What Is Manliness?

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 16, 2010 · 73 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood

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When we cover topics that are a little deeper than say, Frank Sinatra’s slang, there are always some people who pick up what we’re laying down, some who understand it but respectfully disagree, and others who simply misinterpret the article. The latter happens either because they did not have sufficient faculties to understand it or because we failed to write it in an understandable way. Whichever was the case, I noticed some misconstrued conclusions being drawn from last week’s article on “Scarcity, Luxury, and Proving One’s Manhood.”  So I wanted to take the opportunity to flesh out the topic a bit more. At the same time, I realized that while this blog is called the Art of Manliness, I’ve never really sat down and explained exactly what I believe manliness to be. So that’s what I’d like to do today. Pull up a chair and let’s get to it.

The Need to Plant Manliness in a Firm Foundation

While there are some ageless principles of manliness, characteristics celebrated by hundreds of different cultures in many different eras, some of the ideals of manhood have varied across peoples and time periods. These aspects of manliness were planted in transitory parts of culture.

For many ancient cultures, manhood was rooted in being a warrior. But it was a battlefield-specific manhood ill-prepared for life during peacetime. In early American history, manhood was connected with being a yeoman farmer or independent artisan. But when the Industrial Revolution moved men from farm to factory, men wondered if true manliness was possible in the absence of the economic independence they once enjoyed. In the 20th century, manhood meant being the familial breadwinner. But during times of Depression and recession, and when women joined the workforce in great numbers, men felt deeply emasculated. And in many cultures in many different times, being a man meant being part of a privileged class or race; in the United States, men owned slaves who were but 3/5 the equivalent of “real men.” When class and citizenship became achievable for anyone willing to put in the work, men felt that not only their position of privilege was under attack, but their very manhood:

When manhood is connected to such cultural, and ultimately ephemeral guideposts, and times change, a crisis of manhood results. Some men then cling stubbornly to a past that cannot be recreated while others seek to redefine manliness in ways that while well-intentioned, end up stripping manhood of its unique vitality. Thus, the definition of manliness clearly needs to be rooted in a firm and immovable foundation. One that works across time, place, and culture and is attainable for any man, in any situation.

Manliness as Virtue

While the definition of manliness has been endlessly discussed and dissected in scholarly tomes, my definition of manliness is actually quite straightforward. And ancient.

Aristotle set out in his Nicomachean Ethics a code of ethics for men to live by. For Aristotle and many of the ancient Greeks, manliness meant living a life filled with with eudaimonia. What’s eudaimonia? Translators and philosophers have given different definitions for it, but the best way to describe eudaimonia is living a life of “human flourishing,” or excellence. Aristotle believed that man’s purpose was to take actions guided by rational thought that would lead to excellence in every aspect of his life. Thus, manliness meant being the best man you can be.

For the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue. In fact, the English word “virtue” comes from the Latin word virtus, which meant manliness or masculine strength. The Romans believed that to be manly, a man had to cultivate virtues like courage, temperance, industry, and dutifulness.  Thus for the ancient Romans, manliness meant living a life of virtue.

So my definition of manliness, like Aristotle’s and the Romans, is simple: striving for excellence and virtue in all areas of your life, fulfilling your potential as a man, and being the absolute best brother, friend, husband, father and citizen you can be. This mission is fulfilled by the cultivation of manly virtues like:

  • Courage
  • Loyalty
  • Industry
  • Resiliency
  • Resolution
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Self-Reliance
  • Integrity
  • Sacrifice

These virtues are manliness. And they can be striven for by any man, in any situation. From the soldier to the corporate warrior, from the firefighter to the stay-at-home dad. The ways in which men today can demonstrate these virtues may often be smaller and quieter than our forebearers, but that doesn’t make them any less important or vital.

At this point, someone will always jump in and say, “Wait, wait, shouldn’t women be striving for these virtues as well?”

Absolutely.

There are two ways to define manhood. One way is to say that manhood is the opposite of womanhood. The other is to say that manhood is the opposite of childhood.

The former seems to be quite popular, but it often leads to a superficial kind of manliness. Men who ascribe to this philosophy end up cultivating a manliness concerned with outward characteristics. They worry about whether x,y, or z is manly and whether the things they enjoy and do are effeminate because many women also enjoy them.

I subscribe to the latter philosophy. Manhood is the opposite of childhood and concerns one’s inner values. A child is self-centered, fearful, and dependent. A man is bold, courageous, respectful, independent and of service to others. Thus a man becomes a man when he matures and leaves behind childish things. Likewise, a woman becomes a woman when she matures into real adulthood.

Both genders are capable of and should strive for virtuous, human excellence. When a woman lives the virtues, that is womanliness; when a man lives the virtues, that is manliness.

This is not to say I think the genders are identical. In the Code of Man, Dr. Waller Newell argues:

“We need to aim for the highest fulfillment of which all people are capable-moral and intellectual virtues that are the same for men and women at their peaks-while recognizing the diverse qualities that men and women contribute to this common human endeavor for excellence. We need a sympathetic reengagement with traditional teachings that stress that while men and women share a capacity for the highest virtues, their passions, temperaments, and sentiments can differ, resulting in different paths to those common pinnacles.”

Which is to say that women and men strive for the same virtues, but often attain them and express them in different ways. The virtues will be lived and manifested differently in the lives of sisters, mothers, and wives than in brothers, husbands, and fathers. Two different musical instruments, playing the exact same notes, will produce two different sounds. The difference in the sounds is one of those ineffable things that’s hard to describe with words, but easy to discern. Neither instrument is better than the other; in the hands of the diligent and dedicated, each instrument plays music which fills the spirit and adds beauty to the world.

Manhood and the Culture of Manhood

So how does all this connect with last week’s post about the “culture of manhood?”

While I think that men and women can aim for the same goal of virtuous excellence, I don’t think we have identical weaknesses in that journey.

One of the weaknesses unique to men is that we have a hard time moving from boyhood into manhood. Yes, it’s a generalization, but women seems to have an easier and more natural transition into mature adulthood. Men, on the other hand, often need a push to leave adolescence behind. It’s easier to remain dependent, to stay as a consumer instead of a creator, to live for self instead of others.

Cultures across the world have recognized this. And as we talked about last week, the culture of manhood was designed to address the problem and to make manhood a desirable goal, something men would desperately want to attain. Immaturity was stigmatized. What the culture of manhood did was provide an external pull which drew as many men as possible into manhood-it was a wide net, a tide that lifted many boats and motivated the many men who would have otherwise been content to hide in the background and live safe, mediocre lives.

