A few days ago, a video popped up within my media feed, an editorial closing, posing a question that keeps popping up, especially from the lips of women; “Have men become too soft?”
The presenter mentioned several causes for the rise of these “soft” men. Was it the wussification of men, as so many want to allege? Maybe everything would be solved if we could just get men to toughen up. Was it the demonization of masculinity so badly that being a man is now shameful? Maybe everything would be solved if men would start being proud of being manly. I don’t think either attitude will solve the issue.
At the end, she did mention what could be the key cause and actual solution to the problem. “Teach your sons to be men, because the women of the world are tired of the boys.” The problem was that for the longest time, society was in such a hurry to make men out of boys, that we never taught boys how to be men.
Consider that for the last couple of decades, men were told that their value as men rested on being better than other men. It rested on having financial stability through a good job; proven to the world through an expensive car and a nice house. It rested on how many women they can sleep. It rested in being able to get a beautiful wife when they finally decided to settled down. Then, it’s rested on having a family they can show off. Just consider at how we portray politicians and successful men. They stand proudly as their wife and kids become decoration around them, as proof of their stability. In the backdrop, we see either their homes or cars as prove of their wealth. The entirety of this kind of manhood rested on such a fragile foundation made up of external factors that even the most simplest of things caused their world to tumble down. This lead too many men into feel a sense of obsoleteness as soon as life threw them a curve ball.
If someone faster or stronger than him shows up, he’s no longer a man. If he became unemployed and loses his financial stability, he he’s no longer a man. If he gets shot down by a woman, he’s no longer a man. If his kids didn’t measure up to his expectations, he’s no longer a man. When you think about it, under this mentality, those things that “make him a man,” are also the biggest threat to his ideal of manhood. Unemployment, failure, divorce, “disappointing kids,” or simply being told “no” by a woman become a direct assault on their masculinity.
As a response to this attitude, we demonized manhood, or at least what was sold to us as manhood for the last few decades. Society went off chanting the damage these expectations placed on men, as we blamed everything on toxic masculinity. We did our best to swing the pendulum of manhood as far away as possible from the old traditions. And as the pendulum started to sway away from this previous mindset, we began to praise any man who did things previously considered manly, followed up by shaming any man who expressed interest in any form of traditional masculinity. It was as if to avoid being a slave to masculinity, we now became slaves to “anti-masculinity.” Social media became flooded with men screaming “look at how sensitive I am” as if it proved to the world how they broke free from the bonds of manhood. At the same time, chivalry, and any other idea traditionally tied to masculinity, was shamed as sexist, at best, or toxic, at worse.
And then, slowly but surely, it happened.
We realized that we almost killed off what made men valuable within society and what made men of value. If before we taught men to be ethically infant brutes, now we created ethically infant milksops. We told men that the old traditions of honor and chivalry were harmful, and then wonder why men today feel like they have no purpose. We ridiculed the importance of honor, and wonder why we have men without loyalty. We demonized strength and wonder why men today have no valor. We, pretty much, castrated men as we told them how masculinity was bad, and then wonder where all the “real men” are.
In our haste to make men out of boys, we failed them twice. The first time, we failed them by creating brutes without humility, as we forgot to teach them character every time we taught them the value of strength. Then, in our attempt to fix it, we created sensitive men who were little more than useless as soon they faced a challenge. We forgot to teach them the value of determination and valor when we taught them about compassion. As some men grew disenchanted with society constantly telling them what it means to be a man, we’re now having to deal with a third group; men who are brutes in times of peace yet cowards in times of conflict, the worst of both worlds.
But fortunately, all is not lost.
Just as there has been a rise in true Strong Independent Women, men have been developing our own counterpart. We are witnessing a rise in men who’ve taken it upon themselves to bring back the old lessons personal character, to teach themselves how to be better men. These men realized that the problem wasn’t masculinity but rather everything that was edited out of masculinity. The solution didn’t lie in dismissing the lessons learned from the past, but rather taking the best lessons from the past while embracing the world of the present. Instead of ending up with the worst of both worlds, we began to strive for the best of both worlds.
In this process, men have begun to realize what manhood truly meant. It’s not about proving you’re better than other men, but about striving to be better than the man you were before. It’s about being able to stand before a challenge and push yourself. It’s not about making money, but about making a difference. It’s not about having a job, but about having the work ethic to get things done. It’s not about owning a house or having a wife and family. It’s about making a home, being a good husband and an involved dad.
Men have realized that it’s you should never become either a brute or a meek man exclusively. Instead, we are now seeing men who used to be brutes, yet strive to find their compassion and humility. We see men who used to be meek developing their determination and being empowered by the strength that comes from valor. It’s about growing stronger AND softer, and yet never compromising either. These men have taught themselves these lessons, and more importantly, are teaching these lessons to the next generation of men. And for the first time in a long time, we are seeing a rebirth of mentorship, as society is finally waking up to the importance of men becoming proper role models for boys, as they teach through example.
For now, we are few, but every day we are more. We are the modern Lancelots and Galahads, the new errant knights, who realized that we could be more than what society sold to us as manhood. We are the new philosophers, poets, and the warriors, as we try to bring back honor by reforging masculinity. We are the new Gentlemen of the Modern World.
And to the ladies having a hard time finding us, the worthwhile men … If it’s any consolation, men are having just a hard time trying to find the worthwhile ladies as well. Quality isn’t that common.