Speaking as a Woman, Don’t Ditch Manhood – Teach It!




Today I came across an article to which I couldn’t help responding. It was titled, Masculinity Is Killing Men: The Roots of Men and Trauma. While I knew it would most likely leave me spitting in my morning soy cappuccino, like the television shows on traffic police that my husband devours I couldn’t resist diving in.

The article makes the disturbing claim that “turning boys into men” is a “damaging process” and quotes Joe Ehrmann as saying, “The three most destructive words that every man receives when he’s a boy is when he’s told to ‘be a man.’”

As I reacted to this with a sensation akin to spikes coming out of my shoulders (as perhaps you have too), it is immediately clear that what we are dealing with are disparate notions of what it means to “be a man.”

Today’s ‘progressives’ have done a good job of telling us that masculinity is about telling young boys to straighten up, hit their brothers, and not cry at funerals – or worse, tells them to drown their sorrows instead of learning to deal effectively with their emotions and impulses. Indeed, the author paints a disastrous picture of it means to be raised in this “poisonous” way:

“The result of all this—the early denial of boy’s feelings, and our collective insistence that they follow suit—is that boys are effectively cut off from their feelings and emotions, their deepest and most vulnerable selves. Historian Stephanie Coontz has labeled this effect the “masculine mystique.” It leaves little boys, and later, men, emotionally disembodied, afraid to show weakness and often unable to fully access, recognize or cope with their feelings.”

But the truth is, this is not what we mean today by “masculinity.” Nor has this drug-taking, depressed, repressed and underdeveloped strawman EVER been what conservatives mean when we speak of “turning boys into men.”

The article’s critique that at times society presents counterfeit concepts of manhood and womanhood (true enough) does not mean that the idea that young people need to mature into men or women doesn’t hold water. Very few people genuinely believe that taking potentially decades to transition into adulthood (a well known trend in my generation) is a healthy way to live. – Joe Ehrmann definitely doesn’t, seeing as he is the minister behind “Building Men and Women for Others Ministries.

breasts protest
Failing to provide authentic expressions of gender is having some bizarre results.

Moreover counterfeit views of womanhood and manhood may actually be flourishing more today (Slut Walk anyone?) because we have left a gap in the market by failing to provide the genuine article.

Yes we should pay attention to how we treat boys and girls as babies. One study I recall found we are more likely to face baby girls towards us and baby boys away from us, and this may well be useful information. However suggesting all gendered treatment is harmful, is a huge leap from showing that some gendered treatment exists.

And yes the way some people have characterised what it means to be a man or woman have been wrong. I certainly don’t believe that in order to be a woman I have to be super-skinny or “an unattainable balance of virginal and f**kable” (thanks to the author of the article above for that lovely phrase) – that’s a flawed conception of womanhood.

But it does not then follow that no genuine or healthy conception of womanhood exists.

This is a two part article, and you can find the sequel HERE focusing on how we can do better by both men and women by recognising masculinity and femininity, accepting developmental needs.

  • Chooie

    Progressives have been busy telling us that if you don’t think, feel, and act like a woman you are a damaged person. Naturally it follows that turning boys into men will be viewed as a damaging process, no matter how it happens.

    • I think you’re right that that is (broadly) the thinking.
      How sad that women have absorbed the idea that life is a contest of genders.
      When men are unwell/unhappy it affects women, and vice versa.

  • This Paragraph:

    “But the truth is, this is not what we mean today by “masculinity.” Nor has this drug-taking, depressed, repressed and underdeveloped strawman EVER been what conservatives mean when we speak of “turning boys into men.”

    Is one of the best things I have ever seen on the internet.

  • John Mc

    There is a war on masculinity in the western world – that most men who identify as masculine don’t really care about because…….well, basically the other side is so screwed up no one cares if they go f*ck themselves in their own self pity, but…. – which only becomes a problem when you’re trying to raise boys. That’s when you realise this anti-male crusade can be harmful (as I’m sure it’s intended to be).

    • I care, as do many women I know.
      In my view, many of our ‘innovations’ in gender and sexuality were done with good intentions – “Let’s stop young people feeling ‘trapped’ in narrow gender roles, let’s support those whose desires and impulses sit outside the traditional frameworks, Let’s listen to the experiences of young people and avoid hiding from positive developments because just we feel anxiety at actions which sit outside the frameworks with which we ourselves were raised” etc.

      However, we are now 50 years down the track from the ‘revolutions’ of the 60’s & it’s time to examine what the actual consequences have been.

      It’s one thing for a person living in the 60’s to think, “Hey, these sound like good ideas. Several people I know have suffered unnecessarily under our strict gendered treatment [Robyn’s comment is a great example] & I like the ideas of self-determined women and widening lifestyle & identify choices for both men & women – I’m going to support these ideas.” – That’s excusable, even understandable given the context.

      It’s quite another thing for someone to whole-heartedly continue to support the ‘progress’ of those ideas when longer-term negative consequences come to light.
      We don’t need to & shouldn’t chuck these developments out wholesale (I like being free to learn about mathematics & science, and REALLY like my tertiary education, thank you very much).
      But when the left shuts down free conversation, they may be unnecessarily shackling us all to concepts that are damaging and harmful.

      What we need is to be able to speak freely and have a careful contest of ideas, rather than the emotive slogans & name-calling with which we are currently being flooded.