January 31, 2020

What is a real man?

Jake Hamilton, 17

In 2020, western society defines a ‘real man’ as someone capable of displaying complex emotions, accessing both their masculine and feminine traits to love unconditionally and be strong for others who are not. My father’s generation defined it as a James Bond: a man capable of looking past his base understandings of machismo to embrace his individualism, whilst still maintaining strength and dignity. However, for my grandfather, a real man was a soldier: you were a strong, emotionless provider for your family. You didn’t burden others with your problems. But what separates us from our predecessors, who each believed their own interpretations? How are we the first in history to crack the code of masculinity, when all those who tried before us failed? The simple answer is that we haven’t. Does anyone honestly believe that our paltry attempt at a definition won’t be seen to be as pockmarked and obtuse as those before us by the generation that will arise when my beard reaches my knees? In our constant blind rush to tell men how the world needs them to act, is it time that we stop and ask ourselves whether we should be raising good men, or good people?

Dear Andrew, 2020