Ghost Ranger
A long haired, rednecked Indian Cowboy

Toxic Masculinity

Toxic masculinity is very much in the news right now but what is it? Lately, I have been thinking a lot about how I have changed over the years and how some things have remained the same. I don’t believe that I am alone in some of my viewpoints, nor do I believe I am alone in some of my past personal actions.
I will be the first to admit I am a flirt and I have been for a long time, but flirting, in my opinion, is not necessarily wrong or toxic. Complimenting ladies is part of my nature; I don’t do it for any reason other than to make them smile, for there is nothing more beautiful than a lady’s genuine smile. The glint in their eyes, the crinkle of their nose and sometimes a little coy laugh, warms my heart. I enjoy seeing ladies smile from six years old to their final days, ladies are special.
I honestly do not ever remember cat-calling any lady. My Southern mother raised me to respect ladies. She never had to box my ears, but that cast-iron skillet did land alongside my head on a couple of occasions. I was in a profession that meant sometimes I had to physically restrain or use force against a woman. At first, this was difficult for me, but with the help of my Mom, I managed. She told me that when a lady starts acting like a man she gives up being a lady. This statement is not as simplistic as it seems. It also outlined my responsibility as a man. I learned that there were ladies and gentlemen, and they were different than males and females.
A gentleman’s mission was to protect the weak, the women, the children, and other men. This is not to say the women were weak because in many things they are much stronger than men. Women are the glue that holds families together. Gentlemen have manners and use them. This does not mean they follow the guidelines of Emily Post, just that they treat people with respect. Gentlemen do not need to be refined and cultured; they need only to be empathetic and caring. Real men don’t just father children; they are fathers to their children. They teach them, they love them, they guide them and they support them physically, financially, psychologically and morally.
I have been cussed at for saying ma’am and for holding doors open. I have been lectured ad infinitum by females because of manners that my mother taught me. I have learned to respond that just because they don’t desire to act like a lady, I was raised properly and will act like a gentleman. I believe I have veered off-course about where I was going with this.
I was raised thinking that real men didn’t cry. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t think this was ever said out loud, just something I observed. Thinking back I can remember seeing my Dad cry, but when I caught him, he quickly swallowed and wiped away his tears. I don’t think I ever saw either of my grandfathers cry, but I know that they did take solitary walks or lock themselves away at times. I did cry as a child and I was, like many of my generation, told to hush or I would be given something to cry about. As a man, I learned to hide my tears. I learned via observing life that tears were seen as a sign of weakness for a man but that it was permissible for women.
As I get older I seem to cry more, a word a phrase, a written story, a well-acted incident on a TV show or a news broadcast. It used to be only after a death or a broken heart, but now it seems I cry at the drop of a hat. Am I less masculine? Or am I more empathetic? Perhaps it is all the tears I have held back over the years are overflowing and now have to come out. I still try to hide my tears, but that is becoming harder with each passing day.
Were you aware that there are three types of tears? And no it is not happy and sad tears. There are the basal tears. These are the ones that moisten our corneas and clean off the irritants. Then there are the Reflex Tears, which are a response to sudden external stimuli. These are actually just a sudden increase in Basal Tears. Then there are Emotional Tears. These occur during what some people have called “ugly crying” and are accompanied by body spasms and interrupted breathing patterns. Emotional Tears actually have a different chemical make-up. They are higher in proteins; some researchers have said that this type of tears excretes hormones which cause us to feel calmer and less emotional afterward.
So next time you see an old man crying, don’t scoff or look down on him, know that he is finally able to release those pent up tears amassed over a lifetime of being masculine, of being strong for those he loved and loves. He can now cry openly without shame

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