The Demasculinization of Man

I grew up in the southeastern United states, or what is commonly called the ‘Bible Belt,’ where profanity was still not uttered, at least not by those whom my family associated with. If a man swore or yelled at another man, he had insulted his honor and could expect to be immediately engaged in a fight- a physical fight- not a verbal one. Such men were quickly becoming the exception, but I knew many men who’s family honor was worth fighting for.
My family heritage was one of military service. My first ancestor to arrive in America was a Scottish captain in the British Navy who sold his commission to settle in Philadelphia in the late 16oo’s with a young Quaker wife. Every subsequent generation of my family tree has served this country in military service.
I was a quiet boy with a stutter. I kept to myself and spent my evenings after school exploring the woods behind our home until the sun went down. Because I had mastered the art of the wallflower, I never had to fight until one day in second grade when two parts of my nature were pitted against one another; my sense of honor and my desire to be left alone.

One day a boy much larger than myself, that had already been held back an academic year, was bullying kids on the playground. This was none of my affair, until he pushed a girl down. I don’t remember what I was thinking between seeing him do that and the moment that I was standing between them, but there I was.
“You should not do that to a girl!” I protested.

He replied with a haymaker that landed squarely on my face. The next thing I knew I was prostrate on the ground and could not see a thing for the blurriness of my eyes. I wasn’t crying. I just couldn’t see anything but forms and shadows.

I had a shiner. My mother still regards that 2nd grade class picture of me with a big black eye as one of her favorites. Thanks to my mother’s doting, I began to take pride in my bruise. That is, until my father got home from traveling.

A man should know how to handle himself, my father lectured. “You should never start a quarrel, son. But you should always be the one to finish it.” And this was truly the ideal of manliness that was ingrained in me and the other boys I knew by our fathers. My father was traveling too much to see to my training himself, so he instructed my mother to enroll me in martial arts.

I studied martial arts throughout my childhood and teenage years and discovered that a lack of fear of other men kept me out of more scrapes than trying to go undetected. Those kinds of boys preyed upon the fearful. There were a few bullies around that could have wrung my clock, and bested me in a fight, but they knew they’d have a fight on their hands at least, if they picked on me, and so they usually passed me up for a softer target. In fact, the only other real fight I got into during my teen years was with a boy that was making unwelcome advances on my sister.
As soon as I turned 18, I continued our family’s tradition of service and joined the US Marine Reserves. Boot Camp and Infantry School only deepened these traits in me- a strong sense of honor, defending the defenseless, coupled with an even greater level of fearlessness. The LINE training and conditioning of “Leatherneck Square” also made me less suited for tournament martial arts, because the Marines had taught me to put everything I had into every blow. This is called “excessive contact” and leads to disqualification in the point tournament circuit, as I discovered in the two tournaments I competed in after coming out of the Marines.
A few years after I was married, my first son was born. I noticed an immediate change in my behavior. I went from being a lead footed speed demon behind the wheel, to a very protective and defensive driver when my infant was in the car. I remember my wife laughing when I exclaimed, “Why is everyone driving so fast!” I was becoming more protective of my family, of her and my child. I even became more careful for my own wellbeing, knowing that I now had a family counting on me for provision.

A couple months later I lined up a babysitter to give my wife a break and to take her to dinner. The restaurant was soon closing so we each ordered a piece of cake and a cup of coffee. Shortly after the waitress set the our order on the table a man came out of nowhere, shoved a chair into our table and demanded that we leave, with a great many profanities pouring from his mouth.

My first reaction was to ask the waitress if this guy was serious. She shook her head in shame and walked away. I had no idea who he was but planned on filing a complaint with the owner the following day so, as my wife and I rose from our seats, I asked his name. He refused to tell me, swearing all the more and threatening to ‘kick my ass’ if I had a problem with it. I helped my wife with her coat (I was leaving but was taking my time doing it). I was keeping my cool and never said a cross word or raised my voice. When we reached the door he flung it open said the words, “Now get the  **** out or I’ll throw you out, (and sticking his finger an inch from my wife’s flinching face, continued “and take this piece of trash with you.”
To this day I do not know what had this man in such a state. Onlookers later testified that there was absolutely no provocation for his verbal assault on my part. What I do know is that I let a fist fly the moment I saw my wife flinch at this stranger. He slid down the open door. I stepped over him and we walked to the car. I opened her door and let her in, and then walked around to mine and we drove away. I went home and put on more professional attire for the meeting I knew was coming. Sure enough, the phone rang shortly after we got home and the officer asked me to come downtown.
After checking my story out with witnesses and consulting the DA, the police department decided to drop the charges, adding that I could have filed verbal assault charges, had I not hit the man.

This was a very close call. I have a clean criminal record to this day but was almost- and rightly- convicted of assault. This despite the fact that most of the men that knew of this story thought my actions worthy of praise rather than reprimand. There was just enough of a sense of social justice left in the community to let my warrior act slide.

