Second-Place Winners

The alpha male has long been regarded as peak manliness. That image of a man’s man who leads and commands respect by asserting himself wherever he goes has been sold as a worthy aspiration. But some men, heterosexual and homosexual alike, are not buying it.

For this growing number of men, being in charge is not a goal. They are fine with playing the background, offering quiet strength and reason while skipping the testosterone-fuelled grand gestures that have misdefined masculinity.

Second-place winners accept the boundaries of human interaction, they don’t coerce anyone into sex, they reject homophobia and the notion that being vulnerable, sensitive or soft is “not a guy thing.”

Look, masculinity as a hard, unyielding thing will always be fragile. So don’t be surprised to find that the men who have chosen this brand of manliness are always on the defensive. And as the world continues to find new ways to bend in better directions, rigidity and its protagonists will keep lashing out in fear of extinction.

But pay no attention to the losing battle to stay primitive. The mould is breaking, the flexible man is rising and more tolerant times are ahead.

Excerpted from Issue 17 of relea:se, my bimonthly newsletter. Join the mailing list.