John Wayne, “the Duke,” Ernest Hemingway, “Pa Pa.” By most accounts, there were no better definitions of masculinity and what it meant to be a man. Hard drinking, hard fighting, opinionated and irresistible to women. That’s the image that comes to mind when I think of those two men. John Wayne was idolized in my fathers home but not so much for what I stated earlier. He was revered because of his rugged individualism. His ability to clearly state what he thought and who he was and refusing to be moved from those ideas. He endured the hardships of life, at least on the silver screen, without complaint or signs of discomfort. He shouldered his share of burdens and didn’t let it deter him from being who he was. Hemingway was primarily known for his outdoorsmanship, his love of bullfighting, deep sea fishing, drinking and womanizing. He was also a Nobel prize laureate and hugely successful writer in his own time. These men, I believe, were no doubt opinionated assholes who liked to have things their way and surrounded themselves with like-minded individuals who also catered to them. That doesn’t mean they weren’t capable role models.
Toxic masculinity, to me, is the same as willful incompetence. There’s an important distinction to be made there. Most people seem to think that someone who doesn’t know how to do their job is incompetent. That is mislabeling a person’s abilities in my opinion. For instance, you wouldn’t call a first-year medical student an incompetent doctor. They are someone trying to learn how to be a doctor. If someone doesn’t know what to do or how to be, that doesn’t mean their incompetent. That means their uneducated or untrained. If that same medical student becomes a licensed doctor, only learned enough to get their license and then started practicing medicine. Without further education or training and intentionally endangered peoples lives because they couldn’t be bothered to keep up their education. Then they are deliberately incompetent because they don’t care about the harm they do to others and want all the perks of their perceived status with none of the work. This is the same with toxic masculinity. If a boy doesn’t have the proper guidance or mentorship to learn what it is to be a man. To have a moral code instilled in him, to be taught how to behave and the importance of hard work, determination, and respect. But never the less, insists he’s a man as he, mistreats women, children, significant others and blames the world for his lack of status or shills. Then he is guilty of toxic masculinity.
It’s easy in our modern day, hypersensitive culture, to get hung up on a great many things. There’s nothing wrong with being a man or being masculine. I have found that manliness has a lot less to do with chest hair and adventure then it does with shouldering your responsibilities and standing up for yourself and what you believe. Being a man has more in common with providing for your family and being a role model for your children and your community than it does with bar fights and bull riding. There is only one trick to being a man. Be a man, that you wouldn’t be ashamed of.
The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively.
– Bob Marley