Before I had even had a chance to reflect on the horrors of the Tucson shooting, the Toronto Star printed an article entitled, “Modern men could be wussiest boys in history”. I shuddered after reading the opening paragraph: “If modern man could stand alongside his predecessors, the brotherhood would quickly dismiss modern men as pathetic losers, kick our saggy asses and send us all home with wedgies”.
For the moment, I’m going to put aside my personal opinion, as I would normally argue that it is time to move away from the binary notions of ‘femininity’ and ‘masculinity’ being our only two options for gender identity. In light of the Toronto Star article I will discuss this very limited notion of what it means to be a man; tough, emotionally distant, and physically strong enough to pick a fight with Chuck Norris. Here is the first problem I have with the article; if it’s true that men are the wussiest they have ever been, it makes me wonder how humanity has possibly survived as long as it has. Let’s review some current information to show us just how wussy our Canadian men really are:
- Keeping in mind that sexual assault remains one of the most dramatically under reported crimes, over 51% of women have survived an incident of sexual assault. Most often, sexual violence occurs within the home, either by a partner, family member, or family friend.
- The sexual assault rate of adolescents between 12 and 17 was nearly double that of adults in 2007.
- The most likely victims of male violence are still other males, with certain groups more at risk than others. Violence-based hate crimes against gay men have increased dramatically since 2008.
My second problem with the “Wussy Men” article is that if men are in fact moving away from this hyper aggressive interpretation of masculinity, I don’t see it as a problem. This type of masculinity not only works to hurt men and women physically, but also emotionally. I can only imagine that acting tough all the time must be exhausting and that lacking the tools to express vulnerability must be lonely. There are great benefits that come from letting go of these ideals. As Gloria Steinman says, “If men aren’t hooked on dominance and hierarchy with other men, they are saved from the self-loathing that comes from the need for control”.
In response to this article from the Toronto Star, I encourage everyone to take the pledge of White Ribbon Campaign, an organization that is committed to reexamining masculinity and ending violence against women. Never commit, never condone, and never stay silent.
For more information about how you can get involved with the White Ribbon Campaign please visit: http://www.whiteribbon.ca/
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