Monday, January 14, 2013

Is Fighting a Part of Manhood?


Robbie Dillon recently had an article at AskMen.com on "The Joy of Punching," in which he argues that fighting is a cornerstone of his masculine identity- that having beaten others and been beaten himself is a "badge of honor."

Interestingly, AskMen linked to another article from their site that outlines the Top Ten: Masculinity Myths, one of which is that "real men fight."
Real men fight 
We’re still not sure why some men resort to fisticuffs in order to prove their manliness. There’s perhaps nothing more barbaric than watching two boozy meatheads trade blows outside a club, usually for reasons as mundane as a scuffed sneaker. Don’t get us wrong. We’re the first to promote fighting as a method of defending yourself or the ones you love from physical harm. But punching someone in the face because you like the way spilled blood looks on the sidewalk or the way a shattered nose feels against your knuckles isn't manly; it’s moronic.
Dillon seems to take some pride in being a man who fights and who will always fight. Here is the beginning of his article:
You’re a nice guy. I get that. You think violence is stupid and unnecessary, and you’re right. But let’s play make-believe for a minute. It’s Saturday night. You’re walking out of the movies with your girlfriend, or maybe you’re in the lineup at a club. Some jerk eyes your date up and down and says, “Hey, baby girl. Where you goin' tonight?” She ignores him. So far, so good. Then he grabs her arm and pulls her toward him. You tell him to let her go. He shoves you away with his free hand and says, “Whatta ya gonna do about it?” 

So? What are you going to do about it?

I've been in a few scraps in my day. Some I’m a little ashamed of, a lot more I feel pretty good about. I once kneed a racist cop in his balls so hard that I lifted him three inches off the ground. His buddies gave me a good working over in the back stairwell of the police station, but hard as they tried, they couldn't smack the grin off my face. I laid another guy out with a single punch after he insulted my aunt and her girlfriend down at the local bar one night. People who were there still talk about it.

I've also taken my share of beatings, which, as far as I’m concerned, is a badge of honor -- no one can accuse me of picking my shots. I've been punched, kicked, slashed with knives and had guns pointed in my face. I once took a boot to the back of the head that put me in a coma and left me with dizzy spells and blurred vision for the better part of a year. Still, my biggest regrets are the handful of fights I've had to walk away from.

Don’t get me wrong -- it’s not like I go looking for trouble, but when it comes knocking, I don’t exactly bar the door. I’m not a violent person, but I know that fighting has always been, and probably always will be, a part of my life. The ability to defend myself and those close to me, to stand up for those who can’t protect themselves, is one of the cornerstones of my identity, inseparable from my idea of what it means to be a man.
Huffington Post does a podcast, HuffPost Live, and they tackled this article and the idea of fighting as an element of masculinity. One of the Good Men Project editors (Social Justice Editor, Cameron Conaway) participated, as well as GQ and Vice writer Gavin McInnes, and some others.

McInnes offered up the old-school tough-guy masculinity norm (read: bullshit): “You’re not a real man, until you've had your heart broken, you've broken a heart, you've beaten someone up and you've had the crap beaten out of you.

Ivan "Doc" Holiday, who runs a bouncer school, is even more pugilistic than Dillon or McInnes.


Conaway (a former MMA fighter), along with the moderator, was the lone voice of reason, in my opinion. He argued that fighting to protect oneself is much different than fighting because you have a short fuse (like McInnes).

Here is the conversation from HuffPost:


The question asked at the Good Men Project is: "What do you think? Is Cameron right that there’s a big difference between fighting to protect oneself (as even the Dalai Lama said he would do, if necessary) and allowing adrenaline to shorten one’s wick?"

I have not hit anyone since I was in college (one punch to a drunk guy harassing a female friend). Before that it had been several years. However, when I was in 3rd-6th grades, I fought a LOT.

First, while I still lived in California, it was protecting myself and my friends from bullies. When I moved to rural Southern Oregon, fighting was how the boys established who was the alpha male, but this was not punching each other in the face fighting, it was basically wrestling each other into submission. Moving there in the 4th grade, I was the new guy, so I was challenged frequently.

I agree with some of these guys that when there is no other option, it may be necessary to fight. But there are always other options. And if those fail, brawling is not the answer, either. If it comes to that point, ideally one should incapacitate the threat as quickly and efficiently as possible (knees, nose, eyes, and shoulders/elbows are the easiest ways to drop a guy). Exchanging punches is a losing proposition all around.

It was my father who taught me how to defend myself, but it was also my father who taught me that a quick mind is much more effective than a quick temper.

1 comment:

Bally Balldez said...

Fighting is about honor and courage not manhood.

Punks need the shit beat out of them.