As I’m writing this, over two years have elapsed since the first MenzLeague blog entry. As an organization, we have realized and de-realized who we are and where we’re going a handful of times. Throughout these changes, the goal has never waned. Men who want to be the best men they can be continue to have a community with which to bond. The gatherings and conversations have taken members to some dark places, and we’ve remained steadfast as they emerge back into the light

On a small scale, we have watched the successful execution of our mission unfold in front of our eyes. In other areas of the man-o-sphere, cohorts of men have achieved similar results, simply by inviting men to join them in the pursuit of defining the good and striving for its exemplification. In the face of impossible obstacles, the gentlemen have indeed begun to move forward, and men’s mental health is becoming a subtopic that has accrued its own importance. Thus, as we revisit the urging for men to take up their own manhood as a worthy cause, we must recognize that there is significant momentum driving us forward.

An Honest Look in the Mirror

In order to continue the progress made, we must relish the masculine urge to look at processes with a critical eye. In 2021, we cautioned that men’s mental health was in danger of becoming something fleeting. It is difficult to say if we have avoided this fate. Men’s mental health has not lost favor among important causes, but its character has shifted unpredictably. Many champions of men’s mental health have either failed to gain enough traction or have failed to understand the needs of men in a way that effectively reaches them. Many that claim to be helping men are doing so in a way that makes it obvious they never bothered asking men what they need. Others rely solely on their biological membership to peddle messages of masculinity that are clearly aimed at impressing women.

The veil of social media makes it easy for virtue-baiting charlatans to claim they are helping men without substantiating how. Among the most devious of these are voices attempting to re-define masculinity. The attempt at simplification is counterproductive from its foundation. Masculinity and femininity are too abstract and vast of concepts for us to neatly place within our understanding. The requisite vagueness of these concepts opens a trap door in which the disingenuous find easy entry. It seems obvious that these voices aim to feminize men and strip them of their strength, proclaiming feminine traits as truly masculine and shaming men that do not quickly pickup traits that are not inherent to their nature. This is not to say that a level of integration of the feminine isn’t necessary for the masculine to become healthy and thrive, but undercutting masculinity itself has been a pitfall of our culture.

The Cult of Vulnerability

Too many men are perpetuating this heresy against the very people they claim to be helping. Others would love to help, but only if men can alter their natures entirely so that helping them won’t take too much effort. To detail this even further, lets highlight one of the problem’s most pervasive instruments: the insistence that men become vulnerable. It is true that vulnerability is required to explore the deepest reaches of the psyche. The conversation, however, is stuck in the gathering phase when men desperately need tools to work on their mental findings. Vulnerability has been beaten beyond its utility as if it were virtuous in its own right. Virtue is not found in professing, it is the result of hard work on the contents of the admission. Proclaiming, “I am depressed” from a rooftop of any height is in no way connected to virtue and should not be celebrated without plans and actions to follow it up. What should be a necessary first step in the right direction has been celebrated so much that it has sent the message that victimhood and weakness make you a good man. But a person of bad character that proclaims they are depressed is not excused from harmful behavior. The implication that self-awareness makes one virtuous is the most dangerous lie of mental health culture and has resulted in a mass justification of selfishness. Men must make it a priority to end this delusion that vulnerability equals strength. You are weak while you’re vulnerable. It is a temporary, and necessary means to an end, not a goal in itself.

A Requiem For the Stigma

Stigma has been one of the toughest barriers for men to overcome. It is true that we are the first generation in modern times to even attempt to normalize men paying attention to their mental health and building a comprehensive sense of self. It was necessary to rally against the stigma and do away with archaic notions that men do not have emotions, or should not use them. This was a harmful way to conduct ourselves and resulted in decades of soaring suicide numbers. Since the beginning of the 2010s, the stigma has been consistently challenged with a sharp uptick in momentum during the pandemic. The results of this present themselves in the data. Men receiving mental health care have slowly but steadily risen each year since 2019. It would be ideal that these numbers would rise faster, but they force us to face the question of when we can declare the stigma is defeated. I posit that the time is now. I do not foresee any potential benefit to prolonging enmity with a notion that was meant to be preemptive. It is now acceptable for men to seek mental health care. Those that disagree still exist but are relegated to rest firmly within the minority. There are real issues men need to face. The stigma must be an issue we decide to place behind us lest it become the next wave of virtue cults we leave in our own way.

Big Victories

There is still plenty of work to be done. Suicide numbers for men have remained at alarmingly high levels. While there are plenty of factors that could contribute to this, we mustn’t ignore that mental health causes for men have forced their way into legitimacy within the psychological disciplines and content creator environments. In the past, we have cautioned the dangers of failing to face men’s mental health with sufficient realism and brutality.

I am pleased with how many voices have refused to soften their approach. Quality mediums for men are more available than ever. Those that speak up for men have become difficult to cancel or dismiss as promoting toxicity. Incel as a pejorative is hardly applicable to content that has made its way into the mainstream, even if the content is mixed in quality. These are major steps forward that we hoped wouldn’t take too long to see.

The progress is not without its faults. Man-o-sphere and Red Pill spaces are not careful enough to keep harmful caricatures of hyper-masculinity from spreading perspectives that are unrefined to the extent of being harmful. I am not convinced that these spaces have ill intent, nor do I think they are entirely responsible for harmful byproducts of their messages. These working parts of the mental health conversation are necessary in their harshness and should prompt men to be men of principle that are not swayed by ideas they know to be wrong. This is the fine print of prescribing brutality. Men need to pursue and confront the truth as it presents itself in order to progress. In moving forward, no matter how brutal, bloody, and complicated it gets, men of character will be what is left.