Masculinity on full display in Kyiv


Last updated 3/4/2022 at 7:13pm

Julie Reeder


I don’t know who wrote this poem, but it seems true to me.

Hard times create strong men,

Strong men create good times,

Good times create weak men,

Weak men create hard times.

While I believe feminine women help civilize men as well as provide leadership, stability and nurture, I believe masculine men are also crucial to society, not only to lead and physically build things, but also to protect. A great example is what is going on in Ukraine this week.

The world has stood in awe as Russia has attacked Ukraine and Ukrainian residents have been armed by the government to defend their own country, neighborhoods and homes. It would be neglectful to say it’s just men because we have photos of young girls taking up arms and being trained in the defense of their motherland, but it’s mostly men. I wonder how many of these young ladies have been influenced by movies and stories like Moana and Mulan?

The largely male population in Kyiv stays to fight bravely and courageously alongside men from other countries who are responding to Ukraine President Zelensky’s call for men internationally to join alongside them in their fight. Until the last few days, help was scarce from outside countries, but now Germany, and other European countries have stepped up, including Sweden, a traditionally neutral country. The U.S. has followed behind the EU and is also providing weapons as well as sanctions.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday, 500,000 mostly women and children are estimated to have fled the country. Their men stay behind to “fight to the end until the enemies have left our land,” Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, a Ukrainian rock star, said to a TV news crew. “We believe in God and we believe in justice. They are killing our women and children. We need the free world to stand with us.”

Everyone has a place and sometimes it’s just to stand and fight in defense of your home or neighborhood, city or country. What is interesting to me is how our society has been at war with the masculinity that is needed in times like these, except when it serves them, as in police and fire response, or defense from invasion, home or country.

On the American Psychological Association’s website, Stephanie Pappas sums up traditional masculinity as harmful.

“Traditional masculinity – marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression – is, on the whole, harmful,” she said adding that the job as therapists “is to remove all but the ideologically sound ‘masculinities’ from boys and men, and specifically remove masculinities that involve competition, aggression, strength, and power.”

Stoicism involves the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings and without complaint.

Now in fairness, I can see how those traits would not be helpful in counseling, but there seems to be an attitude that innate masculinity is bad.

There are times when the world depends on men to be men – masculine men. They don’t have to be bulging with muscles and trained for war, but we depend on them to be masculine. That includes what the APA describes as “harmful,” including stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression. That’s exactly what the Ukrainian men are utilizing as a strength to save their country. It’s natural and healthy and God-given. It’s preferable to have a male in the family as a protector and defender; mostly people need protection from other men, who are physically stronger, dominant and aggressive.

Men need their masculinity while fighting cyber warfare, or fighting human trafficking even behind the scenes, or showing up to work each day and going home to nurture and support their families each night, or hundreds of other things. But sometimes it just means standing your ground and fighting for what is important to you, like the Ukrainians are doing.

My 6-year-old granddaughter recounted a story to me last week about a conversation she had with her Uncle Mark. She must have said something about something bad happening to her or someone taking her or something to that effect, but what she was absolutely beaming about was his response. She said, “Grandma, he said he would go to war for me!”

That made her day. She felt loved and protected.

No one wants to go to war, and no one wants to have their family members go to war, but I think it’s healthy to realize that it is innate in masculine men to be the protectors. They are built for it. Their hormones, their physical body and their psyche is naturally to act as the protector of those more vulnerable around them. And women, whether they admit it or not, typically love that about men. It explains why some women choose men who may not be the smartest or the best looking, but men who make them feel safe. They believe the man they chose would be a protector for their children.

As some things change, some things stay the same

The whole idea that men need to forget about everything that has made them successful since the dawn of time because we’ve discovered that the real secret to men’s mental health is being more like women is just destructive.


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