childhood, family, teen years

Nurturing Men

I haven’t yet watched the ad. You know the one I mean, the one with the well meant intentions that went off the rails. Look, the underlying concept is sound. Men need mentors. Men, societally speaking, don’t have a lot of healthy male role models.  Look at the statistics. We live in a world of broken homes, and brave single mothers struggling on by themselves. Boys raised in these environments see their paternal units disappear like smoke in the wind, and that’s what they think they ought to do in return. Or… is that the problem?


The problem with the ad, with the scenario I sketch above, is that it takes agency away from men. The child growing up in a single parent home with no father can then choose to seek out men who can teach him how to be a man. The problem is availability. Men are no longer accepted well as teachers, as mentors, as any role working with children because they get serious judgy looks from everyone because what kind of sicko works with kids? And that is par for the course from the media that surrounds us and pretends to be a mirror of our society. The availability bias of the media is that we see what they want us to see: murder, molestation, and mayhem. All men, we are told, with a straight face. All men want to do these things.


No. No they do not. A tiny minority, perhaps. Perhaps. However, I’ve lived my life as a woman surrounded by men, and I’m a survivor. I know what the men who prey look like, and it’s not what the media want you to think. It’s not the rough and tumble crude men who swear and work with their hands and get dirty all day long. It’s the wolves in sheep’s clothing who support feminism with one hand and take all they can get with the other because the naive think them ‘allies.’ All men are not potential rapists. To say that is to punish the innocent along with the guilty. Societally, that is toxic.


Should I tell my son that? “Look, dude, we all know you’re going to want to rape. So don’t.” Yeah, no. Instead, I’m going to teach him to honor and respect women, and other men, and to be protective of his sisters, and me, and in time that will bleed over to his girlfriends and wife. Look at how a man treats his mother if you are thinking of taking him to husband. I’m going to build my Little Man up, not cut him off at the knees and tell him that his innate nature as a man is ugly and toxic and he needs to somehow be cured of being male. Men are different than women. How many times have I written that sentence? Too many, for a statement that is blindingly obvious. Different is good. Different does not mean that there’s something wrong with men. Men are driven by nature to be protective, not to rape and assault.


So why… Why do we have this ad that implies men can’t help themselves and have to be restrained from following their base natures? Perhaps because the public perception of men is that they are weak, foolish, ineffective… Have you seen any movies or TV shows recently? Portrayals of fathers on children’s shows? There are so few examples of loyal men who do their duty and protect their sacred honor and the honor of their wives and children with their lives… that aren’t portrayals of history or some comic book hero? Look at the news that trickles out of Hollywood, and then look at the portrayals of men again. Makes sense, doesn’t it now? Listen to a popular radio station. Really listen to the lyrics of the songs. How many of them are all about denigrating women and treating them like objects? Unless you’re on a gasp country station. Which isn’t cool, as all my kids will tell you.


I am a mother, a daughter, a wife, a friend. I have coworkers I trust and mentors, and so many men in my life. Of the dozens, perhaps hundreds, I’ve interacted with in my life, three have been toxic. Statistically speaking, that’s… not a lot. Too many, sure, no doubt. Although there are psychological reasons for the first one to have cascaded into the other two, because the scars made me vulnerable to a certain kind of male… and still. Not #allmen. I reject that categorically. The wounds they left in me were largely healed through other men’s love and support. To embrace the concept that masculinity is an outdated notion leading to toxic behavior would doom my son. More than that, it would doom my daughters to becoming victims of every man that came their way, and I know better than that. They have – all my children have – the chance to become wonderful people.


What has to stop, though, is the portrayal of men as powerless monsters. I’ve seen so many ‘haha, anyone who reacts badly to this ad is an example of toxic masculinity!’ Let me ask you this: if you were being bullied every day, every time you turned around and saw another article, another ad, another media depiction of ‘your kind’ as monstrous, depraved, inhuman… how would you feel? Would you become sore under the constant onslaught of blows? Would you become deeply suspicious and angry of everyone around you? Toxic masculinity? Only because the men are treated like animals, until they become what they hated most. Torture victims break, eventually, or die. Let’s stop torturing men into caricatures, and let them be themselves.


Teach them duty, honor, and chivalry as it was meant to be. Not the feminist re-imagining of that as some kind of weaponized kindness. Let men be protectors and fight for their loved ones. Let them provide for their households. Let them be noble, and kind, and all that Captain America, Mr. Rogers (who was himself a soldier), and Bob Ross would want them to be. Don’t forget that Cap exhorted them to stand, when all around them fell into wrongness. That Mr. Rogers told them to be a good neighbor. That Bob Ross told them making mistakes was ok, to make it right and whole again. Men are not evil, and we must stop perpetuating that myth. Read Kipling, and Robert Service, and Robert Heinlein. Then become the heroes they write of. Watch Mike Rowe at work and seek out those men as examples.


If you can keep your head when all about you   
   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
   But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
   Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
   And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:


You’ll be a Man, my son!


—Rudyard Kipling, “If”


25 thoughts on “Nurturing Men

  1. Cedar, you have touched upon a raw nerve with me. I taught 7th graders in Colombia. At that school, I can recall ONE male teaching at the lower elementary grades. In the US, it is worse. The automatic assumption about any male teaching lower elementary grades is that you are either gay or a pedophile, perhaps both.

