Fighting Toxic Masculinity One Boy At A Time

“Dad?”

“Yes, son?”

“Can I go with you to the Dojo? I think I want to learn Karate.”

“Oh? Did something happen?”

He pauses. That’s a clue to me that something did happen.

“No, I just want to learn how to defend myself.”


I’m a proud father. I have two wonderful children, a daughter, and a son, and I often think about the world they’re growing up in a world. A world that on the surface appears different from the one I grew up in but suffers from the same problems of my time. A world that is suffering from a threat so severe that our world is dying from it. I’m talking about toxic masculinity.

I fully believe that toxic masculinity and the patriarchy are what are holding humanity back. It’s destroying our children’s ability to “awaken” into true emotionally mature and competent humans, regardless of their gender.


“We were in the lunch line, waiting to get our food.”

I nod my head, listening.

“And this senior cut in front of us, he was on the football team.”

“Oh? That’s pretty rude of him,” I say.

“Yeah, and I said he should wait his turn and get on the line like the rest of us.”

“That’s fair,” I say, “What happened then?”

“He told me he was going to ‘wreck me’ if I didn’t shut up.”


One of the best things that happened to me in my life was the day I became a father and not just a sperm donor. There are huge differences between a male sperm donor and a father.

A woman becomes a mother the moment she conceives, the moment her body accepts the fertilized ovum and it attaches itself to her body. Once that clump of cells attaches to her uterine wall and her body nourishes it, she is a mother. Always from that day forward.

For a man, it’s a bit different. The moment he becomes a father is the moment he chooses to invest time, resources, and emotions into the child. Whether it’s unborn, born, his genetic seed or not, a man can be a father to his child, the mother’s child, be an uncle, or in general a fatherly role model to boys and girls.

What happened to my son that day showed me that the father of the boy, the one that pushed his way to the front of the lunch line and threatened to ‘wreck’ my boy for speaking up, has failed him.

That father has failed his son. He knowingly or unknowingly raised his son to be a part of the vicious cycle of toxic masculinity. One where boys will be boys.

Boys will be boys. How I hate the phrase ever since I heard it from the parents of a boy that bullied me in grade school.

“Oh, isn’t that what all boys do? Boys will be boys.”

No, boys will not be boys if you raise them right.

This is why the infamous Gillette commercial so resonated with me. I was that boy, the one that was chased and harassed by other boys because of a lame excuse of boys will be boys.

I keep coming back to this video over the years. Why? Because it exposed the root of the problem. We men have been ignoring a screaming monster right in front of our faces. We got so scared that we speak the sacred words of a spell to chase it away, we say over and over again “boys will be boys.”

Except the monster doesn’t go away, it grows quiet with every chanted spell we say, it feeds on those words and grows bigger and more dangerous.

“How did you feel when he said that?” I ask.

“I was angry,” he pauses, “it was so wrong.”

I nod my head, “Go on.”

“Well, what if he decided to ‘wreck me?’ I don’t know how to defend myself.”

“Defending yourself is a good thing to learn,” I say, “Is that why you want to go to the Dojo?”

He nods yes.

I was on Twitter the other day saw a tweet from Aubrey Andrews. I follow her for her sarcastic biting wit and in this tweet, she posted a screenshot from an alleged Tinder profile.

What a sad profile. Sad in so many ways, but above all, I feel bad for this young man. I feel bad because the father figures in his life have failed him.

He’s probably in his 30s, horny, very emotionally immature, probably has problems talking to women, and most possibly on a negative path toward violence.

He feels like this is what life is like, women are there for a man’s pleasure, she needs to conform to some outdated religious requirement of chastity, and the root of all problems are immigrants.

This is a man who has fallen prey to toxic masculinity and the crushing patriarchy, a system that affects both men and women in different ways.

I never knew that it was that system that affected me so negatively growing up and how I was conditioned to excuse it as “boys will be boys.”

I’m here to say, not my boy.

I will shout this from the rooftops, NOT MY BOY!

Then I heard another voice. More men were screaming it from their rooftops.

I’m not alone.

There are other fathers out there that feel the same way. They actively take their time to make a difference, to invest in children through organizations, through Dojos, through the boys and girls in their families, and make a difference.

Being a father, whether it’s your biological seed or not, is a SUPERPOWER. Yes, we can never grow a life inside us but we can guide a life. We can shape the world, be the builders of a new world.

