Author Caitlin Moran posted a Twitter thread asking users to acknowledge all of the best things men bring to the table, at a time when we spend a lot of time discussing the worst aspects of masculinity, which prompted some heart-warming responses from her followers.
In recent years, terms like “masculinity crisis” have been thrown around, in reference to the struggles of men in adjusting to what it means to be a man in the 21st century.
In his book Of Boys and Men, author Richard Reeves notes that girls are generally outperforming boys in schools, universities, and in many facets of the workplace.
While this obviously marks a really positive change in the pursuit of gender equality, the blurring of gender roles has led to a lot of young men feeling adrift, struggling to identify what it means to be a man and find their place in a society that is currently undergoing huge social and economic changes.
Many are turning to controversial hyper-masculine influencers, such as Andrew Tate, as a voice to look up to, who often conflate celebrating masculinity with promoting radical misogyny. In a survey of 500 Australian schoolboys by the Sydney Morning Herald, it was found that 30 percent looked up to Tate as a role model and 36 percent agreed he was relatable.
Recognising that a lot of men are struggling with their masculinity, author Caitlyn Moran tweeted, “We don’t talk about what’s POSITIVE about masculinity; what’s GOOD about men and boys.”
“So: what IS the best stuff about boys, and men? Honest, celebratory question.”
DMARGE has compiled some of the best responses from the thread, celebrating some of the best things about men in 2023.
A lot of the responses in the thread discussed how straightforward a lot of men can be. This stretches from straightforward communication, all the way to straightforward means of finding joy in one’s life.
One user joked, “My wife is always amazed at the long conversations I have with old mates without asking anything particularly important. “So how is Paul’s girlfriend/boyfriend/baby/cancer.””
““Oh, it didn’t come up?” You’ve been in the pub for 5 hours.””
When it comes to relationships, a number of Moran’s followers noted that being straightforward means some men are good for not holding grudges. One commented, “They fight, then it’s all gone, wiped away and on to the next thing.”
While some may misconstrue straightforwardness to mean a negative trait, clearly for a lot of people it is an aspect of masculinity to be celebrated.
Confidence was another characteristic associated with positive masculinity. Twitter users noted that this applies to confidence in a man’s own ability, or the confidence to simply be themselves.
Writer Sally Nicholls replied to the thread saying, “Confidence. Confidence in speaking up, in asking for what they are worth, in valuing their own opinion.”
“These are good qualities. I wish women were better at this!”
Another user commented, “I’m so glad I have two strong, confident, at ease with themselves men (one is a young man but already these things) in my life. The key is they aren’t trying to be anything other than themselves.”
Thankfully, self-confidence is a trait that can be developed over time, meaning it is never too late to build this up. There is a fine line between confidence and cockiness though!
3. Loyalty and supportiveness
Men should be proud of being loyal and supportive of their loved ones and friends. Both traits were identified multiple times throughout Caitlin Moran’s thread.
One user commented, “Even the smallest boys show that protective urge over loved ones. Boys and men so often, without thinking, bravely protect others.”
In terms of loyalty, user @DanOgunshun tweeted, “Very loyal and can form long-lasting friendships in next to no time and maintain them even if we don’t see each other in years.”
4. Willingness to be open and vulnerable
Like with femininity, masculinity is equally complex and nuanced. As much as being loyal and protective embodies many modern men, another is the ability to also open up and be vulnerable.
One tweet said, “Over the past 20 years, I’ve notice a tangible growth in openness, vulnerability and love in male friendships. I appreciate that I may have been blessed with good friends in life, but it definitely feels like a wider shift.”
With movements like ‘Movember’ and Australian male sports stars such as Daniel Ricciardo shining a light on their mental health struggles, the stigma around men showing their vulnerabilities is certainly changing.
Being a man in 2023 involves not only looking after your own health, but being able to check in on your mates to ask, “Is everything okay?”
5. Being a generally good person
While a lot of the responses to the thread listed traits often aligned with masculinity, some users pointed out that the best male qualities involved simply just being a good person.
User @nigelmiller64 said, “Love so many of the replies here, but I think the best male qualities are basic human ones like empathy, kindness, curiosity, gratitude and sense of humour.
“The men, and women, I value the most have all of these things.”
Another user echoed a similar opinion, tweeting, “I’m a guidance counsellor in an all-boys school and I see generosity, kindness, respect, fun [and] banter,” all of which are characteristics from any good person.
Case solved: to be a good bloke, you should be a good person.
Other funny responses included being able to open jars, taking out the bins at night and giving good hugs.