I get that not everyone understands masculinity. I really do. The media has bombarded us with this image of how traditional masculinity is oh-so-wrong and they’ve offered nothing to counterbalance it. They’ve never shown any positive that could be attributed to traditional masculinity at all.
It’s easy to see why someone can be confused.
Take Mike Reynolds, a blogger at Huffington Post and now a t-shirt designer. He’s offered up a line of t-shirts that ever FIM should line up and snag, but actual men will probably pass on.
Along the way, he offers his insights into masculinity, and they’re hilarious, so I decided to fisk the crap out of them.
The Huffington Post piece will be in bold and italics, while my comments won’t be.
A new line of shirts for dads is offering a refreshing perspective on fatherhood.
This month, dad and Huffington Post blogger Mike Reynolds launched a line of T-shirts and sweatshirts featuring phrases that combat harmful stereotypes about masculinity and fatherhood. The messages on the shirts, which are for sale on his website, include, “Dad who cries when Bing Bong dies,” “Strength has no gender” and “Not my body, not my choice.”
I’m curious when the “I’ve given up my penis” one will hit the stores.
Seriously, who gives a crap if you cry when Bing Bong dies? Yes, it’s a sad moment in a pretty good movie, but why are you bragging about crying?
Contrary to what people think, men have always shown emotions. They just didn’t show them to everyone. Being allowed to see emotions was a gift, it meant that you were trusted deeply. Unfortunately, Reynolds seems to “trust” the whole world to know his crap.
Reynolds told HuffPost he was inspired to create the product line after noticing shirts that read “Dads Against Daughters Dating” gaining traction on social media a couple of years ago.
The dad said he was struck, not only by the shirt but also the many positive responses to it. “I wondered why so many people thought that the best relationship a dad could have with his daughter was one where he treated her like a possession,” he explained.
Talk about going for point A to point LMNOP in an instant.
Absolutely no one I know views their daughters as a possession, and Reynolds if a freaking moron for thinking any such thing. “Dads Against Daughters Dating” is more of a statement about how they don’t want their little girls to grow up and move on, much like how many women feel about their sons. It’s not about possession, but about having a treasured relationship with their daughter that they know will fundamentally change when they start dating.
That and, as guys, we know how boys are because WE were that way. If you want to hit anything, hit our hypocrisy of acting one way as teens, and now opposing that same way of acting.
Reynolds has two daughters, 6-year-old Leah and 4-year-old Charlotte. He believes the message of the “Dads Against Daughters Dating” shirt is not representative of his relationship with his daughters.
Of course it’s not. After all, your daughters are little and you’re able to think of their dating in the abstract. I know because my own daughter is just four as well.
However, I have a sister-in-law who just turned 18. I’ve always been protective of her, telling her first boyfriend that I had guns, a shovel, access to hundreds of acres to hide his body, and a friendly relationship with every chief law enforcement officer in the area.
When they’re little, it’s easy to pretend you won’t be THAT dad…but that’s also the time when it feels like that relationship will never end. It’s very different when that relationship changes.
“We do science projects together, we make up bedtime stories about giants who play hopscotch, and we talk our bodies, how they are changing, and about anything they’d like to ask me,” he said, adding, “I think this is a relationship a lot of dads have with their daughters but they’re told they should be protecting their daughters with their physical strength instead of building trusting relationships with them.”
Please show me where the two are mutually exclusive?
I expressly tell me to protect their daughters (and the rest of their family) and *I* do all that stuff with my daughter. There’s literally no one being taken seriously telling guys to not have this kind of relationship with their daughter.
But I am saying that your job as a man is to ALSO protect them using physical strength, weapons, harsh language, rocket launchers, or anything at your disposal.
What’s so evil about that?
Reynolds wants to redefine what masculinity means, to show boys growing up today that there is no one “right” way to be a man. Whether you fix cars or paint your nails, whether you cry watching movies or don’t shed a tear, whether you dress up as a princess or a superhero for Halloween, anyone who identifies as male is “doing it right,” he explained.
So, basically, Reynolds wants to essentially destroy the definition of masculinity so it can mean anything.
Once upon a time, the word “literally” meant something. If you literally saw a unicorn, it means you saw a horse with a horn on its head. If you figuratively saw a unicorn, it meant you did not see such a thing, but something that could be compared to a unicorn.
Somewhere along the way, people started using “literally” to mean “figuratively” and were permitted to do so. Now, if I say I literally saw a unicorn, people have no idea what I mean.
That’s what people like Reynolds want to do with the word “masculine.” They want to redefine it to the point that it has absolutely no meaning, and they can’t seem to grasp why some of us oppose that.
Reynolds believes the messages of his shirts are particularly important at this time in our society. “When you see some of the discussions that have taken place during the recent United States election cycle, you get a better idea of just how prevalent rape culture is,” he said.
If rape culture is so prevalent, why is he so opposed to fathers wanting to protect their daughters?
“You see people explain away sexual harassment with ‘it was just a joke’ and it is infuriating,” he added. “When you have hundreds of thousands of women sharing their stories of how they’ve been impacted by rape culture, you better think long and hard about how you can help change this as a man and as a dad.”
First, those women were impacted by rape. Rape culture implied that rape is acceptable, and it’s not.
Further, if every male embraced their roles as protectors–a role Reynolds and his ilk oppose on general principle–then you’d effectively eliminate rape as an issue. It’s hard to protect someone while harming them, after all.
The dad told HuffPost he’s hoping to donate some of the profits from the shirts to organizations like White Ribbon, which works to end men’s violence against women. He also plans to add more messages to the T-shirt line as he thinks of them.
“I want dads, and really, all men, to feel comfortable showing everyone that their version of masculinity is perfect ― that they aren’t less of a man because they don’t want to fight the people their daughters might choose to date,” Reynolds explained. “I want people to show other men that words aren’t ‘just words’―-that talk about sexual assault isn’t funny.”
Too bad what he’s showing the world are men who aren’t willing to risk things for their daughters’ safety, who don’t understand that one of the fundamental roles of men is to protect their family, and who aren’t willing to express their willingness to do so.
The dad especially wants men to stand up to those who still believe the “daughter-as-possession mindset” is appropriate or funny.
Seriously, show me one person who thinks a daughter is a possession. None of us do, so why not set up a few more strawmen to knock down, eh Reynolds?
“Men need to challenge other men when their ideas on raising kids and on being a man are in conflict with respecting women and with raising young girls ― as well as boys ― to be comfortable being who they want to be,” Reynolds said. “A T-shirt is a pretty straightforward way to do it.”
A T-shirt is a BS way to do it. It’s easy to wear a shirt that expresses a semi-popular sentiment.
It’s another to dig in and recognize that while traditional ideas of masculinity may need to be updated, they’re not completely irrelevant and never should be.
Additionally, letting anyone be “masculine” just because they want to say they’re a man accomplishes nothing in the long term. The truth is, some of the most vocal opponents to Reynolds’ brand of masculinity are WOMEN who are sick of being asked out by girlfriends with penises.