I hadn’t heard the term “toxic masculinity” until this year, 2018. I had felt it. I feel it within myself. I am the product of a culture and family that was patriarchal. I am conditioned and wired to see my maleness narrowly defined as Provider, Protector, Adventurer.
The problem is, I’m not adventurous. I am irrationally afraid and anxious.
My wife is all of the things that I thought I should be, and she is these things personified brilliantly.
This morning I woke up early to make my wife and three boys breakfast before they went skiing for the day.
There’s no reason that I shouldn’t go, other than I don’t ski. I used to. But I don’t now. And I feel a little embarrassed or ashamed by it.
Shouldn’t I as a husband and father drive the car over the snow to the mountains and teach my boys how to ski?
Shouldn’t I be excited about the snow, the cold, the ski lifts, the adventure?
Or maybe I’m just a different type of guy, and my mind is programmed naively?
Either way it causes some internal conflict as I seek to re-define my manhood and place in the family.
My mind became open to my own narrowness and desire to change when I read this piece in the New York Times. The words captured my emotions:
Too many boys are trapped in the same suffocating, outdated model of masculinity, where manhood is measured in strength, where there is no way to be vulnerable without being emasculated, where manliness is about having power over others. They are trapped, and they don’t even have the language to talk about how they feel about being trapped, because the language that exists to discuss the full range of human emotion is still viewed as sensitive and feminine
My mind is seeking new ways to redefine myself. Yesterday, as my family went skiing, I googled: “Do any other Dads prefer to stay home while their wife and kids go skiing?”
It was a shot in the dark.
And google failed to find an answer, or a support group.
I may have in the past reached for a cake, a dozen oreos or some Krispy Kreme donuts to lighten my mental load.
But not this time. I took a walk around the block and lived in the conflict.
Hoping one day to re-define a comfortable identity.
As the NYtimes op-ed piece says:
There has to be a way to expand what it means to be a man without losing our masculinity.
And as Bradley Cooper sang in the memorable “A Star is Born”