A Macho, Macho....compassionate man?
May 25, 2016 4:43 PM   Subscribe

For Reasons, I need examples of stereotypically "macho", successful, "strong" men throughout history (or modern!) who also exhibited and or/talked about having compassion for others. Bonus points if they engaged in documented "sensitive" behavior to their family or friends.

Citations are greatly desired if you have them, but I'll take anything!
posted by corb to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Previously: Real Strength.

And I will re-post (from that thread) about one of the strongest men I know, even if he's not famous... My friend is a muckety-muck in the Army, the kind of muckety-muck that gets saluted because he's walking down a hall. His wife, also in the Army, just spent a year in Afghanistan carrying unbelievable responsibilities. In that year, my friend--very much a man's man--cared for their young daughters (including the diaper-to-potty transition, getting them to school/daycare, buying them clothing, reading to them every night, holding birthday parties and holiday celebrations, etc.), led a Boy Scout troop, led a *Girl Scout* troop, went to work (and worked longer hours during emergencies), kept the house together, and worried about his wife every second of their time apart. This man, who himself served in Iraq and saw some tough stuff, remained committed to his marriage, devoted to his children, constant in his ability to show up and fulfill his commitments...and when we sat down to chat, he was remarkably candid about how difficult it had been and how tired he was.

But he *showed up.* He did the job that was in front of him. He constantly did "self-checks" to make sure he was fully engaged in whatever he was doing at that moment. And he kept doing it, day after inglorious day, because what needed doing took precedence over any feelings of self-doubt. That's strength.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:59 PM on May 25, 2016 [11 favorites]

Somewhat related: as I commented in the thread, this FPP about Harry Arter was notable to me because I had never heard a man talk so openly and matter-of-factly about that volume of crying.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:14 PM on May 25, 2016

I've seen lots of pictures/stories of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson being very sweet his his mom and various fans. Also with animals if that counts.
posted by ELind at 5:16 PM on May 25, 2016 [4 favorites]

I recommend the book Defiant, about American prisoners during the Vietnam War, for the stories of a number of such men. While undergoing torture by the Vietnamese, they cared for each other in ways that were touching. I especially remember the story of Jeremiah Denton. Here is a youtube video of him when he was filmed for propaganda purposes. While pretending that he was being cared for properly, he blinked the word "torture" in Morse code. That is how the US government learned that American prisoners were being tortured. "Defiant" also highlights how the wives of these men cared for their children and worked tirelessly for their husbands' release.
posted by FencingGal at 5:30 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Paul Newman? Sex symbol movie star, race car driver, extraordinary philanthropist including children's charity work.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:34 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Mick Foley is the first to spring to mind. (Sorry for the Buzzfeed listicle link but it covers a lot of ground.)
posted by babelfish at 5:40 PM on May 25, 2016

Best answer: Terry Crews!
has done interviews on healthy masculinity, is not afraid to show his feelings or even carry a "man purse" (google it) - also said he thinks of going to the gym "like going to the spa" and talks about self care in a way that a lot of women do. has also spoken about being a male feminist and reproductive justice.

Bob Ross of the TV painting lessons
"Having held military positions that required him to be, in his own words, "mean" and "tough", "the guy who makes you scrub the latrine, the guy who makes you make your bed, the guy who screams at you for being late to work", Ross decided that if he ever left the military, he would never scream again." (from his wikipedia page)
he has a lot of regard for courtesy toward others, and is a very patient teacher.

Emotionally intelligent and yet tough guy cowboy/horse whisperer Buck Brannaman:
Very empathetic, very attuned to emotions, sympathetic to trauma victims due to his own background of childhood abuse.

This tough cowboy from the movie Unbranded, who is a wise and decisive guide to the travelers, and certainly a very confident experienced outdoorsman - he's their expert - but also cries about how much he loves the three young men he's helping during their trip:
I just remember seeing him crying when they left his cabin in Wyoming after stopping by for a visit on their way to the Canadian border, he was very visibly emotional while explaining that he thought of them like sons.

