Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

We need more masculinity in our lives

Traditionally masculine traits are necessary
(Collegian File Photo)

Last September, the American Psychological Association determined that there was a connection between “negative male socialization and violence.”  Subsequently, the razor company Gillette released an ad intended to address men’s behavior regarding bullying and harassment by showing various instances of what they deemed ‘toxic masculinity,’ in which, for example, two boys wrestled while all the men around them simply proclaimed that “boys will be boys” and did nothing to stop them.  Putting aside the absurdity of some of these examples (and the fact that Gillette’s primary consumer base is men and explaining to those men how evil they are likely won’t help them sell more razors), Gillette and the APA are actually dead wrong about masculinity.  They are right to decry toxic masculinity, but reading the APA’s report or watching Gillette’s ad might lead one to think that all iterations of traditionally masculine behavior are toxic.  Men (and women) need masculine traits in order to succeed in life and, indeed, masculine influence on children is required to ensure that boys don’t grow up to be overly aggressive.  We need more masculinity in our lives, not less.

There has been a dramatic increase in single-parent households over the last century.  According to the United States Census Bureau, “between 1960 and 2016, the percentage of children living in families with two parents decreased from 88 to 69.”  The majority of these households are single-mother families.  This may not seem like such a bad thing on its surface: indeed, the rise of access to contraceptives and more progressive views of women would lend itself to the production of more families in which mothers feel they don’t need a husband to help them with child-rearing.  However, any positive ideals about single motherhood must be thrown out the window when going below just the surface.

Unmarried parents, according to a study by Princeton, “are much more disadvantaged than married parents.”  For instance, unmarried parents are more likely to have started parenting in their teens, are more likely to be poor, are more likely to suffer from depression, are more likely to report substance abuse and are more likely to have been in jail at some point.  No matter how you spin these facts, it is impossible to suggest that they are inherently ‘good.’  Additionally, even among cohabiting parents who are not married, “most parental relationships do not last, and as a result many children experience high levels of instability.”  Children can be extraordinarily fragile; any instability in their upbringing might be detrimental to their mental health later on in their lives.

One of these detrimental effects is the crime rate. In a given neighborhood, the lack of married parents is an important factor in increasing crime. As stated before, the majority of single-parent households are run by single mothers.  This means that single motherhood, and more importantly, a lack of fathers in households, has contributed in large part to the development of criminality in the United States.  This is not to insinuate that women aren’t good at parenting, but rather to suggest is that there is inherent value in having a two-parent household.  Men and women can be fundamentally different, and therefore have different approaches to parenting that are ultimately beneficial when complementing each other.  Therefore, masculine influences on young children are necessary to decrease the aggressive behavior described by the APA and misleadingly depicted by Gillette.

Further, masculine behavior is necessary to help people succeed in life.  Jocko Willink, a retired Navy SEAL, explains why masculine traits such as competitiveness, aggression, dominance and stoicism are not harmful.  He argues that all of these traits are actually necessary in order to excel and be successful – to get you to the top of the ladder.  Aggression, for instance, is required because “good things in life don’t just appear on your doorstep – you have to be aggressive and make them happen.”  If you don’t have any masculine traits, “instead of you being in control of your life, life will be in control of you.”  This simple but powerful wisdom demonstrates the invalidity of claims that all aspects of traditional masculinity are harmful.

Willink knows, however, that masculine traits can go too far.  This is what Gillette and the APA should mean when they talk about ‘toxic masculinity.’  Willink writes that, while masculine traits are necessary, “don’t let those traits, or any other, drift to the extremes.  You will fail as a leader, as a man and as a person.”  It is amazing to me how a retired Navy SEAL is more right about the world than one of the most prestigious psychological institutions in the country. Listen to Willink, not those who would seek to demonize all forms of masculinity.  Masculinity is a valuable tool in a world of uncertainty and chaos; but too much of it, as with anything, is harmful.  So, let boys be boys; but don’t let them be savages.

Greg Fournier is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected].

View Comments (11)
More to Discover

Comments (11)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • N

    NITZAKHONFeb 11, 2019 at 9:19 am

    You need to remember, Leftists are missionaries. They are here to create the Great Socialist Utopia in which there will be no hunger, no want, no poverty, no war nor hatred or any of the ills that have plagued humanity since, well, humanity stood upright. They believe – can I get a “Hallelujah Marx!”? – they actually can achieve this.

    So given this mindset and belief that Eden can actually be made manifest on Earth, what would you think of someone standing in your way? Would you be civil to such a person?

