A Generation of Men Raised by Women

by Brett on December 13, 2010 · 233 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood

“We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.”

This comment, made by the Tyler Durden character in the movie Fight Club, is one of the most memorable lines of that film and has oft been repeated and discussed. It’s sticking power is surely due to the way it resonated with many men–how it so succinctly summed up their life’s experience. Products of divorced parents, single mothers, or fathers who spent more time at work than at home, these men lacked a vital example of manhood growing up. Oftentimes, not only was their dad not around, male mentors in other areas of their life were few and far between as well. They understand well Nathaniel Hawthorne’s  lament in The Marble Faun:

“Between man and man there is always an insuperable gulf. They can never quite grasp each other’s hands; and therefore man never derives any intimate help, any heart sustenance, from his brother man, but from women-his mother, his sister, his wife.”

Without male mentors, many men of this generation have felt adrift, unsure of how to deal with an indescribable but acute lack in their lives.

How did we get to the point where it is possible, as Edward Abbey put it, “to proceed from infancy into senility without ever knowing manhood?”

There are three primary social institutions that have historically served to mold young boys into men:  family, religion, and education. Yet the masculine influence of these institutions diminished over the last century. Let’s take a closer look at each.

The Family

During the pre-industrial period, a man’s home was also his workplace. For the farmer and the artisan, “bring your kid to work day” was every day. Father and son worked side by side from sunrise to sunset. Fathers taught by example, not only apprenticing their sons into the trade, but subtly imparting lessons on hard work and virtue.

This relationship was disrupted by the Industrial Revolution, as fathers were forced to abandon the land and the workshop for a place on the assembly line. A clear line was drawn between the home and the workplace. Dad left the tenement in the morning and did not return for 10-12 hours at a time. As we’ve discussed previously, the result of this economic shift was that the home became thought of as the women’s sphere, a feminine refuge from the rough and dirty professional and political realm, the “man’s world.” Children spent all their time with mom, who, as the repository of virtue and morality, was expected to turn her boys into little gentlemen.

The ideal (which was always more ideal than reality) of mom at home and dad at work would persist into the 1950s. This is still a romantic standard many would like to return to, ignoring the fact that such a set-up kept dad away from his children for the bulk of the day, depriving them of his mentoring and creating a culture where his parenting role was deemed subordinate to mom’s.

But at least in that situation dad was around. The divorce rate began to climb at the turn of the century and peaked around 1980 when many states legalized no-fault divorces. And the courts, as they still do today, typically favored the mother when issuing custody rights. Whereas boys once didn’t see their fathers while they were away at work, now they only saw dad on weekends or holidays. And of course, many dads voluntarily fled from the responsibility of their children; the percentage of single parent households (84% of which are headed by single mothers) has doubled since 1970.


Until the mid-nineteenth century, the vast majority of teachers were men. Teaching was not considered a lifelong career but was rather undertaken by young men during the slow periods on the farm or while studying to become a lawyer or minister. Children were thought to be inherently sinful and therefore prone to unruly behavior; they thus needed a strong male presence to keep them in line. As some Christian denominations became more liberal, the emphasis on children’s sinfulness was replaced by a focus on their need to be gently nurtured into morality, a task believed to be better suited to the fairer sex. At the same time, women were marrying and having children at a later age, allowing them more time to teach before settling down. The result was a complete reversal in the gender make-up of the education profession.

In 1870, women made up 2/3 of teachers, 3/4 in 1900, 4/5 in 1910. As a result, boys were spending a significant portion of their day at school but passing the time without the influence and example of an adult male mentor.


The third institution that has historically socialized boys into men is religion. And during the past century, that religion for a majority of Americans was Christianity. But if the home had become a thoroughly feminized place, the church was hardly a refuge of masculinity.

Women are more likely to be religious than men-and this holds true across time, place, and faith. This means they have historically been more likely to attend religious services and be active in a congregation. And Christian ministers, whether consciously or not, naturally catered their style and programs to their core audience. The Jesus men encountered in the pews became a wan, gentle soul who glided through Jerusalem patting children’s heads, talking about flowers, and crying.