Also Nthing The Rock for how much he encourages and supports people (especially his own family) while also being a caricature of masculinity in a lot of ways. Lots of great moments of him parenting on instagram.
posted by zdravo at 5:44 PM on May 25, 2016 [5 favorites]

Teddy Roosevelt
posted by sexyrobot at 5:52 PM on May 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Patrick Baboumian is a monster, a record-breaking strongman, and is a vegan for ethical reasons. In my books veganism is pretty much the pinnacle of compassion, so he might count in your books as well.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:54 PM on May 25, 2016

Best answer: Audie Murphy was one of the most decorated American soldiers during WWII. He was awarded medals for heroism by France and Belgium. After the war he became an actor but, even when he had serious financial difficulties, refused to advertise for cigarette or tobacco companies so as not to influence children to take up those habits.
posted by lharmon at 6:22 PM on May 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Vin Diesel
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 6:25 PM on May 25, 2016

Rosey Grier
posted by 4ster at 6:53 PM on May 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Roméo Dallaire
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:07 PM on May 25, 2016

Boris Karloff was known as "The Gentle Monster" because of his love for children.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:19 PM on May 25, 2016

David Beckham and Prince Harry.
posted by misseva at 8:20 PM on May 25, 2016

Response by poster: To clarify: it would help if you could tell me both why the person is or should be viewed as macho/strong, and the thing they did that showed compassion. I am basically trying to convince a macho dude that it is okay to be compassionate and lots of other Manly Dudes He Respects Or Would Respect did or do.
posted by corb at 8:48 PM on May 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Marshawn Lynch? Ex: 1, 2, 3
posted by cdefgfeadgagfe at 8:51 PM on May 25, 2016

Who are the specific Macho Dudes he respects? I'm always a little put off when someone draws overly broad inferences about what I must also like based on what they know I like—since I spend so much time steeped in Culture X, I see huge differences they don't and it just ends with me wondering exactly how distorted their picture of me might be.

I guess what I'm getting at is that—based only on the information you've given us—it's not a sure thing that his detailed, uncapitalized, personal/unconscious/important-for-his-very-self-identity conception of manliness does allow for that sensitive side, and even if it does getting his idea of Macho wrong by drawing comparisons that only look accurate from outside that conception could be alienating.
posted by Polycarp at 9:09 PM on May 25, 2016

Ernest Hemingway?
posted by winterportage at 6:43 AM on May 26, 2016

Nthing Terry Crews. Originally went to college on an art scholarship, not a football scholarship on account of his insane talent, and he even took commissions to help pay for school.

He's a fantastic feminist ally and he even wrote a book on masculinity a few years back.

And he's HILARIOUS. Damn, Terry Crews. Save some talent for the rest of us.

Also, Patrick Stewart is an outspoken advocate for women's rights and domestic violence awareness.
posted by helloimjennsco at 7:10 AM on May 26, 2016

Would this qualify? He was old school, but Eugene Fluckey (link to New York Times obituary), an amazing submarine captain (the Barb) in WWII, Medal of Honor and Four Time Navy Cross Recipient, said his proudest accomplishment was that on his watch, no man aboard the Barb earned a Purple Heart (awarded for having been wounded or killed) - an amazing accomplishment at that time. His book, Thunder Below! (1992), depicts the exploits of his beloved Barb.”Though the tally shows more shells, bombs, and depth charges fired at BARB, no one received the Purple Heart and Barb came back alive, eager, and ready to fight again.
posted by gudrun at 7:56 AM on May 26, 2016

Best answer: Robert E. Lee. His mother described him as being both a son and a daughter to her. He performed much of the care for his disabled wife in later life.
posted by Jane the Brown at 9:32 AM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Specific macho dudes he respects are dudes that are warriors or battle leaders, or political leaders from the past where they actually commanded generals. Someone that is capable of great violence and struggle and success. So I'm trying to say - hey, those things are all true, but these guys ALSO had other sides you don't know about, and it's possible for people who identify as warriors to ALSO have these sides and allow these sides expression.
posted by corb at 10:22 AM on May 26, 2016

Andrew Luck. Total badass football player who also started a kid-inclusive book club.
posted by delight at 11:03 AM on May 26, 2016

US General William Westmoreland? Refused to cover up the My Lai massacre and was considerate of his men although not unwilling to employ them in active duty?
posted by Jane the Brown at 11:36 AM on May 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

How about Viggo Mortensen?
posted by seawallrunner at 10:50 PM on May 26, 2016

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