I’m about two-thirds through my read of the Superversive Press anthology To Be Men: Stories Celebrating Masculinity, which I plan to review both on my blog and on Amazon. I’ve already written about my anticipation of this volume and authored a review of The Last Hunt, which was Richard Paolinelli’s contribution.
Last night before going to bed, I read the Campus Reform article, Researchers say masculinity training ‘ignores human nature’ written by Toni Airaksinen, and I was amazed at how the themes of her missive and the anthology converged.
Apparently, there’s something on university campuses today called “masculinity training,” which is designed to purge male students of their ‘toxic’ masculinity. In fact, a Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater is calling for ‘toxic masculinity’ training in kindergarten.
However, as cited in Airaksinen’s article:
The findings of a new peer-reviewed study suggest that college masculinity programs may be “damaging” to the romantic prospects of male students.
Led by University of Iowa researcher Pelin Gul, the study “Benevolent Sexism and Mate Preferences” discovered that women prefer men with chivalrous attitudes and behaviours, since those men are seen as more likely to “invest, protect, provide, and commit.”
It goes on to say that even “feminist women preferred chivalrous men, the researchers discovered, suggesting that ‘attraction [to chivalrous men] may be a mate preference for women in general, and not just for women who endorse traditional gender roles.'”
That’s pretty amazing.
The themes in “To Be Men” map substantially to this same sort of fellow in story after story, where men are depicted as protectors, guardians, and yes, traditionally chivalrous, sort of like what we used to call a “gentleman.”
I know that for some, the “traditional” male who displays such behavior is seen as “benevolently sexist,” or someone who performs chivalrous actions because women are somehow weaker and need male protection. I suppose that’s why the current incarnation of the entertainment industry is being flooded with what has been called “strong female characters.”
Believe me, I have nothing against female superheroes (or any other kind of female heroes), but how we depict men and women in movies, on TV, and even in comic books, shouldn’t always go against how people are in real life.
Of course, I’ll be celebrating my 64th birthday soon, so you might simply dismiss me as old-fashioned, but Pelin Gul’s study was conducted in the present and involved current university students, people who are younger than my own children.
I’m beginning to suspect that “chivalrous” behavior in men, and how women generally tend to respond positively to said-behavior, isn’t merely an artifact of culture, but rather a dictate of nature.
That means the Superversive Press anthology I mentioned above might have come along at the right time, at least as far as mirroring the true nature of how women want men to behave.
Masculinity isn’t always “toxic,” aggressive, or violent. There probably are a lot of guys out there who are quietly masculine, who treat their wives (girlfriends, significant others) and children with love, tenderness, and respect, and those women and children perceive that behavior from these men as protective, nurturing, and honoring.
Unfortunately, these men tend to get lumped into the same pile as mass shooters, serial killers, and rapists, at least in social and news media, which leads me to believe that those media outlets, just like the “toxic” masculinity training on some college campuses, do not reflect anything about real people, both men and women.
Oh, you might also want to read the 2016 Intellectual Takeout article, Study: Chivalry Not Dead After All, or just Google “chivalry.”
Food for thought.