I have a problem with fragile masculinity and toxic masculinity, though it's probably not what you think.
My gripe is the only people I can find writing about it online are women. There are a few men here and there, but they are not showing up on page one of Google.
That's a problem.
That's not to say that women don't have good insights on what it means to be a man or helpful thoughts in general about masculinity. They do.
I don't think women can get the job done. This is a problem that needs to come from men. After all, to truly understand what it is to be a man, you have to be a man.
To get to the root issues of toxic masculinity so we can try to decrease its prevalence, we need more men to open up, share, and dig deep inside.
That said, I'm not saying I'm qualified to answer this problem single-handedly. Though I think I know where men can start.
Start with focusing on what it is to be a man and to own your manhood fully. If you can do that, the masculinity stuff tends to sort itself out.
So for this article, this is how I hope to help address toxic and fragile masculinity—by showing men how to become real men.
Becoming a real man is not about a list of checkmarks you check off.
Manhood is a mindset and an ongoing process. It's a way of life.
Manhood is what you do, not what you say or think.
So every second of your life, you can be a man or not. It's what you do.
Being a man removes the problems of masculinity because being a man is the opposite of weak toxic bullshit.
Real men don't think about masculine or feminine. It's not even in their purview. They are too busy living as men.
So your goal as a man is to become a man and to stay on that path for the rest of your life. The rest takes care of itself.
Before we get to what it means to become a man, we need to define toxic masculinity and fragile masculinity.
Toxic masculinity refers to behavior in men that seeks to fit into certain male stereotypes. This often translates to bad behavior as weak men overcompensate for insecurities and their inability to come to terms with who they really are.
This manifests when men try to be something they think they should be but are not. This behavior manifests in various ways and can lead to violence, abuse, isolation, loneliness, homophobia, misogyny, and sexual assault.
Men that lack a strong internal identity are often a threat to themselves and society. This is something the feminists and I agree on.
Fragile masculinity is the watered-down version of toxic masculinity. Men that struggle with fragile masculinity do things they think other people think they should do. This leads to weak behavior as a man tries to compensate for his lack of confidence in his skin. Most of these behaviors are similar to toxic masculinity though more subtle.
Now here's where I diverge from the women online writing about masculinity.
I believe the way we curb toxic or fragile masculinity in men is to show men how to be a real man, not some politically correct Hollywood trope stereotypes.
Instead, what I see is a lot of cheap shots hurled at men as a category. These blanket statements and attacks do nothing productive.
There is plenty of research that shows how ineffective berating, criticism, shaming, and guilt-tripping is.
It doesn't work.
Not only does it not work, but research also shows that this strategy often promotes more of the very behavior it is trying to reduce.
Ah, if only life were that simple.
So what can men do?
I honestly don't know the answer. What follows is my best guess.
I believe the antidote to toxic and fragile masculinity is taking a first-principles approach to being a better man.
What does it mean to become a better man?
The first and most important foundation of becoming a better man (a better human actually) is cultivating the skill of thinking for yourself.
If you think for yourself and do your research while paying attention to the feedback you get in the real world, you'd never have to read an article about masculinity or be yelled at by feminists ever again. You'd be set.
Because your natural inner self is a Real Man—you have to let him out.
By ignoring all the bullshit around you, you set your inner man free.
He knows what to do. He will figure it out. He knows right from wrong. He doesn't need anyone else to tell him what to do.
And yes, this requires you to ignore everything you've learned from parents, friends, teachers, mentors, pop culture, celebrities, and society.
The root cause of masculinity stems from flawed beliefs and/or unresolved trauma buried deep in your subconscious. The people around you and the people you were exposed to growing up are likely at the root of all your problems with yourself and your identity as a man.
By cultivating the ignore everyone attitude, you start eroding the pull these people have on you. This takes time since you're likely addressing baggage you've been carrying around your entire life.
When you remove the baggage that people in your life have laid on you (often unwittingly, so don't stay blaming), then you only have one more step—ignore everyone else!
Simply put, you have to unlearn, forget, ignore everything you've seen and heard outside yourself. Ignore celebrities, pop culture, politicians, and even your favorites musicians, athletes, and content creators.
You are now forever thinking for yourself and finding your truth your way.
Over time you will cultivate the attitude of not caring what other people think.
Be careful with this one because it can lead you in the wrong direction if you take it too literally.
There is no reason to care what people think about most things. You think for yourself. That's it.
That doesn't mean you are out hurting people and ignoring their feelings.
You are doing you and what you know is your truth, and you aren't asking for permission, nor are you apologizing. And for as long as this doesn't hurt anyone else, you know you are on the right path?
The more you forge your path as a man, the easier it gets. Once you set out on this path, you'll be on your way to removing all your problems with masculinity and being a man. You create your own identity, and the only person you have to live up to is yourself.
That's the ultimate goal for man: To forge his own life and identity.
When you do that, as I said before, this masculinity stuff doesn't even register. It's below you.
It's going to take the male perspective to solve a man's problem.
Instead of getting shamed or berated and feeling sorry for yourself, focus on building yourself into a better man. Then watch as the fragile masculinity melts away.
Wu Wei - action through inaction
It's often the indirect way that is the most ineffective.
Starve toxic masculinity of energy. Don't think about it, talk about it, read about it from here on out. And most important of all, don't ever let someone else define who you are.
That is your job and yours alone.