We see this played out in modern society where there no longer exists a strong culture of manhood-many men today are struggling to grow up and into honorable manhood. They’re never sure when they’ve crossed that threshold and have left behind the boy and taken on the mantle of manliness.

But even though we no longer have a strong culture of manhood, this does not mean there aren’t still individuals who seek out manhood on their own. These men are far fewer in number and are self-motivated. Their desire for manhood comes from within, from an internal drive.

But the attainment of manhood does not happen in a private vacuum. The men I admire today, the men who have attained manhood despite the odds, all have one thing in common: They sought and completed a rite-of-passage. They went looking for a challenge when others hid from it.

While last time we mentioned that opportunities to prove one’s manhood and experience a rite-of-passage were almost non-existent, this was meant to describe the state of things on a cultural level. Society has become so niche-fied and fragmented, that there no longer exists rites-of-passage that are recognized by the entire “tribe.”

The challenge for today’s man is to become part of the little tribes that still offer this invaluable rite-of-passage. The military, churches, fraternal organizations, and adventures of other sorts can still help men cross the bridge into manhood. Or the passage may come to a man by accident, through the strong and resilient handling of the death of a father or the contraction of a disease. By whatever means it comes, the rite-of-passage breaks the gravitational pull of the path of least resistance, the path trod by so many, and propels a man onto the road to true manliness.

The loss of a culture of manhood surely has its downsides-the biggest being that fewer men will be prodded into mature manhood. But for the men with courage to still seek it out, the upside is that the manliness they find will not be born of outward pressures or cultural expectations but from inner values, conscience, truth, and heart.

The bottom line? True manhood still exists for those who seek it.

{ 73 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joshua M May 16, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Great article. Really expresses well your definition of manliness and one that I agree with too. One thing I consider to be a definition of manliness is “seeing what needs to be done and doing it.” Thanks for the continuing good work.

2 MasterRanger May 16, 2010 at 5:56 pm

I wouldn’t worry much about those who take issue with it. They either dont “get it” or will never appreciate a man anyway.

3 Tevya May 16, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Well said Brett. Well said.

4 Samuel Warren May 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Brett my name is Samuel I’m graduating high school this Friday and will be leaving for the Marines on August 9th. I’m hoping very much this will be my rite of passage into becoming a man. I’ve lived a very childish life thus far and have really grasped the concept lately of what it means to be a man. I simply wanted to say thank you for your website and your book that I recently purchased. You are a very gifted writer and I’m always checking for your latest post. You have helped me understand the values and attributes that I need to work towards to becoming the best man that I can be. Thank you again and please keep up the good work! More people appreciate this site than you know!

5 Josh May 16, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Well said indeed

6 Samuel Warren May 16, 2010 at 6:57 pm

I also had a question for you. What are some examples of men today in your opinion? If your curious one of my role models have been Bear Grylls, the host of “Man vs. Wild,” if you ever look him up he’s a neat guy.

7 Gerard Santiago May 16, 2010 at 7:03 pm

Eudaimonia. I didn’t know about that term before, but I knew the ideal existed. To seek it out, which I shall do… that is truly respectable.

8 Matthew D May 16, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Excellent article. I do tend to find one problem more and more within modern culture, or lack thereof, that cultures past were capable of providing. While it seems we now, more than ever, have access to so much be it through the internet or because of globalization, we’re becoming less and less sure as to where we may find resources. For all that we have access to on a consumer basis, it seems like society is hiding away those manly resources that allow us to become who we ought to. It’s not so much that we don’t want to become men (although many don’t), but some feel as though they don’t know where to begin to make their mark. The modernization of education and even the trades has begun to emasculate us as a people as seemingly more and more irellevent backflips, so to speak, are required to become qualified to do anything–And we must invest more and more money so that we may even be allowed to perform those backflips. As an example, it wasn’t so long ago that nearly every young man understood automechanics. However, in our ever-growing, ever-corporatizing world, where ‘experts’ determine the course of our future, as with all other things, that knowledge seems to be discouraged and even discredited among those who don’t wish to put up with a massive bill and unrelated courses of study.

9 Impulse Magazine May 16, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Being a man now is much more than taking care of yourself and family, it is about being a person that can stand up for oneself

10 Sasha May 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Brett,

I found this article wonderful, especially re: the differences and similarities between the sexes. I do think both genders come with their challenges re: growing up, however. I’m not sure women do it any faster, but still, thought provoking!

When/Are you and your wife going to tackle a site for women? I’ll be your first fan!

Sasha

11 Darrin May 16, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Into this mix I’d like to throw in the importance of individuation, a term used by Carl Jung to describe the undifferentiated and diffuse becoming the whole and complete. The more each one of us acts in the world and the more experiences we acquire, the more unique and singular we become. Someone who busts his ass off to make things happen is more individuated, and more manly, than one who sits on his ass and lets life happen to him.

12 Abdullah May 16, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Hey all,

That was a really good article! Thanks :)

On the subject on manhood being the opposite of childhood, I just want to through this out there: in classical Arabic, the word for man (which included also woman) is “rajul.” From that r-j-l root (Arabic is a root-based language, as Semitic languages tend to be), classical Arabic grammarians translated the word “rajul” not just directly as “man” but as meaning “a mature person,” the idea being that a man (or woman since the word encompassed both genders) was someone who was mature. Along that line, one of the definitions of a “man” or “manliness” that I like to follow is based on a description of early Muslims who it was said would fling watermelon peels at each other (that’s actually in the description) but when the time came to be serious, they were men (i.e. mature) – thus, the duality of still being a kid and embracing the child that lives within all of us, but when it comes to be serious, be a mature, responsible individual, embodying excellence in all things, including one’s character, through the values that Brett touched upon in the article above.

13 Schmidty - Man Vs. Style May 16, 2010 at 9:25 pm

great article Brett.

I think the manliness in the traditional sense is being lost more and more these days and I would hate to see what is going to happen to Gen Z, because self reliance and self motivation are a very important part of being a man, and society is slowly fading this out, so it will be very interesting to see what “manliness” will be in 10-20-30 years time.

14 Ben May 16, 2010 at 10:19 pm

Overall a great article, but I couldn’t hold back a sinking feeling when you mentioned the military and churches as a solution to the lack of rites of passage. Firstly, of the military guys I’ve known, compared to the gen pop I wouldn’t say they have a higher level of maturity. Often, they’re the ultimate “overgrown boys”.

