I’ve explored masculinity from a lot of angles over the years, both in my own journey as a man, husband, and father and also with many of my therapy clients. And while masculinity has many facets, nuances, and mysteries, over time I’ve started to see two very simple rules for guys that I’ve found to apply in pretty much any situation we encounter: “Don’t Be A Dick!” and, “Don’t Be A Pussy!”
The first rule is the most obvious of the two. Who wants to be a dick?
“Don’t be a dick!” from my perspective, basically means that you shouldn’t bully people physically (of course), but more importantly through your emotions and words. If you’re bullying other people you might be using your power, but probably not in service of your principles (unless you have a principle that it’s a great thing to bully people).
Bullies actually have a lot of self-esteem, but they don’t have a lot of self-awareness, their relationships suck, and they tend to be unhappy. So that’s the first rule for guys–Don’t be a dick!
Rule number two (“Don’t be a pussy!”) is a little more challenging. Pardon this potentially misogynistic term, but everyone intuitively knows what I mean.
You’re a pussy if you allow somebody to dominate you inappropriately like saying “Yes” when you need to say “No.” If you don’t stand up for your principles and say, “This is what’s right,” in the face of something you believe is wrong, you surrender to external coercion and become a pussy. Often in such cases, the rationale is, “My boss made me do it,” “My wife insisted,” I couldn’t help it,” etc.
We’ve seen such collapses a lot in the last twenty or thirty years in the political arena. People who come out of an administration often write a book and say “Well, the decisions I made (going to war, lying, hurting poor people, surrendering to special interests) went against my principles, but I did it because I was ordered to.”
“I was just following orders” is what the world was contemptuous of in the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals. But it’s interesting how often that gets pulled out when somebody working for some boss or institution violates personal principles.
So if you have a principle, don’t violate it. If you do violate it, you suffer—don’t be a pussy!
So there you have them, my two simple rules for guys. I’m curious to hear if you agree with me.
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Author: Dr. Keith Witt
Licensed clinical psychologist, lecturer, and author - My new books are available NOW! • Integral Mindfulness: From Clueless to Dialed-In. • Shadow Light: Illuminations at the Edge of Darkness.