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by David N Johnson

September 7, 2023

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From the time we’re young, society inundates us with images and ideals of what it means to be “a man.” These ideals, often rooted in long-standing traditions and cultural norms, dictate how we should behave, express emotion, and interact with others. Over time, a more intensified version of these ideals has emerged: hypermasculinity. It’s not just about being strong or protective; it veers into a territory where men are expected to be domineering, emotionally detached, and uncompromising.

The allure of hypermasculinity is understandable. In a rapidly changing world, many of us grasp at constants, things we believe have stood the test of time. And in that grasp, there’s an inherent appeal to ideologies that promise to “return” men to a perceived position of dominance and uncompromised strength. But, as we’ll explore, while these extreme ideologies might offer a sense of power and control in the short term, they come with significant dangers – both for the individual and society at large.

It’s essential for us, as men, to engage in honest introspection about these ideals. Are they truly serving us? Or are they boxing us into a narrow definition of masculinity that hinders our growth and well-being?

As we wade through the noise of society’s expectations, many of us have started to question the hypermasculine norms that have long been held as the gold standard for manhood. This introspection has given rise to what can be termed as “The New Masculinity.”

This isn’t about abandoning the virtues of traditional masculinity but rather refining them, ensuring they serve us, our families, and our communities in the best possible way.

The New Masculinity is about understanding that strength isn’t just physical or the ability to dominate, but also the courage to be vulnerable, to empathize, and to connect on a deeper level. It’s about recognizing that leadership isn’t just about leading but also about listening, understanding, and collaborating.

At its core, The New Masculinity promotes a more inclusive, emotionally intelligent, and balanced perspective. It understands that we, as men, are multifaceted, capable of a broad range of emotions, and that expressing these emotions doesn’t detract from our manhood – it enhances it. It’s a perspective that says you can be the head of your household, but that role comes with the responsibility of understanding, love, and emotional connection.

As we move forward, let’s explore why this balanced perspective isn’t just beneficial but crucial in our current societal landscape.

The Appeal of Hypermasculinity

Throughout history, societal and cultural norms have, more often than not, glorified aggressive male behavior. This can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where might often equaled right. Men were hunters, warriors, and protectors, and these roles were heavily intertwined with physical prowess and dominance.

In many cultures, tales of heroism revolved around male figures who displayed immense strength, outsmarted their enemies, and emerged as conquerors. These narratives painted a picture of what it meant to be “a real man” – someone who never showed weakness, was always in control, and had the respect (or fear) of those around him.

As societies evolved, these traits began to be revered. They translated into power – be it in business, politics, or personal relationships. The allure of this power is undeniable. After all, who wouldn’t want to be seen as strong, confident, and unyielding?

But herein lies the problem: when this becomes the only accepted definition of masculinity, it restricts men to a very narrow path. A path that discourages emotional expression, promotes competition over collaboration, and equates vulnerability with weakness.

In order to truly understand the appeal of hypermasculinity, we need to dive into its roots, the environments that foster it, and most importantly, its consequences. Only then can we begin to chart a new path for modern manhood.

Modern Enablers

Under the vast canopy of the internet, certain figures have emerged as champions of hypermasculinity. One such influential figure is Andrew Tate. Armed with charisma, confidence, and an unapologetic viewpoint, figures like Tate have found a significant following on platforms like Twitter, YouTube, and beyond.

In today’s digital age, where ideas can spread faster than wildfire, the allure of such ideologies becomes even more potent. Tate and his ilk offer a seemingly straightforward answer to modern men’s woes: Reclaim your ‘lost’ masculinity. Be dominant. Don’t show weakness. Women, wealth, and respect will naturally follow.

Their messages resonate because they tap into very primal emotions. For men feeling disempowered in an ever-changing world, the call to return to a simpler, more ‘natural’ state of masculinity can be enticing. It promises an escape from the complexities of modern life, where traditional gender roles are constantly being questioned.

However, it’s essential for us to examine these perspectives critically. While they might offer temporary solace or even a confidence boost, do they lead to lasting contentment, genuine self-worth, or real, meaningful connections with others? Is this truly the way forward, or is it a path that doubles back on itself, returning to outdated and potentially harmful ideals?

