Are We Teaching Our Boys To Be Masculine Or Men?


American society is doing our boys a disservice! We are celebrating and selling masculinity so fervently and so aggressively that our boys are growing up not having any idea what it means to be a man. To be a father. To be a husband. To be a partner. To be a friend.

Here is the Kool-aid that we are telling our kids they must drink in order to be a man.

adjective: masculine
having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness.
“he is outstandingly handsome and robust, very masculine”

I worry because each day I am witnessing more and more aggression and less and less compassion. And it is happening right before our eyes.  All day long our boys are being fed ultra-masculine images via television, music, and video games and we are letting these images define for them what it means to be a man.

We better step in before it is too late!

My personal belief is that being a man has nothing to do with sexuality, physical strength or aggression.

I personally believe that being a man has everything to do with compassion, selflessness and kindness.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Imagine That starring Eddie Murphy. It is a beautiful and funny story about what it means to be a father and I believe a man. If you have not already seen it, I recommend that you do and I dare you not to cry at the end. I will not give anything away, but one of my favorite scenes stars comedian Deeray Davis, best know for his recurring role in Barbershop.

In the movie Deeray plays a retired NFL star who also happens to be Eddie Murphy’s portfolio manager and good friend. They both have young daughters who are also good friends and in the scene the fathers have just finished working out (with the punching bags) at the gym. They are returning to Deeray’s house so that Eddie can pick up his daughter. When they walk in Deeray asks his wife about the girls and she tells him that they are doing make-overs.

Deeray is upset because he always enjoys playing this game with his daughter and he is worried that he has missed out on the fun. He rushes upstairs to join the girls and jumps right in. When Eddie enters the room he can’t believe what he is witnessing. His daughter asks him to join, but he opts not to. He teases Deeray, the former NFL player, for how he looks and what he is doing. Deeray doesn’t give a #!%$! because he is a father who knows what it means to be a man. Something Eddie does learn later on in the movie, but I won’t give it away.

Deeray Davis

In a week in which the sports media highlighted the Los Angeles Rams drafting the first openly gay player I am happy that they  also chose to celebrate Kevin Durant’s acceptance speech for becoming the MVP of the NBA.

In his speech I believe Durant displayed what it truly means to be a man. It had nothing to do with being powerful, muscular and aggressive and everything to do with being selfless, compassionate and kind. He thanked his teammates. He thanked his mom. He cried and he took home the MVP award for the NBA.

I hope a lot of our boys saw this speech so that they can truly see what I believe it means to be a man.


  1. Kudos for writing so eloquently, capturing this issue so completely. Seeing young people in all lights during a school day, this idea has serious merit for both parents and educators. Society at large would do well to earnestly address the gender stereotypes in place in many (or all) areas of media, sports, etc. Again great job on this post- a must read!

  2. There was a really powerful piece in The Walrus (issue before last) looking at the importance of relationship education in a sex ed. curriculum for boys. It looked at teaching them how to be a friend, a listener, a consensus builder – all as part of what needed to happen in the context of a relationship. I was thinking about it when listening to a discussion on Q on Friday morning, talking about the new requirements for young male actors seeking to “make it” in Hollywood – extremely lean and fit – a 5-6% body fat level.

    I am a mom of two boys, who is tired of being told that my kids are “sensitive boys”, when it’s not meant as a compliment. My husband and I are working hard together to raise boys who will be good men, and not necessarily fit the “masculine” stereotype. It is not an easy job in today’s world.

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