Anti-Masculinity and the Response of Men

TAGS: antimale rally, anti trump, Jesus, women's march, masculinity, Strong(her), service

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It’s a peculiar time in which to be a man, culturally speaking. Frankly, I’m slightly hesitant to even use the term man. The fluidity of gender seems less and less indicative of biological function. I write this on the heels of a vast nationwide women’s march. I write this as a guy who, in his youth, held a poor track record for honoring girls. I don’t ascribe to the YOLO mantra of today. I have deep regrets for the type of guy I was in my younger years. I also know God’s not afraid to inject a bit of sarcastic humor into our lives because he entrusted me with three daughters who presently span 14, 16 and 18 years of age.

My understanding of the recent women’s march was billed as an empowerment rally for equal rights for women. Something I 100% endorse. Yet, watching videos like “nasty girl” Ashley Judd and some pictures circulating major media outlets, it felt distinctly more like an anti-Trump or possibly anti-male rally than a pro-women’s march. That’s often the way things go: being pro-anything often spills over into being anti-something else, right?


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Emotions are palpable. I simply posted on Facebook, “It feels like a lot of women had bad dads,” and within five hours deleted my post due to some vicious personal attacks amongst comments from "friends." I’m not going to attempt to claim moral high ground here either. My anger swelled, as it felt like masculinity was being pelted with stones, if not outright demonized. So where does this leave us and what is my plea to my brothers? I can see men with the tendency to react in two different ways, but both I believe are faulty.

Attack

If you’re like me, your knee-jerk reaction is to fight. I’m provoked and thus the first form of counterfeit masculinity boils to the surface. It’s the form of masculinity that most closely resembling a cage fighter ready to unleash a flurry of punches, if not choke you out at the first sign of hostility. It says that it’s okay to use physical strength or intimidation to get your way or make your point. Bullies are not always defined by their devastating punch, but by the harshness of their words.

And yet I cannot escape the wisdom that says we ought to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Why? Because I most often say and do really stupid shit when I’m angry. Anger most often is the match that lights the flame of inflammatory, inappropriate responses. My personal experience and track record shows that the preponderance of my apologies most often follows my anger.

Retreat

With a cooler head, my next inclination is to retreat. Another form of counterfeit masculinity extolls the virtues of lone wolf stoicism. I believe this form of counterfeit masculinity is responsible for the creation of the man cave. Want to see a weird dude? Find one who engages in very little social interaction. We were not created to be alone, so punting on tough issues isn’t okay.

We are at fault by omission because we possess the knowledge and ability to take action, yet we retreat in cowardice for our own selfish reasons disguised as personal safety. I believe we would be in error to appease, apologize, cower, or take a say-nothing, do-nothing posture as men. Men and women are uniquely wired and gifted in unique ways with dignity, value, and worth. One is not less than another simply because we are created different. Differences should be celebrated. My wife doesn’t have the same genitals as me and that’s a good thing.

Serve

So what’s the answer? I believe a solution is found in a form of masculinity inclined towards service because most often servants are marked by humility, kindness, and empathy. To effectually serve someone you must first understand their need. And you cannot understand their need without an authentic willingness to engage and listen. None of this occurs when we respond with inflammatory anger or retreat to our man cave.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Rightly-oriented masculinity cares about injustice — and not simply injustice applied to them, but that which is perpetrated upon others.

I say this all the time: I can’t escape the fact that my faith informs my worldview. By faith, I don’t mean man-made religion or some moral code of ethics. I simply mean a relationship that’s tied to the person and work of Jesus as revealed in scripture. Jesus’ life was marked by service. It’s stated that he did not come to be served, but to serve. He was compassionate and sought a justice that did not hinge upon a person’s gender, age, socioeconomic class, race, or political affiliation.

Message

I don’t know all the answers for a day and age in which division seems to win out more often than unity. What I do know is that serving others is a good place to start. This is the message my wife and I hope to instill in our three daughters. Rights afforded to women in the United States are markedly above those available to the majority of the women in the rest of the world. If you want to make a difference, work hard, find your passion, roll up your sleeves, and serve. It will accomplish more and demonstrate your strength better than walking down a street wearing a vagina on your head, followed by a fancy meal in a downtown Seattle restaurant.

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