The popularity of the feminism seems to have left many men confused about their roles in society. Sixty years ago, the male archetype was a bread-winner, provider, the head of the household.
Sixty years is not long ago. Many men are finding themselves at a crossroads: either continue to honor the masculine identity put forth to them by generations past, or they embrace gender equality. For those men, like myself, who chose the latter, the question then becomes, what does it mean to be a man?
I believe that in order to truly achieve gender equality our definition of masculinity must change.
Like many males in Texas, I learned most of what I know about sex and women in the locker room. In the locker room, teenagers — barely through puberty — would boast their conquests, crushes and how much they bench-pressed the day before. Most of the boasting was done Alpha males, the guys who ran the fastest, scored the most touchdowns and in turn attracted the most female attention.
Initially, my idea of manliness was defined by the amount of female attention I received. As a result, I became guilty of the objectification of women without even recognizing it. It wasn’t that I treated girls badly — my female friends would complement me on my chivalry. However, I considered chivalry as what it took to make a girl mine. This caused the eventual unraveling of some of my most serious relationships. All I wanted from girls was sexual attention because that’s what I believed affirmed that I was a man.
Fortunately, I have found a way to treat women as individuals.
A man’s primal instinct, after all, is towards physicality rather than intimacy. However, this inclination does not excuse the misogynistic remarks spoken in the locker room.
Many men look at a crude comment about a woman’s figure as a badge of honor. The honorable path is to stop looking at women as conquests. Every time we make a comment about a women’s body we deny ourselves a society free of abuse for both men and women.
Yet, chivalry is not the antidote to misogyny; Pretending that men must protect women is implies that women weaker than men. They are not. In fact most women are probably smarter and tougher than some of their male counterparts will ever be.
Acknowledging that the worth of women does not make a man any less masculine. Being a man is ignoring what you were taught in the locker room and acknowledging the fact that women can do whoever and whatever they please.