Sometime, about thirty years ago, the media portrayed college guys like us as drug- and sex-obsessed frat boys in some animal house; and people believed it. That movie made guys lose their way just when college access was expanding beyond the grasp of the rich. During the college expansion years, we created women’s centers to help the female students, but no men’s centers to help the first generation guy.
You know how we had the GI Bill? That was established to help the men from World War II acclimate to peace. We should have recognized the need for something like that on a systemic level for men as we transitioned to a world of equality. Money was spent to help women transition to equality, but nothing for men; and masculinity was hung out to dry and straight and gay men lost a common community.
Today, the only men’s centers we have are run by women’s centers geared, not at teaching about the goodness of men or helping our sons, but at defining masculinity for feminists, by feminists—deconstructing it. I don’t want to hear what it means to be a man, from a woman—that would be ‘splaining and women don’t like that when it’s done to them. I want to see what it means to be a man, from men and the history of our accomplishments.
Masculinity flows in time—gay, straight, gentle, strong, aggressive, artistic, or ascetic. It is the flow from its vigor to its loss of energy—that as the power of the erection wanes, a man must accept the loss of virility while still being a man (and try not to sit on his balls).
I love doing what men do; like being able to write my name in the snow with yellow ink. I can pee in a Coke bottle, and I get to stand without taking my pants off, in those blue portable urinals at public festivals. I can masturbate to orgasm in ninety seconds, wait ten minutes and do it again and again and again and again. I carry two testosterone engines with me in a sack I hold closely. My gender is external to my body: it is an object, and I like objectifying—objectifying is a normal thing for guys and there is nothing evil in it, except as thinking makes it so.
And I can do it again.
I can grow a beard and shave. When I’m older, I may have a bald head, and that’s cool. I love working out and flexing my biceps until they burn, and unrolling my arm and fingers to stroke a flower’s petal or a paintbrush or orchestral baton or a pen to write poetry. I like getting lost and finding my own way home. I don’t cry I public—I leave that to a private room I share with my partner. I play in the mud. I focus on math. I love my cock; only my gay brothers love cocks more—and that’s cool. My phallus is the axis on which the earth rotates. I ejaculate like a volcano. I am a tree, a mountain, and the sky; my sperm is as white as a nova’s light and is the color of the Milky Way when I spray.
I can enter another body—female or male—with my body and leave my energy there, as only a man can do.
And do it again.
Men civilized the world. The history of masculinity is the history of painting, music, sculpture, literature, poetry, math, philosophy, physics, computers, astronomy, biology, medicine, chemistry, architecture and engineering.
Masculinity can slice a diamond with logic and anneal steel with compassion; it manifests the focus and the empathy. Men constructed cities and leveled them in anger. We built bridges to span the great rivers and then blew them up. We built ships, sailed them over the seas, and sank them from pirate ships. We built the towers that scraped the sky and tore them down in boredom. We built the museums and the whorehouses. We plowed the fields, dug for gold, mined for coal and drilled for oil. We engineered the automobiles and smashed them in a drunken rage. We launched airplanes and shot them down. We created penicillin to cure us and alcohol to sicken us. We spied on enemies and created astronomy. We tried to better ourselves and created alchemy and then chemistry after that. We wrote sonnets in our love; and murdered in rage. We wrote almost all the novels, the plays and the poems, the symphonies, and the operas. We started the wars and wrote the peace treaties. We wrote the constitutions and defended them in our aspiration for a better life.
Men did the good and the bad—the bad is the down stroke of the engine’s piston; the good, the upstroke; together, the past’s machine. Today we need a new machine with just the upstroke, but it’s hard to build it because of how the media depicts our fathers and damages our sons. Credit for the good is diluted and deconstructed, and masculinity is termed toxic. The only reason men did all the good, they say, was that sexism denied women. Then men are assigned exclusive “credit” for the bad—which are shards of the toxic masculinity they created when they deconstructed it in jealousy, and the consequence is that our boys have lost the model of the good.
I will have none of it. Testosterone put a man on the moon and brought him safely home; testosterone fuels the engine that drives our civilization. And that machine had two pistons—the good and the bad—and we can only move beyond good and evil—set aside the bad—when we accept they are facets of one.
Not all men will rise to reveal the light of Einstein, the passion of Mozart, or the murderous rage of Dostoevsky. But we should teach our sons to aspire to be like those first creators, and we should remind our sons that those creators were almost all men. We must teach our sons that brotherhood tames the bad and builds the new machine—the drive chain of masculinity; the engine of civilization is male.
I get what they say about women’s oppression, and I will ensure my children know what women have done and what happened in the past. I respect their desire to hear her story, but that is another story which does not alter this story, and these facts shine like a sun—men should never be ashamed of his story, and we should shout it loudly.
After years of deconstructing, reconstructing and maligning masculinity as toxic, we need to tell our sons that they can now lay down the sword and shield. You did good, soldier, you built these cities so Confucius, Aristotle, and Kant could think as they did. You, the average guy, gave birth to creativity—and it was masculine; say it loudly, say it proudly. The force of your muscle, your courage, your sweat tamed the world and enabled Newton to invent the calculus, Beethoven to write the ninth and da Vinci to paint the Mona Lisa. Now come off the battlefield, soldier. Come back to land from your river journeys, sailor. Anchor your sailing ship, your canoe, your Mississippi raft. Come down from the mountain. Emerge from the forests and deserts. Lay down the sword and shield. Come home, and pick up the pen, the baton, the keyboard, the trumpet once again and focus with a strength that is masculine.
This is the history of masculinity and its astounding achievements that changed the world—two storms: two bodies and two stories.