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Masculinity: True Friendships Within Men Essay

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Updated: Aug 28th, 2021

Abstract

Gender is a major organizer of friendship (Traustadottir, 2008).

It is a challenging act to establish friendship in our dispensation, where people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.

Talking about friendship in antiquity, it existed even at Abraham’s dispensation, where God called him a friend – “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness–and he was called a friend of God (ESV, James 2.23).”

Thesis Statement

True friendships occur within the bounds of faith, hope, and the greatest of all, love. If there is no trust, there is no relationship. Female’s friendly relationships with other females are noticeable but male to male relationships are notable. Man’s love or affection for his fellow man is ardent and histories are witnesses to that conclusion. There may be some who maligned male-to-male friendships resulting in an erroneous assumption, e.g. those men involved in that kind of relationship are homosexuals, but I strongly disagree with their malicious supposition.

Argument

True friendships of men with other men are recorded in history and of the many greatest examples of a true friendship between men are Jesus and John; also David and Jonathan. I believe that the Bible must be the formidable bastion of this kind of belief, and as many people know, it is the oldest and the most sold books humans have ever known.

Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice, which later Michael Radford used to direct the movie, The Merchant of Venice, is a remarkable example of a true friendship. In this story, Antonio loved Bassanio so much that he is willing to risk even his life for the sake of Bassanio’s love for Portia. Antonio’s love (philia) conceived another love (eros).

Gallipoli, an Australian film by Peter Weir, shows how friendship emerged through the pressures and bounds of being a soldier on the battlefield. This film portrays strong trust and the courage to face adversities even facing death.

Beyond reasonable doubt, male friendship is different from gay friendship.

La Cage aux Folles, a movie directed by Édouard Molinaro, depicts a gay marriage between Renato and Albin; so it is not a pure male-to-male relationship.

Honestly, I did not like the story of Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther. The true essence of love and friendship is pure and undefiled and not jealous.

Pressures

Men in adult friendships encounter great barriers such as competition, traditional masculine stereotypes, and fear of homosexuality, but these are just some of the barriers to overcome. According to Hale Dwoskin, these are so-called social barriers –

  • Competition. It is a nature of a man to be competitive. Some competition may lead to greediness, either in power, wealth, or fame. The famous saying, “The earth is enough for man’s need but not enough for man’s greed,” is one of the proofs of the substance of competition that hinders true friendship.
  • Traditional masculine stereotypes. Different cultures have different stereotypes. It is a norm for some cultures that a man must show emotional toughness. Though for some cultures it is normal for a man to cry to show the abundance of his true emotions, like “What you see is what you get” feeling.
  • Fear of homosexuality. This is a lambast miscalculations of a wrongful mind. Being in love, not in lust, with another man is not a shame as long as it is done decently and in order.

Patterns of male friendship

According to Rannveig Traustadottir, the great friendships written in history exist between men, and friendships among men are often romanticized and idealized. Men’s friendships are described through bravery and physical sacrifice in aiding others.

Bell claims that historical accounts are not distinguished by closeness and compassion for another man because “masculine values have made those kinds of feelings inappropriate and highly suspect–they were unmanly” (1981, p. 75).

Researchers observed that men have considerably fewer friends than women, especially close friendships or best friends (Bell, 1981; Block, 1980; Fasteau, 1991; Smith, 1983). This seems to be true but no man is an island, otherwise, he is dead.

Block (1980) listed various social connections between men, in leisure, sports, gadgets suiting their flavors and favors. While women are noticeably intimate, some men tend not to, but it is a fact that there are men who are intimate with their male friends.

In connection with the three great barriers mentioned above, the competition, traditional masculine stereotypes in some cultures, and the fear of homosexuality, the benefit of male friendship is almost the same as female friendship. According to Sherrod (1989), in terms of self-disclosure and emotional expressiveness, men’s friendships nevertheless reduce depression in the same way that women’s friendships do. Furthermore, when men attain a high level of intimacy with other men, they usually follow a different path than women, one that emphasizes activities and companionship over self-disclosure and emotional expressiveness.

Definition through Comparison and Contrast

Cicero defined friendship as an absolute agreement on all subjects human and divine, bounded with mutual goodwill and affection. He believed that befriending a man for sensual pleasures is the ideal of brute beasts; that is weak and uncertain with caprice as its foundation than wisdom. However, befriending a man through virtue is a noble doctrine.

Furthermore, he had confidence in the purity and virtue of friendship. Both Cicero and Plutarch believe that knavery, deceit, and dishonesty destroy a friendship, seeing that nobody is eviler than fooling one’s self. Therefore, practicing honesty is the noblest virtue a man can achieve.

