Today’s Problem With Masculinity Isn’t What You Think

A former soldier explains the emotional vacancy of “the fatherless generation”

Benjamin Sledge
Human Parts
Published in
11 min readApr 5, 2018


Photo by Oliver Ragfelt | Unsplash

“Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say
that we devise their misery. But they
themselves — in their depravity — design
grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.”

―Homer, The Odyssey

II don’t have the group picture from the day my dad visited my fraternity house at Oklahoma State University. It was awkward compared to the “Mom’s Day” photo we would snap a few months later. Not that it’s awkward to take pictures with my dad — we’re all smiles — but the “Dad’s Day” photo, which hung above my fraternity brother’s desk, along with a compilation of date party photos, looked anything but natural.

Each year, the university invites parents to spend a day with their kids. Most of us eat at one of the iconic Eskimo Joe’s restaurants, tailgate, and then head to a football game. Afterward, it’s off to the bars, or whatever late night event your parent can muster the energy for. Outside fraternity and sorority houses, you’ll find co-eds posing for group photos with dear old mom or dad.

The photos with the moms always turn out great. There we are, hugging mom or kissing her face. Everyone’s laughing and appears to be having a great time. If your mom made it out to the bar for a drink, like mine did, you’d introduce her to the girl you were interested in while acting part of the perfect gentlemen. Then you’d meet the mother of said-girl and your moms would screech about what a cute couple the two of you would make.

Can you find me? I’m hugging my mom (in a green shirt)

Dads were different. Like Saturn versus Earth different.

The group photos always seemed cold. There were some hugs happening, but they were those weird side hugs that Christians seem so fond of giving one another — the “keep some room for the Holy Spirit” variety. Everyone looks like a stoic philosopher; the smiles seem somewhat forced. When the dads…



Benjamin Sledge
Human Parts

Multi-award winning author | Combat wounded veteran | Mental health specialist | Occasional geopolitical intel | Graphic designer |