A Healthy Masculinity

A Healthy Masculinity

Hollywood's Manly Man is not the man we need.
EJ Free
EJ Free
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Gunfire. Explosions. Brawls. Beer. Babes. Mustaches. This is what it takes to be a man.

Or is it?

My father is one of the best men I know. He owns and maintains several firearms. He stocks up on fireworks for the Fourth of July. He taught me how to throw a proper punch. He keeps the cooler stocked with his favorite beers. He married the woman of his dreams. And on vacation, at least, he lets the beard grow. But none of these things define him as a person.

What defines my father, instead, is his dignity. He is a man of faith, and a man of hard labor. He loves to work with his hands. He treats my mother with respect and fidelity. He put just as much of himself into raising his two sons as every other aspect of his life; that is to say, 100%. He never seems to be working on less than three or four different projects and labors at once, and yet none of them ever seem to merit less than his full attention.

So which side of my father makes him a man? Is it the brawny, sports-car loving macho man? Or the gentle, stir-fry wrangling family man? And which image ought we elevate above the other?

The answer is glaringly, gleamingly obvious. The world has enough macho men running about in tank tops and Oakleys. What we need now is the family man in a collared shirt and reading glasses.

I was reminded of this juxtaposition when I went to see Logan with my father and my brother. The Wolverine always has been and always will be an action man; the leather jacket and jeans, the half-smoked cigar hanging from his lips, the unbreakable metal claws gleaming between his knuckles all labeling him as a hard man in a hard world. But in Logan, he's faced with his own age; at 200 years old, he's beginning to face the ravages of time.

Then along comes Laura, a young Mexican girl who is, for all intents and purposes, his daughter. He wants no part in her care, however, because he knows what his influence means: "I am f*ed up," he confesses, "I can't get you where you need to go." On the surface, it seems that he is referring to the toll their journey has taken on his body, but he is also acknowledging that for all the masculinity oozing from every scar and beard follicle, he is not the man to raise a child.

Unfortunately, that ultra-manly action hero has become the object of admiration in popular culture, and Hollywood especially. Any more, the odds that you'll find a family man trying to care for his own in a non-Western film are slim to none.

But that's what the world needs, now more than ever. We need husbands and fathers, men who are willing to put in the work and care for the people that God put in their care.

Because at the end of the day, a man is not defined by how many guns he owns, or the size of his handlebar mustache. He is perhaps best summed up in the poem If, by Rudyard Kipling:

"If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

"If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

"If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

"If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!"


































Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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'The Farewell' Brings An Asian-American Narrative To Hollywood

I've never imagined that a story like this would make its way to Hollywood, and it's definitely a welcome change.

soniatam
soniatam
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The trailer for Lulu Wang's "The Farewell" was recently released. The film, based on Wang's own experience, stars Awkwafina as Billi, a Chinese-American woman who travels to China after learning her grandmother has been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. "The Farewell" initially debuted at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January, and currently holds a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.

"The Farewell" is an exciting film for members of the Asian-American community, as it encompasses many of our own experiences in having family overseas. Having this Asian-American narrative portrayed in Hollywood is especially groundbreaking and important to the community. "Crazy Rich Asians" has received much well-deserved acclaim for its leap in Asian representation, but the film did not necessarily depict a completely relatable experience and was only one story out of many in the Asian-American community. There were aspects of the characters' cultures that allowed the Asian-American audience to connect with much of the film, but the upper-class narrative wasn't quite as accessible to everyone.

While "Crazy Rich Asians" portrays Asians in a way that is very much uncommon in Hollywood and American media in general and had a hand in helping to break stereotypes, "The Farewell" introduces a nearly universal first-generation American or immigrant narrative to Hollywood. In doing so, the film allows many members of the Asian-American community to truly see their own experiences and their own stories on the screen.

For me, the trailer alone was enough to make me tear up, and I've seen many other Asian Americans share a similar experience in seeing the trailer. The film reminds us of our own families, whether it's our grandparents or any other family living overseas. I've never imagined that a story like this would make its way to Hollywood, and it's definitely a welcome change.

"The Farewell," which is scheduled for release on July 12, 2019, depicts a family dynamic in the Asian-American experience that hits home for many, including myself. The initial critical response, especially towards Awkwafina's performance, is certainly promising and will hopefully motivate more Asian-American and other minority filmmakers to bring their own stories to Hollywood.

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