Be a man!

“you can start by being a man!”

It’s a famous movie scene. Johnny Fontaine is sobbing to the Godfather on the day of his daughter’s wedding. He tearfully exclaims “What am I gonna do?” To which the Godfather loudly and angrily yells, “You can start by being a man!”

Be a man! Every boy and a few grown men have heard it. One problem as I see it is that, historically, few have known what that expression means and it would have benefitted them to ask for clarification. The second problem as I see it is that it no longer matters. All masculinity, toxic or otherwise has become marginalized and now sits firmly in the taboo section.

I fear for the boys coming up today. They are fighting so many forces. A historic lack of nuclear families is leaving many boys without a male influence (yes, boys need a father). A thick grey line in gender roles, and gender itself, is confusing our boys. Most importantly, society is condemning traditional male behavior as toxic, aggressive and dangerous.

In fairness, some traditional “male” behaviors should be condemned. For example, when flirtation, a natural instinct, crosses over into the realm of misogyny then it needs to be controlled. Flirting is perfectly natural and it is part of the mating process of all mammals. Catcalling is not flirting, it is insulting and degrading to women and in today’s day and age should be a thing of the past. However, there was a time when a woman could handle a flirt gone bad with a snazzy retort or to simply ignore it. Women are not helpless and any strong woman can easily shoot down a man who gets (verbally) out of line.

“Boys will be boys” is not just a saying or a luxury. All boys need to be boys before they can become men. Boys need to chase windmills to feed their imagination. Boys need to slay dragons to grow confidence. Boys need to fight to learn how a victory and a beating feel. Boys need to do the flirtation dance with girls to teach them how to treat a woman. Boys need to play games with winners and without participation trophies because winning is a thing and it is just as important that they know what losing feels like. Boys need to be boys, but they aren’t allowed to anymore. Masculinity is not toxic. It’s in the DNA.

This is a complex subject that needs to be treated carefully and with dignity. It is something that, if not addressed, we will be cursed with a future filled with men whose pheromones could easily be mistaken for perfume. We need to acknowledge that it is not a bad thing to “be a man”, that to be a man is impossible if the boy is stifled, and that women will someday crave a “real man” only to find that the species as we know it has gone extinct.

It is imperative that, in order to handle this topic in a fair and balanced manner the reader must understand that this is, at the end of the day, my opinion. I will attempt to differentiate good masculinity from “toxic” masculinity and give examples of what a “good” and “real man” is.

Lord knows someone needs to get to the bottom of this issue while there is still time.

Stay tuned. I hope you enjoy.

10 thoughts on “Be a man!”

  1. I guess neither sex has it easy these days. But I would certainly not go back in time as a woman! There has never been a better time than now. For a man….I don’t know whether the same holds.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are definitely preaching to the choir here. If you want to read a good book, read “Boy’s Adrift” by Leonard Sax. It talks about how things are so different from when we were kids for boys from kindergarten to college, and how it has impacted them emotionally and professionally. From my own experience with our son, public schools can’t handle boys being the rambunctious, active and often naughty beings we are, and often pressure parents to put their kids on drugs like Ritalin if they are especially challenging, and try make you feel like an inadequate parent if you aren’t a helicopter parent. It’s a crime, really.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A subject worthy of contemplation.
    Many times I hear the song of, ‘the rules for being a man have changed,’ but it’s not that the rules have changes, it’s that people change, expectations change.
    ‘Be a man,’ spoken when men went out to hunt and might not come back meant, ‘face your fears or the whole community dies.’
    ‘Be a man,’ spoken when the maps weren’t complete and there were worlds to explore meant, ‘explore, find what was hidden, find a new and better place to be a member of a community.’
    ‘Be a man,’ spoken in the 20th C meant, ‘ …?’ That’s because I don’t know. Nor do I know what it means now.
    Maybe I should say what I expect of a man, when I say to him, ‘Be a man.’
    Support me, help me achieve, stand by my side, cry with me when the losses are too hard to take.
    I wonder if that’s so different to the previous versions?
    Maybe some men should have their say … I’d like to hear them.
    (No, I’ve never actually said ‘be a man,’ to either man or boy. It would be like saying, ‘be a dog,’ to a dog. I expect the dog to know its nature, even knowing that not all dogs are the same.)

    Liked by 3 people

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