We have presented a model for understanding male development with the purpose of making sense out of behavior that does not make sense. By looking at family development through a critical gender lens we see how males face subtle but defi ning differences in early relationships. We see how masculine identity is initially based on an oppositional stance-being “not mother,” rather than an affi liative stance-being “like father.” The oppositional stance in relation to females is often entrenched in the masculine socialization process. Because of the harsh punishment boys receive for gender role violations, they learn to scorn and devalue femininity. The purpose of this devaluation is to keep them safely hidden behind a mask of masculinity, feeling superior to women and safe from the attacks of other men.