It shouldn’t be controversial to say an adult should never hit a child. That feels as reasonable as any statement could be, but a few might disagree. I can imagine eager fingers excitedly typing out varied scenarios and positing endless “what ifs” to find a way to work around this simple statement of fact: an adult should never hit a child.
Yet I’ve seen a spate of disturbing videos circulating on social media spaces of late. I’m disappointed these videos exist, but perhaps more disturbing is the reaction to them.
The videos depict adult, male teachers physically punching children. Each instance is a little different, but they follow a common formula. Student is misbehaving. Student is mouthing off. In short, the student is being a complete monster, and in one case, saying extraordinarily offensive things to the teacher.
In response, the adult, grown-ass male teacher physically attacks the student.
I’d like to think I’m pretty immune to the internet’s nonsense, but in this case, I find myself unable to shake the gross feeling these videos generate.
None of the behavior by the students is appropriate. Criminally underpaid teachers deserve honor and respect. The parents of these students have failed their kids. Past teachers have failed these kids. Society has failed them, too. And, yes, these kids do need to be taught a lesson. That lesson, however, should never be printed on the bony edges of a teacher’s knuckles – however smug that minor’s face may be.
Alpha Bros and toxic masculinity
I’ve been a father for a little more than 8 years. In all that time I have physically beaten my children zero times.
No swat on the bottom.
Not a pinch on the back of the arm.
Not even a slap on the wrist.
I never thought I would be that type of guy. My parents used minor physical deterrents to bad behavior, and I’m not traumatized, so I fully intended to use a similar strategy with my own children. When it came time to dole out corporal punishment, though, it never felt right. It didn’t make sense to hurt a child physically.
Have I gotten close? Sure.
Have I been beyond frustrated and had to assault an inanimate object? Yep – way more often than I’d like to admit.
But nowhere in me exists the desire to physically hurt my kids.
Part of me wants to dig into the teachers. I want to point out how weak and pathetic their actions are, but I’m capable of extending a little grace to these folks. These teachers have been through more in the last couple of years than I can fathom, and they finally snapped. I’m not excusing their actions, but I’m not looking to pile on. Their lives have been destroyed by these videos, and rightly so. I don’t need to add to that fire.
My issue is with the toxic masculinity crowd: The Alpha Bros sharing these types of videos to celebrate a child being physically dominated by a larger male.
This group of losers thinks it’s weak if a man kneels and hugs an angry child instead of screaming at him. These same folks think women are inferior. They behave as if any show of nonviolent emotion is a demonstration of weakness. They are desperate to be thought of as in charge and are likely to describe themselves as “an entrepreneur” while selling supplements online while living in their mom’s basement. These Alpha Bros have a 4Chan following, worship guns, and in general, have so little self-esteem, their only ability to feel good about themselves comes when celebrating the misery of others.
These are the trolls cheering on the teachers who physically attacked their students. They share these videos and talk about how soft society has gotten. “It’s good to see a real man finally standing up and doing something about it!” they type. In their world, a real man is one who is easily threatened by the words of an adolescent who poses zero physical threat.
If these are the hallmarks of a real man, I shudder to think how pathetic I am.
Define masculinity without the nonsense
I hug my children. I cried at the most recent episode of HBO’s The Last Of Us. My wife makes ALL the money. I must be pretty pathetic. I mean, how Beta is it to type angry words about all the big bad Alphas?
But you know what? I work on my own car – a German car, too. I mow my own lawn. Also, I use charcoal to grill large chunks of meat. I own firearms. I work out and even run ultra-marathons (OK, it’s been a while but still). My favorite sport is Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). But I also have an orchid collection and cry when Apple applies emotional music to rolling pictures of my kids. Soooo, there’s that.
Regardless of how we chose to define and measure masculinity and manliness, the pinnacle of manhood can’t be violence. A real man practices restraint. He knows the difference between wisdom and nonsense. These new Alpha Bros are devoid of wisdom and represent the worst of us men, not the best.
As fathers of the next generation, it is our duty to model healthy, masculine behavior. Yes, men do have specific needs. But there are healthy outlets for these feelings (sports, exercise, hard physical labor). Our job is to teach our young sons these healthy outlets. We need to point out the weak behavior of these imaginary Alphas, and lead with love and kindness.
Now, back to some MMA fights and my bourbon. I’ve had a long day of mending socks and cleaning the kitchen. This Beta life is brutal.
Photo: © Maria Sbytova / Adobe Stock.
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