Secondly, I’m not sure looking to external structures to gain acceptance is the answer. Perhaps they provide more opportunities/stressors, but it’s really how you deal with hugely confrontational situations that triggers the growth/leap from boy to man.

Glad I found the site though – plan on doing a lot of reading.

15 Nitai May 16, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Bravo Brett!

I have been following your blog on and off for quite some time now and recently read “No More Mr Nice Guy” thanks to your exposure of the book, and I have to say it has changed/is changing my life.

Since then I have been thinking about what it really means to be a man and came to much the same conclusion: It is not the external qualities that make a man, rather it is how you live your life.

Brett, you’ve defined that for yourself as striving for excellence and the cultivation of virtues as promoted by Aristotle. I believe that inherit in this and the answer to each man’s own question of what makes him a man are the questions of Identity, Purpose, and Morality. It is through the answers to those questions that one establishes the platform to understand what real excellence is and therefore the conviction necessary to achieve that.

One might argue that Bin Laden fits the definition of a man as striving for excellence and certainly he would believe he is cultivating those virtues we wish to cultivate, yet I would not call him a man in the truest sense of the word. My core values which are founded on the answers to those core questions (Identity, Purpose, and Morality) say he is a coward in every sense of the word. Thefore I believe the concept of being a man is not subjective and is intrinsically linked to morality.

And so as you’ve said Brett, this applies equally to women, and I would go so far as to say the concept transcends gender and is what makes a human being. I believe it is modern society’s discarding of these values in the pursuit of pleasure that is causing a drop in the sincere questioning of our existence and therefore the number of real men (and women).

Thank you for your thoughtful post. As I think about this I see more and more how the question of “what makes a man” leads to so many other important topics such as child rearing, what it means to be a responsible citizen, and what should society look like.

16 JamesBrett May 17, 2010 at 12:34 am

i’m pretty sure the makings of a true man are tied up in the following:
- the ability to tame and ride wild unicorns
- the power to rip a phonebook in half, after memorizing all the names and numbers
- competence in woodworking; building his own house without tools
- expertise in drinking 24 beers at a time, all while smoking a pipe that he lit by rubbing his hands together really fast
- a knack for killing wild game and eating it raw, without dirtying his loin cloth (or suit — depending on whether or not it’s a weekend or a work day)

17 Ammon May 17, 2010 at 12:37 am

I take my definition of what manliness is from the Scout Law
A man is . . .
Trustworthy
Loyal
Helpful
Friendly
Courteous
Kind
Obedient
Cheerful
Thrifty
Brave
Clean
Reverent

After all, isn’t the purpose of scouting the preparing of boys to become men?

18 Ariel Guerrero May 17, 2010 at 12:56 am

Boy, this is why I love this blog. Congratulations, Brett, on yet another piece of awesome.

19 The Counselor May 17, 2010 at 1:45 am

Excellent article—once again, you eloquently state what so many of us have been thinking.

20 Ashley Wollam May 17, 2010 at 5:28 am

I’d argue that we don’t give enough credit to the evolving nature of manliness/manhood (which you give a nod to).

You mention we have a hard time transitioning from boyhood into manliness. While I’ll go along with the idea that is due to some quality intrinsic to males, I also suspect that’s because manhood is, to a degree, a moving target.

I like that you reach back to the Greeks and Romans to give yourself a platform to stand on. It reminds me of what Newton said – “If I have seen farther than others, it is only because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” I think we should adopt a similar spirit to our study (however casual) of manhood:

If I am able to better understand my identity as a man than others, it is only because I have stood on the shoulders of (the Greeks, the Romans, my father, his father, my brother..)

21 Michele May 17, 2010 at 7:14 am

Brett, thank you for the follow-up piece. I admit that the previous post had left me a bit puzzled as it didn’t seem to fit in with what I perceived the definition of manliness that this blog (and myself) subscribe to.

I very much agree with this post that manliness is the opposite of childhood rather than the opposite of womanhood and that both genders struggle through not just the rite of passage, but the continual journey of manliness and womanliness. Once through the doors of that passage, a man or woman’s real test comes in living those values every day. As you noted, doing so is particularly difficult in a culture that thrives on the snarky, one-liner on Facebook as your test of worth.

However, I don’t agree that women have a more natural transition in our rite of passage. Joshua M above said it best and succinctly: the definition of manliness is seeing what needs to be done and doing it. I would propose that women simply realize that someone has to “do it” and thus, we do. I don’t think it’s any easier on us than it is on men to do what needs to be done. Which is why we still want you to kill the spiders.

Thanks for another thought-provoking article!

22 Mato Tope May 17, 2010 at 8:30 am

Great article, Brett.
All the perennial religions suggest that man is greater than he can possibly conceive. Marsilio Ficino, the great Florentine philosopher parphrased Socrates when he said; “Know thyself, offspring of god in mortal clothing. I pray you, uncover yourself.”
The virtues expressed in your essay should act as a blueprint of what man could be. To strive towards them not only improves the outer conditions of society but is our true destiny, our evolution…our apotheosis.
Just a thought.
Mato Tope

23 Rahul May 17, 2010 at 10:07 am

Brett,

Once again an awesome article. Indeed, to be a better man is to strive to be virtuous in every small and big decision we take. In life, we are faced with many seemingly small choices which challenge these values and it’s easy to slip, accommodate and make excuses. When you hit us on the head with articles like this, you refresh something and push us in an infinitesimal way towards the better. In that sense, you really are making us better human beings and better men. That’s real impact.

Thanks,
Rahul

24 Sarah G. May 17, 2010 at 10:13 am

Love this, thank you so much for clarifying!
I think it’s amazing that every man’s rite of passage these days are tailored to him – what one man fears, another man does every day. For my husband, going back to get a degree is his rite of passage. It was something he didn’t do earlier in his life, and something he regretted. He’s now fighting for it, because it takes so much work – but he’s doing it, and through that fight, he is becoming a new man. It’s a privilege for me to see the change in him, and watch him grow.
Thanks again…and I’m with Sasha – still interested in a website for women as I strive for excellence and virtue day to day.

25 Rahul May 17, 2010 at 10:15 am

Very interesting point raised by Nitai. Yes, even the evil ones might be living up to the standards laid down above and might be real men in terms of struggle, resiliency and industry but truly by serving the wrong cause they become lesser human beings. For instance, some of the villians from Greek or Indian mythology would assuredly meet the definitions of manly men and there is much to admire in their characters but much to despise as well.