A push back against the perceived feminization of Christianity began around the turn of the 20th century. Referred to as “Muscular Christianity,” its proponents linked a strong body with a strong faith and sought to inject the gospel with a vigorous virility.

The most visible and popular leader of this movement was the evangelical preacher, Billy Sunday. Sunday had been a professional baseball player before undergoing a conversion to Christianity and deciding to devote himself to spreading the faith. Sundays’ preaching style was charismatic and physical; peppering his sermons with baseball and sports references, he would run back and forth, dive to the stage like he was sliding into a base, and smash chairs to make his point.

Obviously struck by the difference in Sunday’s preaching versus the typical “effeminate” style of the day, a journalist described Sunday in action:

“He stands up like a man in the pulpit and out of it. He speaks like a man. He works like a man…He is manly with God and with everyone who comes to hear him. No matter how much you disagree with him, he treats you after a manly fashion. He is not an imitation, but a manly man giving all a square deal.”

Sunday presented Jesus as a virile, masculine Savior; he was “the greatest scrapper who ever lived.” Here was a strong Messiah, an artisan with the rough worn hands of a carpenter, a man who angrily chased money changers out of the temple and courageously endured a painful execution. Faith was not for the meek and sedentary. Sunday believed that a Christian man should not be “some sort of dishrag proposition, a wishy-washy, sissified sort of galoot, that lets everybody make a doormat out of him. Let me tell you, the manliest man is the man who will acknowledge Jesus Christ.” “Lord save us from the off-handed, flabby cheeked, brittle boned, weak-kneed, thin-skinned, pliable, plastic, spineless, effeminate, ossified, three karat Christianity,” he prayed.

Operating on the principle that “The manly gospel of Christ should be presented to men by men,” in 1911 Sunday started “The Men and Religion Forward Movement.” Week long revivals just for men were held to great success; male church attendance increased a whopping 800%.

Yet Sunday didn’t solve the problem of getting men into the church-going habit. With the advent of new sources of entertainment, Sunday’s popularity, and that of revivals generally, died out and the gender imbalance in religion remained thoroughly entrenched.

The Current State of Affairs

With fathers missing in action, schools staffed by female teachers, and churches struggling to connect with their male members, many of the current generation might rightly feel they were “raised by women.” Where does that leave them and the future of masculinity?

It’s truly a mixed bag. Many things remain less than ideal, but there is also room for justified optimism.

The gender imbalance for Christian churches has continued to increase. In 1952, the ratio of female to male active church goers was 53/47; now it is 61/39, and the complaint that the culture of Christianity is overly feminized remains. But churches continue to try to attract men into the fold, with attempts that range from the sincere and thoughtful (Men’s Fraternity), to the patently ridiculous (Football Sunday-wear your favorite team’s NFL jersey and do the wave!).

The numbers aren’t too rosy when it comes to education either. In the last 30 years the percentage of male teachers in elementary schools has fallen slightly, from 17% to 14-9% (depending on the source). The number is even lower for pre-k and kindergarten teachers; only 2% are male. While more male teachers can be found in secondary schools, there has been a decline there as well, from 50% in 1980 to around 40% today. With boys falling behind girls in academic performance, some education experts are actively trying to recruit men into the profession.

Despite continuing problems in the familial sphere and its attendant hand-wringing (1 in 3 American kids will grow up in a home where the parents are either divorced, separated, or never married), there are reasons to be optimistic about this vital institution and the man’s role in it as well.

While it is popularly thought that the divorce rate is increasing, it has in fact been falling for the last three decades and is currently at its lowest level in 30 years. Among those couples who are college-educated, the divorce rate is only 11%.

I’m also hopeful about the future because of the marvelous wonders of technology. I think our modern advancements will allow a greater and greater number of men to work, at least part of the time, from their homes. And I think this will usher in a new archetype of manliness: the Heroic Artisan 2.0.