Cicero defined friendship as an absolute agreement on all subjects human and divine, bounded with mutual goodwill and affection. He believed that befriending a man for sensual pleasures is the ideal of brute beasts; that is weak and uncertain with caprice as its foundation than wisdom. However, befriending a man through virtue is a noble doctrine.

It is his conviction that friendship can only exist between good men. Moreover, he stated that only mature adults can have genuine friendships; and assures that in the face of a true friend a man sees as it were a second self.

Cicero warns us that there is nothing that causes people to display worse carelessness, and pay graver penalties, than their selection and acquisition of friends.

We suffer from carelessness in many of our undertakings: in none more than in selecting and cultivating our friends. We put the cart before the horse, and shut the stable door when the steed is stolen, in defiance of the old proverb. For, having mutually involved ourselves in a long-standing intimacy or by actual obligations, all of a sudden some cause of offense arises and we break off our friendships in full career.

Satisfy your judgment before engaging your affections: not love first and judge afterward. It is this that makes such carelessness in a matter of supreme importance all the more worthy of blame.

Cicero also believes that true friends do things without expecting anything in return. He also believes that a friend’s vested interest is not a cause for demoralizing yourself, because he believes that ignorance is the cause of evil.

He is certain that friendship fails because one forsakes to endure faith, respect, and truth in their relationship. Irrevocably, in every broken relationship, something wrong has existed.

On the other hand, Plutarch believed that a man can gain profit from one’s enemy and is capable of converting this enmity into benevolence. He also noted that it is a peculiar mark of immoral habit to feel more ashamed of our faults before our enemies than before our friends. Moreover, fear and shame are not vital elements in developing one’s character. It is the perception of turning enemies reviling prompted by anger, greed, or envy which cures some evil in a person’s soul which friends oftentimes do not recognize. Ardent enemies, through reviling, can turn a man from mistakes.

It is wise that a man must examine himself if charged by slanderous allegations and seek for the cause of such revilings, serving the purpose of the doubt, if a man unknowingly commits what an enemy is accusing of.

Plutarch’s outstanding perspective of enemies suggests that false accusations must not be despised nor disregarded just because it is false, but rather consider what word or act of yours, which of your pursuits or associations, has given color to the calumny, and then be studiously careful to avoid it. For if others by becoming involved in undesired situations thereby learn a useful lesson, thus developing a strong foundation of one’s character by taking an enemy as a teacher without fee, and profiting thereby, and thus learning, to some extent, the things of which he was unaware. For there are many things which an enemy is quicker to perceive than a friend, and inherent in hatred, along with curiosity, is the inability to hold one’s tongue.

Conclusion

Noblemen have high respect for the value of friendship and regarding virtue as the greatest factor for an everlasting relationship. Also, ambition, power, and glory are major conflicts in attaining genuine friendship; however other men did not regard this as hindrances but challenges in bringing the best out of one’s enemies, thus opening an avenue for love and affection to spring, though some give serious attention in befriending a person and he thought that it is better to befriend a person at home.

Despite this, showing compassion for an enemy in affliction or dire situation is the hardest yet honorable thing to achieve.

Biblical philosophy that inspires classical philosophy is a stronghold of a true relationship to guide the 21st century.

That which has been is now; and that which is to be has already been; and God requires that which is past (MKJV, Ecc. 3.15).”

References

Devere, Heather. “Friendship”. Web.

Traustadottir, Rannveig. “Gender Patterns in Friendships”. Web.

The Internet Movie Database. “The Merchant of Venice”. 2004. Web.

Internet Broadway Database. La Cage aux Folles. Web.

National Film & Sound Archive. “Gallipoli”. 1981. Web.

Letters of Marcus Tullius Cicero, with his treatises on friendship and old age; translated by E. S. Shuckburgh. And Letters of Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, translated by William Melmoth, rev. by… New York, P. F. Collier [c1909]. Series title: The Harvard classics v.9.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius: Laelius; a dialogue on friendship, by M. Tullius Cicero; ed., with notes, vocabulary, and biographical index by E. S. Shuckburgh… New ed. rev. and enl., for use in American colleges, by Henry Clark Johnson… New York, London, Macmillan and co., 1913. Series title: Elementary classics.

Halsall, Paul. Ancient History Sourcebook: Cicero: On Friendship, or Laelius. 1998. Web.

Thayer, Bill. How to profit by One’s Enemies. Plutarch, Moralia. v. II. Web.

Gertrude Emilie. “The Classical Journal”. Vol. 45, No. 8 (1950), pp. 379-383. Web.

Cicero, M.T. On Friendship (De Amicitia), Translated by E. S. Shuckburgh. Web.

The Bible. Modern King James Version. Proverbs 22.24.

The Bible. Modern King James Version. Ecclesiastes 3.15.

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