A little while ago, I had two polls on my Instagram feed.
On one of the polls, I asked the fellas on my feed if their first interaction with the word femininity was positive or negative. A large majority of the men chose the positive option, although there were a few guys who had negative associations with the word.
I asked the ladies a similar question about masculinity. When it was all said and done nearly half the ladies who participated in the poll had a negative first impression when they heard the word masculinity.
This obviously alarmed me. But also didn't surprise me. I mean when I look at many of my fellow gender mates, I'm often disappointed. Heck, I've often been disappointed with myself.
If we aren't hearing news of men treating women wrong sexually, it's them treating women wrong verbally, socially, emotionally, or economically. There is an air of male superiority that so many men walk around with and aren't even aware of. They unknowingly and knowingly put down women as they walk in this male arrogance.
And quite honestly men haven't exactly stepped up to the plate as women continue to dominate culture in so many ways.
And although, I'll be the first to hold men responsible for the many ways we've dropped the ball...I must say the perception of men/masculinity seems to be at an all time low.
In fact, I rarely ever hear the word masculinity not attached to the word toxic. And with the rise of radical feminism movements everywhere, there seems to be an assault on the male identity that I believe could dwarf the growth of a rising generation of men, and that would not benefit anyone.
Although masculinity has taken a lot of hits, many rightfully so...I think there needs to be a redemption of the way we view masculinity. In fact, we need to completely redefine what masculinity is.
What is the dictionary definition of masculinity? Dictionary.com defines masculinity as "qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men." But who defines these "qualities or attributes?"
In attempt to define what masculinity should be, I've heard many people say many things. Traditionally, culture has said that masculinity is strong, brave, daunting, and takes charge. A new wave, has said that masculinity is sensitive, nurturing, artistic, and emotionally aware.
None of the things I mentioned above are bad, however none of those things catch the full picture of masculinity. These things are personality traits that culture has associated with the term masculinity. All of these things can be true about a man, and that man would still be a man. But those aren't the things that make him a man.
Culture will always get a piece of the picture, but not the full one. Which is why I choose to look to a Higher Source, a Creator. God.
As a Christian, I look to the Bible as the inspired word of God...and although the bible doesn't explicitly use the word masculinity, which is a socially motivated word. It does have a lot to say about manhood and masculinity. And I believe that if men actually had a biblical understanding of manhood and masculinity, there wouldn't be such a meager amount of guys in the church.
So below I list a few qualities that marks a real man according to the Word of God, this is masculinity:
There are tons of bible verses on this concept, but listed below are a few. A man that hasn't understood humility hasn't understood manhood, or anything really. Pride places a cap on growth, while humility allows for an unlimited increase of growth. You can be amazing at what you do, but if you lack humility, you've already defeated yourself.
Confidence is not in tension with humility as many tend to think. In fact, it falls in place with humility.
The humble man. The one submitted to God, knows that confidence comes from faith in God...not self.
Confidence shouldn't be looked down upon but celebrated. Even in humility, you can confidently stand on what God has done in you!
Men were called to lead! This DOES NOT dispute women in leadership roles. But scripture is clear that men were called to lead especially in their own families. Culture has tried to pervert this idea...but it stands true. A man that doesn't know how to lead himself and his family contributes to the downfall of society. Heavy, but true.
Also...this leadership is far from the domineering, controlling, manipulative male leadership we often see. It's a leadership that leads out in laying one's life down for family and for others. The last shall be the first. If you can't sacrifice, you can't lead.
4. Self control/ Pursuit of righteousness:
Self control has literally destroyed millions of men. I once heard a quote that said " a man that has learned self control, can take over the world." Even though that may be a bit of a exaggeration, the heart behind is so true! Self control is one of the hardest things for men to truly conquer...but it is a beautiful thing to grab hold of. Men, imagine what you could accomplish if you learned how to control that lust, or that anger, or that destructive habit.
This ties into a pursuit of righteousness. Some would equate righteousness to morality.
But righteousness is much more than morality. It's an impossible standard of living made possible by a Holy God.
He equips us to continuously grow in righteousness as we submit to Him in a process called sanctification. It's much more than being a good boy. It's being a man that fights for justice, fights for what's right, and lives humbly impacting the world around him.
Hopefully these are helpful, especially for young men pursuing healthy masculinity in a confused and hurting world. Ladies, let's not demonize men, let's help to heal men. Men, let's show our fellow men and future men a model of masculinity to strive towards not just a model of masculinity to run from. Let's raise up a generation of men that will change the narrative!
*I didn't mention healthy emotional expression for men. But that is extremely important as well. Please check out my Boys Don't Cry blog if you want more insight on that.