Masculinity Isn’t Toxic, Our Erasure Of It Is BY: TRISTAN JUSTICE for The Federalist
Those who wrote off masculinity as ‘toxic’ never truly understood the concept.
Sam Smith does not look healthy.
Last week, conservative journalist Andy Ngo published screenshots of the singer’s Instagram page. On the left, Smith is seen handsomely seated with his prestigious Oscar. The ensuing photos highlight his attempt to transition into someone who is “non-binary,” or a person who believes he was born a third sex or above the sexes altogether. The logic defies everything we know about human biology down to the binary nature of our chromosomes.
— Andy Ngô 🏳️🌈 (@MrAndyNgo) January 10, 2023
No one seems to know what a woman is these days, but does anyone even remember what a man is? Smith’s progression in Ngo’s photos underscores the erasure of cultural masculinity declared “toxic” by millennials. When you lose sight of what it means to be a man — what it means to look like a man, act like a man, and live like a man — you de facto lose the values that form the foundation of healthy masculinity. But our culture doesn’t even know what a man is.
Around this time last year, my Federalist colleague John Daniel Davidson provided a definition.
“If we’re going to defend manliness as good and virtuous and necessary for a healthy republic, then we need to be clear about what it is and what it is not,” he wrote, continuing:
Yes, men should be physically strong. They should also exemplify traditional masculine virtues like courage, independence, and assertiveness. But why? Not so they can sh-tpost about how ripped or good-looking they are compared to libs, but so they can protect and defend those who are weak.
That is the organizing principle behind the entire concept of manliness: it is not a style or a pose or an adornment. It is a way of being, of living according to the principle that you are responsible for the welfare of others, and should sacrifice yourself for their sake.
What does that mean in practice? It means stepping in to help those in need, whether it’s a woman being harassed or a stranger whose car has broken down. It means risking your own safety to protect someone being attacked, instead of just filming the attack on your phone and posting it online like a beta.
It also means marrying and remaining faithful to the same woman your entire life, and raising a family with her. It means working whatever hours and at whatever job in order to provide for that family. It means going to church every Sunday, whether you feel like it or not, to pass your faith on to your kids. It means getting up in the middle of the night to feed a colicky baby. It means taking your two-year-old daughter to swim class and singing all the songs — your own sense of dignity be damned.
I’m not sure I could write a better definition, amplifying the stoic virtues of physical strength, mental fortitude, and sacrificial living driven by a desire to strengthen the weak and protect the vulnerable.