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What is a Real Man?

What is it to be a man in the 21st century? In this time of social media and "woke" liberal thinking, we men find ourselves confronted with terms like "toxic masculinity" as they are, somehow, to be a man is evil. Radical feminism has emasculated men in our society to the point where we are now trying our level best to be as effeminate as possible. Whatever happened to the concept of men being strong, protective, and, for want of a better word, manly? Society now applauds the man who comes across as "sensitive" but is, in fact, timid. I, for one, refuse to embrace this idea of the "girly man".

I was raised to believe that men had a role, a function to perform within society. We were meant to protect our wives and create safe spaces for them to do what they were designed to do, that is to say, be women. But we have let women down. They now believe that their greatest threat is from those who are supposed to protect and cherish them. In South Africa, about 40000 rape cases are reported every year. Bearing in mind that rape is a crime of power, not of sex, can we blame women who are distrusting of men?

We live in a time where gender roles are muddy at best. Often, women find themselves leading households and being the main breadwinner. African culture, in particular, is historically very patriarchal and men have great difficulty in accepting woman filling roles that they would have in the past. This is not to say that their behaviour is in any way acceptable. Rather, I believe it is a direct result of women believing that they are on their own in this world and have to make their own way.

Most women that I have asked have told me that they would love nothing more than to be mothers, caring for their children, secure in the thought that their husbands provide for them and protect them. Of course, this is not a popular view if ventilated in society but, as I said, it is what I have been told by the women I have asked. They go on to say that they don't believe that this is a realistic expectation in modern times, and that, at the very least, households these days require two incomes if they are to survive. This may be a question of economics rather than gender roles, but the desire is no less valid regardless of its practicality.

Why, then, are we as men falling so horribly short in our obligation toward the fairer sex? Let me say this plainly. Real men do not rape. Real men see women as their sisters, their mothers, their daughters. Why would you, as a man, wish to do these people harm? Unless, of course, you are constantly told that you, as a man, are surplus to requirements. Unless you, as a man, are constantly vilified. Again – not an excuse. Rather, at least now it makes sense.

I, as a man, take my societal role very seriously. I love women. All women. I was raised to believe that it was my duty to be their protector. I was raised to believe that I would one day be the provider for my family. Men have done this throughout the ages, ever since the first caveman picked up a spear and went out hunting. Women, on their part, have been homemakers, nurturers, and mothers. Ask yourself this; do you think it is any surprise that when a couple buys a house, the woman chooses and the man pays? Women have always chosen the nest, and feathered it. For a simple example of this, we have only to look to nature. Take a walk out into your garden and see how birds operate.

Some reading this would consider me hopelessly old-fashioned in my thinking, but can you honestly say that these gender roles do not work? I would pose the question back to those who would say this; is it not because we, as a society, have turned our backs on these roles that our society is in the state that it is in? Men and women were designed differently for a reason. This is not God having a laugh. Rather than asking yourself why you've been cursed with the gender you were cast in, rather ask yourself how it would be easier for you to thrive within it and how you could realise that for yourself.

As always, I revert back to the Bible for my guidance. What are we, as men, called to do in this world? You will find the answer in the Ephesians 5: 25 – 29:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word,27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—

We live in a world filled with violence. This violence is of our own making. In order for a man to fill his role as a protector, he needs to be comfortable with this. This may be a shocking statement to some, but we cannot wish this violence away. There will always be those who perpetrate it and we, as men, need to be able to respond to it. We like to think that we can hide behind government institutions such as the police or the military, or behind laws created to protect us. I say this; while those are a good thing to have, they are not infallible and, ultimately, it falls to us men to pick up the slack.

If done properly, our society will hold each individual accountable to protect those within it that are most vulnerable. If done properly, we, as men, will be called upon to be the protectors rather than the perpetrators of violence. Knowing how to defend oneself, and knowing that we all know how to defend ourselves, will ultimately be the biggest deterrent against those who would do us injury, particularly our women. I would then encourage all of us, and men in particular, to get this knowledge and use it if necessary.

However, in the words of Spider-Man, with great power comes great responsibility.

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