    No, you would not. You would view them as evil. Just like the Nazis viewed the Jews as evil, and thus persons to be destroyed – literally and physically – as all “good people” should do. The Shoah, the Holodomor, the slaughters during the “Great Leap Forward” were all done by people convinced they were doing good by ridding the world of those who stood in their way of creating a better world.

  • P

    peteJan 31, 2019 at 10:46 pm

    Wow not your mom sounds really angry and unhinged…

    I would hope a college of all places there could be civil discussion and argument and not resort to insults and childish language, i.e ‘butt hurt’

  • O

    obviously, not ur momJan 30, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    Greg, I think you were really bold with a lot of your statements here! I am proud of the strength you use when articulating your thoughts. However, I believe many of your statements can be easily ‘defunked’ with thought and basic statistics. You say, “This means that single motherhood, and more importantly, a lack of fathers in households, has contributed in large part to the development of criminality in the United States. ” These two clauses are simply not equal to each other. You have heard of “third variable bias” correct? You know, correlation =/= causation. This of course applies to just about everything you think you are proving when you’re talking about women being disadvantageous as a single parent in a household. What about celebrity star, Pink? single mother, accumulated wealth, etc. It isn’t the fact that the biological and mental differences are causing these deficiencies as you so put them, but the disadvantageous world that women are born into.
    Think, are gay couples bad parents? Of course they are not.
    gay men or women couples do not raise their children differently, if only more conscious of the world around them.
    And single fathers?
    If you are okay with ‘toxic masculinity’, ‘aggressiveness’, I don’t know, the ‘wage gap’? Maybe Gillette doesn’t want your business.

    How do you think single mothers happen, usually? Have you looked at statistics of how many single mother’s were in abusive relationships? How many escaped violent homes and domestic abuse? How many were raped and resulted in pregnancy. Simple questions, Greg, simple questions.

    Greg, I could write a whole article in response to this, trying to point out the obvious and clear flaws any female can see in your writing, in your interpretation of the APA, and in your interpretation of the Gillette Ad. Don’t ask your female friend to explain it to you, she might be too dumb or too liberal for your taste, just think, Think of your mothers your sisters and your people.

    I can argue with you on and on, but this is, as politely put as possible, the butt-hurt emotions responding to an ‘all-men’ claim. You’re taking the focus away from everyone who isn’t a man. Think about this for once, it’s not about you– unless you make it about yourself, then you’re part of the problem.

    with love- not your mom.

  • I

    IzaJan 30, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    Alvin, I couldn’t agree with you more. What I am curious to know is how the author and previous commenters define masculinity and toxic masculinity. It is an advertisement which in the time allotted could not possibly supply all the examples that would make critics satisfied. Many of the claims, especially about single mothers and parents lack the evidence and sources necessary to make the authors argument cohesive and well supported. Differences of opinion are always good, but when it comes to biased and frankly sexist and misogynistic statements being feigned as fact, I find it hard to believe that such material could be taken seriously, never mind published. Please let me know where you got your information from about how contraceptives have led to women rejecting the idea of having a significant other to help raise children. I can give you an academic research study that proves the exact opposite of your statement: “the rise of access to contraceptives and more progressive views of women would lend itself to the production of more families in which mothers feel they don’t need a husband to help them with child-rearing”. Here is one source from hundreds disproving your biased and completely unsupported statement (Davies, Linda, and Prue Rains. “Single Mothers by Choice?” Families in Society 76.9 (1995): 543. ProQuest. Web. 30 Jan. 2019) As for your claim about how single mothers are the root of crime, please o find a better way to prove your points rather than correlation between research and your own personal biases. I would love to see evidence, as I am sure other would too, supporting your claims in such black and white terms as you provided.

  • A

    Atibha SheoranJan 30, 2019 at 10:51 pm

    I’m not even going to attempt to dissect your entire “article” because I would be typing until the end of the semester. What I will say is that your last line comes off as one of the most misogynistic and ignorant statements in the entire “article” with a failed effort of making it funny and/ or relatable. Instead of whining about how we’re not letting “boys be boys”pick up a book about parenting or talk to other people that have gone through these situations. A single mother or a single father is capable of raising a well behaved, respectable child. Ever heard of the saying “it takes a village”? Probably not because otherwise you’d know that a father figure isn’t important if there are other male figures in the family. Let’s forget about males all together shall we? An independent, strong, capable young mother can raise her child to be just as independent, strong, and capable without any male’s help. That has nothing to do with crime rates going up in neighborhoods. Think about the hardships they have to endure surviving on a single-parent income. It forces them to areas where there is a lower and more affordable coast of living, but sometimes (if not usually) higher crime rates. So stop thinking about women as an adjective and masculinity as the noun because women can be and are more successful in life, competitive, aggressive, dominant, and stoic.

