Author Rollo Tomassi recently discussed with Dr. Phil how an entire generation of “lost boys” (young men) are neglected and demonized for being males. Dr. Phil asked Tomassi, “What do you mean when you say media celebrates masculinity as equally acting feminine?”  Tomassi responded, “…The only time that the mainstream media will ever celebrate masculinity is when you see The Rock in a tutu… Whenever you see men behaving conventionally feminine, that’s when the media decides to celebrate them… yet when a guy is acting in a conventionally masculine way, we do not celebrate that. They find some way to demonize that.” 

Tomassi went on, saying, “We have a generation of what we call “lost boys” right now. They don’t have a father figure; they don’t have any guidance – whether it’s masculinity or much else for that matter.”  Men seem to be “sedated” by society via escapism through alcohol, pornography, and video games because their lives are miserable.  Men have a hard time asserting their identities in a society that often seems to demonize masculinity itself.”  

“Deaths of despair” are more common because “society has so few mechanisms or institutions that are looking out for the welfare of men as a distinct group.”  Tomassi adds, “We constantly harp on the fact that men… don’t have close friends, don’t have the same network that women do… and then we put the blame for their mental health back on them by saying ‘its toxic masculinity.’”  

Tomassi had an insightful observation that any male who watches football could appreciate: “If women were killing themselves at four times the rate that men are, you would have a dedicated month and the NFL would change their uniforms to pink or something else so that we would have some sort of female suicide prevention month. But we don’t see that right now, because we blame it on toxic masculinity.” 

As a male who is past 80, having worked on the integration of his masculine soul for over forty years, and who is now living as a male in a terribly confused culture, I happen to enjoy watching both pro and college football. It’s a form of relaxation. And yes, I confess that it helps me escape the real world.  Some men take football too seriously, and it almost borders on idolatry. But I try to monitor myself so it remains a pastime and doesn’t become an obsession. 

I wonder if there aren’t men who quietly resent an intrusive influence of the feminine into what has traditionally been a man’s world. The phrase “C’mon man” expresses the commitment to brotherhood.  Men (like women) love competition and teamwork within their gender.  Men (like women) work and sweat to finish strong and come out victorious. But the phrase “I love ya, man,” says even more. NFL Films shared a clip on how often that phrase is shared among pro football players. The feminine voice seems a little alien, however, adding nuances that don’t necessarily understand the masculine soul.  Masculinity may not always be wholesome, but it is not “toxic.”  Don’t demonize their brotherhood.  

Men learn to be a man from other men. What we need desperately in our culture are “male mothers”  – men who have integrated their masculine souls (Richard Rohr). They have a healthy sense of their own masculine but have also integrated the feminine. They are not threatened by strong women but confidently express a healthy masculine presence that is both tough and tender. These men know the value of Proverbs 4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”