I have been on a quest to define what aspects of masculinity are worthy of pride that are not patriarchical or anti feminine. A recent article referenced a politician who said that many men have lost their self-confidence and no longer represent “the traditional masculine virtues — things like courage, and independence and assertiveness.” The irony is that the article was about Liz Cheney. Again, the dilemma. If traditional masculine virtues can be attributed to a women are they no longer traditional masculine virtues? What about the willingness to defy convention, and stand up to a crowd and refuse to go with the flow when faced with a core question of right vs. wrong. Are men more likely to value the aforementioned virtues than women? Can a man respond to the question, “Why are you proud to be a man?” by walking the walk and living a life of courage, independence, assertiveness and standing up to a crowd? Notwithstanding that there are women who take pride in the “traditional” masculine virtues. I believe that men hold these virtues as a more essential part of their male identity that they can be proud of.
After Florence Pugh, academy award nominated actress drew criticism for wearing a gown that clearly exposed her nipples in a Rome fashion event earlier this week, she took to Instagram to defend her bold style choice.
“What’s been interesting to watch and witness is just how easy it is for men to totally destroy a woman’s body, publicly, proudly, for everyone to see,” she continued. “It isn’t the first time and certainly won’t be the last time a woman will hear what’s wrong with her body by a crowd of strangers, what’s worrying is just how vulgar some of you men can be.”
Instead of taking responsibility for triggering an onslaught of controversy with her trashing norms by going to a public event essentially half naked she blames men. According to her thinking the fact that she sexualized herself with this choice of a gown she is still appalled that some men responded to her in a sexual manner by commenting on breast size. My message to Florence is that if you do not want to be treated as a sex object do not so overtly draw attention to your almost bare breasts in a public media covered event.
An opinion piece in my local newspaper, written by a man, highlighted that historically 98% of mass shootings in the US have been committed by men. Using this factoid he then writes a diatribe indicting all American men. ” What’s wrong with American men? What is it in our culture, in the things we teach them, in the way we socialize them, that so often leaves boys and men with this grotesque sense of entitlement, this ability to decide that because they are having a bad day, because they got their feelings hurt, because life hasn’t gone as they wished, they have a right to whip out a gun and make innocent strangers pay?”
Yes, the mass shooters typically are young angry men who are socially isolated who have not been able to achieve even a modicum of success in their lives. However, indicating that their motivation is based on some sort of culturally taught male entitlement is absurd. The evidence indicates that these shooters were often boys who were loners, bullied and raised in a dysfunctional family environment. They have fallen through the cracks of our inadequate mental health system and the lack of empathy for those who are in need of our help that are culture seems to reinforce especially for boys and men. Don’t blame men for mass shootings. The problem is far greater than gender. A lack of compassion and willingness to devote resources to address mental health and well being is the issue we should be talking about for both men and women.