The Illusion of Strength

“Real men don’t cry.” “Real men take charge.” “Real men show no weakness.” Such are the edicts often echoed in the hallowed halls of hypermasculinity. At face value, these proclamations seem to champion strength, resilience, and determination—traits traditionally associated with manhood. And to be fair, there’s nothing inherently wrong with valuing strength or resilience. The issue arises when these values morph into an all-consuming facade, a mask that men feel compelled to wear at all times.

The illusion here is twofold. First, it assumes that strength only manifests in stoicism and dominance, discounting the profound strength found in vulnerability, empathy, and introspection. Second, it propagates the idea that embracing such a rigid form of masculinity is the key to empowerment and success.

Many of us have bought into this illusion at one point or another. We’ve equated vulnerability with weakness, believing that to be a man meant being an impenetrable fortress. But what’s the cost? Emotionally, such a stance can lead to feelings of isolation.

If we’re always the rock, never allowing ourselves to be human—to hurt, to grieve, to be unsure—we risk alienating ourselves from our own emotions and from the people who care about us.

This illusionary strength can lead to profound unfulfillment. By denying parts of our emotional selves, we’re not living authentically. Instead of finding empowerment in genuine human connections and a holistic understanding of ourselves, we’re left chasing an ideal that’s not only unattainable but might not be that fulfilling to begin with.

The Dangers of Hypermasculinity

In the intricate tapestry of human relationships and societal structures, hypermasculinity, if left unchecked, can pull at threads that may unravel the very fabric of our shared experience. At the heart of this danger lies an inherent misogyny and a devaluation not just of the feminine but of the very idea of balance and mutual respect.

Misogyny and Devaluation

When we, as men, internalize and champion a form of masculinity that places us above others based purely on gender, we’re wading into dangerous waters. It’s not just about promoting male superiority; it’s about diminishing the value of anything perceived as “feminine.” This doesn’t just harm women; it harms all of us.

Consider the disdain often shown toward traits traditionally labeled as feminine—compassion, empathy, or vulnerability. By equating these traits with weakness and deeming them undesirable in men, we’re essentially saying that they are lesser traits. This line of thinking doesn’t just affect our personal relationships; it echoes throughout society, leading to systemic issues that disadvantage women and pigeonhole men into a rigid mold of “manliness.”

The repercussions in our relationships can be severe. When we view femininity as lesser, we risk treating the women in our lives—from our partners to our colleagues—as less than. This affects the dynamics of our relationships, often leading to a lack of mutual respect and understanding. By putting ourselves on a pedestal, we miss out on the genuine connections and shared experiences that come from seeing and treating each other as equals.

Misogyny, at its core, is a devaluation. And when we devalue half the population based on antiquated and rigid gender norms, we all lose. The societal ripple effects—from pay inequality to gender-based violence—serve as grim testaments to the dangers of unchecked hypermasculinity. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to recognize these dangers and work towards a more balanced and inclusive understanding of gender roles.

Mental Health Implications

Stepping back, we must acknowledge that the façade of hypermasculinity comes at a significant emotional cost to us men. Encased within its rigid armor, many of us are caught in a perpetual battle to suppress our emotions, to keep them hidden behind layers of perceived strength. But this emotional suppression, as studies and anecdotal evidence suggest, is not without its severe repercussions on our mental well-being.

Emotional Suppression

By nature, humans are emotional beings. Every event, interaction, or thought triggers a range of feelings—some subtle, others profound. Yet, when the ideals of hypermasculinity dictate that we stifle these emotions, especially those deemed “weak” or “feminine,” we put undue pressure on our psyche. We’re told to “man up,” to not show pain, to never let them see us cry. But emotions, when suppressed, don’t just vanish—they fester. They build up, creating an internal pressure that can lead to emotional outbursts, anger issues, and even physical health problems.

Risk of Depression and Anxiety

We need to face a bitter truth: rates of depression and anxiety among men are alarmingly high. Part of the reason lies in the hypermasculine expectations that many of us are conditioned to uphold. Consistently feeling the need to fit within a narrow definition of manliness can be mentally exhausting. The pressure to always be the protector, the provider, the unshakeable rock, can lead to feelings of inadequacy when we can’t meet these lofty standards. It’s not uncommon for these feelings to spiral into depression or anxiety.

