Is Manliness Obsolete?

by Brett on February 12, 2009 · 57 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood

manlinessobsolete

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Will Briggs. Will frequents the AoM forum, blogs at Letters to Liam and from what I can tell, is one of the nicest and most sincere gentlemen around.

Some years ago I read a book (Manhood in the Making, by David Gilmore) which surveyed the concept of masculinity in civilizations all over the world. The author found that almost everywhere you went, people had the same expectations: a man should be brave, economically successful, responsible, generous, sexually capable, procreative, and sociable with other men.

I commented on this remarkable similarity of ideas (from such different people as Spaniards and New Guinea highlanders), and a friend said, “Fortunately, we’re in the modern world, so we can get rid of the whole silly idea.”

Was she right? Is manliness old-fashioned and silly, best replaced with a new post-masculine ideal, in which we don’t admire courage, procreation, or the old manly ways?

It’s an easy question to answer, isn’t it? Reverse the list of manly qualities above, and ask yourself: would the human race be better off if each man were an irresponsible, impotent, stingy coward who couldn’t hold down a job or keep a friend? We can tinker with the ideal of manhood, but throwing it out entirely would be a disaster.

But let’s look further anyway. To keep it short, let’s consider one example each from three classes of manly virtues: those that only men can do; those that either sex can do equally; and those that either can do, but are more characteristically male.

Men Only: Fatherhood

Consider where the new post-masculine man has really caught on, at least in regard to procreation: Europe, and blue-state centers like Greenwich Village — that is, in certain rich locations that people imagine are the future of the world.

But they aren’t the future, and here’s why: those post-manly men aren’t fathering many children. A society without fatherhood has no future, because its members die without being replaced.

I don’t have birth rates for Greenwich Village, but you can get them for Europe. They’re crashing. Greece, for example, has a replacement rate of about 1.29; on average, if this continues, population will nearly halve each generation. Spain’s and Italy’s are about the same. The future belongs to nobody — except possibly immigrants, who will bring a different perspective on fatherhood with them, or they’ll disappear as well. Either way, this particular aspect of post-manliness has no future.

Of course not every man needs to be a father, and moderation has its place here. But if this particular manly virtue disappears entirely, so does civilization.

For Both Sexes: Responsibility

Consider a world in which males don’t take responsibility. They don’t commit to women; they father children but don’t take care of them; they have high-flown dreams but lack the discipline to carry them out. What kind of world would it be?

A poor one, for one thing, and there are parts of the First World that work that way. They’re the underclass neighborhoods where most children don’t have fathers at home or have a series of “fathers” who come and go. Theodore Dalrymple (Our Culture: What’s Left of It, Life at the Bottom: the World View that Makes the Underclass) writes about a nightmare society in Britain that works like this. Unfortunately, it’s nonfiction.

There’s also a modern glorification of never growing up (see, among others, The Sibling Society by Robert Bly). Underclass or rich, we can put off indefinitely trying to make the world a better place, turning to entertainments and drugs to occupy ourselves. But why should a man occupy himself in a less than perfect world? When there are children to mentor and causes to champion, why spend all your time playing Halo 3? Is being comfortable all there is to life?

Obviously responsibility is a virtue women can embody as well as men. But ask the women in your life if they want the men around to take less responsibility. If they’re in a good mood, they’ll laugh at you. If not, they’ll regale you with stories of the One That, Thank God, Got Away. Life isn’t so easy that half the human race can remain forever children. Men have to shoulder adult responsibilities, too.

Especially for Men: Physical Bravery

Bravery can mean daring to open up to a friend or sweetheart. (We need more of this kind of bravery.) But there is also the bravery of facing physical danger. Maybe that’s the part that’s obsolete, no longer needed in the modern world?

Maybe. If you are in a rich, civilized country, nobody is likely attacking you; you aren’t in a high-crime area; there is no natural disaster; someone else is a soldier so you don’t have to be; someone else is a policeman so you don’t have to be; someone else is a fireman so you don’t have to be; that is, if you’re very lucky, you will never have to confront physical danger. In that case, you won’t need to be physically brave in order for you and yours to survive.

So if we’re really lucky (and many of us are now, most of the time, thanks to the bravery of others), we’ll only need this manly characteristic

…for ourselves; we have a need to face danger.

…for our sons and male mentees; they need it too.

…and for our romantic attachments. Women want to date men, not aging boys.

It’s a paradox: women don’t want the men they love to kill themselves on motorcycles, but they still don’t find cowardice in men attractive. (Neither do men, for that matter.) And it’s not symmetric. I don’t know many men who would say, “I think a woman should be strong and brave, to protect the man she loves.” Or women who hope for the relationship to go that way, either.

But it doesn’t matter. Eventually, our luck will run out, and we’ll need physical bravery for physical danger again.

Conclusion

To sum up: why do we need manly virtues?

  • It goes with who we are physically. Men are bigger and stronger; it makes more sense to have them bursting through the doors and carrying unconscious smoke-inhalation victims out of the fire, because they can actually pick those victims up. (I say “they” because I’d have a tough time picking up a 180-lb. man — but there are plenty who wouldn’t!)
  • It goes with who we are mentally. Think about the difference in flavors of honesty. Women can be blunt and artless with the truth — but they’re often more nuanced, using more diplomacy and more we’re-a-team thinking. Men can be diplomatic, but we’re usually more apt to just say it. Both ways are useful — but although working on our weaknesses makes sense, it also makes sense to use our strengths.
  • It delights us. Birds gotta fly; fish gotta swim; men gotta do manly stuff. Look what happens on the forum part of this site: men come so they can revel in manly stuff, from barbecuing to power tools to cars, because it’s fun. That ought to be enough reason.
  • It delights women, too. To be blunt: if you say manliness is obsolete and we’re all just a mix of feminine and masculine, it probably won’t hurt you much socially with the ladies. But if you act on it — if you become that irresponsible, impotent, stingy coward who can’t hold down a job; or if you drop the symbols of manliness for a more feminine style, plucking your eyebrows and wearing a tastefully lacy dress (!) — it won’t just be other men who shudder and look away; it’ll be the women too.

But the ultimate reason to embrace manly virtues is that they are virtues. Being the best man you can be is a calling. The world may not thank us if we follow it, but thanks isn’t what we’re after. Excellence is, and charity.

{ 57 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lance February 12, 2009 at 9:09 pm

I had a long talk with a lady friend of mine about men and manliness. She was describing to me a very nice man, in the same profession I am in. He has done everything right professionally, etc., but just feels there is something missing in his life. He has no hobbies, no children, and no physical challenges in his life. Working out at the gym may make one look manly but is not very manly in itself.

My career is chairbound, but I have always enjoyed other things; time in the woods, working outside on the house, getting so tired you have a hard time getting up the stairs afterward. Getting cold and wet, hungry and tired or hot and thirsty and dirty; these physical challenges makes us feel alive. The hobby of shooting traditional muzzleloading firearms and camping out primitive on weekends is a good outlet and gets me away from things.

No, we need men to be men and the qualities of responsibility, physical bravery and fatherhood (that could also be mentoring) are what my father taught me. I tried to pass them on to my son and I think I managed pretty well.

A civilization without men will crumble and fall of its own weight.

2 Heather February 12, 2009 at 9:50 pm

I really enjoyed this post. Good work.

