Reading your articles on toxic masculinity helped me to understand a lot of what I saw around me growing up. My father died when I was nine, but I was surrounded by strong, supportive (often mental) women who allowed me to have feelings and feel them openly. All my male friends are similarly open, emotional people who don’t have notions of “being a dude”.
But I did realise that I don’t have a LOT of male friends. I don’t like the need to speak poorly of women, or celebrate being an ass to others, or thinking violence is cool (even if it is thrilling in a fictional context).
Most of the alphas I know would freak out if genuinely threatened with physical violence. But they like to talk about it as reinforcement.
Same for women – I started to realise the hostility to women’s rights came from genuine fear and resentment and insecurity – not out of any actual issue.
But the bigger issue is the long term implications of this macho nonsense on future generational. The cycle continues.
We? You bet! I get married in a week. My current “man space” amounts to half of the second bedroom in our Brooklyn apartment. It could support an ethnography of man cave masculinity. Papers strewn all over the floor (stubborn messiness). Fitted caps I buy but never wear (longing for lost childhood). The complete novels of Michael Crichton (ditto). A cactus (still under booth review). And finally, a photo of me, around age 13, in a suit and clip-on tie interviewing a baseball player (a cocktail of childhood longing, sports fetishization, and escape from reality that even Dr. Freud would have trouble choking down). As this article goes to press, I’m temporarily surrendering my cave to my in-laws, who will be sleeping in it for a night. How do I feel about the intrusion? You know, man to man, I think I’m going to be totally OK with it.
The key to upholding honor in a male gang is to always try to pull your own weight – to seek to be a boon rather than a burden to the group. If a man lacks in physical strength, he might make up for it in the area of mastery – being the group’s best tracker, weapons-maker, or trap inventor; one crafty engineer can be worth more than many strong men. If a man lacks in both physical strength and mastery, he might still endear himself to the other men with a sense of humor, a knack for storytelling, or a talent in music that keeps everyone’s spirits up. Or he might act as a shaman or priest – performing rituals that prepare men for battle and cleanse and comfort them when they return from the front. The strong men of the group will usually take care of the weak ones who at least try to do whatever they can. Shame is reserved for those who will not, or cannot excel in the tactical virtues, but don’t try to contribute in some other way, and instead cultivate bitterness and disregard for the perimeter-keepers who ironically provide the opportunity to sit on one’s hands and carp.