A Healthy Masculinity

A Healthy Masculinity

Hollywood's Manly Man is not the man we need.
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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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Please, If You're Somehow Still Using The 'R Word'— Leave That Habit In 2018

Come on guys, its 2018. Google a new word.

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Maybe it was because I witnessed two boys get in trouble in elementary school for using this word as an insult.

Maybe it's because I fell in love with a thing called Camp Able. Maybe it's because one of my best friends is a special ed major. Or maybe it's because I try to be a decent human being. I do not use the R word.

Until this past semester, I hadn't really heard anyone use it often despite one encounter in 6th grade. Most of my best friends I have met while serving at places like Camp Able or Camp Bratton Green where summers are dedicated to people with diverse-abilities. I think having been surrounded with like-minded people for so long made me forget that some people still use it as an expression.

Let me tell you, it's annoying.

The word itself has been brushed off even in a "scientific" sense. It means to be slowed down, but it has stretched far beyond that meaning and has turned into an insult.

It's an insult of comparison.

Like any word, the power behind it is given by the user and most times, the user uses it to demean another person. It's like when you hear someone say "that's gay."

Like, what? Why is that term being used in a derogatory sense?

Why is someone's sexuality an insult? Hearing someone use the R-word physically makes me cringe and tense up. It makes me wonder what truly goes on in someone's mind. People will argue back that it's "just a word" and to "chill out," but if it was just a word, why not use something else?

There is a whole world full of vocabulary waiting to be used and you're using something that offends a whole community. Just because you don't care, it does not mean it shouldn't matter. Just use a different word and avoid hurting a person's feeling, it really is just that simple.

There is not a good enough reason to use it.

I volunteer at two summer camps: Camp Bratton Green and Camp Able. If you know me, I talk nonstop about the two. More realistically, if you know me, it's probably because I met you through one of the two. Even before I was introduced to the love at Camp Able, I still knew that this was a word not to use and it never crossed my mind to think of it.

The history behind the R-word goes back to describe people with disabilities but because of the quick slang pick up it was sort of demoted from the psychology world. Comparing someone or something that is negative to a word that you could easily avoid speaks volumes about who you are as a person.

The word is a word, but it is subjective in its meaning and in its background.

Just stop using it.

A List of Objective Words/Phrases to Use:

Fool/Foolish

Blockhead

Nincompoop

Silly

Ludicrous

Dim-witted

Trivial

Naive

"A few beads short on the rosary"

"On crack or something"

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Stop Telling People That They Don't Act 'Autistic Enough' To Be On The Spectrum

It's time for the world to wake up. Seriously.

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(Note: This article was entirely inspired by this Twitter thread I saw and would highly recommend giving a read! The user touches upon a few points that I may miss, and I wouldn't want to just repeat everything they state. https://twitter.com/xasymptote/status/1075781558630518785)

No matter how many times it is stated, everyone seems to forget that autism lies on a spectrum. Therefore, the symptoms and signs demonstrated by one individual may not be shared by another. Sure, there may be similarities among two people on the spectrum, but these similarities should not be seen as defining factors of autism. Likewise, someone further along the spectrum may not compare at all to someone else.

Yet, television, films, and other forms of media don't do a great job showing this. There are very few cases of representation for autism on-screen, but when there is, it is often a very stereotypical, inaccurate case of it. Some traits that I've noticed most of these characters share are accelerated intelligence, lack of tact, honesty that borders on rudeness, and so on. And yes, some people with autism will have these characteristics. But a large percentage of them don't!

In all of my years working with those with special needs, I have never met someone who acts like what television considers the perfect picture of someone with autism. This is a big problem. Why?

Because the general public will start to believe that this is how everyone with autism acts. They'll start to think that these characters define what autism is like, and when they're confronted with the reality that this is not the truth, they won't know how to help.

This false idea of what autism is and means could lead to this concept on not "being or acting autistic enough." To an outsider, if you don't act like the main character from "The Good Doctor" or Sam from "Atypical", your identity is considered invalid. If you don't have the characteristics of having above average intelligence or complete honesty at all times, nothing matches in their head. See why this is a problem?

Autism is a spectrum in which no individual who has it is alike and will match all of the symptoms and signs. So it is foolish for television and film to describe autism through the same stereotypes when it is unlikely that the people you encounter will find truth in that representation. Even the best representation will not be accurate for everyone.

While telling someone that they don't act "autistic enough" is already an insult to their identity, that harshness buries itself deeper when you take into account that society already looks down on those with mental disabilities. They spend their entire lives trying to fit in with the crowd, lessening their ticks until it becomes easier for them to do the everyday activities that you take for granted—all for people to invalidate them by saying they don't look like they're on the spectrum.

Even today, society doesn't know how to explain autism, and admittedly, it isn't easy when it is so different for everyone. Even the people deep in that world don't understand everything about it, and that's okay. What is important is that we start considering everyone as individuals and not expect to fit them in a box of preconceptions. It is important that we try to erase the stereotypes and start explaining the truth: autism is complicated and tricky, but that doesn't mean we should ever stop trying to understand or make the world kinder for those on the spectrum.

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