Men can actively father so many children that in the short span of a single generation can usher in a new world.

A world where there is no one is ‘wrecked’ because they asked for fairness. A world where women can feel safe to walk down the streets. A world where boys and girls can be who they are and not be bullied. A world that is built on kindness, respect, and emotional maturity.

We can do this in One. Fucking. Generation.

But we men need to own this. We need to take concrete steps to slay the monster.

But how?


Three months later I sat in the audience to watch my son test for his yellow stripe belt. Testing at our Dojo is always a boot camp style with the instructors yelling at the students, putting them under physical and mental pressure. He completed the test and ‘ranked up.’

Covered in teenage sweat and smelling like one, he smiled at me when the instructor put the tape on his belt.


A handful of men can’t slay this monster by themselves. We need is the majority of men across the world to look in the mirror and say, “It stops with me, no more.”

It will take the majority of men to stop and actively listen, with an open mind, to what women have been begging for us to hear for decades. It will require us men NOT to feel like it’s a criticism directed at them, but to understand the problems and help solve them.

Yes, we will need help from the women in our lives but it’s up to us men to start this.

I’m not here to stop you from still doing your “man stuff.” I’m not here to take away your fishing, your hunting, your boxing, your guns, your race cars, or sports. You know, all the stuff that I enjoy too, but I want to take away the lies we’ve been fed.

I want us men to undo the conditioning that has kept us in the ‘man box’ for generations. I want us to do the hard work of becoming emotionally mature, to see the system that not only holds women down but us men as well.

I want us to tear it all down because we were the ones that built this in the first place. I want us men to partner with women to architect a new world, a better world, one where boys and girls can become whole human beings.


“I’m tired and I think I’ll go to bed,” he says.

“Goodnight son, I love you.”

“Goodnight dad, I love you too.”

Freshly showered and with a belly full of food, I watch my boy climb the stairs to his bedroom. I notice that he keeps getting taller every day, his body is becoming more like a man with every passing week. I think about how he’s growing into a fine young man, a very compassionate and emotionally mature one. He’s light years ahead of where I was at his age.

I think about my nephews and how I came down on the oldest one recently, how I called out his shit one day. I remember how he grew quiet at what I said rattled around inside his head. I think about my youngest nephew, how he’s growing up with a non-engaged father, and how my sister once told me, “you are more of a father to him than his bio dad.”

Part of me is proud that my sister sees me as an important influence on her children but another part of me is sad. Another man is failing to guide, failing to lead where it’s most important, the raising of a new generation of men and women.

I pause for a moment. The words, “It stops with me. No more” echo in my brain as I climb the stairs and go to bed.


Emerging Masculine Warrior Spirit

Feminine Warrior Spirit is Calling for You

Influencers talk a lot about it and we see many books around this subject. The shortest example of Warrior Spirit I’ve found is that it’s internal mastery of yourself and often a positive attitude to resolve or avoid conflicts, internal and external. This is my story of how it found me and what it means to me.

Albuquerque, 1995, Summer, Saturday morning. I woke up on my cold linoleum bathroom floor. Dried vomit was caked on my cheek and my head was pounding.

Ms. Tequila dug deep and showed me where my inner wounded boy was hiding.

That Friday evening started as any Friday evening when you’re young, dumb, and have crazy friends. It was lots of laughter, booze, and partying. The weather was divine that night and we had free reign of the complex pool. Good times were had until Ms. Tequila showed up at the party. She came with a friend and introduced herself to me. We made small talk and I went back to being the host of the party.

Somewhere in the middle of the party Ms. Tequila took my hand and led me to a dark corner to have her way with me, and I let her. I was 24, living in a city surrounded by a desert, and until that evening didn’t realize all the unresolved issues I had with my ex-girlfriend. We had broken up the November before and I thought I had processed all the ‘emotions’ associated with that affair. My ‘date’ was good at uncovering my most hidden emotions, and I thank her for that.

Without ripping the lid off this relationship coffin, I will tell you this, our relationship was deep, passionate, and loving. It was the first time I connected with someone on such a deep level and I believe she did too. Our nights were filled with laughter, exploration, and vulnerability. The down part of this relationship was that it was doomed from the start.

We didn’t break up because of cheating or some other form of incompatibility, we broke up because we were young and had our paths to walk in life. We found each other on the same path and walked together for a short time. Then we came to a crossroads and parted, each one of us looking over our shoulders until we couldn’t see each other anymore.

