Can America’s real men knock some sense into Duke University?

by Nicole Russell

The women at Duke University are so privileged that they feel the need to nurture the men on their campus in how to be manly while “checking” their male privilege. They’re dubbing it “The Duke Men’s Project.” Unfortunately, this is not only unnecessary, but also ignorant. If anything, men need encouragement from both men and women to embrace their innate masculinity.

Masculinity is fading

What’s more preening than the Duke Women’s Center sponsoring a talk for men to figure out how to be men without being overly and offensively masculine? Is there anything that exemplifies today’s feminist overreach and sexual confusion more? The problem with men today isn’t that their masculinity is toxic — although any person can exhibit a toxic personality — it’s that most men aren’t masculine enough.

In an editorial, Duke’s student newspaper endorsed the project:

If masculinity describes the spectrum of attitudes and characteristics that a society expects men to express, toxic masculinity refers to a harmful narrow band of that spectrum — a band that includes the ideas that men ought to be mocked for being anything but stoic testosterone-bots, that masculinity ought to dominate femininity and that deviation from the norms of masculinity lessen the worth of a man. Toxic masculinity is what encourages men to suffer in silence from depression, internalize stress instead of releasing it and develop unhealthy sexual attitudes that can manifest in abuse and assault.

Not only is “The Men’s Project” a red herring, but it’s also an ignorant one. The real problem isn’t that, as the editorial said, “Toxic masculinity is what encourages men to suffer in silence from depression, internalize stress instead of releasing it and develop unhealthy sexual attitudes that can manifest in abuse and assault.” While it’s true that more men suffer from depression than women, and men may have a higher libido than women (that’s debatable), these are more likely due to the biological differences between men and women — how they cope and communicate — rather than toxicity.

Furthermore, to mention (passive-aggressively) men and sexual assault is to kowtow to the myth that rape is rampant at college when in fact, that’s not the case. As is the de facto case with third-wave feminists today, it’s not enough to demand equality when they can also quash their adversary by claiming, without cause, men are just toxic beasts out to rape, pillage, and dominate society rather than talk about their feelings.

It’s definitely a sign of the times — and not a good one. As this British survey found, young men are struggling due to society’s negative implications — and groups like the one hosted at Duke — about masculinity. Only 2 percent of younger men feel “completely masculine.” Almost 50 percent of young men have a negative view of masculinity, compared with 56 percent of the over-age-65 generation who felt manly and had a positive view of masculinity.

In a 2013, feminist Camille Paglia said men have “no models of manhood … Masculinity is just becoming something that is imitated from the movies. There’s nothing left. There’s no room for anything manly right now.” She said the culture needs men, and it will die without them.

Masculinity is beneficial

Indeed, our culture will languish without strong men. I’m a relatively independent, opinionated woman who can generally take care of herself. But this doesn’t mean I eschew the idea of men embracing their own innate biology and living up to their potential. I’m not talking about dudes who just beat their chests like Tarzan or even college students who think hazing is a gateway to manhood. (That’s not toxic — that’s just stupid.) A masculine guy — who embraces morality and maturity — is a boon to men, women, and society.

Think about it: Who among us will fight the proverbial wolves in our society, if not the men like Navy SEAL Chris Kyle? Don’t we want to encourage real men to embody sacrifice, discipline, and other traits that are neither masculine nor feminine but add to the equation? Take the example of these two Marines, Cpl. Jonathan Yale and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, who bravely sacrificed themselves to stop a suicide bomber, saving the lives of 150 comrades. Of course, not all wolves are foreign enemies and not all manly men are in the military. Indeed, we need them in all walks of life — especially at home.

As this gentleman says, when he makes the case for why we need “alpha” males:

But even when we’re not confronted with these great battles of the ages, we are challenged by the wolves in our daily life. There are, of course, the temptations of the heart, but there are also those will always prey upon the weaker. If the good are not stronger than the wolves, what will stop them?
Of course, it’s also important to note that when we talk of needing masculinity and strong men, we not only recognize biological reality, but that we also call for virtuous behavior. We need strong men who hold to their duties to their families, to support and protect their wives and children, who act with honor to those around them, who pursue truth, beauty, and goodness.

What about education?

I’m not saying colleges can’t have open discussions on controversial topics. Indeed, this is a great time and college is the right place to learn about different worldviews. But given that more women are more likely than men to graduate from college, instead of holding forums that basically seek to annihilate manhood completely, doesn’t it make more sense to encourage men to man up, complete, and do well at their education so they can be … well … that much more a man? Education is not the sole key to manhood, but it is certainly a tool to equipping men with the knowledge, work ethic, and perspective needed for finding the right vocation and maturing intellectually and emotionally.

Whether attending a community school or an Ivy League university, young men need to focus on their education, embrace their intrinsic masculinity, and develop a friendship with a respected man who can act as a mentor and who may teach him a thing or two about real manhood. Not only will he grow up to feel satisfied and proud of himself, his masculinity will benefit everyone around him and our society.

Nicole Russell is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Federalist, The American Spectator, Reason, National Review Online, and Parents magazine. She was the 2010 recipient of the American Spectator’s Young Journalist award. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and four children.

Originally published at