Written by: Matthew Thomas
A question many young men, myself included, often ask themselves is: What does it mean to be a man? We face this question almost daily as we are bombarded on social media with differing opinions and ideas on what being a man should look like.
Guys are constantly inundated with conflicted ideas about masculinity and how men should act. Should men be stone-faced brutes who have no emotions at all? Should they be hyper-emotional beings who cannot handle anything without sitting down and talking about their feelings?
I do not think we should strive to live up to either of these stereotypes, yet the society we live in is pulling us in these opposing directions simultaneously. A good example of this comes from social media influencer Andrew Tate.
From 2020 to 2022, Andrew Tate took over the internet. A multi-millionaire, former kickboxing world champion and social media superstar, he came to center stage for the unapologetic promotion of his “ultra-masculine” lifestyle,as described by Shanti Das from The Guardian. Tate gained popularity for the way he showed off his wealth and his shameless opinions about women, work and male behavior.
Young men were attracted to his message because he gave them the one thing they did not have: hope. Males finally had someone to cling to; someone who was not afraid to say what they were thinking on the inside. However, like most social media fads aiming to retain interest, Tate became more exorbitant with the things he said.
The problem that arose was that as Tate said more shocking things, he gained more attention and more followers subscribing to his ideology. Honestly, I do not blame them. I mean, who would not be attracted to an incredibly rich guy who has beautiful women at his beck and call and owns tons of supercars?
However, the problem with Tate’s ideology is that it spreads the wrong message of what masculinity truly is. There are some things to be admired about Tate’s message: work hard, be driven and stop wasting your life away on the couch. Although, when these good ideas are mixed with blatant misogyny, sexism and alleged rape and human trafficking charges, it ruins the picture.
So, once again, we circle back to the question men are always asked: What does it mean to be a man in our world today? I think the answer comes in the question itself: Be a man.
To be a man means you must make hard decisions. It means you will not always go with the most popular beliefs, but you will stand with the right belief. It means you must stand strong amid all the chaos that is happening around you and not quiver when the odds are stacked against you. However, being a man also means that you are emotionally intelligent and you can communicate how you are feeling healthfully to those around you.
Being a man means you are willing to work hard to achieve your goals and be able to say when enough is enough. It means that you will not shy away from conflict, nor will you create conflict. Being a man means that you can be comfortable in your skin, even when you stand alone. It means that you do not degrade, objectify, slander or mistreat women but rather uplift, protect and respect them.
I could keep going on, but I think you get the picture.
There is a funny trend going around online about how many times boys think about the Roman Empire. So, to follow along with that trend, here is a quote by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius:
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be like, and just be one.”