Otherwise, it’s self-righteous belligerence or evidence of improper weaning.
She stood on the street by her car in tears; distraught because she had both an important appointment and a flat tire. Back in the day, with little thought about it, I often changed women’s tires.
Now in Bizarro World, a flat tire is political: “Masculinity meets the Gender Equality Sisterhood”.
Our encounter might have been funny but wasn’t. Yes, she was late for the appointment but she also knew she could handle a lug wrench. Unfortunately, all her mechanical competence was useless because of her high heels and white cocktail dress. Not Gloria Steinem nor even AOC would preserve stereotypes and attempt to change a tire in such attire.
In spite of the tears, she was hostile as if to signal she had no need for a mansplaining patriarch questioning her jack-and-wrench know-how.
With some luck, we overcame the resistance and she was on her way in minutes. She drove off in silence, but in my mind, it had been a heavy lift. I was left with thoughts of unsatisfying good deeds.
I wondered about Grandpa’s masculinity and how it could fit into our “Me Too world”? He was a John Wayne kind of guy never troubled by a liberated, feminist. If my grandpa could navigate through it all, what’s the masculinity message for my grandson?
Is Masculinity a good fit anymore? Gunslinging, strong silent go-it-alone John Wayne was a model for Grandpa, but the model just won’t cut it for my grandson. He lives in an urban, integrated, and interdependent world where communication skills fit better than strong silent types.
Can you imagine Cowboy John in the PTA meeting or labor negotiation? It would be a case study of futile anger management.
Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore and we guys should think about it. Women saw old stereotypes and responded. Guys cling to the trigger-happy, belligerent cowboys. Consequences for boys include dropping out of school, declining university admission, suicide, drug addiction, and incarceration.
At one time the word “Breadwinner” gave meaning, direction, and identity to men. Today, equal employment opportunity and pay laws diminished that meaning, and so far, nothing much has replaced it. We need a better male model if our boys are going to become men. Toxic masculinity, mindless violence, porn, and uncivil mindsets offer nothing good for my grandson.
MY MASCULINE MODEL WOULD INCLUDE
1. Patience: Google “Masculine images” and you see hundreds of biceps and abdominals. Where are the images of men’s strength of patience, persistence, and equanimity?
2. Competence I’d like to see my grandson grow up with images of competence and the ability to get things done. Guns and violence shouldn’t have much of a part for most guys.
3. Flexibility. Most of all, young guys should learn flexibility- that no “Single stereotype fits all circumstances”. There is a time for Mr. Tough Guy, but there’s more time for Mr. Scholar, Mr. Competence, Mr. Patient Helpful Grandpa, or
Mr. Flat tire guy.