For anyone interested in literature or mythology, I would point you to the point of Karna from the Indian epic Mahabharata. This was one of the heroes of the Mahabharata who from considerations of Loyalty and friendship chose to fight on the evil (and losing side somewhat like Hector from the Trojan Wars) side. The purpose they chose for their lives might be wrong but I think one can really say that they are ‘lesser men’ as such. Its interesting to think about though I guess it’s splitting hairs ‘coz we all know what we need to do to become the best we can.

26 Gabriel Justus May 17, 2010 at 11:25 am

Well done. Very well written, and evident that you put a lot of time and thought into it.
I definitely think this should be centered on the homepage for newcomers-it clearly sets up the rest of the site.

Thank you Brett

27 Jonathan May 17, 2010 at 11:51 am

Your definition focuses primarily on the social aspects of manliness, while at the same time you mention “self-reliance” and “personal responsibility”.

Could you elaborate further on your personal take on social roles versus individual goals?

28 Rob May 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Yes, a thousand times yes!

To live is to live in opposition. You exhort the point very well, and I encourage you to use it as a headline for the website. That this area is not Manliness in opposition to Womenliness, but Manliness in opposition to Immaturity. That it is Male Adult that is the Man, not the Male that is a Man. I am so glad that the mission of this site had finally been discovered. Please, use this as a guide post in future writings. Thank you, for this also describes the oppostion, the counterweight, that I sometimes see in my daily life, the struggle between the adult and the child in me and my surroundings. I am so glad you articulated this.

-Rob

29 Chris May 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Great article and a topic of discussion! Character development is woefully lacking in our society and I agree with the Scout Law as a starting point (disclosure I am an Eagle Scout) but I think ultimately the question of what is manly will find its way back to spiritual matters. As a Marine, I was and continue to by guided by the principles of honor, courage and committment. As a Christian, I the book The Measure of a Man: Twenty Attributes of a Godly Man by Gene Getz extremely helpful in my own “quest” for manliness and also for my sons. In his book based on Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, he identifies 20 attributes of a “manly” man. These 20 attributes seemed to put the verbs to the Scout Law adjectives and puts to everyday practice, those Marine principles.

01. Overall Spiritual Maturity (A well rounded man)
02. Above reproach (A man of good repute)
03. The husband of one wife (Moral purity)
04. Temperate (Balanced in words and actions)
05. Prudent (Wise and humble)
06. Respectable (Good role model)
07. Hospitable (unselfish and generous)
08. Able to teach (communicates sensitively in a non threatening and non defensive manner)
09. Not addicted to wine (not addicted to substances)
10. Not self-willed (not self-centered and controlling)
11. Not quick tempered (void of anger that becomes sinful)
12. Not pugnacious (not abusive)
13. Gentle (sensitive, loving, and kind)
14. Uncontentious (non argumentative and non divisive)
15. Free from the love of money
16. Manages his own household well (a good husband and father)
17. Loving what is good (pursues godly activities)
18. Just (wise, discerning, non prejudiced and fair)
19. Devout (Holy, devoted to God)
20. Self-controlled (disciplined)

30 Josh Knowles May 17, 2010 at 4:56 pm

This article has hit upon something very important. In this cultural time and place it is important to define “manliness” not so much in opposition to “womanliness” but in opposition to “adolescence.” I am 25 years old, and I see lots of guys my age (some who are even married) who want to continue being just big boys and not men. Whether it’s gaming all the time, living to party on the weekends, living at mom and dad’s until you’re 30, or just having no ambition, it seems to be a pretty widespread problem. I think characteristics like integrity and personal responsibility are essential, and I pray that my generation rediscovers and grabs ahold of them.

31 Perry May 17, 2010 at 5:48 pm

If I get you right, individual development called something akin to personhood is the overarching optimal state, which branches off into woman-and-manhoods.

Your assertion that girls are women before boys are men gives me pause. It just might be that female DNA back to the loincloth days required the child-bearing gender to accept responsibility sooner than her hunter/gatherer-out-on-the-range counterpart.

If that’s the case, then the two genders branch off very quickly into their own spins of life. I wonder if that dichotomy happens so quickly after personhood that for all practical purposes, instead of having a wedge denoting the branching of gender separation from the person, maybe the structure would look almost like a woman-person-man continuous line, with the person in the middle. It’d be easier to draw than verbally describe.

I like the scout oath, Paul’s compilation – all the lists – and the women’s remarks above.

See ya.

32 Ryan May 17, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Agreed.

33 Jake May 17, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Another excellent article. Sums up my feelings exactly.

34 Aaron May 18, 2010 at 12:42 am

First off let me say that I find your blog the most readable of the “manly” blogs on the internet.
I’m afraid I disagree with your definition of manliness. Manliness is no more a collection of virtues than a car is a collection of parts. If an engine, dashboard, chassis, steering wheel, etc, lay on the ground in a pile it would never be a car. A car is a mode of transportation, a vehicle that travels small groups of people swiftly and safely over short and long distances. Likewise manliness is how men act. If all men are cruel and tyrannical then that defines manliness. But as men change so does the definition of manliness.
Manliness does not define men, we define it. I think this a more powerful message to teach our sons, brothers, and friends. When you act, your actions define all men not just yourself. And the fact is that some men are cowards, or whatever, and we cannot simply write off their behaviour as not manly and therefore not our fault. They are terrible men, yes, but men still, and they define us. Whenever a man rapes a woman, women come to fear all men more, not just the rapist. We all suffer for his actions.
And the actions of men change over time, and so too does the definition of manliness, and if not being rapists is something we all (or most) want to value as manly, then we need to espouse that not only ourselves, but call out and act on those who do not espouse that.

It’s either that or the taming and riding wild unicorns one. I’m not sure which.

35 Dave May 18, 2010 at 2:51 am

@Aaron
I like your idea of a common definition for manliness, which is influenced by the behaviour of all men (and even maybe by women). It seems to me that this is a sort of “Effective Manliness” that we each have a chance to control to some degree. By setting a good example for those around us, we can change how manliness is perceived by the people in our circle of influence. In turn, they may be influenced to become better men and so can affect those around them. (To get an idea of how effective this can be in real practice, try reading Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point”.)

I believe Brett is talking about a more “Theoretical Manliness” that would be an ideal to which we should all aspire. This is how the Greeks and Romans perceived it. A lot of confusion over the centuries has come from the early translations of Eudaimonia as “happiness”. When you consider it as a sort of “excellence in living” or flourishing, it makes more sense as something we should be trying to attain.