    1. It’s tragic, but I know how very real it is. I worked with the family entertainment industry for close to two decades. I know how hard any men who take the risk to do that for a living have it, living with constant suspicion, and how they have to work constantly to make sure there’s not even a breath of inappropriate behavior… but still, they get looked at like predators, simply because they enjoy being around kids and being silly. Women, no problem. Men? Get out. And it leaves boys with few options for mentors and support as they are attempting to grow into good men.

  2. I’d add Lous L’Amour novels to that reading list mentioned in the final paragraphs. More practical advice about being a man in those books that nearly any other source.

    1. I grew up reading L’Amour. Heck with being a man, he will teach you how to be a decent human being. I modeled myself after his characters in many ways. I agree, though, if you’re going to feed a boy good manly material, he’s up there in the top ten.

  3. As close to perfectly stated as humans are gonna get!

    You said:
    “Look at how a man treats his mother if you are thinking of taking him to husband. ”

    I heard that bit of wisdom shortly before starting my last career as a school counselor, and it became one of my foundation beliefs.

    1. I’ve married two men, and come close with a third. One had lost his mother at a tender age. The other despised his… that was the one I escaped from. My First Reader? adores his mother and treats her with gentle respect and admiration.

  4. Cedar, you hit a nerve here. Thank you for writing this and posting it. Your words bring me to tears. Finally, someone else who understands. With four boys up and coming, it’s harder and harder to filter the negative from their lives, to teach them how to be good men, and not fall into the traps laid for them.

    1. As the mother of a son – and three daughters – it’s vital to me we have an up and coming generation of young men of good character.

      I’ll be writing more about this, as I have in the past. Shouting in a well, some days, but maybe the echoes can help.

  5. In this regard, huge Lefty and anti-gun weenie Piers Morgan lost his schlitz at some fool woman on his BBC tv show over this razor ad. He was on -your- side. In fact he sounded exactly like a #MGTOW advocate.

    Paging Dr. Jordan Peterson!

    Thankfully I do not have broadcast television and don’t listen to radio, so far I have managed to avoid the Gillette ad. But I must say, if Piers Morgan objected, they went well beyond the pale.

    1. Fascinating. Yes, I think that the ad might have intended to help boys find mentors – a vital part of growing up fatherless in this day and age. But they did it very badly and the backlash is ugly.

  6. I have to say that the ad was thoughtful and appropriate. I watched it. It is specifically against the ‘boys will be boys’ narrative as far as I could see.

    1. In my experience, there are two “boys will be boys” narratives. One is real people using that phrase in real life when their sons play in mud, roughhouse, leave random things in their pockets, and attempt to fly by jumping off the back of the couch.

      The other is people imagining things. No one tried to excuse Weinstein with Boys Will Be Boys. No one tries to excuse any boorish or abusive behavior with that phrase, but lots of people like to imagine that’s being said, so they can get all upset and twit about it.

    1. My guess would be they won’t admit it. Sweeping it under the rug is probably the fastest way to make this go away. The pity of it is that the charity they were trying to support is worthwhile. But their ham handed and demeaning take on social justice likely set the cause back.

  7. Watch the ad. That’s not what is says at all. It calls on men to mentor and model decency. All the things we should be doing, but generally aren’t. Yeah the *phrase* “toxic masculinity” is freighted with all sorts of negativity and was a horrible choice. But the overall message of the ad… doesn’t bother me. The only sour note is the inclusion of that phrase. It’s kinda like writing a positive message to persons of color but inexplicably using the “n word” throughout the message.

    1. I’ll suggest you read my friend Richard’s take on it, I just reblogged that. I have now watched the ad – this post was written based on what I was seeing from my friends reacting to it, and I stand by it. The intention of the ad might have been good, to foster mentorship which as I talked about, is an excellent thing. What the ad did, on the other hand, was to depict men in an unrealistic light. Not all men are toxic, just as not all women are. The ad demeans men by portraying them all in that light. I don’t like it, and while I absolutely love that my husband does mentor my son and model decency for him, he did that before the ad, he’ll do it after, and he’s certainly not alone in having been a good man before Gillette decided to get into social engineering.

    2. For what it is worth:

      I have seen the video*. Cedar is correct. “What the ad did, on the other hand, was to depict men in an unrealistic light.”

      I found the ad to be demeaning of men. It is a slap in the face to the good men in the world saying that they are “too few” when in fact the good men out number the “Dan Fieldings” of the world.

      *I won’t call it an “ad” because there was No product selling involved, just pushing a message – one that is based on negative stereotypes, bias and lies.

  8. Let me ask you this: if you were being bullied every day, every time you turned around and saw another article, another ad, another media depiction of ‘your kind’ as monstrous, depraved, inhuman… how would you feel?

    Imagine a similar ad portraying Blacks with all the negative stereotypes of Ghetto Culture…

  9. Keep in mind that every aspect of that ad from start to finish was written/vetted by male-hating “feminists” (not kidding here – look up the names/histories/prior ad campaigns) and you will know exactly how all of them wanted that pos ad to portray all men.

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