While it’s easy to feel nostalgic for a time period like the 1950s, I’m happy to be a dad in the modern age. I don’t work 10 hours a day at a job I hate, come home, play with my kids for a few minutes and then crack open a beer in front of the tv. My father traveled a lot and never changed a diaper. He was a great dad, but I’m loving having a much more hands-on role with our new arrival. Say what you will about the feminism movement, but I’m happy to have been “liberated” from the Industrial Revolution ideal of being the absentee bread winner. If there’s one generational difference I notice between my parents’ generation and mine, is that my generation values time over money. And not because we’re lazy either, but because we’re not willing to trade time with the people we love most for a gold watch at retirement.

Me and the Gus

According to a recent survey, 76% of adults said their family was the most important element of their life, and 40% say their current family is closer than the family in which they grew up.

These statistics bear out the real reason for my optimism about manhood and the family, which is truthfully simply based on the gut feeling I get from engaging and talking with other men in my life. The guys I know who grew up feeling like they were “raised by women” are earnestly dedicated to doing better by their kids than their dads did by them. They want to be as much a part of their kids’ lives as possible. Although it’s not a very scientific sample, in the situations I know of where a family has broken up, it was the guy who wanted to keep the marriage together and wanted more custody of the children. Even when divorce couldn’t be avoided, these men do all they can to remain part of their children’s lives.

Perhaps the biggest reason for my optimism about the future of manliness is, well, the popularity of this website. I’ve been rather astounded and quite humbled by how quickly it has grown over the last 3 years. Some people say that it’s “sad” that men need to learn how to be men from a website. Such criticism seems to be born of an assumption that boys pop out of the womb with an innate sense of everything there is to know about being a man. Of course that’s not the case—we learn how to be a man from the mentors in our lives. And for many men, those men simply weren’t around growing up. Or even if they were–and in what is yet another reason I am optimistic about the future-they still desire to improve themselves, to learn as much as they can and utilize their potential to the utmost. Yes, ideally you should learn manliness from your father and other mentors, and the art of manliness should be passed down from generation to generation. But where there’s a link missing in that chain, we’re happy to stand in the gap–imparting information that you can pass down to your kids, a generation that will hopefully be raised by women and men.

There’s a lot to chew on here, and I’m really looking forward to a great discussion of the topic and hearing what you have to say. Share your thoughts in the comments!


Manhood in America by Michael Kimmel

{ 233 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Brian Maggio December 13, 2010 at 2:14 am

As a man who was raised by a single Mom for my first eight years, I found this post to be of significant interest. I was shuffled between “great aunts” as my Mom went to work – so I had plenty of “woman time” growing up. I looked up to cousins and uncles, but (as your article points out) they were off to work during the day.

I’ve always had a tremendous respect for women as a result of my upbringing. At the same time, I often wonder if I’m passing on the right stuff to my own 4 kids. Gender roles and social mores seem more compicated now than ever before.

There’s a great book (written for women, but I read it over my wife’s shoulder) called “What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us”. It basically traces the history of gender roles since the 1950′s – and explains why things are so f__ed up now.

Not sure if I’ll figure it out any time soon, but glad that there are others out there in the same boat! Thanks for the insights!

2 Lawrence December 13, 2010 at 2:25 am

Wow this was a really impressive article.

I don’t think I’ve heard this argument structured so well and make so many spot on points before. I’ve recently been scoffing at a friend who has mentioned that him and his wife…mostly his wife has decided that he will be the stay at home dad while she is the bread winner, I may slightly rethink my position. While I don’t think that I will accept this complete “role reversal”, because ultimately it will cause a similar problem . It definitely will make me question why I want a wife that is ok with at least being a stay/work at home mom. My original reasons primarily based on what would be best for children. Now we will have to see!

3 Tom King December 13, 2010 at 2:29 am

When I first found this site and saw the title to your weblog, I immediately kicked myself that I hadn’t thought of it first. My Dad took a powder when I was young and my step-dad wasn’t a very powerful figure in my life. I was a reader, though, and discovered swashbucklers like Captain Blood, heroes like King Arthur and Horatio Hornblower and my favorite Sci-Fi writers were hairy chested he-men. They became my standard for manhood. I had male teachers in my teen years. Fortunately, my introduction to Christianity was through men who were very much male. My formative years as a Christian I worked at summer camp and participated in all sorts of manly activities like cutting firewood, building docks and decks, cutting trails, riding horses. I endured relentless bullying and discovered on my own that standing up to them could be painful, but it was the only way to stop it. Even if you lose, they do get tired of beating you up after a while. Living through that makes you able to stand toe to toe with thugs and bullies and bury your fear. I was lucky in ways. My Dad was an alcoholic and would have been a poor roll model. Thank God for real men who write, teach and lead young men.

