Give Stefanie Daubert credit for her defense of masculinity in her Community Voices piece (“Disappearing ‘masculinity’ is harmful,” Jan. 28). It’s been some time since anyone dared defend men and masculinity.
While it’s great to see equality between the sexes taking shape, and while a harassment-free workplace is everybody’s right, I must admit to being concerned being a man is something that too often seems to require an apology.
I’m 62-years-old. I grew up in a different era but don’t get me wrong. I’m thrilled my daughters have the same opportunities as my son and don’t long for the good old days. But Stefanie does a great job making the point that it’s OK for men to be men and for boys to have strong, male, role models.
Being a grandparent has made this so much clearer to me. While I have nine grandkids total, seven of them are boys and four young grandsons live here in Bakersfield. While my wife and the boys’ mothers are always fretting over the boys’ mischief, I have thoroughly enjoyed the chance to be "one of the boys" once again.
When did they become these wild, rambunctious, loud, obnoxious, gross, obsessed-with-their-male-body-parts monsters? From birth, I believe. It’s amazing to watch. The energy, the fighting, the trouble these boys get into — it’s there from the beginning. Fortunately, the role of grandparent is different. You wind them up, and then send them home.
For me, they are the fountain of youth. But to Stefanie’s point, it needs to be OK for boys to be boys and for men to be men. It’s as if we have entered an age where men’s biology and nature is offensive. Well, sometimes it is, but when I watch my grandsons making farting noises and then laughing uncontrollably, I can’t help but laugh with them.
Yes, the times they are a changing. I admit that in the 1970s, I dressed like John Travolta and went to the discos to meet women. Back then, the men were supposed to be assertive and the women were supposed to be coy and demur. Through today’s lens, some of yesterdays’ “assertive” behaviors might seem “toxic,” but in those days these more aggressive male behaviors were just the norm. Thankfully, somethings are no longer acceptable and it was never OK to violate another human’s rights!
But in today’s era of political correctness, we seem to have lost our sense of humor and perspective. A man grabbing a woman’s backside or touching her leg? According to my wife, that’s absolutely inappropriate today, and I’m married to her!
Stefanie bemoans the sentiment associated with the term “toxic masculinity,” a term that suggests men’s very nature is flawed. She understands men have always been wired differently than women, and much of this is natural and that boys need these male role models. According to Stefanie, our jails would be a lot emptier if the inmates came from two-parent backgrounds with strong, positive male influences. And according to Grandpa, these boys are learning to work things out through these interactions with each other on the playground. And if these boys are outrageous at times, the moms should relax: they grow into something that resembles the parents. Maybe there is cause for alarm.
Listen, I’m told being a better human being should always be on the table and I accept there may be something to that notion, but that shouldn’t mean denying our male identity. Or does it mean exactly that? I hope not! We talk of celebrating diversity, we should be celebrating maleness too, because we strong, male role models (as if I fall into that group) add to the celebration!
It’s a good time to evaluate the rules of the playground for our grandsons and granddaughters. Really, for all of us. First, respect for all people is a must, and two, let them play.
Stefanie’s article is a reminder to all that being a man is not something for which to apologize, and those grandsons are a reminder that being a boy is not so bad either, especially at my age.
Sal Moretti is a district director for Kern County Fourth District Supervisor David Couch, a former USAF Captain, retired Bakersfield superintendent and freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.