I'm a Man. Does That Make Me Toxic?
Here in South Florida, I get my hair cut at a barbershop that celebrates manliness. There are about ten barbers with all the traditional barber accoutrements. They play hard rock music, have car memorabilia on the walls and the whole place is decorated in red and black leather and chrome trim. It’s definitely a guy place. A place where men can go and be free to be men. I enjoy it and look forward to each trip there. This last time, as I was getting trimmed, a young boy came into the shop with his dad to get his “summer haircut.” When it was his turn, the little boy excitedly scrambled up into the porcelain and leather chair. The barber snapped the cloth cape, wrapped a strip of tissue paper around the boy’s neck and tucked it all in around his collar. As the clippers buzzed, you could tell that this little guy enjoyed being there as much as the grown-up men, and he was thrilled at being treated like a man.
I couldn’t help but be transported back to my own childhood. Memories of getting my hair cut at the barbershop in the small Western Pennsylvania town where I grew up, flooded back to me. I could still smell aftershave, soap, hot towels, shaving cream, and talcum powder. The old German barber would always treat me like a man and even lather my face with hot shaving cream and “shave” me with the dull side of the straight razor. In my mind, it looks like a Norman Rockwell painting of days gone by.
You can call me old-fashioned, out of touch, a throwback, or even a missing link. That’s okay. I guess my longing for the “good old days” dates me; but I can’t help but look sadly at our culture today and wonder just how we got to this point of making masculinity a dirty word. Actually, it’s become even more than a dirty word. It’s now called “TOXIC.” This trend has been creeping up on us for a long time, but it seems to have become a full-on assault.
Please don’t misunderstand. I am not judging anything to do with gay-ness or straight-ness, or pronouns, or personal choices about gender fluidity. I'm talking about the actual traits of masculinity and femininity which we all share to one degree or another. I’m just asking why we need to neutralize the American male and masculinity.
I’m not sure I know the answer to that question. I’m guessing it has roots going back to the wave of feminism in this country in the 1960’s and is carrying over into the #MeToo movement we see today. Yes, there’s no denying that some men have been, and continue to be, abusive to women and children. That is TOTALLY unacceptable and not reflective of the masculinity that I’m talking about.
Today, there is a concerted action in our culture to “neutralize” gender, and neutralizing gender does NOT take these problems away. Not only are we attacking masculinity, but we are now being forced to tell our kids that they don’t need to be either boys or girls. Just a few years ago, Target made the decision to remove all gender-specific signs from their clothing and toy sections, and to eliminate any pink or blue colors associated with gender. There is also a bill in California making its way through the assembly that will ban retailers with more than 500 employees from having any boys or girls sections and ordering them to remove any and all signage referring to either boys or girls. Seriously, do you personally know anyone really opposed to separate boys and girls sections?
Why is society so intent on wiping out traditional male roles? Is it really a problem to have gender roles? Isn't it human nature, after all?
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of male behavior that IS toxic: violence, dominance, sexual aggression, subjugation of women, and promiscuity to name a few. But when men behave badly, it’s not their masculinity that is the problem, it’s their character. To label all masculinity as toxic wrongly assumes that there is only one way to be a man.
Authentic traits of masculinity are valuable and needed. Traits such as action, firmness, survival, loyalty, adventurousness, tenderness and strength make up what’s known as “divine” masculinity.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the neutralization of the American male is even weakening us as a nation. We just observed the 77th anniversary of D-Day on June 6th. I can’t help but look at those old photos of the Higgins boats filled with 18- and 19-year-olds crossing the English channel and see the faces of those thousands of mere boys about to be deposited onto the beaches of Normandy to fight the Great Crusade to liberate Europe from the Nazis. Over 4,400 of them never made it off the beaches. It causes me to wonder. Would the 18- and 19-year-old boys of today’s Tik-Tokers, gamers and YouTube influencers be able, or even willing, to answer the call?
I don’t know where all this is leading, but I’m not sure it’s a place we really want to go. We need to stop denying masculinity and taking away what makes us authentically human. We shouldn’t allow a small minority to tell us how things should be and to deprive us and our children of our basic God-given nature. We should, instead, teach our boys how to be masculine… the right kind of masculine. Instead of suppressing their natural tendencies, we need to teach them and empower them to become men of strength, courage, competence, conviction and compassion.
Our country and our world could definitely use more of that.
If boys don't learn, men won't know.
If you don’t want to miss a post, please subscribe with your email in the field below and share with your friends. Your information will never be shared.