August 2, 2021

Two Olympic Moments of Good Men standing up against Toxic Masculinity.

 

Not all men are toxic—we hear it often, but last night at the Olympics, we saw some proof of that.

Let’s talk about the men’s fencing team representing the United States.

Alen Hadzic was accused of sexual misconduct several times. First, he was banned from joining Team USA for the Olympics, but in a last-minute decision, he was allowed to compete in Japan.

It’s not surprising that many folks disagreed with that decision. Nothing is proven yet, and we are still talking about alleged sexual misconduct. But in this situation, you would already expect his teammates to act like bros act—but that didn’t happen.

One of the worst behaviors of men is backing their buddies in cases like these. But this is not limited to allegations of sexual misconduct. As we can see in the Republican party, backing up friends, brothers, and colleagues is something men habitually do—I call it toxic loyalty.

But the American fencing team took a different decision—they protested against their teammate. They stood up for women’s rights. I tip my hat to these gentlemen. Curtis McDowald, Jake Hoyle, and Yeisser Ramirez did the right thing—let’s hope this inspires men to overcome toxic loyalty.

Another behavior that could be described as toxic masculinity is the inability to share moments of joy with others. As we grow up, we are taught to aim to be the best—even if that includes dirty tricks. Men are drilled to compete with each other.

And of course, competition is not always a bad thing. But what if someone is just as good as we are?

That’s exactly what happened at the men’s high jump competition. Mutaz Essa Barshim from Qatar and the Italian Gianmarco Tamberi were both able to make the jump at 2.37 meters (7.77 feet)—and then both failed at 2.39 meters (7.84 feet).

So what now? They were offered a jump-off for Gold, but then Barshim did the unthinkable: he asked if they could just have two gold medals.

The official nodded, and the rest is history. Both athletes hugged each other and celebrated their shared victory. What a heartwarming moment between two men who show us that we can be rivals and friends at the same time.

Of course, we can’t always just share gold medals. There is nothing wrong with competition—but there is also nothing wrong with this special moment of two men celebrating their friendship.

Let’s hope this inspires men to learn how to share powerful moments with each other without stubbornly trying to be the one.

These are just two moments, and there are a lot of men in this world causing harm and pain every day. But there are good men out there—let’s celebrate their greatness and inspire others to follow their lead.

 

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