The Masculinity Detox


The Masculinity Detox


Identity - February 21, 2023

Curious (of ideas and people)

The Detoxing Man is Curious (of ideas and people)

I haven’t been truly bored for multiple decades. Not because I am constantly being entertained by my phone or distracted by ever-present media. Rather, I do not find myself bored because there is so little for which I am not curious. From thinking about how I will stream our vinyl records around the house to trying to make a better grilled chicken tonight, I find that my curiosity is limitless.

That doesn’t mean I am constantly satisfied, though. Rather, even in my curiosity, I am frustrated by a lack of progress and anxious as I wait for things to change. My son’s soccer game yesterday was a perfect example for how I am unsatisfied in my curiosity. We watched our 14 year old play in the first soccer tournament of the season, coming back after only 3 practices that weren’t snowed out. The team looked a little rusty as a result, and were definitely getting beat more often than not.

But, as parents on the sidelines, we keep on cheering, willing our sons to be the best versions of themselves. And we are nothing if not protective. Early in the game, my son was fouled badly, hitting his thigh and head hard against the turf. Multiple parents started calling to the ref about keeping the game safe. This became a theme throughout the match.

When the second half had nearly run its course with my son’s team down 0 to 1, a group of fathers started to ramp up their displeasure at the officiating, targeting a linesman who was likely no older than 16 himself. They yelled about fouls where there was clear evidence of them. It was over the top, aggressive, and counterproductive. And yet, I found myself incapable of saying anything. So, I walked away for a few minutes to get curious.

Why couldn’t I speak up and why did these men feel the need to to antagonize the opposing team and the officials when it was clear that would not impact the game and might only result in them getting thrown off the sidelines.

And when one of their children was fouled so hard in the last minute of play that he had to be taken out of the game with a concussion, I better understood both the idea and the people I was so curious about.

I saw in these parents a guardianship, the protective role that they cannot help but play. They felt as though it was their duty to fight for fairness and for safety. They were bound by it, with no alternative way to express it other than anger at someone who they felt was “hurting their child.” The guardian mindset, the one that says it is okay to say, “I’m going to go punch the ref if he doesn’t give that kid a red card” is relatable, if overly myopic.

Ultimately, I am curious about these fathers because I’m not sure how to help. I don’t know how to tell them that their son’s are not better off because of this rhetoric. I cannot simply take away the role they have embraced. But, I can inquire. I can talk to my other two sons who were also sitting there about why the parents are upset and why I chose not to yell like them. So, that’s what I did. I was curious and frustrated, and anything but bored.

@themasculinitydetox “Even in my curiosity, I am frustrated but a lack of progress and anxious as I wait for things to change.” The Detoxing Man is Curious (of ideas and people) – 28 of 30. How can we be curious of others even as we seek to change the world? #toxicmasculinity #positivemasculinity #masculinitydetox #patriarchy #soccer #soccerdad #yelling #soccerparents #curiosity #heartonmysleeve ♬ original sound – The Masculinity Detox