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Masculinity, Protecting Relationships, and Role Models – Guest post by Strongman Dan Cenidoza

Dan-Cenidoza

This is the image from Dan's credit card - I had to use it.

By Dan Cenidoza

Nothing against feminists, but where are all the masculinists?  My spell check doesn’t even recognize the word.  Look it up and you’ll find a lame definition of it in the dictionary.  It’s probably not something you’ve talked about with other men.  Any why not?  It’s one of the most important topics to our gender yet no one is talking about it.

I’ve got a bone to pick with men.  I think we are slipping in our role in society and more of us need to step up and do something about it.

I guess the first question we should ask ourselves is:

What is our role?
In history, our role as men was to be provider and protector of families and communities.  I’d say times have changed to the point where it is not always possible or even necessary that men carry this as our sole responsibilities anymore.  These days dual income families are the norm, women have as much earning potential as men and every right to wear a uniform or run for public office.  That’s all good.  Women’s rights have come a long way in the last few decades and I’m all for it.  But where does that leave us?

A void in the home

With more women in the workplace I’d say that leaves a void in the home.  We have fewer “housewives”, “homemakers” and “stay-at-home moms” these days, so the need for men to do more at home is obvious.  If someone doesn’t fill the void in the home you quite literally end up with broken homes.  So the “honey to-do” list has gotten a little bit longer and now includes more things washing dishes and watching the kids.  Part of being a man is doing what needs to be done and if you have to pull duty as Mr. Mom then that’s what you have to do.  There is nothing unmanly about spending more time with your family.

Sitcom masculinity

But why are all family men on television portrayed by the likes of Al Bundy, Homer Simpson and the dufus from King of Queens?  Fat slobs that are as indecisive as they are inept.  This is the stuff that really bothers me.  Is this the current culture of masculinity?  I’d like to think not but we all know more than a few guys that aren’t far off from what you’d find on a sitcom.

I wonder if the shift in roles has anything to do with a man’s capacity to thrive?  Since we don’t need to hunt anymore or fight off neighboring tribes, maybe we’ve lost our sense of primal instincts?  Or maybe since we don’t live in such harsh environments as the hunter/gatherer society, natural selection isn’t taking out our weak.

Whatever the case, having a more leisurely life, or having a bigger role in the home and family does not relieve us of the responsibility of provider and protector.  In some ways, it actually increases it…

Of course there are still opportunities to physically protect people too but it seems that too often men are too weak, selfish or timid to take action.  Just look at the recent scandal at Penn State.  How many people dropped the ball in protecting these boys that were being molested for over a decade!  It makes me sick to think that people who call themselves men would allow this to happen under that mantra “success with honor and integrity” – where was your honor and integrity when you decided your school, your football team or your job was more important than the lives of children?

Role models

Now more than ever men need to be role models providing the younger generation with examples of integrity, work ethic and uncompromising values.  With nearly 50% of marriages ending in divorce these days, that leaves a lot of children without a father figure.  Who will these kids, especially the boys, look up to for guidance?

Not the Second Mile Foundation.  Most likely they will look up to Hollywood actors, super star athletes, gangster rappers and anyone else they perceive as “cool”.  There probably couldn’t be a worse example for developing character.  There are other ways we need to provide than just putting food on the table.
Protecting relationships

How about protecting relationships?  In today’s world of internet, electronic devices and big screen TV’s it’s not hard to find everyone in the house in their own “virtual world” plugged in to something that takes away from good old family bonding.  Again, 50% divorce rate means both husband and wife need to work a little harder at the relationship.  It’s a vicious cycle when families fall apart and it effects more than just the kids.

Remember, your kids will be parents one day and the family structure they have now (or don’t have) will be the one they feel most comfortable in when they start their own families.  What kind of man are you raising your son to be?  What qualities do you want your daughter to look for in a husband?  We need to act the part.

Regardless of what we do at home though, our duty as men is still largely held in the job market, and with more women in the workplace its more competitive now.  Yes gentlemen, your job is in jeopardy by an increasingly advancing female gender.

You need to stay current with sharpened skills and continuing education. Always learning.  Always growing.  The flow of information in today’s world makes for rapid advancements in technology that can leave a profession obsolete in a matter of days.  A lifetime of experience can be outsourced or rendered useless with a single idea or invention.  It’s more important now than ever to be on top of our game in the job market.

With more people working in an office we also have to contend with inactive lifestyles which is a major threat to our health and vitality.  Without the need to perform manual labor, the need to exercise is greater than ever.  Obesity is an epidemic and a person who lacks in fitness lacks in energy and effectiveness as well.

Physical strength

We have to remain strong physically in order to be prepared for any task at hand.  This means we have to understand health; which includes exercise, nutrition and stress management.  It is unacceptable to allow our health to deteriorate due to poor lifestyle choices.