36 Sarah May 18, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Thank you for an excellent post! This will be an anthem for my husband and I in raising our three sons into men at a confusing time in the world. And please do consider a site for women. Though we have many fine examples in our ranks, there is a missing standard of nobility for women of my generation. Continuing the discussion (reasonably) is the path to that standard.

37 David @ Super Awesome Dating May 18, 2010 at 7:45 pm

@ Sarah, that is a fine idea, why don’t you take the lead and start it yourself?

38 Jeremy Sheffel May 18, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Excellent post, the metaphor involving musical instruments playing the same piece really shed light on the difference between manliness and womanliness in a way that makes perfect sense to almost anyone. First class, Brett!

39 englishbob May 19, 2010 at 6:02 am

“One of the weaknesses unique to men is that we have a hard time moving from boyhood into manhood. Yes, it’s a generalization, but women seems to have an easier and more natural transition into mature adulthood. Men, on the other hand, often need a push to leave adolescence behind.”

I often heard this said but never seen this proved. This sounds like opinion rather than intrinsic truth. Otherwise, great article.

40 SB May 19, 2010 at 9:59 am

Good article! Very well said; thank you for that.

41 Devon May 19, 2010 at 11:42 am

Bret, that was an excellent way of explaining manliness vs. womanliness using the idea of tunes and instruments. Thank you for sharing that insight.

42 mike May 20, 2010 at 9:02 am

Hey, Great article however I must offer a correction. The fact that slaves were counted as 3/5ths of a man was true in the census during the slaving years of America. Believe it or not, the slave owners WANTED them to be counted, each as a man, the non-slave owners wanted the distintion. The reason was this, the slave states wanted more represenatives and therefore more power in gov’t. The non-slave states wanted to skip over slaves entirely to ensure that only the voting population was represented, the 3/5ths distinction was a comprimise between the two.
The actual view of a slave in those times was, I’m sure, much worse than 3/5ths of a man. For many, the defintion of a man started at white, then moved to affluent.

Now, that being said, you’re point is still very true, position meant manhood, even the ‘American Dream’ came to mean a rise from annonymity to affluence, rags to riches. Then it came to be a wife, a house, two kids, and a car. The personal afflunce model. The upper classes are often glorified as THE MEN of our day, despite a lack of any characteristic that makes a man. This often happens today und3er the guise of idiotic man-zines who tout what ever wash-board abs, hollywood pretty boy, as a man’s man, simply becuase he’s beded a few starlets, or PLAYED a man in a film. It’s sad.

As a reflection, it wasn’t until, I converted from Athiesm to Christianity that I finally began to understand what a man was, and what he was supposed to be. I remember shortly after my conversion going to a men’s conference at church and they asked the question, “What is a man?” My answer was simply physiological, the one with the male genitalia. I thank Jesus, that I found godly men, asble to teach, train, and live out examples of true manliness since that day so many years ago.

43 Alin Duhill May 20, 2010 at 9:10 am

Great post!

The broad definition of manlihood and womanlihood is universal.

Thanks for the enlightenment.

44 AaronL May 21, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I am one of the founders of National Man Day (www.thereturnofman.com) and this blog is exactly the type of thing we are trying to inspire men to be.

45 Jesse May 22, 2010 at 5:20 am

@ Rahul

I was thinking of the Mahabharata after I read this article. I have an overly simplistic view of the epic, but I love it regardless. The whole issue in the Bhagavad Gita (part of the epic) seems to be that one brother, Arjuna, is reluctant to war against his elder brother, Bhima. He knows that many lives will be lost on both sides, and is reluctant to fight. Krishna, his charioteer, talks to him about his dharma, his duty, to lead his people into the battle. That conversation covers many of the issues brought up in tis post.

But nowhere does it portray Bhima and his followers as evil. In fact it is because both men are honestly pursuing what they believe is right that makes the decision to fight so difficult. And that Karna, who taught both Arjuna and Bhima, chose to side with Bhima is not seen as betrayal but as an example of loyalty and strength! Yes, Bhima loses in the end, but not because he was evil and a usurper.

Thanks for bringing it up.

@ Brett

Thanks for the article, and the clip. :)

46 Matt Jett May 22, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Excellent read! I wish every male figure in my life from father to pastor to brother & friends would read this!

–Food for thought. I am an intercultural professor and have lived in several countries and states from Asia to Latin America. I’d like to post a remark concerning the commonalities of all cultures to strive for manliness, and how the use of two specific phrases used in this post and a few of the comments will can often hinder that end:

Self-Motivation verses Self-Reliance.

1. Self Motivation: This I believe is of utmost importance to manliness and maturity in any culture. It also removes some of the excuses and besetting remarks that often plague the youthful journey into maturity.
It does not matter if my Father did it or not, if my accountant approves it or not, if my church or organization will give me recognition for it or not…I will do it because I am self-motivated to be the best man I can be. I will treat my wife and other women with respect even if that was not modeled to me as a child. Several other points can be made here, but I’m sure you get the idea.

2. Self-Reliance, however, is considered a “virtue” mainly in western cultures. It is NOT the same as Self-Motivation. It many eastern cultures it is seen as a removal of influence, a degradation of the other members in that society, and it is a sure sine of immaturity for many of them. Even some definitions of manliness includes the desire to give back to those around us…to be a blessing and help to our neighbor. Self-Reliance in its purist form would argue that they should not need your help if they are mature, or it could declare that I need to be stronger for the weaker. Therefore if manliness demands self-reliance, only I or those like me are truly a man. If you are not self-reliant or find yourself in need of help, at that moment you cease being a man or at least are injured in your journey of becoming a man.

The defense of keeping the term as part of manliness would most likely involve a re-definition of “self-reliance.” One that probably would include a love for your neighbor. A desire to be a part of society and part of the solution to problems rather than walking the easy path of least resistance. The new definition would then declare something like, “Be self-reliant, but do so in order to help fellow man.” Unfortunately, this is not the basic definition, and not the definition seen by other cultures. Most men of this culture who actually define themselves by an outward appearance or other unhealthy methods, will abuse this term. They will continue declaring to a younger generation that if they are not totally self-reliant, they are NOT a man. This even bleeds into a religious “machismo” that would declare that you are week if you need God, and therefore are not a man. In a sarcastic end, I could declare that if you have to have someone else grow your food, supply you water, fix your car…anything that you cannot do on your own will keep you from ever utlimately achieving “SELF-RELIANCE.” In this culture it would be impossible for everyone to be there own farmer, rancher, mechanic, plumber, etc…but where does “self-reliance” stop? Who gets to define its end?

