Sometimes we need a villain to shine a light on all that is wrong with our culture. It seems NOW is one of those times.
*This first appeared on ‘The Good Men Project‘
Bear with me here . . .
Forget about Donald Trump for a moment.
Imagine you meet a man one day. You slowly get to know him. His character becomes more and more obvious to you, both from what you see of him and feedback from others.
It becomes apparent that this man is not a nice person. He publicly insults women, minorities, and anyone who isn’t like him, which includes you. He says something one day only to hypocritically say the opposite another day. He seemingly does this in the moment to get the best reaction he thinks he can get, not because he actually believes it.
He continually plays things at a school-yard level, ignoring questions, saying what he wants and intentionally trying to make others feel inferior to him.
From what initially seemed like a bit of an egotistical dick, soon shows his true colours: a truly racist, sexist, narrow-minded, inconsiderate, entitled, buck-passing, dishonest, narcissistic, and completely self-centred megalomaniac who will say anything in order to try and win over whoever will provide colours: a truly racist, sexist, narrow-minded, inconsiderate, entitled, buck-passing, dishonest, narcissistic, and completely self-centred megalomaniac who will say anything in order to try and win over whoever will provide him with the most benefit.
If you met and learned of the true nature of a man like this, what would you do? Would you avoid that person? Would you think to yourself, perhaps, “I want to be nothing like him!”?
You might not consciously think that but it easily becomes a barometer of what not to be.
While I have essentially described Mr Trump above, I have also described every trait that a healthy, well-rounded and truly masculine man is not.
I have described the anti-man.
In a world of cloudy, misconstrued messages everywhere, the path to manhood is grey. We are constantly told to “Be a man” and everything that comes off that, which basically signals a dangerous and detrimental list summed up as:
- Don’t be weak/show weakness. Whatever that is; seemingly don’t cry or show emotion.
- Be tough. Sort problems out yourself and never ask for help.
That’s essentially it, in a nutshell.
What we’ve done is send generations of boys into a murky manhood that sees us by and large a bit lost and confused on what it means to be a man. So we fake it, we put on a front that presents a version of ourselves to the world that we think is the right one. The manly one.
By trying to be stoic, we’ve kind of butchered the term. Self-reliance, strength, and resilience do not mean never asking for help, or tapping into your feelings and what you’re truly experiencing, and then sharing that with those important people in your life.
In the end, what we’ve done is make it incredibly confusing for boys and men to understand what a good man is, we’ve made it daunting for men to be themselves.
To me, what this means is when we try to define what it is to be a man, the traits and qualities we want to value and live, it’s not clear, and it’s creating the picture we see the world over.
This is reflected in frightening statistics in mental health among men, suicide, violence, assault, abuse, crime and a general disconnection from self and others.