Tonic Masculinity in a Toxic Culture
Or lessons I've learned the hard way about being a man, a father, and a husband
If you are striving to be a good man in our postmodern culture, God bless you. It is not easy, and most of our cultural norms and institutions are arrayed against you. If just go with the flow, you will be weak and ineffective, and you will have unhealthy and dysfunctional relationships. I’m offering my take on “tonic masculinity” as a cautionary tale: if you don’t want to end up like me, then learn from my mistakes. Here are some lessons I learned the hard way.
Tonic masculinity is a term coined byas a healthy counterpoint to society’s nonstop slander of masculinity as being “toxic.”
I went on a podcast today to discuss the subject of tonic masculinity with, , , , and on ’s RealFemSapien’s YouTube channel. All of these guys are great, as is Aly, and the discussion was fun and insightful.
Now, why on earth would anyone want to hear what I have to say about tonic masculinity, you might ask? That’s a good question, and one which I immediately asked when these gentlemen invited me to do the podcast with them. After thinking it over, I believe I do have something to add: the lessons I learned the hard way, from not cultivating tonic masculinity earlier in life.
I have been happily divorced since 2020. Prior to that, my eleven-year marriage was basically a dreadfully long, slow-motion train wreck. Kind of like the one in New Palestine, Ohio, but even more toxic and explosive. For the past three years, I’ve been doing what the Army calls an “After-Action Review” (AAR). In other words, I’ve been working as an accident investigator trying to make sense of the wreckage in my own life. What happened? How did things go wrong? And what lessons can I learn from it?
This endeavor is particularly important for me, not just for my own sake, but for my children. My ex-wife and I did not give our children an intact household in which to grow up, nor did we provide them with a healthy model for male/female relationships, so I’m hoping I can at least give them insights about how to do better than their parents, when it comes time for them to get married and raise children.
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