3 Jason February 12, 2009 at 10:10 pm

I don’t agree with the fatherhood point. It might have been fine way back when to produce a dozen kids, but we now need to consider what the truly sustainable global population should be, and how to achieve that level with policies that are fair and equitable. And whats wrong with immigrants? They’re men too aren’t they? (at least half of them anyhow)

On the issue of responsibility I think that you’re right, and there are a lot of guys that I know who need to “man-up” as it were, but how much is the trend towards laziness due to technological increase allowing for a more care free life? I’m a firm believer in progress, but will it become necessary to decide as a society to forgo certain technologies for the sake of preserving character? Will the benefits to our psyche outweigh the easy pleasure and contentment technology will bring us? I just finished reading Brave New World by Aldous Huxley which revolves around this interesting issue, and I recommend others to read it as well.

Overall I would say that I agree at what you’re trying to say, but the argument isn’t quite clear/ strong enough. The section on bravery and the conclusion are too general and not very instructive. The responsibility section was good however, and the references seem interesting.

Argh, I’m tired and lazy when it comes to writing comments so I won’t add more or clarify what I have already written. It would be so much easier if all of AoM could gather at some sort of pub and discuss articles in person.

4 David C. February 12, 2009 at 10:39 pm

Jason-

On your comment about fatherhood and global population…..it isn’t first world countries that are going to contribute to the negative effects of overpopulation. Europe is not reproducing enough to replace itself and America is only barely doing so. There’s nothing wrong with immigrants, but can’t we say that there is something worth preserving about uniquely German, Italian, and American culture? And, if we’re honest, it’s the first world countries that are going to come up with solutions to the big environmental problems that overpopulation is going to cause. If first world countries and their technological advancements cease to exist, what will happen to world?

On your comment about responsibility….I don’t think Will is talking about enjoying the leisure that technology brings us. It’s fine to enjoy relaxing. I think he’s addressing a general lack of ambition of men today. A lot of young guys who get hired at my company lack any kind of work ethic at all. It’s pretty depressing.

But I do agree with you that some parts of this post are unclear….I’m not sure what he’s getting out with the physical bravery part? Is he being sarcastic that we’re lucky not to have to put ourselves in physical danger or serious?

And I agree that AoM needs a meet-up at a pub.

5 Basil Moss February 12, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Good post, however…

Populations having fewer children makes a huge amount of sense, given how close we are to a global resources crises. However, fatherhood is very important, by which I mean it is important if you procreate, to be a father, not to shirk your responsibilities.

Concerning manly jobs, such as being a fireman, I’ve no problem with seeing women doing these jobs, where they are clearly capable. Some women are big, strong and brave, and such a job suits them better than any stereotypical “womans” job. It seems to me rather that you are designating such job’s as exclusively “mens” work, which sometimes they are not.

I with all other points though.

6 Tony February 12, 2009 at 11:54 pm

No women I know can pick up a 180 pound man and carry him out of a burning building, and I know some really strong women. I have no problem with women being fire fighters if they can pass the same physical fitness test as men-but they don’t-the test is “gender normed,” which means there are different standards for men and women. I know if I’m incapacitated in a burning building, I hope there a dude around who can pick me up.

7 Edward S. February 13, 2009 at 4:06 am

I enjoy most all the post here at the artofmanliness.com. This post, in particular, really stood out to me, especially the part on “Physical Bravery.”

I was having a discussion with my wife the other day as to why I workout so intensely and with such commitment. Currently, I am not “in training” for any sort of athletic event or pursuit. Instead I workout and train with such ferocity because I know, however unlikely, I want to be prepared in case my “physical bravery is ever tested. I may not ever have to defend myself or others against a physical attack or rescue someone from a burning building, but the honest truth his, I hope want to be tested. I want to know and show that I can be relied upon when “physical bravery” is called upon a needed. But, until that day comes, I will continue to prepare myself both physically and mentally.

There are other areas that this article mentions, such as “Fatherhood” and “Responsibility.” My wife just had our first child, a daughter. She was planned and is an amazing blessing. I looked forward to her arrival for nine months, and have not regretted a moment of our decision to have her. She has brought new meaning and purpose into my life, and I am enjoying caring for her and raising her. I believe all men can play the role of “father” in their life, even if they don’t have their own children. There are many great organizations out there that need men to offer their time to youths who’s fathers are not in their lives.

I know there are many men who come and read this blog who are living examples of “manliness” and use this site as a source of encouragement, fellowship and motivation (for themselves and others). I hope there are also men reading this blog who are trying to become the type of men who live out “manliness” more in there lives. I hope true “manliness” can be revived in this world (or at least this country), but I encourage and congratulate every man who is simply trying to exude and live “manliness” in his own life and around his own family and friends.

8 Will February 13, 2009 at 4:31 am

Thanks, everyone!

Brett will be posting this link soon, I think, but until then I still want a link to my blog, which is about my baby boy, who has Down syndrome. Just click on my name.

Edward, congratulations on your great news!

9 Jay Klarfeld February 13, 2009 at 5:09 am

Your blog was recommended to people in general by Anna at “The Almost Daily Exploits of Me.” To be honest, I have not read much yet but enough to know I am going to follow this blog being a man, 45 and never having gone through any manliness training- hell, my father died at 9 and I was a wimp in school so I not only did not hang out with men in general, I never had father figures except for Capt. Kirk who was very cool and one half of my dad.. The other, of course, being Spock.

So, yes, that was it, the only men in my life where TV people…

I am hoping this is a blog worth reading everyday..

Jay

10 Kari February 13, 2009 at 6:40 am

I would agree with most of these points, as attractive in a man, except one: women and strength. It is innately appealing when a man can appreciate a strong, physically brave woman, and I’ll tell you why. In modern society, my man won’t always be around to protect me and my family when danger might befall me. He might be away, or I might be out alone working/shopping/ferrying children/driving/so on. Having a man who tells me to be strong, to know how to defend myself and our family, who supports and encourages me in the pursuit of those things… that is very attractive and empowering. Instead of telling me to be subordinate to his strength, and that I’m helpless without him, it’s telling me to partner up with him, to guard our home and family when he’s not with me. Let’s face it: home defense will work a lot better if I can go grab the shotgun and load it while you square off with an intruder and we can work together.

I agree with most of the other points in this article, but it has to be said… men should get women involved in the protection of their own home and family. This doesn’t have to mean you both go to the gym and bench press; encourage your sweetheart or wife to be familiar with some defensive jujitsu or kickboxing moves (jujitsu lessons would be a fun date!), or to get firearm safety training, or gift her with some mace this valentine’s day. While it’s obvious that most of the time, men are stronger than women, teaching women to be dependent on being “rescued” by a man is an unhealthy mentality that poses a lot of danger to the personal safety of your family. Women have the innate drive and need to protect, particularly those we love. Feeling powerless to do so is one of the worst feelings in the world.

11 Trish February 13, 2009 at 7:59 am

I agree – manliness is timeless. I am most fortunate just having met an amazing man who is mos definitely manly, and manly in the most positive sense. Who we are as people, whether man or woman, is what makes us special. I say hooray for the masculine AND feminine.

12 Daniel February 13, 2009 at 8:17 am

Excellent read. I’m a firefighter and the physical demands of the job dictates that it’s primarily a man’s field. I certainly have no problem with a woman who could handle the job, but that is a rare occurrence! God created men and women separate, with distinct advantages and disadvantages and many people today are trying to blur those lines. There’s no problem in my mind with being as capable as one can be though- a person should always be improving themselves no matter who they are.

