Sorry, Portland, but 'Toxic Masculinity' Is 'Healthy Masculinity'

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These days, it's common to muse, "Remember when men were men?" There is good reason to wonder about that.

Some of us men were fortunate to have fathers who espoused and taught traditional masculinity. My father, a farmer, artist, craftsman, World War II veteran, and self-styled "country gentleman" was a tower of strength. He was not a big man physically, but he was a giant in force of personality, and he passed on lessons by example; lessons on being a man, a husband, a father, a grandfather, a member of the community, and I still remember those lessons, every day. 

Nowadays, though, many of Dad's attitudes about masculinity would be considered "toxic" in some circles. What's more, in "woke" jurisdictions like Portland, there are efforts to push what one group is calling "healthy masculinity," which is not masculinity at all. Daniel Greenfield described this ridiculous notion in a recent article.

The ‘Healthy Masculinity Club’ at a Portland high school is described as a “place for guys to not be guys” while the ‘Healthy Masculinity’ class at Montpelier High School in Vermont indoctrinates boys on “how traditional concepts of masculinity have harmed women.”

The ‘Healthy Masculinity’ movement is a component of DEI, but it has attracted less attention and controversy than other ‘woke’ indoctrination programs that target ‘whiteness’ and teach racism or promote pornographic sexual identity programming. Nevertheless it may be even more destructive than all of the other high school DEI programs put together.

Much like ‘whiteness’ courses, the premise of ‘Healthy Masculinity’ is that there is something wrong with being a man. A Call to Men, for example, defines masculinity as a ‘Man Box’ in which men are “expected to be strong, successful, powerful, dominating, fearless, in control, and emotionless” that men have to “break out of” to end their ‘toxic masculinity’.

Men should be expected to be strong, successful, powerful, dominating, fearless, and in control. What are the alternatives? What would these programs have us teach boys? That it is proper to instead be weak, failures, submissive, cowardly, and helpless? Because those are, in fact, the alternatives. In what way does this make for a healthy society?

Even in Arizona, this madness has taken hold.

The Tucson Unified School District in Arizona promotes A Call to Men’s lesson materials that teach that all men and boys are complicit in violence against women and girls and that “the Man Box does not allow us to be fully human.” Vulnerable boys are programmed to repeat the cultlike mantra, “I was taught gender norms which means I can unlearn it and teach myself to be free.”

No. This is wrong. It's destructive. If not checked, it will ruin much of a generation of young men.

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There are things that a man should be, that he should strive to be, that he should pass on to his sons and grandsons. These are the traits of masculinity:

Courage. A man should be willing to face any hardship, any adversity, to face it and deal with it. That doesn't mean one may not be scared; but being afraid and doing what has to be done regardless is the definition of courage.

Strength. This goes beyond the physical, although that is important too. Fortitude of mind and body are vital, to do what must be done to care for one's home, family, and community.

Integrity. A man must be known to be good for his word. A man should always speak the truth as he sees it; one should be able to do business with an honest man on a handshake.

Success. A man, first and foremost, cares for his family and provides for his family. That means doing the best one can at one's chosen occupation, whether it be rocket science or ditch-digging; both are important, both are honorable trades, and both are worth doing properly, as a man does. 

Assertiveness. A man stands up for himself, his family, his community, and his country. He stands up for what is right, and he does not back down in the face of any danger or opposition. If a thing is right, it is right, and it must be defended.

Honor. A man has honor if he has earned, through all of the other traits, the respect of his family, his community, and his peers. Honor is a reflection of all the other positive traits of traditional masculinity, recognition of achievement, of the esteem of one's peers.

Bear in mind that none of these traits are exclusive to men. They are valuable for women as well, and I could cite my wife, who has more physical and emotional courage than anyone I've ever known, and who has achieved much in her life while dealing with physical hardships.

For men, though, in order to be men, these traits are essential. These are the things my father and my grandfathers taught me, largely by example. These are the things I am teaching and will continue to teach my grandsons. These are not "toxic"; they are essential to the survival of a society, and we deny them at our peril — a lesson that it seems the school districts and other organizations Mr. Greenfield describes have not learned. These shameful programs will produce weak men, the weak men who make hard times, and the only good that can come out of that is that the hard times will sweep away those weak men, making room for the strong men who will, in turn, make good times once more.


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