Imagine a man wearing a dress to a wedding reception and crying at the moment the couple are announced husband and wife. Is a man wearing a dress and crying a little too feminine in a situation like a wedding? The point is, should boys ever act and be like girls? Cooper Thompson, who wrote “A New Vision of Masculinity,” proposes to change the masculinity in males by “[socializing] boys more like girls” (Leonard Eron qtd. in Thompson 70). Thompson also claims traditional masculinity is “life threatening” if used to “exploit and dominate others” (69). He considers replacing the old views of masculinity with a new form where men and women can be equal by teaching males at an early age in schools to avoid violence and aggression while learning to accept feminine qualities. Thompson’s views of traditional masculinity being harmful to society are wrong. His limited vision allows him to see the positive sides of men and their masculinity. Violence and aggression are never taught in public schools, but those actions are stopped at the instant a fight starts or unfair competition arises. The problems that occur in society are not because of male masculinity but by unselfish acts and carelessness. The focus should not be on changing the views of masculinity because it does no harm to our society now.
Thompson defines traditional masculinity as having “independence, pride, resiliency, self-control, and physical strength” and these qualities create “competitiveness, toughness, aggressiveness and power” (67). He continues to point out that these qualities lead men and boys to having homophobia and misogyny, hatred of gay men and women because of their feminine qualities. The traditional views of masculinity, that Thompson states, “are indeed positive qualities for males, provided that they are not manifested in obsessive ways.” Therefore, it is not harmful or dangerous except for very specific situations of war, terrorist or crimes. On the other hand, males tend to take more risk and have more ambition of reaching their goals. They are the ones that help the economy improve and grow. They are the ones who work very hard to provide better living conditions and create a healthy and safe environment for this country. While the masculine qualities prove to be beneficial, females also desire these qualities just as Thompson said, “Girls consistently indicate that there are clear advantages to being a boy” (68). Thus, traditional masculinity can be positive and should be maintained in our current society.
Sports activities that males participate in are competitive and can be aggressive to a certain extent while not inducing any violence. During a football game, men tackle each other and sometimes harder than necessary. They push and shove each other constantly to get the ball to make a touchdown. Arguments and fights may breakout during an unfair call or play, but the fights are stopped as soon as it starts. Yet at the end, both teams come together and shake hands to congratulate each other for their performance on the field. Football is aggressive but it does not create the problems effects society. Also, it is only one out of many sports that has requires a lot of physical strength. Sports such as golf, tennis, track and field, etc. are also very popular that does not have the high level of contact and force. Thompson claims, “School athletics are a microcosm of the socialization of male values” (70). In contrast, this world of sport activities brings upon positive benefits in many aspects. There is more self-discipline and valuable techniques that can be acquired through sports.
School is an area where boys can learn a lot to build up their values. Thompson strongly believes that schools don’t teach enough “nurturance, cooperation, negotiation, [and] nonviolent conflict resolution ” and encourages male values (70). It is not necessarily true because school may have problems to provide adequate education, but public schools never teach anything that can lead to violence or immoral behaviors. In schools, students will always encounter issues that may lead to irresolvable conflicts that end up fighting or even worse, such as Columbine and Santee High School shootings. At the time these actions occur, families and government officials step in to prevent further acts of violent crimes. Also, these crimes don’t correlate with masculinity. The events that happen are rare and the cause is not because of the qualities of masculinity.
Indeed, the topic of masculinity can be very broad because many factors contribute to masculinity. Masculinity doesn’t cause the problems that Thompson describes in his essay. Also, his suggestion to have men and women equally valued will not work. His proposal will not be effective because he focuses on social problems as a result of male behavior and leaving behind the areas of women that also needs to be changed. There are features in men that women cannot obtain and features in women that men will not have. Both genders must be able to compromise and understand that men and women are not the same. By doing so, family relationship will be stronger and future generations will learn from that and slowly the issues of today’s society will fade away. Finding a way to help men and women to have equality should not be focused on having “boys [be] like girls” (70). Therefore, males should not have to give up their qualities or change them in anyway.