13 Nick February 13, 2009 at 8:55 am

“Let’s face it: home defense will work a lot better if I can go grab the shotgun and load it while you square off with an intruder and we can work together.”

I agree whole-heartedly. There are few things more attractive in a woman’s personality than the desire to be strong in a partnership, not necessarily independent from men altogether, however. I enjoy lady-like qualities in a woman as much as the next guy, but helplessness is not very becoming. In my opinion, the feminist ideals we have seen pop up over the last 40 years will pass with the wind like Ricky Martin or Sisqo, but truly strong femeninity is timeless just as much as truly masculine qualities are.

Any woman who wants to squash manly qualities in her guy such as decisiveness, a desire for adventure, and assertiveness (all mixed up with a little bit of grit and grime) is no better than a man who wants his woman barefoot in the kitchen all day.

14 Cole Tucker February 13, 2009 at 9:00 am

I see a disturbing underlying theme in this post and many of the responses, beyond the general heteronormative bias. Putting these two quotes together illustrates it well, I think: “A man should be brave, economically successful, responsible, generous, sexually capable, procreative, and sociable with other men” and “if you say manliness is obsolete and we’re all just a mix of feminine and masculine … [and] act on it — if you become that irresponsible, impotent, stingy coward who can’t hold down a job”. The assumption that feminine implies irresponsibility, etc I find so terribly misplaced and offensive and suggesting that we shouldn’t hold all individuals to those positive traits, frankly I call that insane.

The implications that only people having a penis qualify for fatherhood implicit delegitimizes those families with only female caregivers where one takes on the masculine role. The confusion between sex and gender appears more explicitly here, “and those that either can do, but are more characteristically male.”

I understand the targeted readership of this site and so usually I do not allow the generalizations to bother me much. This post really got to me though, with the amount of uncritical implicit assertions which really throw back to the negative aspects of “manliness.”

15 Do You Dave Ramsey? February 13, 2009 at 9:13 am

As much as I hate to admit it, I do think manliness is on the decline. Ideals around fathering children, managing a household, day to day self sacrifices, accountability, etc are not as prevalent as we’d want. I’m from the south and I’ve traveled with my job… I’d do minor things that hold open a door, or let others step into an elevator ahead of me or even say a simple ‘thank you’ and I’ve have women comment as to how rare my behaviors were. One went so far as to say that I should write a book.
Now clearly I’m using my experience as an example only. I DO NOT consider myself anything special but others do pick up on these traits and that says more about society as a whole than it ever could say about me.
Another point I’d make is the typical baffon character that is the TV Dad. We’ve laughed at these guys for years and the writers crank out more and more of them… then, suddenly we look around and we’ve raised a generation of wimps.

16 Jay February 13, 2009 at 9:14 am

I am sitting here at Kaiser waiting for my first grandchild to be born. – I am 45 & I am going to be a Grandad! – manly men, by the way, can play Halo, Gears of war, etc. As long as they don’t subsitute them for times like these…When it comes, I am proud to say- HE will be a boy, my first grandson..Anytime now..

17 Kelly February 13, 2009 at 9:21 am

It is apparent by some of the comments that feminization has overtaken manly thinking (i.e. “what the truly sustainable global population should be” and “global resources crises”). Don’t let fear perpetuated by junk science turn you away from being a man. I can’t be a father…it will ruin the planet. If American men continue down this path, we will be dominated by more manly countries that are more concerned with their own lives and their country than “the global community”. Men in this country are becoming soft by mindlessly following popular culture, being PC, and getting too damn comfortable. Men need to learn to be uncomfortable.

Hell, boys can’t even be boys anymore because the fathers out there have bought into this crazy notion that boys who are acting like boys (energetic, want to wrestle, and break things) are ADD or ” a problem child”. Men need to learn what manning up is really about. I see some hope when I visit my boxing gym and see guys who have never been in a fight before, deciding that it might be a good idea to learn how. Bottom line…men need to stop listening to the media and feminist about how men should be and learn what it really means to “man up”.

18 Cole Tucker February 13, 2009 at 9:38 am

@Kelly

I entirely take back my post above; verily, making your CNS a target for another’s fists epitomizes manhood. Concussions, long-term health effects? Those are womanly concerns, just like progressing extinction rates and the birth defects caused by industry in China, deforestation in New England due to acid rain, arsenic levels in drinking water across the United States…

19 Joshua February 13, 2009 at 9:39 am

Very well said, Will. Before I start, I just want to make it known that I speak only from what I’ve seen.

I believe that, especially in a world where chaos is escalating and there are people who would see us all pacified, we all need to be able to defend ourselves. Whether that means being proficient with a gun or knife, or having self defense training from, say, a martial art, that is for each to decide for themselves, but it is important all the same. Sometimes, having to rely on the police alone just isn’t safe. If your house is broken into while your family sleeps, as a man or woman, or for that matter even a 16-year-old, I should hope you have some plan on protection other than waiting for someone else to save you.

And while we’re on the topic of police, I honestly and sincerely believe that women should be in those fields IF they can pass the exact same tests as men. A fire isn’t going to go out any easier because you passed an easier test, and a guy strung out on drugs isn’t going to hesitate to shoot a woman with her gun drawn any more than they will a man with his. If, God forbid the tragedy, I should ever need someone to save me, I want it to be someone who is qualified and able, and I know many people who feel the same way. If a woman can do it, I believe she should have every right to, just like a man should have every right to do something typically not viewed as a particularly “manly” job.

I’m a freshman in college and I’m getting a degree in Technical Theatre. When most men hear about it, especially my first set of roommates who fit perfectly the stereotype of the college athlete, they think that I’m not a man because it’s involved with the theatre. Never mind the first word being “technical.” The job of a theatre technician is to do any number of things, including: raising and lowering 300-500lb. lighting rails, albeit on a counterbalanced pulley system; proficiency and comfort in using a scissor lift for many tasks; wiring electrical systems to a code comparable to that of housing; and finally, my favorite, building sets which use the same skills and tools one would use for building a house. All of those are either needed or incredibly useful in the construction field, and I haven’t found a person yet who would contest the field of construction being a manly job, and a proper and necessary one as well.

20 Kelly February 13, 2009 at 9:42 am

Another unmanly comment…heteronormative bias? Spend some time around boys (who haven’t been drugged or unduly influenced to act differently than what comes natural) and girls, and you will generally see some different traits come out. Those who think differently have been reading too much without thinking and observing. Have a masters degree, I have caught myself doing the same. Luckily, I have started using “intellectual courage” and starting to question what I hear and read and being willing to call B.S. when it doesn’t coincide with reality.

21 Kelly February 13, 2009 at 9:51 am

@ Cole

You obviously have never boxed or trained in martial arts. With headgear and gloves, concussions are rare. Also, it is more about the mindset of facing your fear than knocking someone out.

I am glad you mentioned China…a lot of our pollution in the west coast drifts over from China because they do pollute in an irresponsible way not because of overpopulation. Also, within the states, pollution can be controlled in a responsible way, and it is not linked to the birth rate in the US.

22 Michael February 13, 2009 at 9:54 am

Cole Tucker –

For one to be a father they have to be a man. A boy can not have a father figure without having a man in his life. I’m sure a boy with two mothers will grow up to be a fine person, however he will never be the same if he had a father when he was younger.