And thank you for this website.

Tom King – Tyler, TX

4 Aaron December 13, 2010 at 2:32 am

Very enjoyable read.

Women became the dominant gender in American schools around the Civil War. Most women had to promise not to marry, not to be seen with any man other than thier brother or father, and must be at home after dark. No drinking either.

5 Justin Lucenti December 13, 2010 at 2:35 am

Another wonderfully written article. My mother divorced my father when I was quite young. I am thankful for that, as I was too young to be horribly affected by it, unlike my older brother. He was old enough to despise my father for never being there, and almost relishing the fact he was free again. Luckily for me, the man my mother married has spent 20 years teaching my brother and I what it is to be a man. And I think he has been very successful. My brother served in the U.S. Army (Just like our Step-father and HIS father) and is now a Police Officer, like our step-dad as well. I am taking a slightly different root. I found it interesting that you referenced the lack of Male teachers. I am on my way to getting a Masters in Military History, with high hopes to teach High School students American History and Gov/Econ. I will never be able to thank my dad (remember, my FATHER was never there, this man is my DAD) enough for what he has taught me and continues to teach me every time we speak.

6 Andrew December 13, 2010 at 2:41 am

I grew up my first 11 years raised very largely by my Mom (My parents have been married all this time), thought my Dad was there when he wasn’t at the fire department or driving truck, etc. Then, when he could no longer work any of the jobs he was trained to do, due to injury, my mom (a registered nurse) took up the bill and worked, while my Dad stayed home. That has been the last 6 years.
Being home schooled, I got plenty of time with both parents, in the different periods. I must say, however, that a Father is no substitute for a Mother. I have had a few disconnects between myself and my Dad, mostly over personality conflicts, and I have had trouble respecting him as well. It is, however, amazingly not as bad as it has been (I attribute this to no one other than God himself.)

I think I have enough experience in this area to say that the ideal is not to have either work, and the other at home, but for both to be home as much as possible, or with the kids wherever. Mother’s can’t be replaced, any easier than Fathers. Yes, men need a positive role model. I have had a few men in my life that I have been able to look up to, and at the age of 11 was even working for one occasionally, who, though he has since died, his influence still lives with me.

I gotta commend Brett in his even handed, honest, and thorough handling of this, often sensitive subject.

7 sairy_gamp December 13, 2010 at 2:45 am

That’s right our generation values time over money. Many of us anyways.

It’s very telling that of the 4 senior managers in my group at the office, three have never had children and the 4th has a grown child.

I intend to break that situation, and become successful within the confines of a reasonable workweek.

8 sairy_gamp December 13, 2010 at 2:46 am

And you know… the lady-scented bodywash doesn’t help this situation.

9 Kyle December 13, 2010 at 2:49 am

A very interesting read. As for your part on how it’s “sad” for people needing to learn how to be men from a website, maybe it is, if you look at it pessimistically. It could be supplementary to even the most present of fathers though, as not every man knows everything. There’s a lot of wisdom to be shared here.

I’m sure glad this site exists, Brett. I, myself, was raised by my divorced mom. I saw my dad every second weekend, and maybe some times in-between, but I was generally without constant father figure. Don’t get me wrong—I respect my dad quite a bit, and he was a good influence when we were with him; we just weren’t with him all that much. I had to do a lot of typical rites of passage on my own, such as teach myself how to shave. I have picked up much from the Art of Manliness though. For instance, I learned to shine my boots from this site, and got a start on dressing like a grown up. So, regardless of whether the AoM is a major source of influence for a growing man, or just something complimentary, keep up the great work. You’re really spearheading something good here for a lot of people.

Additionally, I have a half-brother and a half-sister who live with my dad. It is interesting to see how they differ from my brother and I, who have been raised by our mom.

