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Masculinity Rising?

The blogosphere is abuzz with the apparent upsurge in the popularity of masculinity.

(It seems that when the New York Times Sunday Styles section, which all the blogs are citing, declares something to be so — in this case, that old-school masculine is totally in this season — it is so. Duly noted.)

Apparently this “menaissance,” as one writer calls it, has been brewing for a few years — that is, since this recession hit back in the latter half of 2008.

As the logic goes, we men typically define themselves by what we do. Since a such a high proportion of us are out of work these days — and therefore don’t have a career to lean on for our masculine identity — we men are looking to tried-and-true images of manhood for ways to express our identity.

I find all this pretty interesting, considering the social landscape so many of us grew up in — in which manhood was generally pooh-poohed by what was left of the feminist movement, or was portrayed on TV by buffoon-fathers like Homer Simpson and Al Bundy. If it’s the case that masculinity is on the rise, and I’m not entirely convinced, I’m encouraged to see a resurgence of a more assertive version of it.

I’m saddened, though, by what one blogger — notably, a woman — had to say in response to this re-popularization of masculinity. In her “Comprehensive Guide to the Resurgence of Manly Men,” she provides her female readers some tips on navigating what she considers “a scary time” for women.

Not that this woman’s sentiments, even if composed in jest, aren’t without merit. After all, it’s the case that when we men act out of our sinful nature, we tend to mistreat women. History proves that. Even today, women the world over are still abused and mistreated by men. Even here in the United States the feminist movement didn’t come swooping in from nowhere. All that to say, I don’t begrudge this blogger  her sentiments.

I think we young men ought to consider comments such as these as a sort of challenge rather than an insult. In the midst of this new cultural milieu (if indeed it is what the blogerati say it is), we need to talk about and, more importantly, assert — amongst one another and amongst our peers — a truly biblically-based masculinity.

What the world needs now is masculinity; that much our culture has right. But we need a masculinity based not on the things we buy or, more broadly, on the image we project, but a masculinity based on a love-till-it-hurts allegiance to Christ.

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