One important aspect of masculinity is testosterone, which declines when you’re not fit.  Testosterone is what gives us our male qualities; physical strength, mental physical energy, confidence, aggression, risk taking, sex drive, general feelings of well being, etc.  It even effects penis size and sperm count.  When you are overly fat you have lower levels of testosterone.  Not a good thing for a man.

Balance

Health and well being is not only about physical health either, but mental and spiritual health as well.  They are all inter-related. Without balance in mind, body and spirit we cannot achieve a general sense of well being.

Just as the body is nourished is with food, water, fresh air and exercise, the mind is nourished with education, experience, creativity and conversation, and the spirit nourished with meditation, prayer and a devotion to something other than yourself.  A man’s need for spirituality does not mean a need for religion, and religious beliefs does not equal spiritual health.

Each man is responsible for his own spirituality, just as he is responsible for his own mind and body.  You must decide for yourself if your spiritual beliefs promote imbalance or well being.  And if you find that your beliefs about God, an afterlife or your purpose here on earth do not lead you to becoming a better man, what are you going to do about?  You still need to take a stand on these things.

With all of the things men of today need to contend to the one thing that is for sure is that doing the bare minimum is not enough.  That is no way to advance yourself as a man and it’s an irresponsible example to set to those around you.  We have more to deal with today than ever before and it seems like more men are doing less!

I’m tired of men who sit idly by and make excuses for what they could, would, should do.  You guys need to step aside for the men that are out making things happen and doing what’s right.  No more portrayals of fat indecisive men who sit on the bench.  That ain’t me, that ain’t the culture of men I am from and I don’t want that associated with my gender!  Will the real men please step up?!

About the author

Dan Cenidoza is a professional strongman and owner of Art & Strength studio in Baltimore, Maryland.  As a strongman Dan combines motivational speaking with feats of strength such as steel bending.  His studio, Art & Strength, offers strength training, as well artwork; hand bent steel sculpture he calls Iron Bonsai.  For more information please visit www.artandstrength.com or www.ironbonsai.com

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  • spencer November 16, 2011, 12:58 pm

    I believe the argument is that everyone who is not a feminist is, by default, a masculinist. This is based on the theory that, in western societies, the status quo is masculine biased- so not opposing it means you support it.

    Now, I think we all understand that this is poppycock. I am a proud masculinist. As the only one I’ve met, I get to make up what that means.

  • Michelle November 16, 2011, 1:58 pm

    Great article! As a self professed feminist, I don’t think there should be a difference between feminists and masculinists. Aren’t we both looking for equality? But often I have to remind other so-called feminists that feminism does not mean that we think women are superior. Feminism does not equal man bashing. How hypocritical!

    My friends give me weird looks when I defend the men they are bashing. They say, “But I thought you were a feminist?” I’m normally a non-confrontational sort of person, but this is the case where I give them the lecture about fighting for EQUALITY, not superiority.

    I’m proud of the strong, supportive men in my life. I’m not dropping the term “feminist,” but I think it’s fair to adopt “masculinist” too.

  • Celeste November 16, 2011, 2:09 pm

    Look at works from several years ago such as Iron John and the Way of the Superior Man. These are some attempts to bring this back into balance and we do need more balance. Both Masculine and Feminine are needed as strong confident types.

  • Dan Cenidoza November 16, 2011, 2:15 pm

    Thanks for the post Michelle, and thanks for being fair in regards to the equality/superiority thing. I don’t know that my thoughts for masculinists are for fighting for equality as much as they are for not passively sitting around in the name of equality. What I mean is this, men are not in a position of inferiority, so for men to ask for equality doesn’t make sense, but when men do not seek advancement, then they are, or will soon be, inferior to those that do (be they men or women, past or present). Being inferior is not a very masculine trait.

  • Dan Cenidoza November 16, 2011, 3:20 pm

    Nice call Celeste! Both of those books got me thinking about this stuff.

  • Francisco Ramirez November 16, 2011, 5:35 pm

    Great article. Someone had to start calling being a man something a cool as masculinism. Inspiring. And I totally agree that although some may frown at the term “gender roles” but they weren’t identified by us but by a higher and wiser power. And, yes, equality in caring for each other and helping establish family relationships and stability can still be achieved.

  • Todd November 17, 2011, 9:12 am

    Love this post. What a great topic. I’m going to start by agreeing with Michelle -the feminist movement was about equality. Modern day feminists, typically, have lost that.

    There are two major reasons, IMO, why in modern society, men have been “demasculinized” (yep, I made that up).

    Dan, you nailed the first one at the beginning of your post. Women have left the home and have entered into the workforce. They are very capable, but as you said, this has left a vacuum in the home, and men are expected to pick up that slack rather than being the hunter/provider for the family.

    Curiously, during the same time that women really started entering the workforce, people started stepping away from their religion, which has also become “feminized”. It became unmanly to lead one’s family to worship God.

    Conversely, look at cultures that still have a strong male influence in the family, and they also tend to be more religious.

    I have a third reason, but it’s controversial, and I’ve probably stirred the pot enough as it is. 🙂