Relations Reporting on marriage, family, and sexuality

The best a man can truly get

Society | The culture needs more Biblical masculinity, not feminized men
by Kiley Crossland
Posted 1/18/19, 06:00 pm

As a renewed public debate rages about the meaning of manhood, men are increasingly speaking out against the conflation of masculinity and bad behavior. Gillette, the maker of razors and shaving products for men and women, released an ad this week asking if today’s masculinity is really “The Best a Man Can Get?”—playing off its longtime advertising slogan. Critics said the ad used dried-up stereotypes to shame all men for very nonmasculine things, like grabbing women and letting boys bully each other. On social media, many men responded by publicly trashing their Gillette razors, saying they were fed up with virtue signaling that demeans all men and pushes the idea that until the #MeToo movement, men were essentially all cowards and sickos.

Some commentators, even conservative ones like Mona Charen, have argued that the call to action for men to defend women and guide their sons isn’t all bad.

“The ad is a symptom of the larger cultural problem, condemning toxic masculinity while appearing to have no idea of what healthy masculinity might be,” wrote Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a WORLD News Group board member.

Gillette’s ad came on the heels of a report by the American Psychological Association (APA) that underscores the cultural confusion about manhood. The organization’s first-ever guidelines for working with men and boys, released last week, came to the conclusion that men are struggling, masculinity is to blame, and men today need help being less male.

The APA spent more than 13 years on the guidelines, drawing on more than 40 years of research, and received much of the same criticism for virtue signaling as the Gillette ad.

Voices from all sides of the debate agree that men and boys are struggling today in many important ways. The APA noted that men commit 90 percent of all homicides and represent 77 percent of homicide victims. They are 3.5 times more likely to die by suicide than women, and their life expectancy is nearly 5 years shorter. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD than girls and are falling farther and farther behind girls in school.

The APA argues the solution is for men to reject traditional masculinity, which it defines as “stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression,” and “on the whole, harmful.”

The guidelines claim some traditionally masculine traits can be crucial in limited circumstances such as war. But they argue those traits are not unique to men: “Indeed, when researchers strip stereotypes and expectations, there isn’t much difference in the basic behaviors of men and women.”

Critics say the report blames men and erases them at the same time without providing any real solutions to the problems they face today.

“The APA guidelines are … disconnected from reality,” wrote physician Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men, in an essay for the Institute for Family Studies. “Missing from the guidelines is any smidgeon of evidence that psychologists who preach to male clients about ‘cisgender masculinity privilege’ or ‘gender-egalitarian attitudes and behaviors’ will have any salutary effect at all.”

Sax noted that the guidelines ignore research confirming that some typical masculine characteristics, such as risk-taking, are consistent across primates, not just humans. “Words such as ‘hardwired’ and ‘innate’ never appear,” he wrote. “By contrast, ‘transgender’ is mentioned 60 times! The authors’ favorite men, it would seem, are those who were born female.”

Adam Donyes, the founder and president of Link Year, a one-year Christian program for post–high school teens, has spent nearly two decades working with 18-, 19-, and 20-year-old men. When asked what is ailing men today, he pointed to a lack of role models, especially fathers, in boys’ lives as more of them than ever are raised in divorced and single-parent homes. He also blamed pornography and violent video games, two things the APA guidelines don’t mention.

“I don’t think redefining masculinity is the solution,” Donyes told me. “I believe what God’s Word says is true, so I believe he defined male and female.”

He said the Biblical definition for manhood—taking responsibility, caring for people, working to God’s glory, taking your thoughts captive—comes from God’s vision, not the culture’s: “The greatest man to ever walk the earth was Jesus.”

Associated Press/Photo by Jae C. Hong Associated Press/Photo by Jae C. Hong The 2018 Women’s March in Los Angeles

Women’s March sponsors walk away

The Democratic National Committee withdrew its sponsorship of the Women’s March this week, the latest high-profile organization to back out over accusations of the march organization’s anti-Semitism and financial mismanagement.

Other notable former partners—including the Southern Poverty Law Center, EMILY’s List, the NAACP, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Abortion Federation, and the Center for American Progress—have quietly distanced themselves from the group, launched in January 2017 to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. A number of state chapters have also broken off from the national organization as it prepares for its third annual protest on Saturday.

In December, an exposé in the online Tablet magazine detailed a private meeting of Women’s March leaders that involved strong anti-Semitic sentiments. The article also raised questions about the public support some of those same women gave to anti-Semitic leader Louis Farrakhan and his group the Nation of Islam.

“I don’t agree with many of Minister Farrakhan’s statements,” Tamika Mallory, Women’s March co-president, told the hosts of the ABC show The View on Monday, defending a 2017 Instagram post in which she posed with Farrakhan and called him “the GOAT” (greatest of all time).

The march still has a handful of progressive backers, including Planned Parenthood, the American Federation of Teachers, and the American Civil Liberties Union, but the total number of sponsors has dropped from more than 500 in 2017 to just over 200 this year.

Conservative and pro-life groups have repeatedly criticized the Women’s March for excluding them as partners. In Monday’s appearance on The View, Mallory and Mari Lynn Foulger, who now goes by the name Bob Bland and is the group’s other co-president, sought to deflect criticism from pro-life host Meghan McCain, claiming that they would welcome pro-life women to the march on Saturday. But the group’s website explicitly lists “open access to safe, legal, affordable abortion and birth control for all people” as one of its core principals. —K.C.

Associated Press/Photo by Ross D. Franklin Associated Press/Photo by Ross D. Franklin Hacienda HealthCare in Phoenix

Under investigation

Police in Phoenix are requiring DNA testing of every male employee at Hacienda HealthCare, a facility for severely disabled patients, where a woman in vegetative state gave birth late last year.