10 Justin Watson December 13, 2010 at 3:10 am

So much that’s going wrong with our society can be traced directly back to parenting in general and fatherhood specifically. I’m an Army officer on my third combat tour (2 Iraq, 1 Afghanistan) and many of the recruits we get simply can’t man up to responsibility or have attacks of PTSD even before they’ve seen combat. When I talked to the problem soldiers, in every single case, I found a deficient father in their history who either wasn’t there or had never thought to teach his son simple responsibility, much less true moral and physical courage.

It’s even infected our common notion of how a man is supposed to behave. I’m not making light of mental illness, but I’ve noticed that it’s much more acceptable today to collapse under pressure than it used to be. I don’t doubt that these men are sincere in their suffering, but would they be so susceptible if they’d been raised by a father who loved them and provided a good example of how a man lives?

Additonally we are sorely lacking in the concept of duty. People ask me and other repeat-tour veterans how we do it, for me the answer is simple, it never occured to me to do anything else. It’s duty, and if you want to be a man, it’s not negotiable- at least that’s what my father, who managed to be there for me despite a very busy career as an Army Aviator, taught me.

I’m not saying everyone needs to join the military, just saying that the fulfillment of those obligations which you willingly undertake is the cornerstone of being a good man, whether that’s the obligation to raise your children, heal the sick, educate the youth or risk your ass for your friends and your country. The fact that so many men have forgotten that is the biggest danger we face as a civilization.

11 Sanele December 13, 2010 at 3:17 am

Wow! this is such a great article. Thank you very much! I am 22 years old and my folks never married. My dad lost his job when I was about 5/6, due to uncontrollable drinking habit ( I am told). I finished my first post graduate degree in 2009, he never knew about my endurances, pursuits and abilities. I am grateful that he is still alive, many times I have tried to get through him and I just couldn’t find the courage or the right words.

I am much more motivated to ‘rebuild’ our relationship, even though I feel like we never had one from the start. I recently called him, I got his number after he called about a month ago to tell me that his youngest brother has passed on. I sadly could not attend the funeral as I work and live in Johannesburg, all my family is in Durban. Ok, back to why I called, I wanted to hear how he is doing healthily. I was delighted to hear that he has recovered from a TB illness and successfully completed his medication period. Upon calling my aunt (his youngest sister) I was even more delighted to hear that he hasn’t drank in a very long time and he appears to have quit totally.

I am not really sure of the most effective approach to mend our relationship, to encourage communication between us. I don’t know whether I should start by asking the many questions I have or just go on, tell him about my life. Is he interested in my life? does he lack the courage just like me? I do not know. I am hopeful that God will give just the right directions. I love you dad *teary eyes*, I miss you every now and then. My imagination of what my life would be if you were involved doesn’t hold for many minutes, it’s too week, without substance.

12 J.D. December 13, 2010 at 3:46 am

You are certainly right. This is one of the best articles I’ve seen on this site. I have had several discussions with a man who mentored me through college, about this very topic. Particularly on the subjects of Sunday schools, which are taught mostly by women, and the regular classroom. I will throw a little blame on the public, because at some point it became suspicious activity if a man was alone with a group of younger aged children (maybe we can blame Law & Order or the 100 other police shows). That is why if you see a male teacher, more than likely, he will be teaching high school-aged students. The court system is also far more lenient if a woman gets invloved with a male student, than if a man gets involved with a female student. It has happened in the parish below mine within the last year. The female teacher did not get near the punishment that a man would have been given.

On a personal note, my father was very much invloved in my life, wasn’t the best teacher. Although extremely loving, he is a perfectionist to a fault, just as my grandfather. It took my going off to college, before I learned that it is indeed ok to fail *insert Thomas Edison quote here*.

13 Bruce December 13, 2010 at 3:56 am

Awesome article, Brett. You’re gonna make a great dad for the Gus!

14 Greg M December 13, 2010 at 4:13 am

Another great and thought-provoking article.

Drives home the time honored truth that “any moron with a d*ck can have kids, but it takes balls to be a father.”