There are certain things only a man can teach a boy, no matter how smart, tough, or man-like a single mother, or two mothers are.

Also when I say man, I mean a real man who has the virtues mentioned in the article.

23 Cole Tucker February 13, 2009 at 10:13 am

Michael, what do you base your strong claims off of? Tautologies do not prove something. A boy who plays with legos as a child instead of tinkertoys would not be the same either. What things can only an individual who possesses a penis teach? Do they have to have a penis as well, or would trauma prevent one from being a father as well? Of course, one cannot demonstrate the virtues in the article all the time, so at what percentage does the man become a “real man”, or to rephrase, how man-like does the man have to be to qualify as a father-figure?

As long as your definition for father-figure specifies sex no one can argue with you. A key point of my post criticized these non-functional definitions and if you can point to a significant functional relationship which a masculine female could not fulfill I might willingly concede the point. I say might as I suspect any critique you make will require essentialist definitions instead of functional relationships. Most aspects of “fatherhood” I have familiarity with fall into intersubjective traditions which vary across cultures and eras meaning we construct them and can alter them with new experience and environmental demands.

24 Jason February 13, 2009 at 10:25 am

Kelly,

What we have in terms of population is a sort of Tragedy of the Commons. If the ‘feminized’ and ‘manly’ countries alike both started pumping out babies without forethought, we are bound to put too much pressure on our limited planet. I don’t know where that point is, and it might even be double the population we’re at now, but we must consider it or else we will eventually starve our future generations, or even our future selves, of resources to consume.

What I meant by my previous comment is that perhaps part of the reason that men are less ambitious and responsible is because technology allows them to live comfortably without trying very hard. Men now have the choice to be lazier and more comfortable at the same time, which is something past generations didn’t have to the same degree. Should we do something like put additional taxes to curb this behavior? Perhaps, but we have to acknowledge that with increases of technology we will become increasingly productive, and it will get easier and easier to achieve a comfortable lifestyle.

Bottom Line: Men need to learn to be critical thinkers and not blindly follow the media and pop culture, nor calls from old folks to return to what it was like in the glory days. The traditional virtues of manliness may be desirable and more beneficial to our psychological well being, but they are definitely not the path of least resistance, and making the choice to live by them will get harder as times goes on.

As for myself, I have had to figure out what is means to be manly on my own, since my father passed when I was eight and I was raised by my mother. I have chosen to live by some of said virtues; I am in university full time, I’m joining the army reserves this summer (Canadian), I volunteer my time and money, and I even had the responsibility of raising my younger sister after my mother passed only months after I turned 18.

25 Kelly February 13, 2009 at 10:36 am

Jason,

I am sorry to hear about your mother and father. I think that based on what you have said you are quite manly. Taking responsibility for your sister, getting educated, joining the reserves, the volunteering are very manly actions. I applaud you because you are a rare breed these days. Most boys would shy away from the responsibilities that you have assumed.

I agree with you that men need to be critical thinkers and not blindly follow anyone. That is why I think that people need to step back from the “globalization” and “global warming” hysteria and read some scientific literature from climatologists and scientist that do not buy into these theories. These are some of the scientists that sued to have their name taken off of reports that were referenced in Al Gore’s movie.

26 Cole Tucker February 13, 2009 at 10:42 am

@Kelly
While I have never boxed, you have spoken incorrectly about my experience with martial arts. I started in first grade with Korean martial arts and proceeded until high school (not counting JROTC rifle team) and began again (this time in Chinese styles) my freshman year of college, attending classes once-twice a week for the past 7 years. I do not have statistics, but an EMT friend who covered boxing matches at the university claimed regular concussions at the matches; I feel more inclined to believe his claim as I remember how often they occurred to members of the varsity football team at my high school.

Your claims about China show a strong level of lazy thinking. China pollutes far less the United States per capita. Second, the U.S. imports the most amount of industrial goods from China, far more than they consume locally; the U.S. hasn’t stopped polluting, or even cut down, it simply exports the results. The catch, U.S. and China only exist in our minds and so sooner rather than later all that dumping comes right back around through the closed system, as you pointed out in your post.

27 Kelly February 13, 2009 at 11:15 am

@ Cole,

Based on my 12 + years experience with Muay Thai, Boxing, Gung Fu, and hand to hand in a unit in the Army that you have never heard of, I have seen many fights and very few concussions. Not that warriors worry too much about bumps on the head like Tae Kwon Do practicioners do.

Speaking of lazy thinking, you have failed to provide a solid link of pollution to birth rate and why men should forgo being a father.

28 Kelly February 13, 2009 at 11:23 am

@Cole

Based on your comments “making your CNS a target for another’s fists epitomizes manhood. Concussions, long-term health effects?” leads me to believe that while your have “practiced” martial arts, you probably don’t face your fear and compete or even spar full contact. This makes my point that men should not let risks be blown out of proportion and thereby cause them to be less of a man and less courageous. Courage: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty .

29 Kelly February 13, 2009 at 11:25 am

Mr. Cole,

Feel free to respond. I will comment in a couple of days. I have more manly things to do.

30 Brucifer February 13, 2009 at 11:42 am

I often wonder about those females who view manliness as a “whole silly idea.” Although I suspect their perception of “manliness” is that of the boorish macho bullshit that is anathema to this AoM forum, there is still an underlying pretence that we moderns are oh-so-civilized that manliness is archaic. That, merely because women can now sit in the seats of corporate or political power, they (and civilization) have no need of the virtues associated with (real) masculinity.

Yet, were the guardians of our civilization to take as much as a day off, the protective bubble these women enjoy while making these lofty pronouncements would quickly vanish.

Although things are slowly and hopefully changing, there are still but few modern women who I’d entrust to have my back in a fight. (The lovely and sexy ex-paratrooper I’m dating being one exception out of thousands of her sisters).

I’m all for things like equal opportunity and equal pay and suchlike …. provided that women don’t insist on having their cake and eat it too …. and don’t undertake equal RESPONSIBILITY to keep the evils of the world at bay.

That aside chaps, I greatly weary of procreation being equated with masculinity. It is precisely such balderdash that has populated our streets with multitudes of louts, hooligans and ruffians with poor impulse control. Having one’s plumbing in working order proves nothing.

31 Scott February 13, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Hi! I was mixed about this post.

As a New Yorker, I thought your passing reference to Greenwich Village to be a bit gratuitous and insulting. It taints your work, and it is the kind of thing that you should leave out of your writing.

I agree with others about having children and the ecological balance. It is “responsible” to have fewer children. I also think that there have been evolutionary discussions as to whether it is better to have fewer offspring and dedicate a lot of time to their care and nurturing or have many and let them fend for themselves. I believe, as the father of two children, that the first is definitely a better strategy.

What feminism did, at its best, was expand the range of roles that were available for women; they could be nurturers and warriors.

What I believe women want from us, and what the world needs from us, is an expanded sense of masculinity. We need all of our warrior virtues and we need to find ways to be nurturing and compassionate. They want us to be caring and courageous. The feminine man is not the solution; but the “old school” man — who so often shamed the young and stunted their dreams — is not the answer either.

32 Kari February 13, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Brucifer said: “I’m all for things like equal opportunity and equal pay and suchlike …. provided that women don’t insist on having their cake and eat it too …. and don’t undertake equal RESPONSIBILITY to keep the evils of the world at bay.”