However, this is not the case with “self-motivation.” I am self-motivated to find a way on my own and help others along the way. I am self-motivated to work and not be lazy to provide for my own family. I can be self-motivated to find help for a problem. I can be self-motivated to find a solution for my neighbor’s problem. Self-motivation can be hard to twist into a derogatory form, and can be applied across cultures…even cultures that find great value and maturity in our inter-connections and dependence upon one another. Do you see the difference?

There is a book I read a long time ago called “Buddhist Economics.” It’s not about Buddhism but about eastern countries employing 1000 men for 12 months to build a road for the same amount of money it would cost to build that road using expensive equipment and few men for only 3 months. Our western though is that the job would be over quickly, and that we were more “self-reliant” with machinery and fewer men. Their thought process is that we fed 1000 families for a year, and the community built their own road. We would take pride in not needing our neighbor to plow our field with us because we worked hard and purchased a new tractor to be more self reliant. They would prefer to work together, build relationships, and use that money to feed more families.

Just a thought to switch the use of “self-reliance” to “self-motivation.”

47 William Saidland May 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Great Brett,
I like this follow-up article much more. “manhood is the opposite of childhood”…”A child is self-centered, fearful, and dependent. A man is bold, courageous, respectful, independent and of service to others.” Awsome. I’ll tattoo that on to my forearm.

The idea that a comparable women’s site would have ANY meaning gave me the chuckles. I have an idea: someone should create a website that deals with politics.

Oh I loooooove it.

48 Core May 23, 2010 at 11:59 am

Just wanted to say, that I am going to print this article out and share it with my dad.

It’s great. Especially that bit where you mentioned, manliness vs womanliness or manliness vs immaturity…
WOW what an excellent point you made there.

I also loved the instrument reference, because again… What an excellent point you made. Great analogy!

And thanks for giving a definition. I had come up with my own list, trying to ground my life, and a lot of the principles I had come up with for myself to go by, were in the above mentioned article. Good to know I am on the same page.

49 ZLytle May 26, 2010 at 12:27 am

Surprisingly complete and very thoughtful. I feel chided just reading it.

One thing: I think any discussion of manhood vs. womanhood… basically any comparisons or other such nonsense should not be here. If you didn’t get enough of that kind of crap in college, pick up any popular men’s or women’s magazine and you are sure to find at least one mind numbing article about the differences and similarities between males and females (along with free value judgements). I love this site. Let the girls make their own.

Thanks

50 Sarah May 26, 2010 at 5:11 pm

“The idea that a comparable women’s site would have ANY meaning gave me the chuckles. I have an idea: someone should create a website that deals with politics.”

What is your point, Willam?

51 zlytle May 27, 2010 at 12:21 am

Comparable Womens’ Site: “O” Magazine. This may not be pretty but it’s as close as you ladies get.

52 sarah May 27, 2010 at 3:33 pm

That’s like saying “Maxim” or “GQ” are comparable men’s forums. It’s insulting and it doesn’t really hit at the core of womanhood.

53 zlytle May 29, 2010 at 3:23 am

You are right! I agree that it’s insulting. If I were a woman, I would be appalled at the paucity of valuable writing and information about womanhood. That’s kind of what I was trying to say. My wife recently brought home “O” magazine and I almost threw up. I guess my other point is that I like this site and would like to see it remain dedicated to “manliness”. It’s fun and there is actually some great writing and information (unlike GQ or Maxim) here.

54 Robin May 30, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Interesting article, I do think the idea of wondering what it means to be a “man” is an important question that every man faces as well as (I can assume) that every woman faces the question of what does it mean to be a “woman”. I agree with many of the virtues you posted as well as find your “archeology” of manhood almost Foucauldian. But I believe that the archeology digs not deep enough, or at least comes to the wrong assumption. Instead of being a reason return to past “manliness” shouldn’t this exploration of what is means to be masculine really show that such a state is contingent on the time?
Where we are now as masculine is exactly where we need to be in respect to the time we exist in. You may agree or disagree with the definition of man but trying to find the “true man” is searching for a false positive in historical definitions. In linguistic terms the very nature of a definition is contingent on it being contrasted to something else (i.e. manhood is the opposite of womanhood). Following this supposition, as the power relations between the two genders begin to fade, as they rightfully should the need for gender separation no longer exists. Being a man/woman now means being a “person” and less about gender divides. Essentially if there is no patriarchy there is no need to for gender related questions because one no longer needs to identify with either gender on a symbolic level. It is purely a matter of biological difference.

In summation what is means to be a man is really what is means to be a person, and any gender specific differences are either false articulations or leftover power relations from an earlier epoch. Just my two cents.

55 BoneApart May 31, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Though the ultimate goal for what a true man should aspire to be is still in question, this was a fantastic read.
Its difficult to be a man for others when others don’t accept the difficulty of being a man, or being a good person or citizen to their country.
From the people that I’ve met, they continually live with no code but chaos theory, and that everyman for themselves, when clearly no one lives by such a code. Its undeniable.
We all help each other in some way, whether we like it or not, because you get what you give.

Personally, I think there is an overwhelmingly surplus of cowards who can hide behind their television sets or telephones, or any technology for that matter.
Technology is no culprit for causing one to be a coward, but it allows cowards to live for all of their days without ever recognizing how much of a coward they are.

Again, great read.

56 Confirmed coward June 2, 2010 at 6:06 pm

oh you who pontificate so righteously, refusing your own responsiblity in spawning such disgusting ‘weaklings’. Its practically raison detre of our brave new world

How does one even begin to approach the role of self reliance when one had no role models, no male prescence, no father, nothing remotely masculine to demonstrate the proper path in the firstplace? Does anyone rememeber what a true family is even like anymore? Do you expect the crippled to walk unsupported?

Where are the mentors? the wise men? the tribal elders? the stalwart who aren’t taken in by the shifting whims & moods of our collective house of cards? thats right, laid off during downsizing, not sufficiently profitiable to keep on the company pay roll. We dont build fully formed human beings now, yes men and all purpose cogs do the system find. People to pull in a million different directions at once so we can keep buying useless shit

Its easy to to sit behind your own monitor and mock the legions of non-beings who populate the info high ways who never had a helping hamnd besides corporate pap in the first place

57 Eric Doty June 25, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Do any of you believe that manhood comes with age?

