The War on Masculinity | Daniel Hawker

The recent appearance of former One Direction member Harry Styles on the cover of Vogue has been the source of much online debate in the past week. Dressed in a blue gown and black dinner-jacket, it received unsurprising feedback from each side of the spectrum – leftists have defended the decision, viewing it as “a growing exploration of gender-fluidity and non-binary dressing”, whilst conservatives have broadly seen this as the feminisation of men, with noted American conservative activist Candace Owens tweeting: “Bring back manly men”.

This has brought to light the issue of the importance of masculinity in today’s society, and how the Left have been fighting a brutal campaign to both:
a) discourage men from accepting and embracing their masculine traits, and
b) feminise men, to say, make them more like women in the hopes of achieving a better world.

This attack on the concept of masculinity begins in the early stages of child socialisation, and can be observed most clearly within the school environment. This “war on boys” can be seen in a number of ways, but none are clearer than the expectation of classroom behaviour. Psychologist Michael Thompson framed it like this; “Girl behaviour is the gold standard in schools. Boys are treated like defective girls”. Traits often associated with young boys, such as ambition, confidence and restless, were seen only a few decades ago as simple “boyish” behaviour, and were viewed as “boys being boys”. No longer is that the case. Teachers are forever lecturing young boys on the negativity of these traits, and how they should be discouraged and ideally abandoned. Those people who we trust to educate our children and turn them into well-rounded, confident and responsible young adults are the same people pushing this anti-boy narrative, not to mention the obvious leftist-indoctrination all children face within the education system, regardless of sex.

With girls continuing to outperform boys by the end of primary school in England (in Sats, 70% of girls reached the expected standards for reading, writing and maths, compared to just to 60% of boys), we must ask ourselves whether this cultivation of a school environment and wider education system that is geared against masculinity and boys could also be a contributing factor to their continued second place position to girls in terms of academic success – despite the introduction of more difficult GCSEs, girls are still outperforming boys. How can a school environment that continually tells boys that they’re the problem, bans aggressive games that could help harness their competitive instincts, and tell they that their mere desire to be competitive is wrong, not be having a detrimental impact on boys’ mental health, their confidence and their academic performance? If boys are constantly subject to disapproval for their interests and enthusiasms, they are likely to become disengaged and lag further behind. In order to end this ‘Battle against Boyishness’, schools must work with not against, the kinetic imaginations of boys. Boys, whose preference for literature involving pirates and monsters, as opposed to the emotion-centred literature fancied by girls, is not encouraged reading within schools, further alienating them from interacting with learning.

Instead of banning the breaktime playing of games like dodgeball and tag for being “too violent”, we should be viewing them as the invaluable tools they are – able to provide young children, boys especially, with a way in which to work off their energy and be their naturally rambunctious and energy-fuelled selves in between lessons.

This “war against boys” within education should be a massive concern – boys who aren’t encouraged or aided in school will only develop into passive weak men who feel no connection with learning or the education system, men who feel let down and lack the ambition and drive that schools should instil in their students. These boys will one day be fathers, husbands, providers and protectors: if their early ideals and interests are discredited and dismissed by adults in the profession which has one of, if not the most, long-lasting and profound impact on childrens’ lives, then society will not last long – we need strong and confident men to maintain the social fabric of civilisation.

Of course, this issue carries on to adulthood, and this is where it receives by far the most media attention, especially in regards to the leftist concept of “toxic masculinity” – the idea that strict adherence to traditional male gender roles is damaging to boys and men.

The primary problem with toxic masculinity is that it’s a misguided concept – attempting to make men more like women won’t result in improved men, or for that matter happier women. The primary traits of the male psyche, such as violence, aggression and ambition, can’t simply be eliminated or made more redundant in male personalities. They can however, be harnessed to achieve great good – the male psyche has seen booming industrial Western economies, the defeat of fascism and communism in the 20th Century and the preservation and continuation of the vital societal institution of the family.

Feminists and leftists may argue than downplaying masculine traits and the very concept of masculinity is beneficial to society, but I would argue the exact opposite, with the aforementioned Harry Styles Vogue cover being a prime example. In the 21st Century, men aren’t masculine enough. By denying their masculinity, men reject responsibility and the values of strength and courage which are crucial to a healthy and stable society.

The importance of masculinity can be seen perhaps no more clearly than in the case of absentee fathers. Children who grow up without a father are at far higher risk of depression, incarceration, teen pregnancy, poverty and gang activity (and the accompanying violence). Indeed, then-Senator Barack Obama said about absentee father in the United States in 2008;

Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives … family is the most important, and we are called to recognise and honour how critical every father is to that foundation. If we are honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that … too many fathers are missing from too many lives and too many homes”.

We must call for a revitalisation of masculinity in our culture, in our lives and in our society – the future depends on it. Otherwise, this current generation, and certainly the next, will be ones of confused men, desperate and tentative over their role within society. Harnessed carefully and correctly, masculinity builds civilisations, leads families and can accomplish almost anything – and that is why we must stop this war against it, for humanity’s sake.

Photo Credit.

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