Sam Smith does not look healthy.
Last week, conservative journalist Andy Ngo published screenshots of the singer’s Instagram page. On the left, Smith is seen handsomely seated with his prestigious Oscar. The ensuing photos highlight his attempt to transition into someone who is “non-binary,” or a person who believes he was born a third sex or above the sexes altogether. The logic defies everything we know about human biology down to the binary nature of our chromosomes.
No one seems to know what a woman is these days, but does anyone even remember what a man is? Smith’s progression in Ngo’s photos underscores the erasure of cultural masculinity declared “toxic” by millennials. When you lose sight of what it means to be a man — what it means to look like a man, act like a man, and live like a man — you de facto lose the values that form the foundation of healthy masculinity. But our culture doesn’t even know what a man is.
Around this time last year, my Federalist colleague John Daniel Davidson provided a definition.
“If we’re going to defend manliness as good and virtuous and necessary for a healthy republic, then we need to be clear about what it is and what it is not,” he wrote, continuing:
Yes, men should be physically strong. They should also exemplify traditional masculine virtues like courage, independence, and assertiveness. But why? Not so they can sh-tpost about how ripped or good-looking they are compared to libs, but so they can protect and defend those who are weak.
That is the organizing principle behind the entire concept of manliness: it is not a style or a pose or an adornment. It is a way of being, of living according to the principle that you are responsible for the welfare of others, and should sacrifice yourself for their sake.
What does that mean in practice? It means stepping in to help those in need, whether it’s a woman being harassed or a stranger whose car has broken down. It means risking your own safety to protect someone being attacked, instead of just filming the attack on your phone and posting it online like a beta.
It also means marrying and remaining faithful to the same woman your entire life, and raising a family with her. It means working whatever hours and at whatever job in order to provide for that family. It means going to church every Sunday, whether you feel like it or not, to pass your faith on to your kids. It means getting up in the middle of the night to feed a colicky baby. It means taking your two-year-old daughter to swim class and singing all the songs — your own sense of dignity be damned.
I’m not sure I could write a better definition, amplifying the stoic virtues of physical strength, mental fortitude, and sacrificial living driven by a desire to strengthen the weak and protect the vulnerable.
Where we break is sexuality, and writing as a gay man, I know we don’t see eye to eye on certain fundamental differences. I may never live up to the picture of masculinity Davidson’s worldview prescribes, and I may never have children, but we can agree to disagree like adults. And that’s where the left has gone mad.
Gay men are often allergic to any kind of conversation surrounding masculinity because they’ve been mocked by a class of macho men as “queer,” a slur-turned-term-of-endearment that now qualifies one for the left’s privilege points. True masculinity, however, extends safety for the victims. Those who vilified it never truly understood the concept.
Before Davidson’s column, I’m not sure I remember even thinking critically about manhood — perhaps during a conversation with my father in high school. But beyond that, these discussions seem to have been choked out by a culture eager to dismiss masculinity as universally toxic.
If you question Smith’s regression — the legitimacy of it, the integrity of it, and even the consequences of it — you’re a heretic to the woketopian ruling class that’s hellbent on dictating acceptable speech.
But it isn’t just Smith. There’s a deeper mentally disturbed current pulsing beneath the decline of healthy masculinity and femininity. Consider that nearly 60 percent of people who call themselves “non-binary” report having a mental health issue. And that’s despite both difficulties in diagnosing mental illnesses and the fact that gender dysphoria itself is a mental sickness included in the latest psychiatric manual of mental disorders, meaning the real percentage is far higher.
See for yourself. How is this not a mental illness? Why are we not allowed to call it that? And why on Earth is it unacceptable to ask questions about the twisted state of the sexes?
These people are obviously struggling with a pain that’s very real. Their so-called gender identities might be made up, but their pain undeniably exists. Contrary to parental blackmail by family therapists, data shows gender-confused people are even more likely to commit suicide if they move forward with some kind of transgender transition.
The intolerance of questions surrounding gender dysphoria is baked into the elimination of masculine virtues, which promises peace and coexistence — or the allure of a projected $5 billion surgical industry by the end of the decade. But we need to understand what in the world is going on with men, and we need to be able to ask these questions.
Men today are not working. Their suicide rates are rising as high as their testosterone levels are falling low: While men make up nearly half the population, they represent 80 percent of suicides, and testosterone levels have dropped by double digits since the 1980s.
Men’s low testosterone levels reflect a population that’s not eating right, not exercising right, and not acting on their underlying ambitions. They’re becoming apathetic pot smokers stuck in the pursuit of cheap dopamine hits through Netflix and porn. And these low “T” levels are threatening fertility, which is already on the decline, in the long term, while guaranteeing a generation of fat, lazy men with no hormonal motivation in the short term.
The death of masculinity — its public execution brought about by its supposed toxicity — is the existential crisis nobody’s talking about.
Note: this is the first post in the author’s new conservative newsletter on culture, health, and wellness. If you liked this post and the topics addressed, consider subscribing here.