58 JG Lenhart June 29, 2010 at 7:33 am

This is a good start but doesn’t really get to the “bottom-rung” understanding. If you are interested in going one more step, check out this post: http://modeletics.blogspot.com/2009/08/definition-of-real-man.html

The difference between men and women that you were searching for and didn’t attain is that men OUGHT to be focused on causes, while women OUGHT to be focused on effects. However, men are naturally focused on effects, while women are naturally focused on causes. EVERYTIME a man is destructive, it is because he is focused on an effect instead of a cause. Proverbs 31 gives the description of the ideal WOMAN…and it is ALL Profitable effects…it is ALL creation. Here is that link: http://modeletics.blogspot.com/2009/08/women-are-more-excellent-proof-9.html

I am teaching these definitions to males and females of all ages. When a sub-25 year old female hears these definitions, they instantly make sense and she realizes how much she needs and desires a man. The males on the other hand have a more difficult time because our culture has an “all authority and no responsibility” definition for “man” that is hard for most males to reject. However, once they understand this definition, they themselves know they are still a boy and actively look to do the work to become a man.

If you are TRULY interested in making a sustainable difference that is apparent to all, you will check out the links.

59 Ian MacManus June 30, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Confirmed Coward has a point. I want my sons to be Men who DO- not Guys who Have.

60 Sampson July 11, 2010 at 3:05 pm

@ mike – i fully agree with you until the point about JESUS… i don’t believe the religious aspect was as important to the epiphany as was the meeting with MEN… I’m not try to put down religion in any way… if thats what you believe, than more power to you, but to attribute something to Religion, when it in fact has nothing to do with religion…. I’m not down with that. “Thank GOD, we beat cancer” … or “Thank Medical Science, we beat cancer”??? Jesus left 2000 years ago and hasn’t come back since… he doesnt want to be here, lets not drag him up for every little thing ….

61 Michael Dale Rogers July 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm

First of all, the site wouldn’t allow me to register (error 404)
You’re making some good points about what a responsible PERSON should be but I so far haven’t found anything that DISTINGUISHES males from females.
Our culture is following the standard effect that mountains and much else does: Entropy — being ground to a lower level. Mountains are washed down as are the rigidities of our cultural structure.
The ‘rules’ of masculine and feminine are wearing away, not only are women now wearing what was in the past male attire, there is NOTHING a women can wear that will qualify as transvestitism, Attire traditionally only appropriate to the boxing ring is now pitched to women.
Men are also wearing jewelry, ear piercings and clothes similar to women’s. If one goes to Yahoo Groups, there are THOUSANDS of men either have or who wish to have breasts!
Hair length, a clear cue in the past now is no longer so, It is often unclear what the gender is of a person you see on the street~!
To get into the objective aspects, there are those that dress, and live as one gender yet have genitalia of the other.
That bastion of maleness the Garage or auto parts store is now often run by a woman!
All this leaves it unclear what are the determenates of gender.
For Me, if a person works on cars and has facial hair, they probably ARE maleFirst of all, the site wouldn’t allow me to register (error 404)
You’re making some good points about what a responsible PERSON should be but I so far haven’t found anything that DISTINGUISHES males from females.
Our culture is following the standard effect that mountains and much else does: Entropy — being ground to a lower level. Mountains are washed down as are the rigidities of our cultural structure.
The ‘rules’ of masculine and feminine are wearing away, not only are women now wearing what was in the past male attire, there is NOTHING a women can wear that will qualify as transvestitism, Attire traditionally only appropriate to the boxing ring is now pitched to women.
Men are also wearing jewelry, ear piercings and clothes similar to women’s. If one goes to Yahoo Groups, there are THOUSANDS of men either have or who wish to have breasts!
Hair length, a clear cue in the past now is no longer so, It is often unclear what the gender is of a person you see on the street~!
To get into the objective aspects, there are those that dress, and live as one gender yet have genitalia of the other.
That bastion of maleness the Garage or auto parts store is now often run by a woman!
All this leaves it unclear what are the determenates of gender.
For Me, if a person works on cars and has facial hair, they probably ARE maleFirst of all, the site wouldn’t allow me to register (error 404)
You’re making some good points about what a responsible PERSON should be but I so far haven’t found anything that DISTINGUISHES males from females.
Our culture is following the standard effect that mountains and much else does: Entropy — being ground to a lower level. Mountains are washed down as are the rigidities of our cultural structure.
The ‘rules’ of masculine and feminine are wearing away, not only are women now wearing what was in the past male attire, there is NOTHING a women can wear that will qualify as transvestitism, Attire traditionally only appropriate to the boxing ring is now pitched to women.
Men are also wearing jewelry, ear piercings and clothes similar to women’s. If one goes to Yahoo Groups, there are THOUSANDS of men either have or who wish to have breasts!
Hair length, a clear cue in the past now is no longer so, It is often unclear what the gender is of a person you see on the street~!
To get into the objective aspects, there are those that dress, and live as one gender yet have genitalia of the other.
That bastion of maleness the Garage or auto parts store is now often run by a woman!
All this leaves it unclear what are the determenates of gender.
For Me, if a person works on cars and has facial hair, they probably ARE maleFirst of all, the site wouldn’t allow me to register (error 404)
You’re making some good points about what a responsible PERSON should be but I so far haven’t found anything that DISTINGUISHES males from females.
Our culture is following the standard effect that mountains and much else does: Entropy — being ground to a lower level. Mountains are washed down as are the rigidities of our cultural structure.
The ‘rules’ of masculine and feminine are wearing away, not only are women now wearing what was in the past male attire, there is NOTHING a women can wear that will qualify as transvestitism, Attire traditionally only appropriate to the boxing ring is now pitched to women.
Men are also wearing jewelry, ear piercings and clothes similar to women’s. If one goes to Yahoo Groups, there are THOUSANDS of men either have or who wish to have breasts!
Hair length, a clear cue in the past now is no longer so, It is often unclear what the gender is of a person you see on the street~!
To get into the objective aspects, there are those that dress, and live as one gender yet have genitalia of the other.
That bastion of maleness the Garage or auto parts store is now often run by a woman!
All this leaves it unclear what are the determenates of gender.
For Me, if a person works on cars and has facial hair, they probably ARE maleFirst of all, the site wouldn’t allow me to register (error 404)
You’re making some good points about what a responsible PERSON should be but I so far haven’t found anything that DISTINGUISHES males from females.
Our culture is following the standard effect that mountains and much else does: Entropy — being ground to a lower level. Mountains are washed down as are the rigidities of our cultural structure.
The ‘rules’ of masculine and feminine are wearing away, not only are women now wearing what was in the past male attire, there is NOTHING a women can wear that will qualify as transvestitism, Attire traditionally only appropriate to the boxing ring is now pitched to women.
Men are also wearing jewelry, ear piercings and clothes similar to women’s. If one goes to Yahoo Groups, there are THOUSANDS of men either have or who wish to have breasts!
Hair length, a clear cue in the past now is no longer so, It is often unclear what the gender is of a person you see on the street~!
To get into the objective aspects, there are those that dress, and live as one gender yet have genitalia of the other.
That bastion of maleness the Garage or auto parts store is now often run by a woman!
All this leaves it unclear what are the determenates of gender.
For Me, if a person works on cars and has facial hair, they probably ARE maleFirst of all, the site wouldn’t allow me to register (error 404)
You’re making some good points about what a responsible PERSON should be but I so far haven’t found anything that DISTINGUISHES males from females.
Our culture is following the standard effect that mountains and much else does: Entropy — being ground to a lower level. Mountains are washed down as are the rigidities of our cultural structure.
The ‘rules’ of masculine and feminine are wearing away, not only are women now wearing what was in the past male attire, there is NOTHING a women can wear that will qualify as transvestitism, Attire traditionally only appropriate to the boxing ring is now pitched to women.
Men are also wearing jewelry, ear piercings and clothes similar to women’s. If one goes to Yahoo Groups, there are THOUSANDS of men either have or who wish to have breasts!
Hair length, a clear cue in the past now is no longer so, It is often unclear what the gender is of a person you see on the street~!
To get into the objective aspects, there are those that dress, and live as one gender yet have genitalia of the other.
That bastion of maleness the Garage or auto parts store is now often run by a woman!
All this leaves it unclear what are the determenates of gender.
For Me, if a person works on cars and has facial hair, they probably ARE male.
Michael Dale Rogers