Psychological Harms and Their Ripple Effects

The psychological toll of hypermasculinity doesn’t end with the individual. It permeates our relationships, affecting our partners, children, friends, and colleagues. Emotional distance, volatile behaviors, and an inability to communicate our feelings can strain the very bonds we value the most.

In essence, as we grapple with the weight of these expectations, we often inadvertently harm not just ourselves but those around us. It’s a sobering realization and one that underscores the urgency of shifting away from the extremes of hypermasculinity toward a more balanced and emotionally aware form of manhood.

The Cycle of Toxicity

The chains of hypermasculinity do not merely bind the individual; they reach across generations, entwining families in cycles of toxic behaviors and beliefs. This transgenerational continuity is, perhaps, one of the most insidious aspects of hypermasculinity.

Modeling and Mimicry

As fathers, brothers, uncles, and role models, our actions, consciously or unconsciously, set a precedent. Younger eyes are watching, learning, absorbing. The silent lessons we impart—how to handle emotions, how to treat others, what constitutes “manly” behavior—become the blueprint for the next generation. When we embrace a hypermasculine persona, we inadvertently pass on its ideals and values to the young ones who look up to us. They learn to equate manhood with dominance, aggression, and an aversion to anything perceived as weak or feminine.

Reinforcing Harmful Narratives

Each time we admonish a boy for crying or deride him for showing vulnerability, we’re reinforcing the narrative that equates masculinity with emotional stoicism. Phrases like “Boys don’t cry” or “Be a man” become deeply ingrained, serving as barriers that prevent emotional exploration and expression. Such teachings not only stifle emotional growth but can also seed feelings of shame and confusion.

Breaking the Chain

While the cycle of toxicity perpetuated by hypermasculinity is daunting, it’s not unbreakable. Awareness is the first step. Recognizing the patterns, understanding their origins, and critically evaluating their impacts empower us to challenge and change them. As we strive for healthier masculinity, we must remember: the lessons we impart today will shape the men of tomorrow. Our responsibility is profound, and our opportunity for positive change is immense. It’s upon us to ensure that the legacy we leave behind is one of understanding, empathy, and true strength.

The New Masculinity: A Healthier Way Forward

In an era marked by change and societal evolution, it’s essential to recognize that concepts of masculinity must evolve too. The rigid confines of hypermasculinity no longer serve us—if they ever truly did. Instead, we find ourselves at a crossroads, with an opportunity to redefine masculinity in terms that resonate with today’s world. A new masculinity beckons—one that’s rooted in emotional intelligence, respect, and genuine strength.

Emotional Intelligence: A Pillar of Modern Strength

Emotional intelligence, often overlooked in traditional male teachings, is the ability to recognize, understand, manage, and effectively express one’s own emotions, as well as the capability to interact and communicate with others empathetically. This skill set goes beyond mere self-awareness—it’s about connection, resilience, and adaptability.

In our roles as men, whether as fathers, partners, friends, or leaders, our emotional intelligence directly influences our relationships and overall well-being. When we allow ourselves to be emotionally present, we pave the way for more meaningful connections. Gone are the days when a stoic, unyielding facade was the benchmark of manhood. Today, we understand that the ability to communicate, empathize, and navigate the complex tapestry of human emotions is a sign of true strength.

Fostering emotional intelligence in ourselves—and encouraging it in others—provides a solid foundation for mental health, improved relationships, and overall life satisfaction. Embracing this aspect of the new masculinity not only serves us as individuals but elevates our communities and society at large.

Partnership, Not Dominance: Redefining Relationship Dynamics

The essence of a healthy relationship, regardless of its nature, lies in mutual respect, understanding, and a sense of partnership. As we move away from hypermasculinity’s shackles, we begin to see relationships not as a domain of dominance but as a collaboration of equals.

Traditionally, many men have been taught to perceive dominance as a virtue—a marker of their masculinity. This mindset, however, not only hampers our personal growth but can also lead to strained relationships and, at times, even perpetuate cycles of abuse and oppression. Instead, true strength lies in understanding that every relationship, be it familial, romantic, or platonic, thrives on reciprocity and balance.

By focusing on partnership, we actively work towards fostering a space where all parties involved feel valued, heard, and respected. We recognize that strength isn’t about overpowering another but in empowering each other. In the context of romantic relationships, this translates to seeing our partners not as someone to control but as equals with their own dreams, aspirations, and perspectives.