Birds of prey swooped down from imaginary perches and ripped their talons into me.

Ms. Tequila dug deep and showed me where my inner wounded boy was hiding. She opened the door and coaxed him out. We talked and she showed me how deep my feelings still ran for her. This led me to go into full ‘no one loves me’ mode as I began to unpack and mourned love lost.

By the time my guests started to leave, I was sloppy drunk. I took one last shot as the last guest left and sat there in the dark. Ms. Tequila had to leave too but she told me all will be better in the morning. I sat there in my dark living room until the room started to spin. I ran to the toilet and started to purge. I purged and purged and purged.

I purged like no tomorrow and all my sad emotions seemed to stream out of me into that toilet bowl, heave after heave. Then I passed out on the floor and fell into the darkest of blackness ever.

In the pitch darkness of my dreams, I saw something. An enveloping presence came to me. It had no discernible shape and whatever shape I recognized, it became it. At first, I thought it was a worm and then a snake. Then it was a wolf. Then there were many wolves and then vultures.

After all, that’s what we’re taught to do, isn’t it? Don’t cry and be a man?

Birds of prey swooped down from imaginary perches and ripped their talons into me. Even a little mouse appeared and nibbled at my flesh. All these animals surrounded me and ripped my body to shreds. I can still hear their cackles and grunts as they ate everything that was me. It sounded like a nightmare and I should’ve been running in my dream but I felt incredibly at peace. I felt like something good was happening to me.

As soon as the feast was over, they all vomited out my bones and left me in a big pile. In a flash, the enveloping presence put my bones back together again and my body was restored. Then everything went black again till the morning.


The morning after was horrible. I felt like complete shit, but something was different. The night before brought out many unresolved issues from my breakup and I was now ready to address them.

… I have a goal to do better.

Why did it take so long to resolve this inner conflict? Simple. I did what every average man does in our current society. I pushed it deep down inside myself and hid it where no one can see. After all, that’s what we’re taught to do, isn’t it? Don’t cry and be a man?

I realize now, after looking back to that party on that fateful Summer night that my Warrior Spirit had awakened. I believe that spiritually (and physically) I purged out a whole host of hidden issues and trauma that I carried with me to that day.

Was my life a bed of roses afterward? No, certainly not. Did I make mistakes going forward? Yes! Quite a lot.

Am I the perfect man, father, son? Far from it but I have a goal to do better. The Warrior Spirit taught me to work on myself, to do better.

Do better.

Do better in my life. Explore and meditate on things. Do better in my relationship with my wife. Do better in rearing my children. Do better for me. Do better for my community. Do better for the less fortunate.

We no longer honor Feminine Warrior Spirit.

I believe that we all have Warrior Spirit and that Spirit has no real gender. For me, it’s Masculine. Others find it to be Feminine and even others find it to be genderless. It’s energy and connection to the Divine and when we tap into it, we awaken something in ourselves.

It’s a connection to the deepest parts of the cosmic web we call life. It’s an ocean of love that we shouldn’t be afraid to swim in. It’s the tallest mountain that we must climb for ourselves.

But all is not well.

There is an abundance of Feminine Warrior Spirit but the Masculine is lacking. The ranks of brave Masculine Warriors have dwindled over time. Many got lazy and defected to the fleeting distractions of modern society. They got confused and no longer work on themselves. They no longer listen, reflect, and change for the better.

They don’t resolve inner conflicts and treat Feminine Warriors as lesser beings instead of as equal ones. They lost the ability to see their illumination and the ability to tap into their power.

We no longer honor Feminine Warrior Spirit.

They are calling out to us and we ignore them. They are asking for us to come back to the light but we cover our ears and ‘grab women by the pussy’.


Masculine Warrior Spirit is needed to start the healing the world needs, and most importantly now! Our Mother Earth is burning. There is too much violence and too much confusion. Awake Men!

I know that things are changing in the world for us Men and we shouldn’t be afraid. It’s a good thing. We’re at a spiritual crossroads and all life hangs in the balance. Without us, there can be no balance.

A call for help has been sounded by our sisters, mothers, and lovers. Don’t be afraid to let your inner child out of the emotional prison you were taught to build. Let them out into the light and let the Warrior Spirit training begin.

I’ll meet you on the other side.


Special thanks to Yael Wolfe and her I Can’t Live in the World of Man Anymore post for inspiring my post. Thank you.