I hope you’d qualify that a bit. All human beings, regardless of gender, have an equal responsibility to fight the evils in the world. Having an equal responsibility does not mean that their roles are necessarily the same ones.

I’m strongly driven to fight the evil of human trafficking and modern slavery (sharing this in common with all manly men and womanly women, who naturally detest the abuse, exploitation, and dehumanization of others and see a duty in the world to end the suffering of their fellow human beings). It would be insanely foolish for me to to be going around engaging in trafficking raids, rescuing people, challenging trafficking rings. I’m not trained for it and even if I was, a higher risk exists for women involved in this work than it does for men by the very nature of the attitudes towards women perpetuated by traffickers and modern-day slavers.

However, I have a duty to fight it nonetheless. I fulfill my duty by supporting the work of those abolitionists, anti-trafficking task forces, officers of the law, politicians, and lawyers who are on the front lines. I blog about human trafficking and work hard to raise awareness. I do research. I fundraise. I’m involved with other social causes as well that aim at ending evil, cruelty, and injustice.

Men and women need to work together and value each other’s contributions if we are to see an end to the evil present in the world today. I think we can all agree that real men and real women know how to work together for the benefit of mankind by fighting evil in the ways uniquely suited to their individual talents and personalities.

33 Alex February 13, 2009 at 2:58 pm

I understand some commenters concerns about overpopulation, but as David C. said very well above, first world countries are barely replacing the current population. If first world countries die out, and third world countries, which have little concern about environmental policies and strategies continue to balloon, then the world is going to get much worse, not better. First world countries need to continue to have kids because they’re the people who are going to create the technology needed to clean up the world.

I don’t think men need to have a big brood of kids, and they should only have children when in a healthy marriage-but unless you have at least two kids, you’re really denying a huge part of your manliness. I’m sorry, but that’s the reality. Is there another more instinctual, basic masculine drive then the drive to reproduce, to create progeny?

34 Jacob Harrer February 13, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Living by the values of the modern world empower men who are weak, dishonest, and cowardly. Those bastardly men will never be able to triumph over true men unless they undermine us through degrading behavior and loss of self-respect. The world still needs real men. We are the ones who are still productive and taking care of the rest of the lazy population through responsible, hard, and intelligent work. We pay for their meals and government programs. Without masculine men, we don’t have actual products, like food, metal, concrete, wood, and security.

35 Mike February 14, 2009 at 7:22 am

A real man has integrity, courage and self-confidence. How do we get there? Hard work.
Having self-confidence happens where integrity and courage exist. Self-confidence is actually easy to acquire. Every day, I stand up straight, hold my head high and tell myself I am a confident man. Over time, I have convinced myself and this has a good effect on my integrity and courage. Working on having good manners also helps.
Courage takes some self-awareness. If you see someone harassing a woman on the street, step in and protect her. If you see a fight, break it up. You might be surprised how many punches you can take. Don’t be afraid to get hurt, you’ll mend and you will be proud of yourself for the rest of your life.
Another route to courage, mentioned in an earlier post, is to take Karate classes. You can get a black belt in Tae Kwon Do with about 3 years of hard work. You do not have to be even a good athlete or participate in tournaments; there are many individual skill levels among black belts just like in softball. How is this a route to courage? Karate is spiritual in addition to physical. You will get training in how to use your skills for good. You don’t know self-confidence until you have acquired good self-defense skills or been in the military.
Integrity is the key to manliness. Integrity is made up of honesty, loyalty and trust. This takes work over a lifetime and daily self-awareness. Does everyone you know trust you? If no, why not? How can you fix it so that in the future you will never create distrust? This is very difficult, but worth the effort. Some tips – don’t gossip – gossip reflects more on the gossiper than the gossipee; never lie – this is hard – try to recognize when you lie; treat everyone the same – if you are walking the hall at work and a boss is approaching accompanied by an underling, don’t ignore the underling – look them both in the eye and say hi to the underling first – do you have the courage and self-control to do this?
How do we get to loyalty? Watch your conscience. Want it. Be aware of it. This will be easy for some, but more difficult for the rest of us.
Honesty? We all know what that is, but may have different ideas or rationales. I would say if I was trustworthy and loyal, I have gone a long way to acquiring honesty. This takes a lot of self-awareness, but is fun and a challenge.
For most of us, there will be times when all we have is our integrity. Keep it, develop it. It is your most valuable treasure.

36 Valla February 14, 2009 at 8:26 am

So….a couple of points I would like to make…

1) @Cole: i think you took a HUGE leap to assume that the author meant that the opposite of those qualities listed at the beginning of the article is equivalent to femininity. What was meant is that the opposite is unmanly, not feminine. One has to be careful to draw a distinction between the two….

2) @ everyone who was talking about Martial Arts. I myself have also trained for many years in a Korean form. I’ve sparred in tournaments and have gotten my fair share of bruises and given them, too. However, I want to point out something that is often lacking in martial arts, and confusingly so: control. In a sport that really cherishes the full control over ones own body to be able to control/dominate another’s, there is a remarkable lack of restraint in training and in the ring among many of the martial artists I know. Those who get too caught up in full-contact sparring often cannot separate their mindset. In fact, it’s typically the most controlled and self-aware fighters who do best in tourneys, not those who just go all out anyway.

I think my point here is that while martial arts are a great outlet to find strength and manly skills, it’s all mental, too. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I bet one would say that the man who can get the job done smoothly and intelligently is manlier than the guy who just tries to hulk out, especially when it comes to dealing with people.

3) @ppl who argued about the fatherhood issue. Father == male? Yes. Father-figure == male? Not necessarily, BUT I’m sure that a young boy will recognize early on the unusual nature of having no father or two women running the household. I am fully supportive of gay couples having children (by adoption or whatever other means), but from the child’s perspective it does have implications.

(just to clarify, by unusual, I mean two things: a) the fact that most other families aren’t structured as such, or b) in the latter case: “hey, I’m a boy, and they’re not. What’s going on here?”)

4) I wanted to question the context of the reader’s quote of his friend that said “fortunately, we can get rid of that whole silly idea.” Oftentimes, I think that people don’t say things as precisely as they mean to, and I would like to praise Scott, because I think he hit it right on the button: “an expanded sense of masculinity”. Well done!

I think that too many people want to completely and fully equalize men and women, but we are genetically unequal. I fully sympathize with the fire-fighting point: I once watched a video where a radical feminist wanted equal (50-50) representation of men and women in the fire-fighting force. When asked about the lowering of standards, she said it was necessary. When asked if the fire-fighter coming to rescue her in her own home could not get her out because of the gender-”equalized” training, she didn’t really have an answer beyond a vague notion of equality in the workforce, even though it could have serious implications on other people’s lives. I don’t know if the gender-weighted training/standards has actually caused any issues, though.

HOWEVER, so long as the team is not weighted 100% on both sides, I am sure that women fire-fighters who might not be able to carry a medium-to-large human being out of a burning building would be valuable in other roles. i don’t know for sure though, would any fire-fighters like to clarify this?

37 jblaze February 14, 2009 at 3:39 pm

All people, men and women should be “brave, economically successful, responsible, generous, sexually capable, procreative, and sociable with other” people.

38 ramirez February 15, 2009 at 12:05 pm

great post. it simply verifies what i have discovered from many women that i have come into contact with. it seems to me, that is has become OK to be a man-child, to shirk responsibility, have no code of ethics or morals, have no respect for women, be a deadbeat, and act petulantly when your false machismo comes under attack.

as far as some of the responses, i am less enthusiastic.