62 Bill Frauhiger September 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

Good points indeed, but I want to make you aware of a program that teaches men in depth what an authentic man is. It is found in a curriculum called Men’s Fraternity and we have a 4 prong, concise, and compelling definition of manhood.
A true man does these things:
1.) Reject Passivity
2.) Accept Responsibility
3.) Lead Courageously
4.) Expect God’s Greater Reward

63 Travis Spires September 24, 2012 at 10:32 am

Morning, I have enjoyed this article greatly. I also like other comments on it. Sounds like I should have been put in scouting! I have one observation from childhood re: manliness or its lack. A friend had 1 sister. We were always pushed outside and left to our own devises, but the girl was taught how to run a house: make a grocery list, manage expenses. Long story short. Girls are tutored 1:1 from birth and boys are neglected. It’s like we are excluded from learning basic skills, so that we are subservient as adults and can never stand on our own. Because we aren’t taught.
Thanks T

64 Henry January 14, 2013 at 1:14 pm

Brett, I was almost moved to tears reading this. This is what I’m talking about!

65 Rob Dyson January 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm

What I don’t see commented about, but you seem to hold up as the most lacking in today’s culture, are these ‘rites of passage’. If it’s true that a lack of ‘calling out’ boys to be men though a rite of passage is a key component to our current failure, I’d like to learn more about it. Can it be done at any age? When would it be most appropriate? What kinds of forms would this take? How to do it without seeming corny? I, too, have been exposed to the Mens Fraternity material. I found it to be very good and there is a big emphasis there on rites of passage as well.

66 Mac January 16, 2013 at 2:46 pm

As stated in a previous comment, the Boy Scout’s have a great guide. When I am feeling lost or confused in my life, choices or future, I repeat those traits and think through each one. In Scouts, we had a tendency to repeat them fast and harmoniously, like the alphabet; however, its important to take each one in kind and apply it.

67 Mathew Davydiuk February 20, 2013 at 11:07 am

Hi. I appreciate your thoughtfulness on the virtues of being a man. I appreciate your explanation about the maturation process. Definitely how I see it. I am wondering if your articles touch on violence perpetrated by men on women and children, and other men, this violence is largely a result of masculinity’s that are being taught to us everyday that go by unnoticed. Here is an example. Growing up I was told on a regular basis that I was a faggot/ gay if I shared my feelings, if i did anything out of the man norm, if I dressed differently……..often times this would follow with physical violence. Right now we have a crisis in masculinity. Have you read any jackson kats, I would love to see him on your list of books. Anyhow great site, i look forward to seeing it evolve. Id love to see more articles with critical analysis about masculinitiy. And I wouild love you not to change what your already doing…

68 John September 16, 2013 at 3:41 pm

The question I have is why?

Why would I be the best I can be? For whom? For what?

For myself? Such selfishness seems opposed to all virtue.

For others? For society? Why?

Why would I enable a society that despises me?

69 Dave G January 9, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Wow, that analogy on both women and men being virtuous as explained by musical instruments playing the same tune is absolutely poetic. Fantastic explanation that while our paths our separate, our goals are the same.

70 sonal January 12, 2014 at 9:26 pm

how do you keep an internal drive and stay disciplined?

71 jeff bailey January 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm

What I find most puzzling and discouraging about a lot of guys is they seem to need to deny something from women or feel the need to control them to feel like a man, which isn’t being an adult. It derives from a deep insecurity and that is the opposite of what you’ve said we need to strive for. Being an adult means you’ve gained skills in life which should lead to confidence, the opposite of insecurity. We shouldn’t need to control or put anyone down to feel valid.

72 kusuma April 2, 2014 at 1:29 pm

For all the women out there, and men too, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes very soulfully on this topic for women and is also writing a men’s version of her bestseller Women Who Run With The Wolves. I highly recommend her work as she inspires the Virtuous in us all. Thanks for this site- it is much needed. I find a lot of healing from ancient Indian texts about the Male vs. Female constitution, character and paths. I am teaching on it and my students are finding much healing in it. You may wish to explore it- the nature of Prakriti and Purusha.

73 Doug Roach April 15, 2014 at 9:09 am

I don’t want to be difficult, but I do want to point out a misconception that was not really a point of the article.

It is common to see the counting of blacks as 3/5ths of a man as a bad thing. It was actually done by those opposed to slavery to help the slaves. Every state is given 2 Senators. The number of congressmen is based on population. So slave holding regions had representation based on how many slaves were there. the 3/5ths rule was implemented by anti-slave advocates to limit the power of slave owners.

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