The 29-year-old woman, whose name was not disclosed, has been disabled since nearly drowning as a child. She reportedly delivered a baby on Dec. 29. The staff said they did not know she was pregnant.

A lawyer for her family said they were outraged at the “neglect of their daughter” but the baby boy will be well-cared for by a loving family.

Officials at Hacienda HealthCare said in a statement they welcomed the testing. This week its board also hired a former top prosecutor to conduct an internal investigation into who raped the woman and how it happened without anyone knowing. —K.C.

Associated Press/Denton County Jail Associated Press/Denton County Jail John Wetteland

Former major leaguer accused

Police arrested former major league pitcher John Wetteland this week on charges of child sex abuse. Wetteland, 52, a Dallas-area resident, was booked at the Denton County jail on Monday and posted a $25,000 bond the same day. An affidavit alleged he sexually assaulted a young relative three times over two years, beginning in 2004 when the child was 4 years old, according to The Dallas Morning News.

Wetteland, a professed Christian who was the World Series MVP in 1996 while playing for the New York Yankees and was inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame in 2005, retired from baseball after the 2000 season. He coached baseball and taught Bible studies at Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas, from 2007 to 2008 but is no longer associated with the school. —K.C.

Possible shutdown side effects

The largest pornography website on the internet has seen a boost in viewers since the beginning of the partial government shutdown, a sad glimpse into what many Americans choose to do in their free time. Pornhub said this week it saw a 5.94 percent hike in daily traffic during the week of Jan. 7 compared to the weeks before the shutdown, although the company has no evidence of a direct correlation. —K.C.

Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Fri, 01/18/2019 08:40 pm

    I’m a bit confused. Why are some conservative women upset about being excluded from the Womens’ March?

    Looks to me like the March stands for just about everything a conservative woman would oppose. 

    Posted: Sat, 01/19/2019 06:35 pm

    Good question. 

    Does conservative not mean the same thing these days?

  • Laura W
    Posted: Sun, 01/20/2019 11:40 am

    Maybe they just want to make it clear that they weren't invited? With a name like that, someone might think the Womens' March actually represented women.

  • MamaC
    Posted: Mon, 01/21/2019 11:17 am

    I think Laura W is right. Conservative women are just pointing out that, like NOW (the National Organization of Women), the March for Women is clearly NOT representative of ALL women, lest the name confuse anyone.

  • Marc Mertens
    Posted: Sat, 01/19/2019 02:05 am

    Why doesn't Gilette make publicity for razor blades? Maybe we can all grow beards and look like the old Vikings. :-)

    Indeed, Jesus was a real Man, gentle, loving, compassionate,courageous and He also made a whip and drove all the merchants out of the temple, turning over the tabels of the money changers. 

    The problem with the APA (and their psychiaters) is that they now start suffering from the mental diseases they are supposed to fight. They lost any touch with reality, calling a mental confusion the norm for life. Instead of treating the confusion, they try to adapt the body to it.

    When people stand up against the Word of God and want to follow their own lust. That is called sin and one can choose to live in sin. But when we start to adapt the whole world around us to accomodate our lifestyle, you in fact admit that it is sin.

    The whiping out of ones sexual identity, is (hopefully) the last attempt of the devil to make us into slaves of our own derailled minds.

    Of course it is wrong to harrass women, be violent etc. But is that real masculinity or masculinity grown wrong? They used backstreet abortions to justify abortion; they used endless suffering to justify euthanasia and they use a caricature of man to justify the abolition of masculinity. I stop here. May God grant us grace to face this cultural challenges and be real men of God that follow their Lord, wherever He goes. The world around us is becoming (has become) crazy, but lett us keep our Eyes upon Jesus. We will never doubt what a real Man is.

  • VISTA48
    Posted: Sat, 01/19/2019 06:15 am

    Masculinity has been under attack for a long time. As a teenager in the 70's, "bad boys" were all the rage because they were so exciting, even if everyone knew they were poor choices to be the backbone of a family. Those of us who wanted to earn our own way and take care of business were boring. Now we are either beasts or morons or both. I'm not sure how a society survives when half of it is considered worthless/useless/dangerous. I am sure that turning men into emotional wrecks hasn't improved anything.

  •  John Cogan's picture
    John Cogan
    Posted: Sat, 01/19/2019 11:10 am

    The problem lies not in the traits - those are God-given. Rather the problem lies in how they are applied. An aggressive dominant risk-taking man can use those tendencies sinfully; bullying, assaulting, gambling, fighting, etc. Or he can use them to protect the helpless, lead his family and his society to act in God's will, start a business or trade that adds to the well-being of family and society, and lead others in righteous living. Men can use their sexual aggressiveness to abuse women for their own pleasure, or they can use it as God intended, to cement the bond of lifelong marriage and protect the one woman with whom they have been joined as one flesh.

  • Bob R
    Posted: Sun, 01/20/2019 11:11 am

    Excellent comments, John,

      I see a parallel in the gun control debate.  Just as a gun is merely a tool that can be used for good or ill, so to the character traits God has designed into men, as you point out, can be applied to either good and wholesome endeavors, or to satisfy the selfishness, pride, and lusts of our sin natures.

  • David Troup's picture
    David Troup
    Posted: Mon, 01/21/2019 07:14 am

    Attending church now feels like swimming in a sea of estrogen. Worldly jokes demeaning men are expressed. From 1 Tim. 3, the true man should be, "above reproach, faithful to his wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive. The whole "man cave" concept is disgusting.