This close brush with a tainted record brought me to a realization. In just a few generations, our culture has demanded that man ‘evolve.’ We must change our very nature. It doesn’t matter that the programming of our DNA has been reaffirmed for thousands of years; this innate desire to protect and provide, to divest and defend is no longer acceptable in the modern man. In every generation of man until the industrial revolution, it has been so, that the man most able to defend hearth and home, the man most able to protect his family and their wares from those who would take it from them, was the man who’s genetic contribution to humanity marched on into the future.

We are now living in an ever demasculinized and neutered society, where men are expected to be satisfied with a vicarious viewing of false portrayals of masculinity in action movies while not manifesting true manliness in their own life. And this change is being thrust upon them faster than their biology can adjust.
It is not acceptable, in any circumstance, ever, for a modern man to resort to manliness to protect his family from physical harm, much less, to settle a score of honor.
My children and I were digging snow tunnels and playing king-of-the-hill recently. My brother also was out playing with his children. He looked at me in a moment of deep reflection and said, “You know, our dad never played with us the way we are playing with our children.” I defended our father by saying, “I don’t think very many fathers in their generation did. Even fewer in Grandpa’s generation. Can you imagine grandpa playing like this with his kids?” We both chuckled. “But they weren’t bad fathers, just different.” we agreed. Digging even deeper into the topic, my brother, who served in the US Calvary and as a policeman added, “I’m a CNA and I’m going to school to become an RN (registered nurse). I would have laughed 10 years ago if you said I was going to enter into the nursing field.”

Many men I know, struggle with the intense departure from the strong provider/protector roles men have carried for thousands of years in place of a more sedentary and domesticated role.
My advice to young men who, perhaps, come from a more traditional paradigm or for whatever reason, be it biology or no, find it hard to acclimate to the socially mandated  sedated life would be as follows: find a cause worth fighting for and devote your warrior heart to it. “Old men are for counsel, young men are for war” as the saying goes. If you believe in your country, fight for it. If you hate civil strife, go into law enforcement. If the policemen in your town are crooked (as is so often thrown out) all the more reason for you to move into the role as a just man. If you are passionate about spiritual or political pursuits, become an ideological warrior, before you are committed to supporting a family. Because our modern society will not pay you well for this innate nature you possess. When you are at the age of counselor, settle and make for yourself a family.
And this too, I would say; if you have the mental faculties to pursue education- and I would venture to guess that any young man that has read this far without being required to do so is of a philosophic nature- don’t be an enlisted man but an officer. Don’t be a county deputy but run for election as the sheriff. Otherwise you will be frustrated for an inability to enact meaningful change in the world.
This advice may not be heeded by anyone reading this, but it is the advice I will give to my three sons.
In conclusion I will leave my readers with the position of Plato. In the section of his book, The Republic, that deals with ‘the guardians’ he sets forth that “a properly good guardian (warrior or soldier) will have the following characteristics; a philosophic disposition (love of learning), high spirited, and physical speed and strength.” He went on to say that he would have the same traits of a good guard-dog; aggressive toward enemies, affectionate to friends, and with the philosophic nature to discern between the two. He concluded his thoughts by adding that such ones should be given honors and promoted to governmental leadership, and have access to marriage to the best quality women for passing these traits on to future generations.
It does not surprise me that this programming of man was so explicitly articulated twenty three hundred years ago. What does surprise me is modern cultures distaste for these qualities in all but our fictional entertainment.

I am sure this post will foster much debate among those who have endured to the end. I invite your opinions and discussion here.

4 Responses so far.

  1. Tammy says:
    “We must change our very nature. It doesn’t matter that the programming of our DNA has been reaffirmed for thousands of years; this innate desire to protect and provide, to divest and defend is no longer acceptable in the modern man.”
    A very sobering and sad statement….as we women need, and are attracted to this feature, but are told by society that this makes you an animal….not evolved. Contributing to the trend of men not taking care of their families and communities, and putting forth the notion that you are apes compared to women….
    “It is not acceptable, in any circumstance, ever, for a modern man to resort to manliness to protect his family from physical harm, much less, to settle a score of honor.” ~ That still lives in conservative places….It is strange how living in the West or even places in the South, this is alive and well, but TAUGHT by the liberal side to be caveman in thought.
    “In the section of his book, The Republic, that deals with ‘the guardians’ he sets forth that “a properly good guardian (warrior or soldier) will have the following characteristics; a philosophic disposition (love of learning), high spirited, and physical speed and strength.” He went on to say that he would have the same traits of a good guard-dog; aggressive toward enemies, affectionate to friends, and with the philosophic nature to discern between the two. He concluded his thoughts by adding that such ones should be given honors and promoted to governmental leadership, and have access to marriage to the best quality women for passing these traits on to future generations.” ~ This is the crux. This is what we should mourn if we have lost it locally, and this is what a REAL woman is attracted to. Well said.
  2. JC says:
    Have you read Wild At Heart by Jon Eldredge? Highly recommended. Here’s an excerpt I love.

