by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Here we go again. Another new year, another effort to make men vulnerable. This time it’s the “Men’s Project” at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Available only to “men-identified” students, its goal is to “create a sense of security in vulnerability” by operating through a “transformative model of social justice allyship.”
As the College Fix notes, Wisconsin’s program is hardly unique. Programs designed to combat “toxic masculinity” are popping up across the fruited plain. Designed to end “harm, oppression, and dominance,” they look suspiciously like the same liberal critique I’ve been hearing my entire adult life. Men would be better men if only they were more like women. And “vulnerability” is the key.
It’s as if male tears water the garden of social justice. When I was younger, male vulnerability was called “getting in touch with your feminine side.” But since men don’t necessarily want to be feminine, the words shifted to the language of therapy and wellness. Strong men cry, they said. Crying is healthy, they said.
Indeed, traditional concepts of masculinity, which asked men to cultivate physical and mental toughness, to assume leadership roles in the home, in business, and on the battlefield, and to become guardians and protectors, became the “trap” or “man box,” to quote the University of Richmond’s ridiculous “authentic masculinities” site. The most destructive words a boy can hear? “Be a man,” at least according to the mandatory freshman orientation at Gettysburg College.
But here’s the problem — vulnerability isn’t a virtue. It’s a morally neutral characteristic at best and a vice at worst. Yes, some men are more naturally sensitive than others, but we now ask — no, beg — men to indulge their emotions, as if the antidote to awful male aggression is a good cry.