I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be strong, lately. Not in the physical sense, but what it means to be emotionally and mentally strong. The idea that people today — men especially — are “weaker” or “can’t handle it” is tossed around with gleeful abandon. In fact, the underlying conflict of Cobra Kai is, at its core, about the nature of strength and what it takes to become strong. In fact, much of it is rooted in the idea of “the world is an awful place and I will make you strong so you can survive”.
You can see this outlook all over the place if you make even a cursory glance on Twitter or Facebook, but especially media on the right. Folks rage about people “being pussies” for telling people what their pronouns are and, of course, the neverending outrage over “political correctness”.
You see this in sports, when football players are lauded for playing with injuries or in the pushback against trying to reign in CTE. You see it with folks — mostly men — who get called “weak” or told they’re a pussy for saying “this is too much, I need to step away or go to therapy“. People complain about how hazing has been restricted or banned and what this means for social organizations like fraternities. And of course, you can find it all over the place online, from in-game chat, on forums, Twitter, Facebook and so on. It gets cast as “trolling” or “trash talk”, while people who object are told to “suck it up,” “grow a thicker skin,” and that “trash talking and harassment is a vital part of the culture“. And of course, there’s the ever-popular “facts don’t care about your feelings”, “soy boy” and the classic “snowflake”.
People will insist that this is a good thing. That people today just aren’t as tough as those who came before. That we’re creating a world of weak, privileged, pampered infants.
In reality, it’s an excuse. It becomes a way to justify abuse and having been abused.