Masculinity is an interesting subject matter in the modern-day, because many believe its definition is in flux. Of course, we know all about the overly aggressive and hostile form of masculinity that can lead so many to feel threatened or displeased to some degree. We’re not about to deny its existence of course, but grouping men in this context is only doing a disservice to helping the conversation stay in healthy parameters. Bad men, just like bad women, can give a worse name to us all.
There is nothing wrong with strong masculinity that allows itself to be felt through responsibility, duty, care and attention. Some men need that, just as some women love expressing their femininity in a manner that makes them feel the most wholesome. Of course, these are not exacting rules and more a guideline, as ‘real’ masculinity, the same as ‘real’ femininity, can be defined in many disparate ways. For example, Muhammad Alii and Stephen Hawking were perhaps as far apart in physical appearance and utility, interests and lifetime achievements as you could imagine. Were both less masculine simply because they went in a different direction? Of course not, they are both fine examples of excellent people worthy of respect.
So how can we unpack how real masculinity can be defined in 2020 and beyond, without name-calling, deeply criticizing, or adding to the hyperbolic vitriol often found on social media? We’d consider the following advice:
Vulnerability is not a bad thing. In fact, it leads to strength. Bravado is not impressive, and it only shields from vulnerability underneath. Sooner or later it needs to be addressed. For example, attending a California men’s rehab center is not a moment of weakness. It might be the first step towards strength felt for a decade.
Relative strength is important to consider. Sure, you may not be the strongest, most professional, most intelligent guy in the world. But are you honest? Do you go to work and try your best? Do you focus on the person when pursuing a romantic interest, not what you can get from them? Do you work out without the need to show off your results every two weeks? These attitudes contribute to what we might call relative strength, the ability to find stability, balance and harmony within yourself. This is the highest good often practiced by influential men of discipline such as Miyamoto Mushashi – contributing to the ‘warrior-poet’ ideal many men admire.
Ability To Manage Pride
Pride comes before a fall, but pride can also prevent you from seeing flaws in your personality or other issues. It’s important to feel secure, and to increase your self-esteem. But we all admire the stoic hero, the person of competence who needn’t shout it from the rooftops. Manging pride is often the first step in that process, and consequently, can lead you to becoming even stronger.
With these insights, we believe masculinity can best be defined and appreciated.