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The only thing wrong with masculinity is its absence.
This is not a popular position, but it’s true even if the cultural surrender class would have us believe otherwise. Oppose them, because they’re dangerous. Men by nature are as God designed them: Capable of frightening strength, coupled with a capacity for tenderness. The perversion of either asset creates something foul — a monster on one hand, the paralysis of inaction on the other. Nobody needs that type of guy.
I’m grateful for dangerous men when they’re using that power in defense of something. Soldiers are dangerous; so are the guys willing to holler “Leave her alone” at an abusive man from across the parking lot. Stepping into a volatile situation can get you shot, or beat up, or embarrassed. It’s much easier to keep quiet, maybe pull out your phone and call the cops. That might be a good rule of thumb — Don’t be a hero, they say. It’s the safe way to go, but I appreciate fierce men because the world needs heroes, and heroes are not always safe. In fact, we need them to be dangerous.
Dangerous men are a nightmare for their enemies. They weren’t born that way — somewhere in the timeline, perfectly docile young boys were taught the reality that a bully needs put in his place for the good of the schoolyard, because villains are being raised too. Every neighborhood or village on earth is teeming with boys either learning how to master their innate ability to be fierce, or to deny it. Some will use it properly, others will pervert it, but we need the types of guys who embrace and harness it. Men need to teach them how.
I too was taught that toxic masculinity is an awful thing, but it should be defined as an inability or unwillingness to man up, to cower in the face of challenges or to consider self-preservation a virtue. I have a problem with policies that encourage inaction. For instance, there are few things I find more toxic than encouraging a man to run and hide when someone is shooting.
A few years ago my employer instructed me to watch a training video of an active shooter situation. The video showed a man walk into a building’s lobby, shoot a security guard, and then walk from room to room shooting as he went. The proper responses according to the video: lock doors, run for exits, or hide. I’ve seen others where they make a cursory suggestion at maybe fighting if you’re cornered, when everyone else is presumably already dead.
I suppose if I were instructing a room full of children, maybe even women, this might be the way to go. But my first thought when watching that video was, “Where is the guy willing to throw a chair at him?” An office is a treasure trove of weapons, like fire extinguishers, scalding hot water, even scissors if it gets up close and personal. I’ve always operated under the assumption that planned responses are great when the scenario is hypothetical or the situation is static. Once the bullets start flying all bets are off, though. Either someone steps up and eliminates the threat, or people die. And the longer they wait, the more dead bodies.
How about this instead?
Scenario: Shooter begins roaming and shooting.
Question: Are you a child, or physically unfit to defend yourself?
If the answer is yes — Run or hide.
If not — Prepare to defend life, starting with others and ending with yourself.
The experts will say untrained individuals are not equipped to confront threats. I agree, so let’s train them to fight instead of run. What if everyone was trained to grab a projectile weapon at the first sound of gunfire?
That seems simple to me, and of all my friends you might say I’m the least fierce in any room. I’m a writer. A perfect day for me would be waking up in my own bed next to my wife, spending all day reading books and drinking coffee. Maybe watch a football game or a nerdy movie. Go out for Chinese food and end the night with more of the same, plus ice cream. Fierce, huh?
I live in Alaska and own guns, but I don’t hunt or fish. I even own a legit hunting bow. Why don’t I use it? Because I’m not into slogging around the wet alder bushes and sleeping in a tent on single digit nights with other guys for a week. I don’t desire moose that much. But I applaud those who do, so long as their families are in agreement. When it comes to outdoorsy high-octane stuff, I’m just not that type of guy.
I wear nerd t-shirts. I get irritated with outdated fonts. I’d rather hold a sleeping newborn than a fly rod, and I’m not into men’s conferences but I love to mentor. I love to challenge guys to do hard things, to make difficult choices that reveal vulnerability and risk self in pursuit of honoring others. This is the flip-side of the coin. We need men willing to kick in the door and clear the room of hostiles, but we also need them to yield and be sensitive to the ones counting on them. Good men know there is a time to fight and a time to submit, and I don’t want to be the type of guy who does too much of either.
A friend of mine once noticed a shoplifter running out of a store. He could have minded his own business, maybe should have, but instead, he took him down and held him till security took over. Another guy I know once broke the window of a pickup in order to apprehend a known felon the police were looking for. These are violent actions performed by dangerous men, but here’s the thing: Neither of them would ever harm another intentionally. They act when action is needed. Would you? Will I?
I once had a conversation with a guy about United 93, one of the four aircraft hijacked on 9/11. He asked whether I would have been among the passengers to storm the cockpit and take on the terrorists. I told him then what I’ll say now: I like to think so. It’s possible that fear or excuses may have kept me in my seat, but I can say for certain I wasn’t raised that way. I hope that in those moments, my five boys will be willing to do the dangerous thing, even unto death, because somebody has to. And I want for them what I hope is true about me — we are that type of guy.