’t commit at all.
HOLD OURSELVES AND OUR BOYS TO THE HIGHEST MORAL AND ETHICAL STANDARDS
There are consequences for our choices. If we don’t live by those consequences and teach our boys to do the same, we’ll continue to see many of the problems we see when it comes to crime rates, violence, mistreatment of women, and failing academics. It’s easy to let ourselves and others off the hook but easy does not equal better.
CONTINUALLY DEVELOP THE SKILLS AND ABILITY TO PROTECT, PROVIDE, AND PRESIDE OVER OURSELVES AND THOSE WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY FOR
This is a lifelong journey and our progression will never be complete. The fact is you are a protector, provider, and presider. And, if you’re going to be those things, you might as well be the best. How do you become the best? You practice, you learn, and you implement. Don’t shirk your responsibilities, don’t shy away from leadership, don’t neglect your responsibilities. Boys run away from the hard things. Men run towards them.