Being a man is becoming more and more a matter of choice. This series explores traits, attributes and concepts for positive masculinities and modern men.
It might sound like the oldest and most classic trait of masculinities: the man as the protector. The white knight in shining armor. Do we need a revitalization of this ancient type of masculinity? Yes, we do.
Rise of the Aggressor
The role of men as protectors of families, towns, lands, countries and so on, has its own, long history. Looking at past and contemporary societies, there were always those in need and those who could offer aid. Society basically still heavily relies on this system, simply look at a charity or how patronage affects the world. The historic protector, the shining knight, was always one who could provide help to those who suffered from ill fates: hunger, poverty, sickness, for example. This is not merely a question of gender but also a question of power. Those who have power may act upon it.
The imagination of the knight, the benevolent protector, is a mighty role model. Yet, it has somewhat lost its popularity. Instead, we see a rise of popularity with the more villainous characters: the classic dark knight (not talking about Batman here), the bad guy, the aggressor. Taking what supposedly belongs to him, without hesitation and without asking permission, violating the personal rights and freedom of others. This has indeed and very much unfortunately become fashionable to some extent. So have modern knights forgotten their true calling and decided to instead ‘grab them by the pussy’?
Many men are afraid of losing personal rights and privileges with the advent of more and more rights for women and other groups in society. More than often, one of the arguments accompanying these fears is, that there are no specific rights for men. This is true to some extent, but the reason behind this is that universal rights are indirectly drawn up specifically for men. Breaking up those supposed universal rights and looking at specific demands of certain groups, including men, is therefore actually a process of which everyone profits.
The rise of the aggressor, the villainous knight, the pussy-grabbers, can, therefore, be seen as a backlash caused by the fear of losing rights, privileges and power. Media has done its fair share to spread those fears, creating constant male anxiety. But when men try to re-establish male dominance by promoting aggressive masculinities, they are actually blocking their own progression and also sabotaging themselves and their surrounding society. They act merely destructive. No traces of the ancient protector or guardian can be found with those concepts of masculinity, which is why they are ultimately doomed to fail.
So bringing back the protector into modern day masculinities might actually be a brilliant idea, as long as we adequately adapt this concept to our modern society. Helping those in need is always a good idea that we need to rediscover. Looking out for those who don’t have the same resources or possibilities should be key to any modern masculinity.
Yet, help cannot and should never be forced upon others. It is so important to remember that a protector who forces his help unto others, turns into an aggressor. Therefore it is necessary to keep this distinction in mind. Be the protector, not the aggressor. Help others. Offer aid to those who need it. Do not distinguish those in need by factors like race, religion, gender, sex and so forth. If they need your help, be there for them. A society can only thrive and grow when each individual takes over responsibility for the whole. Creating a better tomorrow is not a burden, it is a privilege. One that men should always honor and appreciate, but never abuse.
In the end, it’s every man’s own choice, to be a protector and not an aggressor. And if one wants to create a positive modern masculinity, the protector is definitely a trait to go for.