I have seen quite a lot of stories lately about colleges and groups teaching men to unlearn toxic masculinity.
Rethink Masculinity based in Washington DC and associate with the DC Rape Crisis Center “is a men’s consciousness building group in which people identifying as men collectively learn how social constructs of masculinity harm themselves and the people around them, and work to construct healthier masculinities. We offer a two month long class where participants meet together once a week for 3-4 hours. These sessions are designed to equip and empower participants to work towards building new models of masculinity.”
The Men’s Project of the University of Wisconsin-Madison describes itself this way. “A key element of the program is intersectionality. There isn’t just one masculinity, there are many,” says Sam Johnson, a violence prevention specialist at University Health Services (UHS), one of the campus offices organizing the program. She explained that other components of one’s identity—including religion, sexual orientation, and race—all contribute to individual perceptions and experiences of masculinity.
Brown University has a program titles Unlearning Toxic Masculinity that teaches “Rigid definitions of masculinity are toxic to men’s health. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized that men’s tendency to die at younger ages may correlate to the harmful ways that masculinity has been defined in society and the ways that men have been conditioned to practice it. How men are socialized plays into the type of violence that exists in college communities. The harm and violence that men inflict is not strictly contained to the self-harm mentioned previously. Men will often resort to violence to resolve conflict because anger is the only emotion that they have been socialized to express. Unfortunately, the way that young men are conditioned to view sex and their need to be dominant and have power over others also contribute to instances of sexual assault and other forms of interpersonal violence on college campuses.”
Duke University has a Men’s Project too.
The common theme here is “men are violent.” That is it as an absolute statement.
Sometimes this takes a more extreme tone, such as with Professor Lisa Wade at Occidental College who said that “it is masculinity itself that has become the problem.”
Being a man, identifying as a man is a problem for these people.
They see only the worst behaviors and conclude that is all masculinity is about and that is all men do. As one reads further into these “unlearning toxic masculinity” seminars, you realize just how bad they are.
The Good Man Project, which is the worst of Third Wave Feminism for men gives 5 Reasons I Don’t Say “Man Up.” Reason No. 3. is Vulnerability is a Sign of Strength, Not Weakness.
The Telegraph did an article covering a movement that claims “be a man” are the three most destructive words in pop culture.
When I was growing up, “be a man” was a goal. Becoming a man was an achievement. Not something to be ashamed of.
Brown University did a series of interviews about toxic masculinity with students and they found the least masculine males to interview.
Watching these, I started to wonder, how many of these interviewees and kids in these videos had dads that lived at home with them. Dads who were a regular part of their lives.
So much of what is described as “toxic masculinity” is the product of shitty pop culture. A recurring theme in these videos is men can’t have emotions.
Only in shitty pop culture and bad comedians are men not allowed to have emotion.
I’m sorry, but I didn’t get that memo.
If you asked me what “man up”means, first I will tell you it’s “man the fuck up,” then I’ll explain. Men should have emotions. I love my wife. I love my son. My favorite thing in the world is when I come home and he runs up to me and grabs my legs and says “daddy, you want to play with my toys,” and then we race his matchbox cars around the couch.
“Man the fuck up” means that I cannot be ruled by my emotions. There is time to cry later, there is a job to do now. My manly ancestors were probably scared shitless when the saber tooth tiger showed up. But as scared as they were, they had to guard the mouth of the cave with a pointy stick to protect the women and children from being eaten.
Duty BEFORE emotion is manly. Men can’t have emotions is sitcom bullshit.
I think General George Patton said it best in his speech to the Third Army.
Duty BEFORE emotion.
The question of what makes a man goes back thousands of years.
One word that keeps coming up is Virtue. Virtue comes from the Latin word Virtus, beginning with “vir” meaning “of man.” Virtus was the philosophy of manliness.
Even before the Romans, the Greek philosophers thought about virtue. The Aristotelian virtues are courage, temperance, and magnanimity.
The classical Roman virtues are
- Auctoritas – “spiritual authority”
- Comitas – “humour”
- Constantia – “perseverance”
- Clementia – “mercy”
- Dignitas – “dignity”
- Disciplina – “self discipline”
- Firmitas – “tenacity”
- Frugalitas – “frugality”
- Gravitas – “gravity”
- Honestas – “respectability”
- Humanitas – “humanity”
- Industria – “industriousness”
- Iustitia – “justice”
- Pietas – “dutifulness”
- Prudentia – “prudence”
- Salubritas – “wholesomeness”
- Severitas – “sternness”
- Veritas – “truthfulness”
- Virtus – “manliness” (excellence, courage, character)
I don’t see rape or posturing or having no emotions on that list.
In the Jewish tradition, virtue is associated with good social behaviors called Middot. There are 48 of these virtues that are enumerated, and they include Honor, Hospitality, Charity, Compassion, and Truthfulness.
The Catholic Church shortened this list to the Seven Cardinal Virtues (it’s an easier list to remember).
The thing is, great civilizations were built upon these virtues.
The duty of a father is to teach his sons to be men. It is a duty passed down through time and civilization. As a Jewish father, I have four responsibility to my son(s): have him circumcised, teach him Torah, teach him a trade, and teach him how to participate in the world (often said metaphorically “teach him to swim”).
In the Christian tradition the duties of a father are to make of them good and manly Christians, useful citizens, and saints for heaven.
I don’t see any of these concepts or aforementioned virtues addressed in any of the Men’s Projects. There is a lot of introspection about feelings, but nothing about dignity. None of these programs seem to want take boys raised on sitcom fathers and turn them into men. They want to turn them into … effete naval gazers.
The center of these programs is not about making good men, it is really about emasculating them.
It seems as though what Social Justice assumes is masculinity is the product of boys raised without dads and by bad TV. It then wants to further damage these males, not by teaching them the virtues that have served men and fostered civilization for millennia, but to have them sit and cry and feel about about their male privilege.
To top it all off, these same people attack the strong nuclear family as a source of white supremacism and must be abolished. This will only serve to make more non-men in need to Social Justice emasculation.
This is one of the saddest and most disgusting things I’ve ever seen. We will be a far worse nation for it.
Woe be unto us when the saber tooth tigers return or the barbarians are at the gates and the students of the Men’s Project sit down and have a cry about it. They will have no one to blame but themselves when the women are raped and the children are eaten.