First and foremost, this isn’t for “alpha males” or “dudebros”. This is about why masculinity and weakness make a conflicted pairing.
Men and those who take comfort in living on the masculine end of the spectrum have long struggled with “signs of weakness.” This is the label attached to all the actions, characteristics, feelings and circumstances that cause us to feel like less. To be vulnerable. To be weak. The “signs of weakness” serve to remind us to “man up” or to push through the pain and set weakness aside. To get back to being what others need.
First, and foremost, weakness causes those around us to treat us differently – not badly, but differently. Instead of relying on us, loved ones try to prevent anything that might highlight our new weakness or embarrass us in some way. Not bad, but definitely different.
Secondly, as a man, I partially (mostly) define myself by masculine characteristics. The ability to provide for the people that I choose to love and the ability to physically and emotionally protect those same people. Weakness diminishes that ability and causes those that are used to the provision and the protection to have to alter how they live. They have to work hard to provide in my absence and feel less protected at the same time. This creates tension; even resentment.
I realize that some will hate this explanation and some will say that this is why they are committed to ending what they label as “toxic masculinity”. I hate calculus but it’s still math and still holds true; despite my feelings.
So, this Christmas, take a moment to appreciate those that work to provide and protect. They aren’t always as strong as they seem, but they’re always working to be strong for you. That’s the job.
There is such a thing as “toxic masculinity” but providing and protecting ain’t that. Toxic is for alpha males and dudebros. Masculinity is for husbands and fathers and brothers and men of honor and faith.
Merry Christmas to all the men that provide and protect. You are appreciated…even when it doesn’t feel like it.