The Daily Stoic for today, February the 1st. “For the hot-headed man”.
“Keep this thought handy when you feel a fit of rage coming on—it isn’t manly to be enraged. Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier. A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance—unlike the angry and complaining. The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 11.18.5b
Men’s role in our current society strikes a delicate balance between its past and its future.
On the one hand, gender equality, while sometimes bordering on the ridiculous, is slowly but steadily removing the straightjacketed stereotypes from just some decades ago.
On the other hand, there’s still a push for associating masculinity with certain attributes: strength, authority, security, and yes, rage, competitiveness and physical power.
This is painfully noticeable in the world of sports, where not only there’s this male domination, but also a marked homophobia. We are still far from seeing a football player coming out publicly in Spain. The same is true for motorcycling and any other sport that brings the word “masculinity” to mind.
What It Means To Be A Man
Traditionally, we have clearly associated these separate roles to men and women, and identified certain qualities for each role.
Unfortunately for us, men, some undesirable qualities have been associated to the concept of virility, including anger, violence or cockiness.
Fighting against these stereotypes has not been easy for me. Being gay, and growing up in a military city, being part of a military family, my teenage years were not easy at all.
I’ve gone through years of self-denial. Of not accepting who I am. The decade since I was 14 years old until I was 24, was probably the worst of my life in a lot of aspects. Basically, I missed the most amazing part of youth -discovering one’s sexuality, the first relationship, etc- pretending I was a completely different person. Trying so hard to be “normal”, like everybody else.
Curiously enough, it was an attribute usually linked to masculinity that helped me get out of that situation: courage.
I got to understand what it means to be a man. It means being strong but not violent, having courage but not rage, and being respectful with others by being respectful with myself first.
Luckily today, I am happily married -with my husband-, and couldn’t be happier.
For The Hot-Headed Man
However, even today, we sometimes still associate anger or rage as “manly”. You are not being more masculine by exhibiting those attributes.
A real man controls his mind. Here, control and power have a completely different meaning. Authority means authority over ourselves, our instincts, desires and feelings, not over others.
There’s no “strong” and “weak” people, there’s only our own strengths and weaknesses.
When you get mad, when you let your rage or anger take over who you are, you are not being a man.
Rather, you are just being irrational.
Something to think about…
Today’s Daily Stoic, “For the hot-headed man”, discusses how the attributes that are still associated to masculinity today, like anger, rage or violence, don’t make you a man.
Rather, control and power over our own feelings and instincts, are the properties that make you a man. Authority over yourself, not over others, is what makes you stronger.
Don’t you agree?