1. why is it that a site dedicated to being a man, is frequently commented on by women? it is nice to sometimes here different opinions, this is not the place. i look at this like a coversation from a man, to other men, and if thats the case, who wants an argument on feminism? the occasional “here, here!” is gratifying, but turning this board into a debate is pointless.

2. it really irks me when someone uses a bunch of big words in order to win an argument. the point of being a man, is to be your own man, not to bend in the breeze of whatever hip, politically correct movement of the moment. you want to make a real change? volunteer at a community center, head the recycling center, donate time and money to causes in your community, wasting time and energy in global affairs that you will NEVER make an impact on is just plain egotism, and pointless. ok, someone spent a bunch of money on your education, we get it, no one is going to change their mind because you used a bunch of big words.

3. this site is about being a man, and this post in general is regarding the extinction of virtues that used to be common amongst most fellas. men should take care of their young, have as many as you can afford and handle, but be involved in their lives. my son and daughter are pivotal in my life, and i love spending time with them as well as my wife, nothing i wouldn’t do for them, it makes me the man i am. and i am sorry, but same sex households do not provide a complete environment for the child. the parents are like god to children, they learn all they know about gender, their own identities, life, and how to respect the opposite sex from their parents. having the same sex parents only gives them part of a story.

i dunno, i been reading this site for a while and have never posted before, but something about the tone of the responses really rubbed me the wrong way. i learned how to be a man from my daddy and momma, have a code of ethics and morals, give respect to all until they lose it, be honest and brave, take care of what you love, and never start a fight, but damn-well finish it!

in my opinion, that never goes out of style

39 Polish Punker Chick February 15, 2009 at 3:10 pm

I liked the post, but its important to delineate the areas of “Masculinity” and “Chauvenism”. Excuse the spelling.

Manly men who love their families, communicate with heart, manage their employees with compassion, and better the world through leadership qualities are fairly rare. There is usually a mix of those traits, but women, for the most part, can’t find a man who basically embodies the male lead in a romance novel- romantic, caring, attentive, hard-bodied, fierce, and communicative. What’s a girl to do?

I’ve settled for a man who loves me and takes care of me and the family we will have together, but is a little less than good at voicing his feelings or opinion. We may not always have a peaceful discussion with elightened ends about our relationship, but I know that he will never let me fall without catching me. Who’s to say what is right or wrong? Anyone who makes you happy, manly or not, is better than someone who makes you miserable.

40 Frank February 15, 2009 at 9:02 pm

As far as birth rates in Europe are concerned, women might just as easily be responsible as men. I think being procreatively capable comes with being a responsible and dependable father–being someone who can care for the women during pregnancy and be there for the child forever. It has very little to do with simply fathering children. We could do that artificially to no end, still replenishing the population, but without father figures the art of manliness would die.

41 Norm 3 February 15, 2009 at 10:47 pm

The post was well made.

A couple of thoughts though.

I think the physical bravery section was taken by some a little out of context. I believe the firefighter example was just that, an example. Albeit a fair one. I’m a big guy (200+ lbs) I don’t know many GUYS that could carry me out of a burning building let alone a woman.

Physical strength and the use of it under duress is for the most part a male thing. “Back in the day” men were soldiers, guards, warriors, hunters, that which was dangerous. Partially because the men didn’t have babies attached to them and I don’t know if this is a result of or resulted from evolution, but our adrenal glands work differently than womens. Men have a faster “pump up” time for the adrenaline to kick in. I think it’s about 2 minutes. Men stay up as long as they are stimulated and then crash just as quickly.

Women on the other hand, take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to “pump up” the adrenaline lasts longer and is a gradual decline. This was useful in its own way. Back when Ireland and Scotland were tribal the women would fight just as hard as the men to defend the homestead. By the time that the “danger”, whether it be raiding bandits or stampeding cattle, had got to the point that the men couldn’t handle it alone women would be climbing to a high on the adrenaline and either jump in or run away. Basic fight or flight. Male or female bravery isn’t always the smartest thing.

All I believe was trying to be said originally was that physical prowess is typically a male trait. Women for the most part want a man that is stronger than them, and taller than them. This again is evolution, if as a woman you are stronger than your man… the monkey brain kicks in and says, “WOA NELLY! I know I’m not THAT strong, and I’m stronger and taller than he is… so not worth breeding with.”

Women want to know that their man is physically able. In the modern Western world we’re not that far away from the chopping wood and shooting deer to live years and I think people tend to forget that.

That at least is my interpretation of this posting. Although some of the flamewars on this subject are rather amusing. :D

42 Anti-Manly Man February 17, 2009 at 12:51 am

Excellence, charity, bravery and virtue have nothing what so ever to with liking power tools, sports cars, or barbecuing, or even having a penis.

43 Greg Throne February 17, 2009 at 6:26 am

Spot on! But manly behavior does have conection to power tools, sports cars, and the barbeque. The tools indicate an innate sense of the need to be able to “support” a mate. The sports cars indicate a competence to engage in rsky behaviors and overcome the risk and survive. The barbeque idicates a sef-sufficiency. This set of male “displays” has been documented by Jared Diamond in “Guns, Germs & Steel” and “Coolapse”. A man needs those in combination with the sense of responsiblity and honest morality to effectively function. Thoreau was correct in stating that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”.

44 Kelly February 17, 2009 at 8:58 am

I find it interesting that on a site about Manliness and “in the presence of men”, displays of manly characteristics are described as, “boorish macho bullshit that is anathema to this AoM forum”. Since many of you are posing as intellectuals, I think that you will appreciate proper definitions out of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

Man: 1. one possessing in high degree the qualities considered distinctive of
manhood
2. the quality or state of being manly

MANLINESS: 1: having qualities generally associated with a man: STRONG ,
VIRILE 2: appropriate in character to a man

Strong: 1. having or marked by great physical power
2. FORCEFUL
3. not mild or weak: EXTREME , INTENSE

Virile: 1: having the nature, properties, or qualities of an adult male; specifically:
capable of functioning as a male in copulation
2 : ENERGETIC , VIGOROUS
3. a: characteristic of or associated with men: MASCULINE
b: having traditionally masculine traits especially to a marked degree

I suppose that I assumed incorrectly that those who would be attracted to this site embrace traditional manliness while simultaneously desire to expand manliness. By categorizing aggressiveness or competitiveness as “boorish macho bullshit” you are separating that from manliness and taking away from the definition of the term. Attempting to shame men into being less aggressive or less competitive is what has made our country soft and has emboldened our enemies. If men that STRONG, FORCEFUL, EXTREME , INTENSE, ENERGETIC , VIGOROUS, and MASCULINE make you uncomfortable, maybe you should check your view of the world and your place in it.

45 Anti-Manly Man February 17, 2009 at 9:51 pm

@Greg Throne

The tools indicate an innate sense of the need to be able to “support” a mate.
————————————————-

No, not really. A man who loves power tools but possess no skills or drive for an education can better support a mate.

————————————————-
The sports cars indicate a competence to engage in rsky behaviors and overcome the risk and survive.
————————————————-

I don’t think it says anything of the kind as most sports car owners don’t risk anything worse than a speeding ticket or a drunken acciddent. Why should we idealize unnecessary risk? How can you support a mate or be a father if you kill yourself in a joy ride.