    “The heart of a man is like deep water … -Proverbs 20:5 NKJV The spiritual life cannot be made suburban. It is always frontier, and we who live in it must accept and even rejoice that it remains untamed. -Howard Macey I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences Don’t fence me in. -Cole Porter “Don’t Fence Me In”

    At last, I am surrounded by wilderness. The wind in the top of the pines behind me sounds like the ocean. Waves are rushing in from the great blue above, cresting upon the ridge of the mountain I have climbed, somewhere in the Sawatch Range of central Colorado. Spreading out below me the landscape is a sea of sagebrush for mile after lonesome mile. Zane Grey immortalized it as the purple sage, but most of the year it’s more of a silver gray. This is the kind of country you could ride across for days on horseback without seeing another living soul. Today, I am on foot. Though the sun is shining this afternoon, it will not warm above thirty here near the Continental Divide, and the sweat I worked up scaling this face is now making me shiver. It is late October and winter is coming on. In the distance, nearly a hundred miles south by southwest, the San Juan Mountains are already covered in snow.

    The aroma of the pungent sage still clings to my jeans, and it clears my head as I gasp for air-in notably short supply at 10,000 feet. I am forced to rest again, even though I know that each pause broadens the distance between me and my quarry. Still, the advantage has always been his. Though the tracks I found this morning were fresh-only a few hours old-that holds little promise. A bull elk can easily cover miles of rugged country in that amount of time, especially if he is wounded or on the run.

    The wapiti, as the Indians called him, is one of the most elusive creatures we have left in the lower forty-eight. They are the ghost kings of the high country, more cautious and wary than deer, and more difficult to track. They live at higher elevations, and travel farther in a day, than nearly any other game. The bulls especially seem to carry a sixth sense to human presence. A few times I’ve gotten close; the next moment they are gone, vanishing silently into aspen groves so thick you wouldn’t have believed a rabbit could get through.

    It wasn’t always this way. For centuries elk lived out on the prairies, grazing together on the rich grasses in vast numbers. In the spring of 1805 Meriwether Lewis described passing herds lolling about in the thousands as he made his way in search of a Northwest Passage. At times the curious wandered so close he could throw sticks at them, like bucolic dairy cows blocking the road. But by the end of the century westward expansion had pushed the elk high up into the Rocky Mountains. Now they are elusive, hiding out at timberline like outlaws until heavy snows force them down for the winter. If you would seek them now, it is on their terms, in forbidding haunts well beyond the reach of civilization.

    And that is why I come.

    And why I linger here still, letting the old bull get away. My hunt, you see, actually has little to do with elk. I knew that before I came. There is something else I am after, out here in the wild. I am searching for an even more elusive prey … something that can only be found through the help of wilderness.

    I am looking for my heart.”

    I have never been a violent person. I’ve never been in a situation like you described but I’d like to think I would react the same way. I have always had a strong aversion to “manly” men who bully and manipulate their way through life; getting in people faces and always looking for a fight or something to argue vehemently about. I do believe, however, that a man was given a warriors heart. And I believe that the heart of a man, once in the hands of God can safely be released into this world to passionately and courageously “fight” using whatever platform they find themselves on with honor, strength, and respect; To overcome evil with good, and to pursue self mastery. “Better is the man who rules his own spirit than one who takes a city” – Solomon

    Good Post.

    Press on my friend.

  3. Beth Wilbur Grace says:
    All I can say is WOW, this certainly leaves a lot for thought, although it is actually very clear. Your post brought back to my mind a question I was asked during my Bible Study last night with a group of women. I was asked if God created men to be stronger. Although there were a couple raised eyebrows I answered with a resounding yes. They were created to be the head and therefore physical and mental strength needed to be such in order for him to be successful in the job he was created for, to lead and protect. Women struggle with this and I feel because of that society is slowly moving away from the order in which was inteneded from the beginning of time. I am not ashamed to admitt I need and want all the above in a man. I agree with Tammy, a real woman wants all these qualities in her man and I am one mother who plans to do whatever she can to instill this in my boys.
  4. admin says:
    Tammy, I think you are right on. We criticize these traits as Neanderthal-like while decrying the poor care modern man gives to family care.
    Justin, I have not read Jon Eldredge but will put him on my radar, and from what little I have seen from you, I think you too have a warrior heart.
    And Beth, “a real woman wants all these qualities in her man and I am one mother who plans to do whatever she can to instill this in my boys.” I believe we have children of compatible ages… lets write up some contracts, shall we? lol

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