Tough Guy

The recent siege and violence at the Capitol Building, perpetrated by mostly men, has again created a media storm about male dominance and the tough guy stereotype.  The question to consider: Is acting like a tough guy always a negative behavior?  It is a fact that a mob of male outlaws acted violently and made verbal threats against government officials and were encouraged to “be strong and get tough” by certain mostly male elected political figures and their media recognized supporters.  I suppose that these perpetrators think of themselves as “tough guys” and are reinforced in that perception by their compatriots who cheered from home while watching the assault of the Capitol on their  tv screens.  My concern is that the descriptor “tough guy” should not by itself be viewed as a negative aspect of masculinity.

The dictionary definition of tough is a good starting point – “strong enough to withstand adverse conditions” and “able to endure hardship or pain.”  Other descriptors of tough include resiliency and having grit which focus on bouncing back and learning from adversity.  It appears that the word tough is not associated with negative behavior.  What makes a tough guy a thug is not that he is tough but how he utilizes his toughness to achieve a particular goal.  Utilizing the framework of the four archetypes of masculinity the question to be asked is whether one’s warrior is acting in the light or the shadow as directed by the goals and plans of his king?  A warrior using his toughness in the shadow is a violent man or bully while a warrior acting in the light is often a hero.    

We often  associate toughness with firefighters, soldiers in combat and high performing athletes.   However, we should not fail to recognize the toughness of  health care workers who have been in the front lines dealing with the pandemic.  Many have worked extra shifts, been exposed to highly contagious environments and still show up for work each day.  How about the toughness of wounded veterans and others with a physical disability who despite their prosthetics compete in Paralympics and go to work every day.  Think of  the toughness of Dr. Ugur Sahin.  He co-founded BioNTech and worked day and night alongside his wife in developing a vaccine in record time utilizing research findings of their earlier work on RNA. 

My point is that you don’t need a bulletproof vest, camouflage clothing and a loud mouth to be a tough guy.   In fact this type of seemingly tough behavior is in the shadow of masculinity and only tarnishes the really tough guys who we admire and depend on in our everyday lives. 

2 thoughts on “Tough Guy”

  1. I agree with your blog. Unfortunately, the crude loudmouth is often the one portrayed, and we all can be minimized by this.

    1. Great thoughts on this Richard.

      Not designed to make this a plug but an organization that believes in the very defination you. Described in a way is represented in this statement from a National men’s group in repose to the event in DC. The very thing that the men in this group I think depised about events with the black lives matter with sometimes violence that occurs later that Eve after peaceful daytime protest and did the very thing themselves with violent acts committed. S

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