————————————————-
The barbeque idicates a sef-sufficiency.
————————————————-

No it doesn’t. Did you hunt and kill the meat? Start the fire using foraged materials? A barbeque is as self-sufficient as a microwave.

————————————————-
A man needs those in combination with the sense of responsiblity and honest morality to effectively function.
————————————————-

No, he doesn’t. Most men function quite well without sports cars, barbeque, or power tools. The human body and the male brain do not require any of those things to “function”. Honest morality on the other hand is something that has nothing to do with being a man and has everything to do with being a good person.

46 ramirez February 19, 2009 at 5:28 pm

@ anti-manly man

hiding behind an attempt at humor and spouting off the type of PC crap i bet makes you think gets you laid, is pretty much the definition of man-child. any man who is offended by the topic of this site probably is so because they lack every virtue and talent expressed here.

this isn’t the “art of maleness” website. if you don’t agree with the theme of this site, move along. your trolling is boring and pointless.

47 mjaybee February 22, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Manliness has become obsolete in America. Manliness in America is vitiated by political correctness and what passes for feminism in this country today.

Family law makes it increasingly risky for young men to marry and start a family. Take a hard look at domestic violence laws, family court and child support statutes: there is no due process in family court, the Constitution does not apply.

Those breezy women’s magazine articles about “finding yourself” after a divorce? They wouldn’t be written if women lost their children, homes and livelihoods in divorce the way countless thousands of men have.

Meanwhile we have feminist psychologists (see work by Carol Gilligan at Harvard) attributing pathology upon pathology to boys simply because…they are not girls.

Every day we can read about another female teacher sleeping with one or more teenage boys, and getting sentenced to a slap on the wrist. A male in the same position would get a harsh sentence. The same goes for the casual treatment of women who kill or abuse their children. Why aren’t women held to the same legal standard men are in America? To put it another way, why are men punished far more harshly for their crimes then are women?

You want to be manly in today’s society? Stay unmarried, enjoy life, and think hard about having kids. Get an ironclad prenup if you want to get married. If your fiancee makes a stink – walk away.

I think AoM is a good site, but in many ways, it is an anachronistic view of society today, and it ignores many legal and societal hazards that men experience in day to day life. Because of that, it has little bearing on much of modern life in America today for your average man.

48 pseudo February 24, 2009 at 12:49 pm

Example of manliness :-)

I live in Kentucky and we just had a nasty ice storm that rendered our town and many others without power and sanitary water for days/weeks. During the first days of the storm, my neighbors, roommate and myself instantly kicked into survival mode. Between the four of us men we started to prioritize the needs of survival for ourselves and our women (“they stayed inside next to a propane heater for five days”). Off the bat we went out into the freezing rain and began gathering fallen tree branches and the portions of trees we could move ourselves into a pile for chopping and firewood. We sectioned off one house to isolate the heat solely in the living room (the biggest room in the house, were eight of us slept) and set our only source of modern heat in there to keep us warm when we slept. We then started a make shift fire pit in the back yard (I live in the city and am sure there are laws against this) which we used to keep us warm while cooking, a subject of fun while drinking, and the envy of other neighbors who refused to do anything to help themselves.

Without so many words, I was just amazed at the amount of: survival knowledge, responsibility, cooking knowledge, and determination the four of us shared with one another and am honestly looking forward to another ice storm, I haven’t ate that good in a long time. :-)

Things I learned:
1. If you have a bottle of rubbing alcohol and one full roll of toilet paper. Dump the alcohol into a container and set the toilet paper inside to absorb the fluid entirely. When all fluid is absorbed set the roll into a firesafe container (if inside) or just in a pit and light it up. Even with strong winds the roll will burn for about 15 min and can be used to help start a larger fire.

2. You can use any plastic bag as a water proof addition to your feet, when in a cold and wet environment always remember keeping you feet dry and warm is a high priority.

3. Snow and ice are natures refrigerant, if you think power will be off for a long time take all necessary foods outside, just remember that direct sunlight will warm them up.

I hope that will help any of you who ever have to sit in the cold because of a power outage.

49 Kelly (Boxer) February 24, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Great story. Thanks for sharing. Good job manning up.

50 lieben March 6, 2009 at 6:38 am

Interessante Informationen.

51 DAR March 10, 2009 at 10:54 am

I generally like this blog a lot, but frankly I found this post a bit offensive: anti-”blue-state” (“blue-state centers like Greenwich Village — that is, in certain rich locations that people imagine are the future of the world”), borderline racist (“They’re the underclass neighborhoods where most children don’t have fathers at home or have a series of “fathers” who come and go”), and a bit sexist in spots as well.

I live in New York City – in the Greenwich Village neighborhood, in fact. And I’m a married (my first and only marriage), responsible father of 2 boys. And I’m not the only one. I have numerous other dad friends in the neighborhood. We take our boys to soccer together on Saturday mornings, etc. – probably about exactly the same things that you do with your kids. Oh, yeah – and I’m not rich either.

So, news flash to Mr. Briggs who seems to think he knows so much about me, my neighborhood, and my friends – most likely without having spent much (or perhaps any) time either visiting New York or spending time with New Yorkers: your assumptions about us are way off base. Many (if not most) people of the people living here are families. And as far as the sizable contingent of people that are not – gay people, young people who are “postponing growing up”, etc.? Not only am I fine with them, I welcome them. They are all (with a few rare exceptions) peaceful, decent people, and make my hometown a more exciting, interesting, open-minded, and diverse place to live. And that is the type of environment that this responsible father wants to raise his children in.

52 Max March 16, 2009 at 8:57 am

I toatally agree with kari, both men and women have a duty to fight evil everywhere and anywhere in the world. They should fight it in a way their body permits – men go to war, women support their man and their cause, and attend rallies.

From what I’ve gathered is that on the most fundamental level both men and women want to be mentally and physically happy. But in the west the problem is that ignorance is confusing both men and women so that they can never clearly identify the problem and be happy. It’s time to face the facts – its time the west takes a cue from other countries. Most ardent feminists I know live in cities. In cities both men and women sit in a small box sized room all day and stare at a computer, 9 to 5. Since this work is mundane and devoid of mental stimulation both men and women feel unhappy, and since both can do the job equally well (since its purely mental) they will be in competition with each other. But since boys will be boys, their hardwired male brain tells them somethings not right so the result is that they feel emasculated and crushed. Women then complain men are feminine and not manly. BOTH SUFFER. Therein lies the problem – modern industrialisation has made life so comfortable its boring – for both men and women. In this modern robot-like society male heroism isn’t needed, so men have to find manly persuits to feel alive and save their male libido before it goes away forever. Its a sad truth of the times we live in, un inescapable problem. And overpopulation will mean cities will become even more crowded the world over. The ONLY way we can be happy is to return to nature and live close to the earth. Then men will not have to worry about defining manliness and women will not worry about the feminisation of men. The natural order of things would just come about, as God had initially intended. The most beautiful thing I have ever seen is families in devolping countries who work on farms, like my girlfriends parents from Thailand. Both worked equally hard alongside each other cultivating rice, both shared the tasks equally, and both lived life to the fullest and were extremely happy. After work the husband went to market, the wife cooked the meals and bathed the children. Neither squabbled about not having enough time to develope their intellectuality, equal rights etc. The man was happy being a man, the woman was happy being a woman, and both WORKED EQUALLY AS HARD AND HAD AN EQUAL SHARE OF THE DUTIES. As you can guess they remained married till death. But city people or those in the industrialised western world look at folk like that and call them names like country bumpkin and simpleton. The truth is they are scared to really experience life and all its challenges, they just want to have money and live in a problem-free drug induced world. Wouldn’t the world be cured of all its ills if people lived simply and close to mother nature?

