It’s said that times of crisis and trouble are what reveal someone’s true character. That we are most authentically ourselves in the times when we are tested, our support is ripped away and we are forced to confront hardship in ways we never do otherwise. It is in those minutes that we see the truth of who we are.
The same can be said about what it means to be a man.
We are in a time of unprecedented adversity: we are facing a global pandemic that the world hasn’t seen since the dawn of the 20th century. People are in the streets protesting the horrific violence and abusive behavior of police departments around the country, particularly violence directed at people of color. Federal troops are starting to act like Gestapo, the President is threatening to throw the 2020 election into chaos, American citizens are being tear-gassed and beaten for exercising their First Amendment rights, and heavily armed mobs have been storming government buildings, demanding that state and local governments bend to their will.
These are the times that try men’s souls, the crucible that separates the dross from the iron. And in these times, we are forced to recognize an undeniable truth: that the tenets of toxic forms of masculinity are not just fragile, but paper thin. At a time that many men insisted would be their time to shine, we are seeing the mask slip. Underneath, we are seeing their honest faces, naked and raw. We see that the ideals of masculinity that so many men insist are the way, the truth and the light are a facade. When push comes to shove, the staunchest defenders of “true” or “real” manhood neither understand masculinity, nor live up to the ideals that they profess to live by.