In this week’s edition of “Are Men Okay?,” we need to discuss the annual Christian men’s conference taking place in Missouri this weekend, in which, on Friday night, a monster truck drove off a giant ramp in an arena amidst shooting columns of flames against the soundtrack of really bad live electric guitar music.
I highly recommend that you watch this video for a full sense of the vibe before we unpack it:
Having unfortunately dived deep into the official website for this event, I can confirm the following: If and only if you are a cis man, you can pay $119 dollars per head to spend the weekend at the “Stronger Men’s Conference” in Springfield, Missouri’s Greater Southern Bank Arena, where entertainment includes monster trucks doing very basic tricks my untrained dog could do, ninja warrior competitions, and professional bull riding. According to its official description, the conference “exists to empower and motivate men to live out God’s view of manhood and be the best husbands, fathers, and leaders God has called them to be.” If you haven’t already stopped reading here and clicked over to buy your ticket for 2023, this will certainly seal the deal: Next year’s keynote speaker is U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), who’s long been obsessed with the idea that porn and video games are destroying masculinity in this country (and that it’s the “Left’s” fault, of course).
Among the frequently asked questions on the conference website are: “Can my son come with me?” and “Can I gather a group of men at my house to watch the conference with me?” To this I say, men: If you have to go to the Stronger Men’s Conference website to ask whether you are allowed to have friends over at your home to watch it together, I am concerned that you have some emotional problems that can’t be solved by monster trucks and pyrotechnics.
That said, I do concur that there is a crisis of masculinity in this country—I just don’t think it’s what these men think it is. Men are paying $75,000 for a doctor to break their legs to add three to five inches to their height. Tucker Carlson had a former Abercrombie store manager on his show to advise men to tan their balls using infrared light as a way to up their testosterone levels—nevermind the fact that testicles hang outside the body for a very good reason, which is to stay cool enough to keep their sperm functional. The real crisis of masculinity in this country is the men doing insane, dangerous shit because they’re insecure in their masculinity.
My best advice for a man panicking about his masculinity and that of those around him is to stop panicking about those things and go to therapy. Process your emotions. Get comfortable with yourself. Get comfortable with the idea of women in the workforce, and the idea that gay and trans people exist no matter how many laws you pass pulling queer-friendly books off shelves and banning teachers from saying the word “gay.” Understand that you can play video games and still be a man. You can also not play video games and simply not talk about them, too: a great option.
You see, masculinity is like a cat: If you chase it, it will run away. Curl up with a good book and chill the fuck out, and maybe it will eventually come rub up against your leg. Try it and get back to me.