One late night I was out with a friend and a group of young men aggressively and belligerently entered the restaurant. They headed straight to the bar where there was a crowd of young women. As soon as the young men noticed these women perplexedly looking at them, they began to loudly demand their drinks using profanity. The women soon rose from their seats and took a sharp right towards the door and left. These young men believed that this behavior was necessary in order to exude their “masculine” nature. I’m sure many of us have either seen this or have acted this way in order to impress women or fellow peers or have done other behaviors, which were usually negative to show others that we are real men! Many of the so-called manly behaviors and activities that society preaches are mainly negative. Many of these activities include violence, chauvinism, insensitivity, being a bully, dangerous, and just plain stupid!
Many men, including myself, were molded in a society that preaches overly aggressive behavior and excessiveness to show others that we are not weak. This aggressive and excessive behavior extends to all negative “masculine” behaviors. For example, the more you are able to drink, the more women you get, the more drugs you can handle, the more people you have afraid of you, the more money you have (notice I didn’t say earned, because not everyone “earns” their money), and the more pain you can dish out and handle all equate to what society calls a “real man”. All of these behaviors reside in negativity and self-destruction. None of these activities include self-control, self-love, helping others, or self-knowledge.
Many of these activities were taught by the men in our family, processed in our minds through television and movies, actualized in our relationships to others in social settings, and encouraged by our peers. This four-step process in creating “a real man” has put many men in jail, sent them to the hospital or sent them to their grave. Nearly every “manly” activity and behavioral trait that is being taught to young boys is negative. The result of these behaviors is the refusal of expressing emotion or only expressing emotion in a violent manner and bottling up anger and anxiety. The young man who adopts those negative behaviors will have these issues to face, and a broken boy will grow into a broken man incapable of expressing his masculinity in a positive manner.
Now let me tell you what masculinity is. Masculinity or manhood is represented by three principles or what I call the 3 P’s: protect, produce, and provide. These principles first apply to manhood and evolve when you become a husband and father. These principles lay the foundation for your family unit.
The first P is protect. One can express their masculinity by first protecting their spirit, mind, and body. Your spirit is the energy that you give and receive to and from the universe. It is your duty as a human being to protect your spirit by denying negative energy to enter into your space. Be careful of who and what you give your time to. This includes energy draining, violent, profane content, and people. You must also protect your mind by arming it with knowledge. First with the knowledge of self and then learning new skills online, at internships, in the classroom, and from mentors. Reading is the key to unlocking the chains that bind your mind, so reading books that increase your analytical capabilities is essential. Lastly, protecting your body through adopting a self-defense mindset, following a healthy eating routine, adhering to a functional fitness regimen, and undertaking a combat sport will allow you to not only control your mind under stressful situations but control your body and allow you to release testosterone.
The second P is produce. I believe that it is up to each and every one of us to produce the best opportunities for our success in life. What actions or steps can you undertake right now that will bring you closer to your definition of success? I’m sure binge-watching TV shows, eating unhealthy amounts of junk food, and complaining endlessly will not bring you closer to success. It is up to you to produce platforms that will enhance your life while allowing you to communicate your talents to others.
The final P is provide. This P may be the most challenging one for some, but it is essential that we provide for others. Whether that is mentoring a young student, volunteering in your community, helping at a homeless shelter, assisting your family, tutoring a student, and/or guiding a young sibling or relative. Honestly, the opportunities for you to provide to others is endless because there will always be people in need for your help.
In conclusion, masculinity is not about how much beer you can drink, how many women you have sex with, how many people you scare, but it is enhancing your life and the lives of others. Society has a backward, upside-down version of what masculinity and what manhood is all about. If we want to move forward, we must re-evaluate what we have been taught about manhood and how we as individuals express this on a daily basis. Young boys are constantly watching us and it is our duty to provide them with an example that will not lead them into a cyclical abyss of confusion, brokenness, and aggression.
Photo Credit: “The Antidote to Toxic Masculinity”: InTheseTimes.com