E. Ethelbert Miller
The term “healthy masculinity” seems somewhat problematic to me. Is there a bar or level of measurement we should all attempt to reach? Should masculinity even be linked to topics or issues of health? Are we looking at our actions, thoughts or simple conditioning? Is this a term that’s now a part of our vocabulary because of how men wrestle with their identity and the handling of power in this society? Social change often demands a realignment of power relationships between groups. As women become more empowered does it threaten male privilege? Do men respond by showing “unhealthy” manners and behavior? Do they become violent towards women and other men? If we turn our attention to young males during a time of transformation in our society, how do we raise them to have a “new” idea of what masculinity might mean? Can a society have a healthy male without a healthy female? This is not a Zen koan but instead a serious way of “interpreting” healthy masculinity. Do we need an “other” to determine how we behave and think? The term is perhaps linked to what we want best for our society. It could be connected to the pursuit of the Common Good and citizenship with purpose; how we live and love will determine our health as well as our vision.
Literary activist, author and poet E. Ethelbert Miller is the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, and chair of the board of the Institute for Policy Studies.