I have a point of view on this that I feel prompted to share. I know I don't have it all right. But maybe someone will benefit from reading this. I hope so.
This is my opinion. It is not the result of scientific research. It is the result of a lot of observation and soul searching.
I'll start out by telling you what I don't think masculinity is.
The other day, I was in a public place and overheard a man talking to his wife on his phone. He was, well, commanding. He was telling his wife exactly what to do—with their children, and where she exactly was to meet him. It made me feel a little sick to my stomach.
Granted, every relationship has different dynamics. I never heard her talk to him. Maybe they yammer back and forth at each other like that all the time. Maybe the wife likes him to totally take charge. I don't know. I don't mean to judge the man or his invisible wife. I don't know enough to judge them (and I never will). But I can make an observation.
I love the insight found in Alma 38:12:
Use boldness, but not overbearance; and also see that ye bridle all your passions, that ye may be filled with love...I think masculinity should be bold but not overbearing. I think masculinity keeps its passion under control for the benefit of others which makes love possible, makes it grow. I believe (but do not know) that the man on the phone was being overbearing. Overbearannce, to me, shows disrespect and unkindness and selfishness. I hope that was not the case with the man on the phone, but it might have been. If so, I am sad for his wife. I am sad for all wives, women, and children who are treated this way by men. I believe it is a false masculinity.
To me, Christ is the ultimate example of true masculinity, which I think is a godly character trait. Bold yet tender. Kind but fearless. Determined yet willing to submit to the will of His Father. Obedient without being self-righteous. Full of integrity yet uncondemning. These are a few of the characteristics that I see as masculinity at its finest.
Both men and women have both masculine and feminine traits, though the former is predominant in men and the latter in women. I am attracted to femininity. I grew up in a cowboy culture, and over the years I ran into cowgirls who had traded in their femininity. I am not talking about women who ride and rope and adopt the cowboy way of life. I am talking about women who adopt a false masculinity and who are vulgar and mean and rough and rude. False masculinity is a self-deception, whether adopted by men or women.
But there is another aspect of this I want to talk about.
I think masculinity is dying because of what I observe in the traits of a lot of young men. Not all, but some. Maybe too many. They are not bold in their relationships with women. They don't ask girls on dates. They wait for the girl to initiate "the relationship." They don't risk putting themselves out there. They don't pursue girls.
Girls don't like this. Just ask an unmarried woman in her mid-twenties. Then be prepared to listen to the answer. These sentiments are all but universal. I have talked to many teenage girls and young adult women. Most of them have similar complaints to the ones I outlined in the previous paragraph.
Girls like masculinity. They are attracted to it. I am talking about true masculinity as a reflection of a commitment to Christ. They are wondering what happened to it. I don't know. I don't know what to tell them. I wish I knew.
Some of you single men reading this have been hurt, deeply hurt, and it is hard for you to get back into the dating mode after the pain. I am not talking about you. I have experienced that kind of hurt. It makes you gun shy. I understand.
Maybe the younger generation hasn't seen enough good examples of how to be masculine. Maybe our older generation has let them down. I don't know. I am looking for answers. I want to hear your opinions. I want to get my head around this issue.
If you don't see any evidence of what I am talking about, please speak up and give me hope. If you disagree with what I have said, let us all hear from you. If you agree, I want to hear from you, too.
In closing this post, I want to say that I am deeply grateful for my two sons-in-law who I think both are great examples of true masculinity. Thank you. I love you. Our daughters are in good hands.
To be continued...
(See Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)