Manly Men We’ve Covered So Far
We’ve had nine Profiles in Positive Masculinity so far, and I continue to enjoy the little bits of research. I think it’s very worthwhile to be constructive with regard to masculinity – not instead of deconstructive, but rather, to have something worthwhile left over. Popular culture continues not to really offer a positive alternative to toxic masculinity on the one hand and…nothing on the other hand, except agreement that toxic masculinity is bad.
Here is the list of scions of positive masculinity that I have discussed so far, with links in case you missed any and are curious. I’ve gotten some feedback, including encouragement as well as challenge, which has been helpful as I organize my thoughts and choose whom to profile. And don’t worry, we have plenty more coming!
Michael Forbes, who showed more backbone than the entirety of the US Republican Party
Justin Trudeau, who solved the puzzle of the Trump handshake
Nick Offerman, sawdust-covered oracle of self-reliance
Jimmy Carter, the nonagenarian former US President who will probably die with a hammer in his hand
Common, maintaining his moral compass as a hip-hop artist
Aziz Ansari, comedian, actor, writer, director
Newt Scamander – here I just shared a cool video about one of the heroes of Fantastic Creatures and Where to Find Them
Neil deGrasse Tyson, science educator and actual heavyweight wrestler
Mister Rogers, who deserves the title “Saint” if anyone ever has
What I’ve Learned So Far
I don’t have a standing theory, or thesis, on what precisely positive masculinity is. Just the strong intuition that if there is toxic masculinity, there must be positive masculinity that exists in contrast to that. It can’t just be rapist dude-bros on the one hand and a silent mass on the other. Right?
So, what is common among these men, in my view? Not to be an exhaustive list, but as I go back over what I’ve written and thought about and learned, these are things that come to the forefront.
Strength could come in many different forms, but I think that part of positive masculinity is some kind of strength. It could be physical strength, like Neil deGrasse Tyson, or moral strength, like Mister Rogers or Jimmy Carter. Part of this strength is courage, since a person has to be there in the moment in order to bring their strength to bear.
Not all of you who have been following along have liked all of my choices, which is not surprising. But I think it is fair to say that each of these men is very much themselves. They have a strong sense of identity, and uphold a particular set of values, and you don’t have to look at them for very long to figure out what they are doing with their lives. Some of them ignore outside pressures to do what they think is right, while others simply have lives that hang together over the long-term.
Each of my examples of positive masculinity are makers. Common makes music, Aziz Ansari makes a television show, as did Mister Rogers. I’m not sure Justin Trudeau is a maker in the same sense, but I would argue that some creativity comes through in how he has governed as Prime Minister. Michael Forbes is a farmer; Nick Offerman makes beautiful canoes. And so on.
So then, for now, maybe positive masculinity is being strong, being yourself, and contributing something beautiful or useful (or both) to the world.
We’ll see what the next crop of many folks adds to this list…
What would you list as aspects of positive masculinity? What have you noticed that I missed? Feel free to comment.
Edit: Had a friend point out something I had missed – an attribute of positive masculinity as I am looking at it. That attribute is a commitment to make the world around them a better place. Each of these men, in their own way, is speaking out and/or taking action to make other people’s lives better. That’s a crucial attribute of positive masculinity, I think, and it definitely goes on the list with strength, integrity and creativity/making.