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#MenMatterToo. #FathersMattertoo. This Valentine’s Day, let’s celebrate traditional masculinity

The cook at my favorite campus eatery always remembers my name and the kind of sandwich I get with a pretzel bun. My guy friends hold doors open for me, and acknowledge when I’ve taken the time to look extra nice. Growing up, my neighbor’s little boy would always offer to hold my hand when crossing the street to “make me feel safe.”

I share these moments because I celebrate them. But too often nowadays such niceties are frowned on, discouraged even. Why? Today, boys and men are taught to shun chivalry and their natural inclination to protect and cherish women.

While oppression of women in America was the status quo for centuries, now traditional masculine qualities are under fire. Today, men are the ones in trouble.

What changed? I believe we can begin to trace the emerging “end of men” with the introduction of the welfare system, which incentivized women to forego marriage. As a result, 40 percent of children now grow up without fathers in the home as opposed to 10 percent in the 1960s.

With the disappearance of dads, little boys lost their male role models. Because of this, boys do not shed their childish ways. Without fathers, they are more likely to be sexually promiscuous, serve jail time, and use drugs, studies show. All these negative activities affect men’s emotional behaviors, which in turn ends up hurting women.

Modern feminists accuse men of being monstrous and power hungry, say they can’t be trusted. How often during this last presidential election cycle did we hear “it’s time” for a woman in the White House, someone who will not be subject to toxic masculinity and its detrimental pressures?

Meanwhile, modern feminists deny rights like freedom of expression and due process to men, just like men in America denied rights to women in the past.

For example, two of my guy friends at Cornell University were called “rape apologists” simply for stating that in today’s world, women should be vigilant of their surroundings and use discernment in choices. Today, men cannot voice constructive criticism without being accused of sexism or “mansplaining.”

When it comes to campus Title IX adjudications, it’s been widely documented how many young men are railroaded once accused, denied their right to cross examine their accusers or other witnesses, present evidence of their own, or be represented by an attorney.

Feminists, especially on campus, have also pushed the lie that sex without emotional attachment is the preferred norm, releasing men from any obligation to respect women’s bodies and minds.

With the denial of rights — the right to be a father, the right to be chivalrous, the right to cherish women, the right to be a masculine man, the right to speak freely and defend oneself — comes the removal of responsibility. It makes sense that we see the trend of irresponsibility among men accelerate. Without responsibility, men have no purpose for which to strive.

Look no further than the astonishingly high male suicide rate. Suicide among men is four times higher than among females, representing 79 percent of U.S. suicides. Their natural right to protect, honor and cherish has been stripped away from them thanks to modern feminism and a broken welfare system.

The question then becomes, what can we do to turn around this trend?

In order to raise a generation of strong, empowered gentlemen, we need to have more male role models and fathers, and uplift men instead of demean them.

We can start by offering financially struggling married couples government support for their children instead of paying “baby mamas” to stay unwed, creating generations of single-parent, fatherless homes.

This is vital, because fathers and male role models demonstrate through actions how women should be treated – be it opening the door, encouraging women to be their best, or helping with housework.

Little boys who watch the respectful treatment learn and understand how to treat women as they get older because they see what respect looks like. Also, male role models understand how not to be slaves to their physical desires. They are able to teach younger boys how to cope with biological instincts.

Our education system also needs to raise little boys to act like boys, and not like girls. Boys are often demeaned for too much playing, being loud, or for getting distracted easily. Instead of treating boys as if they are gross, stupid, and lazy, we need to empower them and provide positive feedback to help them grow. Let boys be boys.

This extends into their adolescent and college years. Let us not criticize masculinity per se, but rather uphold a healthy masculinity that prioritizes respect for women.

Finally, let men speak freely and exercise their rights without labeling them as sexist or misogynistic. It is just as bad to have weak, unconfident men as it is to have corrupt, arrogant men. Let’s choose to uplift men so that not another woman has to say “me too.”

IMAGE: Syda Productions/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Neetu Chandak -- Cornell University