Before the automobile was invented, it wasn’t a mark of masculinity to be able to fix one. In fact, working on cars isn’t one. Our society has replaced character and values for manly replicas. Dudes who workout in the gym and are super buff, guys who work on cars or with their hands, guys who fight MMA, or the stupidest one of all guys who shoot guns. These things in someone’s mind are masculine attributes. This dumb shit blows my mind. The simple reason is they are not gender specific and can be enjoyed by anyone. A penis is not a difference maker.
When I think back to the good old days, I think about men who weren’t allowed to have feelings. I think back to men who were only allowed to have one feeling anger. Shit, they couldn’t even feel remorse. Those men weren’t allowed to look at their family like we do today with love and compassion, although I know they did. For these men, their families were extensions of themselves, they were property, workers, and daughters held less value than sons. The family dynamic back then was destroyed because capitalism ruled everything. Everyone carried a monetary value. They took what it meant to be a family and turned it into a work force. Because of that they had no problem putting children to work in sweatshops all across the land. On top of that not everyone had a father to guide them, poverty made sure of that. But I digress. Men back in the days were allowed to get angry and beat their wives. They could do that, but not crying. The only painful emotion they could show was anger, not tears; oh, that is manly, get angry like the Hulk. “I had never seen my Father cry.” common phrase. That’s fucking sad, it is fucking sad, that they never learned from their fathers how to feel. How to express emotions, how to mourn, how to feel life, they never learned sorrow, regret, joy, love, tenderness. Instead, they were taught by example to be tough. When in pain they were verbally told to suck it up; as if that helped. They said “Be a man.” like that was a thing to strive for.
But what is it to teach a boy to be a man? It is bullshit. It is not your job as a parent, role model, or teacher to teach boys to be men, it is your FUCKING job to teach them to be themselves. To be reliable, authentic, and moral in all situations. To be responsible and self confident, to believe that they can strive for their dreams. To teach them that people aren’t there to be used, but appreciated and cared for. To endure hardship and pain isn’t a masculine trait, it is a human one and it is what we do when we are climbing our own hardest mountains. We teach children to suck it up because it doesn’t last and they are tough, no matter what gender they are. You see teaching boys to be men is just teaching one person what you think the culture expects of them. You teach them to be a fucking replica, when what we need are individuals who can get along and work together for all our good. We need stand out pillars in our communities. Not thoughtless, feelingless, macho men who don’t know how to comfort, care, and pave a way for a better future; one not paved through violence but through compassion and empathy.
The simple truth is we need to teach everyone to be a good person. Masculine traits will rise up, feminine traits will rise up, genderless traits will rise up when we allow people to be themselves. Values such as love, sacrifice, compassion, unity, ambition, joy, humor, creativity, truth; when those are taught, then the body, no matter shape, size, or look, will be filled with an admirable character. That matters across the board: Female, male, gender fluid, and non-binary.
So, please stop teaching your boys that being an asshole is what it means to be a man. Teach them to be themselves.