Connect the idea that our manhood as men is directly tied to the freedom and liberation of women. We must not be paralyzed by the fear of giving up the domination role that we have so fervently taken. Men must not give in to the notion that “it’s a man’s world.” It’s not.
Rather than bash a man when he is compassionate and gentle, we should applaud him. Our sons should be rewarded when they exude patience, gentleness, empathy, courage and humility. The last of these may be one of the most important of all.
Most men give in to peer pressure which guises itself as embarrassment and defeat. No man wants to feel the pain of defeat or the inner-fires of embarrassment. Thus, men and boys perpetuate the ill-conceived, despicable stereotypes of modern-day masculinity. To combat this we must slowly turn the tables and redefine masculinity.
We can begin with addressing mans inclination towards violence, both physical and structural. Physical violence, one would think, should be the easier of the two to curb and measure. However, for thousands of years, men have asserted dominance over other men, as well as women, to gain control and power. From world leaders to schoolyard bullies, violence is a tool used for intimidation and fear.
Physical violence used in ANY circumstance outside of last resort, self-defense is only cowardice and weakness masked as dominance. The pseudo-dominator gains only a mere instance of power but weakens himself from the inside out. Power from the inside out can only be manifested through love. The same holds for all violence, especially domestic.
The only way to nurture and grow a powerful relationship is through nonviolent, authentic love. Manhood should reflect this and be a goal to strive for, not something you adopt by age. It should feel as if anger, resentment and hate are all fleeing the body and mind.
Jealousy, conceit and envy are all triggers that become dormant inside a peaceful mind. Violence stems from traits like these but we must teach our boys HOW to deal with these human emotions once they arise. Boys must feel comfortable expressing themselves emotionally rather than physically.
Instead of suppressing authentic feelings and telling boys to simply “man up” we need a far more evolved reaction as adults. Boys need to understand right away that it is far better to be an open book than a volcano in disguise. It’s time as men to finally look in the mirror and redefine what makes us….us.
This starts by redefining our character traits in a manner that encompasses more than just one side. I’m not talking about completely alternate definitions but rather tangential definitions. For example, a trait that has been revered by men since the beginning of time: Courage.
When men/boys typically think of courage, an image of putting oneself in physical danger in a heroic attempt to do something bigger than themselves may arise. Other images may include: speaking in front of a large crowd, taking responsibility for an entire group, making the ultimate sacrifice and selflessly saving someone else at your own expense.
But what about the courage to be sensitive, the courage to feel empathy and compassion towards all things, or the courage to put your pride down? These are, more often than not, the images that are most overlooked and underrated in society today.
We are slowly dehumanizing ourselves to the world around us and in fact pushing further and further away from holistic courage. Boys are often taught from an early age to numb pain, both internal and external. I still have this problem. As a young boy, I bottled emotional hurt and pain until the seal would break and I lashed out physically or verbally.
Boys look to society (i.e. fathers, sports idols, movie stars, media outlets) for guidance to manhood. And what are we telling them…what are we SHOWING them? Some fathers showing sons that it’s OK to hit Mom. Sports stars boasting about the number of commas in their paychecks or the number of women they have slept with instead of communicating the messages of duty, discipline and class. The media perpetuates the idea that the bigger Pecs you have the more chiseled your abs are then the more “manly” you must be.
This continues to display manhood and manliness solely on the physical level. Masculinity is not determined by your physical attributes as much as it is your character.
This is all not to say that there aren’t any great men, fathers, sports stars and media outlets out there that are combating this modern plague against boys. We are all leading our boys to a path of violence if we are bystanders and don’t help redefine manhood for them.
Objectively, it is easy for men to abuse women, to degrade others, to physically abuse and punish the weaker. We must make it subjectively IMPOSSIBLE and inconceivable that these things could happen. Let's hold ourselves to a new standard and become the gentlemen that the world deserves.