You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Cathy Young

Bravery, not masculinity, defines a hero

The recent tragedy in Aurora, Colo., has given us examples of selfless bravery along with the senseless horror of mass murder. It’s also revived an old question that is always with us: Should heroism be valued as a special quality of manhood?

Among all of that day’s acts of courage, three in particular have stood out: the deaths of three young men — Jon Blunk, Alex Teves, and Matt McQuinn — who reportedly sacrificed themselves shielding their girlfriends during the shooting spree. These are moving and inspiring stories, especially when masculinity has been so often portrayed, at least in some quarters, as a source of violence and oppression rather than virtue. They also resonate with the public by tapping into familiar archetypes of the knight in shining armor, or even more ancient images of protective males from our evolutionary past — images whose very familiarity can be a comfort in troubled times.

Your comment is subject to the rules of our Posting Policy

This comment may appear on your public profile. Public Profile FAQ

Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
Please enter a valid email will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of
Marketing image of