  • P

    pete mostJan 30, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    “. Additionally, the article uses data and does not contextualize it” lol. “toxic masculinity’ is something that is made up as theory and is actually an opinion. Data can’t affirm or deny something that is subjective. The way liberals reason is backwards, they apply their opinions first, label them as ‘theories’ and then look to data to support it.

    It is also well known that single parent households are correlated with crime, maybe he can think for himself instead of asking a professor to tell him how to think? The classic example is african-american communities, and the relationship between crime by black men who have no father is -staggering- and particularly around the 1960s when the black family started to split apart.

    So if we want better families we need to encourage the father to stay, to be responsible and not just blindly attack all men.

  • P

    Peter DuffyJan 30, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    It is a shame that this author believes that toxic masculinity implies every subsect of masculinity. When Toxic masculinity is referenced, this is not an attack on men as a whole but on the negative traits that are so often passed down to sons. For instance, the idea that conflicts can only be solved through violence is toxic, whereas a drive to succeed and protect our loved ones through financial means is a trait we should all have if we are to survive in our capitalist society. Now this brings me to the single parent problem. Of course, children with one parent are more likely to be poverty stricken; but maybe this is because they are only being supported by a single income. Now, we are left in a situation where crime for cash becomes alluring to the child. Young men especially struggle here, as we are too often told that asking for help is emasculating, to give up pride is somehow a sign of lacking male clout. This is the toxic mascunility so often decried. We do not need more masculinity, we need more opportunities for young men and men that are not afraid of showing kindness to those in need. We need men that will see women and all other humans as individuals deserving of respect, and unfortunately there are many philosophies floating around locker rooms today that imply other people and women especially are disposable.

  • A

    Alvin BuyinzaJan 30, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    Although I can understand the point of view the writer is trying to make in this article. The argument presented fails to understand what it is trying to make a case against (toxic masculinity and the Gillette razor ad). Additionally, the article uses data and does not contextualize it, it simply slams reports and studies into the article without having expert commentary to provide a greater explanation. It would be better if the writer reached out to a professor of Gender Studies, Psychology or Economics to be able to give reasons to why single-parent households and instability in children are correlated Although a point can be understood in the article, there must be more understanding of the counter argument and better usage of data. Lastly, it would be best to define what the writer believes toxic masculinity is, rather then spending off on a video that he believes attacks the masculinity of all men.

  • A

    amyJan 30, 2019 at 12:23 pm

    Wowwww. Amazing, the daily collegian let someone offer an opposing viewpoint?? So rare to see at the collegian, which is 90 percent recycling the same opinions and viewpoints.

    Kudos to this newspaper.

    That said I think it’s a sign of weakness and being pathetic if your going to write an op-ed piece because of this silliness over’ toxic masculinity’. Why would you even take this seriously in the fist place? It’s a joke and just the delusional and envious rantings of liberals who just have found a new target to hate and to blame for the ‘social injustice’ and evils of th world.

    Real men don’t take silly people seriously and don’t write about it. Real men act. The only reason there is so much weakness in this world is because sissy men let other people made them feel bad and guilty about being a man and so repressed themselves.

  • S

    SittingBullJan 30, 2019 at 10:43 am

    Finally, an intelligent Op-Ed piece in this publication! Any idea, practice, religious belief, societal norm, etc. pushed to an extreme is going to be negative, toxic, etc. The Gillette ad in particular was poorly done because it showed 99% white males providing the “toxic” situations, most of which were laughable. The one where the nice black guy pulls his white buddy away from cat-calling a woman on the street was particularly outrageous and had the stereotype backwards. The only “toxic” situation that rang true was the de-escalation of a potential brawl between black teenagers on a street corner.

    Boys need to become men again in this society, but there are a dwindling number of actual men who know how to be men. Of course the Navy SEAL is right, and this article is correct. Women balance us out and we provide each other with harmonious existence when we care and respect each other. But we should celebrate our strengths and differences. UMASS culture has been trying to turn men into women since at least the mid-1980s. I hope they are not succeeding, except now the entire culture seems to be in on it from my kid’s elementary school psycho-lesbian principal all the way through the educational system. It’s hard to combat that kind of influence at home but we do what we can.

  • N

    NITZAKHONJan 30, 2019 at 7:06 am

    The American Left, through the “Great Society”, destroyed the black family. LBJ said “I’ll have the n*ggers voting Democrat for the next 200 years”.

    As Professor Walter E. Williams asked, what have blacks gotten from the Left?

    The Worst Enemy of Black People

    Who Benefits From Democrat Control?