A Healthy Masculinity

A Healthy Masculinity

Hollywood's Manly Man is not the man we need.

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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8 Things We Do In Hispanic Families That Make Americans Scratch Their Heads

Things Hispanics see as common that Americans don't.

As the Latina that I am, I have to say that being and growing up in a Hispanic family is something very different than doing it in an American family.

In Hispanic families everyone tends to be very loud and never on time, making parties or family reunions to always run a little late—you will end up leaving around 3:00 a.m. or worst—while American families usually have early dinners and start reunions in the afternoon—from what my friends in college have told me.

In this article, I will be sharing with you some of the things that being in a Hispanic family means that most of my American friends find weird or odd in comparison to the way they do things.

Hispanic families will always a special place in my heart, since I grew up in one, and is something I wouldn’t change for the world. But, I got to admit that what I thought, and probably what most Hispanics see as usual or normal, might not exactly be for people from different parts of the world.

Eight of the things every Hispanic grew up doing that are unusual for Americans:

1. You always kiss a person on the cheek when saying “Hi” or you will be seen as disrespectful.

2. Dinner parties won’t start until after 7:00 p.m., but you won’t actually be eating dinner until around 9:00 p.m. or even 10:00 p.m.

3. When on a family reunion, get ready to be there for sure after midnight.

4. When your parents say you are leaving, it actually means that we have to start saying goodbye to everyone who is there and will be leaving in an hour.

5. Be prepare to spend New Year’s Eve with your family and not be able to leave until after midnight.

6. When the invitation says that the party starts at 8:00 p.m., it actually means it starts an hour later and everyone will arrive around 9:00-9:30 p.m.

7. You won’t be eating lunch until around 3:00 p.m. and dinner at least until after 7:00 p.m. at home.

8. When going to a party or reunion, expect everyone to be loud, talking at the same time, and having completely different conversations, but at the same time, everyone knows exactly what is going on.

Cover Image Credit: Alex Martin

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Helen Maria Williams: Pioneering A Voice For Women

A history of women empowerment

Until the 18th century, Europe's social structure was established predominantly as a patriarchy with men occupying the roles of capitalists, political partisans, and any other positions of authority that had adequate reputability to voice a public opinion. This notion of division and modesty towards the fairer sex was held to a considerable standard in the west, most fervently by the English. In Spectator, a series of works aimed to project an elevated and traditional manner of living to the English, Joseph Addison wrote that "as our English women excel those of all nations in beauty, they should endeavor to outshine them in all other accomplishments proper to the sex, and to distinguish themselves as tender mothers and faithful wives, rather that furious partizans."

The challenge to this mode of thinking came by way of the social and political upheaval of the French Revolution. However, unlike the call for change towards the institution of slavery and the prejudices towards Protestants and Jews, the plight of woman fell on the deaf ears of the men orchestrating the revolution. This duty, instead, fell into the interests of only a selected few who outwardly observed the revolution as it unfolded in 1789.

Although many of them during this time did not seek to enfranchise women with voting rights, they did endeavor to break the established social structure and expand the obligations and prospects of women beyond just remedial domesticity and into one of enlightened intellect and an inflammatory stride. None of these writers proved more persistent and ample than Helen Maria Williams.

Like many English writers during her time, Williams was a Romanticist and centered her ideology around rationality and empathy. Some of her earliest politically intimate opinions were embedded in her poetry. Her sympathy for the disenfranchised were expressed in such poems as Peru in which she details the cruelty carried out towards the indigenous people of South America by the Spanish, and The Slave Trade in which she expresses her disparagement towards victimization by political and commercial means. Early on, she also made clear her thoughts on liberalism in her poem Ode to Peace in which she sympathized with the struggles of the colonists at the end of the American Revolution.

Also similar to many English writers, she was intensely independent, a quality that did not favor her sex at the time. Once the French Revolution broke out, like many Romanticists, she was immensely captivated by such an explosion of liberal ideas sparked by what she believed to be a sudden engagement of rationality and sensibility among the people.

She made it her business to travel to the waning country in 1790 and published a series of accounts in her Letters from France in which she records her observations on the events that transpired during the revolution. Of her memoirs, the events that enraptured her the most were scenes of women taking up arms in the streets in the manner men were accustom to. Such scenes included the siege of Bastille and the Women's March on Versailles in 1789.

She observed that the French women of the revolution obtained such a prominent voice in the radical politics of the day and that many of their male counterparts welcomed their patriotism with open arms. She thus upheld the French example as the ideal manner of which the modern English woman should behave and that she should be encouraged to voice her opinions in subjects concerning human interests.

This was a manner Williams herself had already mastered, due to which she received much criticism from the conservative English who despised the social upheaval of the French Revolution. Laetitia Matilda Hawkins, and English novelist and conservative, cherished the traditional manners and behaviors of the English woman and condemned Williams's support for a woman's intrusion in the political sphere that had already functioned properly with the genius of a man.

But Williams contended that a woman, with her morality and sensibility, could understand ideas concerning the common good in an age of revolutions and Romanticism far better than the wisdom and philosophies of a man. Instead of denouncing Williams for not being traditionally feminine like the English, the French heralded her as a true model of domesticity. Her faith in the revolution, however, would not last. By 1793, the Jacobins took hold of the country and the liberal idealisms that Williams steadfastly held on to had disappeared in the Reign of Terror. Williams herself, both an observer and a Girondist, was labelled an enemy to the French Republic and was imprisoned in Luxembourg, only to flee later to Switzerland.

Williams spent the remainder of her life in Paris after the revolution, unwilling to return to England, where people continued to condemn her as a diluted radical. Although the Reign of Terror damaged her own perception towards the French Revolution, her convictions towards liberalism remained strong. And her belief in a woman's role in politics and the dissolution of previously established social orders and hierarchies would go on to inspire future reformers and Romanticists well into the 19th century.

Cover Image Credit: Felipe Dolce

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