Women often cite masculinity as one of the main qualities of a real man. What is it? How important is it? What makes a man a man? Archpriest Nicholas Markovsky, the rector of the Holy Protection Church in Zaitsevo, shared his opinion.
Speaking of machismo, it is necessary to understand what it actually means, so let’s deal with the definition of this word first. In Spanish, “macho” means “manly, tough”. Over time, this word acquired a different connotation: machismo is understood as vigor, confidence, intransigence, and leadership skills.
Reality versus Artificial Image
It is no secret that modern culture imposes certain behavioral patterns on people. When people see colorful models on TV or the Internet they often imitate them. Lately, one can observe a lot of effeminate men, which, in contrast, increased the demand for toughness and manly behavior. Let’s be honest: women often like the type of an alpha male but you need to understand that it all looks nice only on the screen or on stage. As a rule, this image is fake: the actor or singer who impresses us with his toughness and masculinity may not be like his screen hero in real life. Therefore, I dare say that an audacious macho man is an artificial character that is imposed upon us by pop culture.
The question arises: What kind of a person should a real man be? To answer this question, I interviewed some of the women I know. I was curious to know what they meant by this expression. I got all kinds of answers: a good father, a caring husband, a brick wall, a breadwinner, and golden handed, that is, good at working with his hands. If we combine all the answers, it turns out that a real man is the one who is responsible for what he does. As I understand it, a man should be a doer.
It is not a secret that the following situations often happen among young people: a guy meets a girl and she gets pregnant. The young man does not want to become a father and sends her to have an abortion. He drives her to sin because he is not ready to take responsibility. One more example: a young couple gets married. The honeymoon is over and everyday problems begin: money, housing, duties – and the marriage breaks up because the man is not ready to sacrifice his life style for the sake of the family. Before the wedding, this young man appeared to be a real man: he was tough and he spoke in a low and masculine voice. As it turns out, he is not ready to take responsibility in the end. Thus, the real man is the one who is accountable, he thinks first and then does it.
The Past Is Not The Ultimate Model
Every now and then, one may encounter a kind of “Orthodox machismo”, when a Christian man is very hard on his loved ones. All his family members are respectful and obey him unquestionably. As a man, husband, and priest, I do not agree with this approach. I don’t think a man should dominate a woman and crush her by his authority. He should be the head, that is, be in charge of everything that goes on in his family.
In the past, the social order was quite different: people had large farms, fields, farmlands or gardens, and a man had to keep things in order. The great burden of responsibility called for a strong hand, without which everything would fall apart. Think of the old books and movies, such as And Quiet Flows the Don, where the man was primarily the manager and supervisor of the household. He was forced by life itself to treat his wife, children and workers with strictness. However, there is no need to perceive it as a norm and an example to follow. Such behavior was normal in the past, but today we live differently. People, as a rule, do not have a farm or a plot of land and live in apartments. Women work on an equal footing with men and bring income to the family. I think it is wrong to call for men to break women over the knee and be a domestic tyrant. A man is not only in charge of his family. He is also a wise leader, and a wise leader will never exert pressure. He will find common ground and will be able to reach an agreement. A good husband will listen to his wife’s opinion, but he will take the ultimate responsibility. Tyranny in the family is unacceptable.
There are women who are eager to obey. They want it; they are looking for someone who will be like a rock wall. They need a husband who will deal with all issues, while they will only do some simple household chores: cook the soup, take the child to school, do the laundry and so on. Yes, it is possible. However, in most families the main principle of communication is equality. Decisions should be made together, in love and harmony. Then you will have a really good and strong family. If a man chooses to coerce, dominate and establish tyranny, such a family will either fall apart or be very miserable. A woman can’t be happy if she’s constantly attacked. If the husband always claims that his wife is wrong, that everything is wrong and that she deserves to be criticized, it is not manliness – it is pure tyranny. I repeat: in my opinion, all decisions in a modern family should be made together, and it does not matter whether it is an Orthodox family or not.
I believe that you need to learn from those who can teach you something new and good, based on the example of their own lives, and that includes their family relationships, too. If I see that a man teaches others how to behave in a family, and his wife’s eyes are dull, then his words aren’t worth a dime. This is true not only for the lay men but also for the clergy. I have met many unhappy priest’s wives who had no light in their eyes. Obviously, there is despotism in such families.
So machismo is good only on the screen, but in real life it is not really that good. Moreover, over the course of the several years of this war, I have seen that machismo often evaporates very quickly as soon as serious life challenges come up. That is why I would not advise women to go for tough guys. You should better look for the reliable and responsible ones.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds
Hello Father , could you recommend some reading material on this subject on masculinity as well as family life?