As we choose collaboration over control, we not only foster healthier relationships but also create environments conducive to growth, understanding, and genuine connection. Embracing the principles of partnership, empathy, and mutual respect is the cornerstone of the new masculinity—a masculinity that not only benefits us as men but enriches our families, communities, and society.

Role Models: Pioneers of Evolved Masculinity

In every era, amidst the cacophony of stereotypical representations, there emerge figures who challenge the status quo and embody the true essence of masculinity. These men, our modern role models, are champions of emotional depth, empathy, and resilience. They redefine strength, not through brute force or dominance but through compassion, understanding, and vulnerability.

Think of the fathers who aren’t afraid to display affection, the partners who prioritize open communication, or even public figures who use their platforms to advocate for mental health awareness. These are the men who are breaking barriers, fighting against the toxic templates of old, and showcasing that true masculinity is multifaceted and profound.

In popular culture, we’ve witnessed celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson speak openly about their struggles with depression, demonstrating that vulnerability doesn’t equate to weakness. In literature and film, characters are evolving, showing depth and emotional range that defies traditional masculine stereotypes.

Within our communities, there are countless unsung heroes: teachers, coaches, mentors, and others who, through their actions and values, illuminate the path toward a more holistic, inclusive understanding of manhood. They provide tangible, relatable examples for younger generations to emulate.

In highlighting these role models, we don’t just offer alternatives to the narrow confines of hypermasculinity. We offer inspiration. By emphasizing and celebrating these examples, we pave the way for more men to embrace this new, evolved sense of masculinity, ensuring a brighter, more inclusive future for all of us.

The Choice: A Crossroads of Masculinity

At the heart of our journey through masculinity lies a profound and deeply personal choice. As we stand at the crossroads of tradition and evolution, we are presented with two paths — one of dominance and façades, and the other of understanding and genuine strength. It’s a choice that shapes not only our individual lives but the very fabric of our society.

Choosing understanding over dominance means recognizing that true strength isn’t about overpowering others, but about empowering them. It’s about tearing down walls, not building them. It’s about listening more than we speak and seeking to comprehend the diverse perspectives that surround us.

Opting for partnership over control heralds a new era where relationships are built on mutual respect, trust, and collaboration. It is a stance that values equality and cherishes the unique contributions of every individual, irrespective of gender.

And when we talk of true strength, we talk of the kind that isn’t measured by muscle mass or bravado but by the depth of our empathy, the breadth of our understanding, and our unwavering commitment to growth and self-improvement.

In essence, the choice in front of us is between clinging to outdated models that have proven detrimental or stepping boldly into a future where masculinity is celebrated for its emotional depth, resilience, and capacity for love and connection.

I urge us, my fellow men, to take a moment of introspection, to consider the legacy we want to leave behind, and to embrace a more evolved, comprehensive vision of manhood. For in making this choice, we not only uplift ourselves but set a precedent for generations to come — a beacon of hope, understanding, and true strength.

A Call to Action: Pioneering a Brighter Future

As we reflect on the journey we’ve traversed and the revelations we’ve embraced, we arrive at a crucial juncture — a moment to transform our understanding into action. This is not a plea for a fleeting change, but a rallying cry for a sustained evolution, a movement that resonates deeply and impacts profoundly.

Every one of us has a role to play in pioneering this brighter future. It starts with continuous self-reflection, asking ourselves tough questions, confronting our biases, and seeking growth even when it’s uncomfortable. But reflection alone isn’t enough; it must be paired with actionable steps, from the conversations we have with peers to the values we instill in our children.

Let’s advocate for a new masculinity, one that isn’t bound by restrictive stereotypes but flourishes in its diversity. A masculinity that sees strength in vulnerability, power in empathy, and honor in partnership. A masculinity that, in its truest form, benefits not just men, but everyone around them.

In taking these steps, we not only shape a more inclusive, compassionate version of manhood for ourselves but lay down the foundation for a society that thrives on mutual respect, understanding, and shared prosperity. So, let us rise, united in purpose, and be the vanguards of this transformative change, making a lasting difference for the present and ensuring a hopeful legacy for the future.

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David N Johnson

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David N Johnson

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