Simply put theres no point trying to fight feminism and make men more manly, theres no quick fix solution. The fabric of modern society in developing countries has created a scenario where the requirements of the times do not match the true nature of our genders. Heres the solution – make society less materialistic and more spiritual, encourage people to work on farms instead of the boardroom. Since that sounds ridiculous in this day and age then my friends, accept whats coming, social ills will only multiply

53 Eric Mart April 18, 2009 at 2:29 am

Some time back I read an article (I don’t remember where, when or by whom) that addressed this thorny issue. The problem; name a manly virtue that women can’t have. Courage? Fidelity? Honesty and straightforwardness? Stoicism? Tenderness? My wife and sister have as much or more of these qualities as I do. I am bigger and stronger and can lift heavy things. I think the problem is that these differences are dimensional rather than absolute and there is a lot of overlap. One obvious difference is that men are more aggressive and young men are in particular. It may be best to think of manliness as a sort of code of chivalry that socializes and channels this aggression into pro-social channels; might for right and all that.

54 Dawson November 22, 2009 at 8:50 am

Hm. The editor in me wishes one were capable of marking up blog articles. The author seems to be wavering between coming out and saying what he really thinks and covering up what he really thinks so as not to offend anyone.

If this post had been whole-heartedly right-wing, chest-pounding, anti-gay male it may have made a great piece to debate over (I would stand on the opposite side of the author, but that does not prevent me from enjoying debating with someone coming from a different perspective as me). Instead it reduced itself to this sort indecisive, waffling commentary on why modernity is bad and tradition good.

Let’s pretend the above WAS firm in it’s convictions instead of waffling:

I believe that all things change and evolve. When we the human race lived as cave-men or even when the pioneers in the US were settling the West there were many children who went without a father figure (or at least a decent one) by many a supposedly “respectable” man not even from an “Underclass” (to use the authors words). Women were left home to tend the children and fatherhood considered a secondary form of parental care or guidance. Time’s have changed. What is required of a man has evolved. And you can’t evolve as the world changes….you can’t survive in the world, and neither will your off-spring.

As for bravery and responsibility I think (though it’s hard to tell in the mass of indecision above) the author and I are on the same page: Men and women each have those virtues–they are simply used for different things. Lord knows my girlfriend is much better at walking into the emotional firing range of dealing with her mother than I am. Of course, when a spider shows up in the house it’s my job to take care of it. And she’s also better about getting up early to take the dog out–while I, in turn, tend to be more on top of keeping the kitchen clean.

The reality of manliness is that it does not exist, in the modern world, in the same sense as it did even forty or fifty years ago. Does that mean no it has no place? Or is old-fashioned? Absolutely not, provided one can understand that for most people, in most places, it has evolved. And we as men must evolve with it, because ultimately manliness is about taking care of yourself, your family, and others and we don’t understand what is needed in this day and age, we will never, ever accomplish that.

55 Will May 10, 2010 at 9:50 am

For clarification: I don’t think modernity is bad and tradition is good, and I spoke moderately on some of the subtopics because I think the truth was in the middle. It often is.

So where did that belief come from — since it didn’t come from me?

My experience from the comments on this article is that much of what you get when you read an article, you bring yourself. (Jung called it “projection.”) The last commenter at least noticed that the things he imagined about me weren’t in the words; and they weren’t. But they also weren’t in my thoughts. If I didn’t say it, there’s a strong likelihood I didn’t think it. (And especially if I said the opposite! For example, I got a comment condemning me for promoting rampant procreation, though I actually spoke of “moderation.”)

On tradition — not that tradition was the topic of this article, but still — I’ll go with the site owner’s thought that some of it is good and some is bad. Let’s keep that baby and throw out the dirty bathwater.

56 Rick May 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm

I just read the article and thought it was pretty good. As you said, Will, those wild gripes in the comments section are the product of projection. Unfortunately, that kind of paranoid, trenchant approach to the world is indicative of what western culture has really degraded to, in recent years.

Many of us are still willing to talk and listen to each other openly, but it’s becoming more and more fashionable to remain deeply divided on even the most trivial facets of life, never mind those of real significance. Through this endless bickering, most of the population keeps itself paralyzed.

That, in my mind, is what keeps many boys from taking that vital step into true adulthood and true manhood. They’re afraid of the endless screech of the critics. We could talk about what drove this wedge between people nowadays, but I doubt we could trace it back to any single thing. What’s done is done.

In the old days, a boy could often count on his dad or other male relatives to help him make that transition into manhood. These days, fathers are very often not in the home, or they just don’t care about their kids because they see them as the products of a failed marriage, or the father isn’t mentally mature enough to handle kids in the first place. Often times, the mother isn’t ready, either.

This kind of thing was once considered a tragic circumstance; to come from a broken home meant not having the benefits of what was called the nuclear family; no dad and none of the great stuff dads brought to the family. It meant lasting psychological issues for the kids and lifelong difficulty in feeling truly a part of their own communities or wider culture. Nowadays, the reverse is true. Nearly everyone I grew up with watched their parents divorce at some point, as I did.

I know I’ve gotten awfully windy here, but I guess it’s just that I hate seeing things deteriorate into another session of cow-eyed bickering for its own sake. The way I see it, now more than ever, it’s so difficult for a guy to really – I mean really and truly – grow up and become a worthwhile, stable and confident man. Our culture is so wracked with dissention and endless criticism that it leaves most young men shaky in their self-identity. They end up going through the motions of life, but are never really able to just take hold of the wheel and steer their own ship. They sink into the background, work in jobs they don’t like and live unfulfilling lives. They do it because nobody ever wanted them to be men. They were always the products of failure, and would only grow up to pass this inconsistent, unhappy nature on to their own children.

It’s time for all men to stand up for yourselves and ignore the shriek of the mindless horde. You are a man, damn it! A man who has needs and wants that are just as valid as anybody else’s. If the eternal critics don’t understand that, then to hell with them. They’re lives are already forfeit because that’s how they want it to be. The fearful and bitter will spew that kind of filth until they choke to death on their own bile. The internet in particular is a safe environment for such invertebrate scowlers. Ignore them! To be ignored is to have every fear of insignificance confirmed and every shred of power stripped from their words.

I enjoyed your article, Brett, and I enjoy this website in its entirety. It’s about time we, as a collective, celebrated and embraced those features and ways of manliness which have been largely forgotten in these paranoid and divisive times.

57 Elle March 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm

I personally don’t think that it is the idea of these values of manliness that’s seen as silly; rather, its the idea that these values are male specific. Such values are universally valuable, in men and in women, and that is frequently what people take issue with; to specify these values as male and manliness in some part sets them as not female. One could still hold such beliefs and teach them to be a part of being human. As to the physical differences regarding bravery, its simply a matter of tweaking it to bravery within reason. To step forward in a time of crisis when you’re capable of helping, and to work so that you are capable of helping, is brave. But to step forward when you can’t do anything most often complicates things for those who can. In this way its not simply a matter of gender, but of personal ability or lack thereof.

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