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Masculinity

Masculine Markers and the Language of a Culture

Every culture has masculine markers.

These are part of the language of the culture that people use to communicate. Men do certain things, dress a certain way, to communicate and signal their masculinity.

These markers are not the essence of what it means to be masculine, just a way for someone to communicate that they are, indeed, masculine.

This can be seen in the fact that every culture has slightly different markers. In Scotland, you would never call a kilt a dress, for example. And because they can differ between cultures, it is tempting to think these markers are arbitrary.

But a man who desires to be masculine will gladly communicate these things for the culture he is living in. Clearly distinguishing sex roles within a culture is healthy, and for boys, in particular, having some external things to aspire to will help give them some confidence. They must learn healthy ways to express their own masculinity or they will find unhealthy ways to express it.

For example, here are some of the markers of American culture:

  • Playing a sport (football or baseball)
  • Changing a tire
  • Going hunting or fishing
  • Wearing a well-tailored suit
  • Any type of woodwork
  • Getting up in the middle of the night to check out what that noise was
  • Opening the car door for his wife
  • Taking out the trash
  • Certain feats of physical strength
  • Grilling meat
  • Splitting firewood
  • Unclogging a drain

And there are many others.

We don’t want to call these markers the essence of masculinity. Davy Crockett didn’t play football. George Washington didn’t change the oil to his car.

But neither are they arbitrary. They are a language. Sure, you could call the word “tiger” completely arbitrary and meaningless (it’s just a series of sounds you make out of your mouth!), but that would be dumb.

The word does mean something. It communicates something concrete. To bring suspicion upon the word doesn’t eliminate tigers, but it does eliminate our ability to talk about them in any coherent way.

Casting aspersion on a culture’s masculine markers doesn’t eliminate masculinity, but it does rob it of its relevant vocabulary, which is almost as bad. Fathers must be seen as masculine, and they must have ways to communicate that masculinity.

A man does not have to do adopt every masculine marker to be seen as masculine, but they do need to adopt a good number of them, and they should be fluent in the language.

Our modern society has been attempting to flatten male and female, deliberately confusing the differences and confounding that language. Military uniforms are no longer the exclusive purview of men. Women can speak like men and men can speak like women. Certain jobs are now open to both sexes.

And women can open their own doors, thank you very much.

But a healthy culture requires a healthy way to communicate sex roles. Because the sexes are different. The language evolves to conform to reality, not the other way around, despite what the transgender pronoun police think.

For fathers, it is important to know this language ourselves, embody it, learn to communicate it clearly, and ensure we pass it on to our sons.

They will not open the car door for their girlfriends because it is easier or pragmatic, or because they think their girlfriends are helpless and weak.

No, they will open the car door for their girlfriends because they are men, and their girlfriends are women. They are communicating those truths not only to themselves but to everyone else in the parking lot who witnesses it.