15 Elliot R. December 13, 2010 at 4:54 am

As someone who has the privilege of being raised by a manly man, I must say I appreciate this article. I’ve seen too many guys my age (16) in today’s culture that have been raised by women and thus have no idea how to be men. Thank God for my father.

16 Saulius December 13, 2010 at 5:25 am

Probably it’s time for me to read Robert Bly’s “Iron John” one more time.

17 Dan December 13, 2010 at 5:27 am

Just to point out but given the timelines it also looks like the rise and rise of the feminist movement in the 60s onwards might have also played a pretty big part in this.

One other thing is the complete disappearance of “rites of passage” for young men.

18 Andrej Š. December 13, 2010 at 5:33 am

This is a great article! As a Fight Club fan I enjoy very much reading about this topic!

19 Chieftain December 13, 2010 at 6:26 am

Two other great institutions that help mold the characters of boys and young men:

1) Boy Scouts: Ideally, this is something done with Dad’s full participation. But even if Dad isn’t around, the Boy Scouts are an indispensible social institution, and have been for about 100 years. Many a young lad has learned how to be a man by first learning how to be a Scout, and the lessons learned are lifelong and character-building. “Be Prepared.”

2) Freemasonry: the son of a Mason is called a “Lewis”, and Lewises can join the Masons at age 18 — three years ahead of other young candidates. Those who do will have seen their Dads getting ready for Lodge, and may well have watched their Dads memorizing Ritual or learning a new Charge — and they will probably have asked Dad about what it all means. And Dad will have answered that Freemasonry is an institution whose origins are lost in the mists of time, and that it strives to “Make Good men Better.”. And, if Dad has been a good example to his son, he will want to join, as a Lewis, when he reaches the full age of 18. In that way, Freemasonry holds Dad accountable, and is an excellent gauge of how well a man raises his son, and whether or not he has set a good example — boys aren’t silly: they can always tell whether Dad’s words match his deeds, and whether they be good, or bad, right or wrong.

20 G9 December 13, 2010 at 6:51 am

One of the best articles I’ve seen on this site yet!!!

This really gets to the core of why man of us younger men have come to this site, I feel.

21 Clint December 13, 2010 at 6:51 am

Excellent post Brett, still chewing.

22 Bryan Lee Sammis December 13, 2010 at 6:55 am

And to add insult to injury. Thanks to the feminist movement. Men have become a pathology that is in need of erradication.

And women wonder why we men feel like an endangered species!

23 Jason S. December 13, 2010 at 7:01 am

I just found out a week ago that I am going to be a Dad. The debate over who is going to stay at home with the child is raging. Not to say my wife and I (married for 6 months) are fighting over it, but it has been a frequently visited subject since we found out. This article speaks right into the middle of that situation.

I work out at home and run my own company. While I am the architect of my day, a lot of what I do requires that I be on the phone, chatting with folks. Hard to do with an infant…but after considering this, I can’t think of a better thing I can do for myself, my wife, and our future child. Looks like I am going to have to change how I do business.

If nothing else, this article gets me jacked up about being a new parent, about being there for my children. Brett, you rock. Thanks for the piece and keep them rolling.

24 Dixie_Amazon December 13, 2010 at 7:02 am

Great article.
My sons have been fortunate to have other roll models in addition to their Dad. My husband has physical problems and cannot be involved in some things. Through YMCA sports, Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts they have great coaches and adult leaders.

At their elementary school there was a male kindergarten teacher who was also retired from the Marines and one in high school who is also retired from the military.

I appreciate these men for influencing my boys.

25 John December 13, 2010 at 7:34 am

The article is all good, and I agree that misandry runs rampant in our society.

But I get the disturbing feeling by reading comments that a lot of readers of this article are quick to take the easy way out, and use the subject matter of this article as an excuse to give up on being a man. I’d think the appropriate response would be to man up and be able to say at the end of the day, “I was a man DESPITE the overly feminized culture/society”. However, many earlier comments here seem to be guys whining “I wasn’t a man, and it’s because of the feminized society”.

Being a man wasn’t ever easy. I personally know several guys who were raised by single mothers in broken homes and still became real MEN. After all, isn’t pursuing manliness about overcoming adversity, rather than finding excuses for mediocrity ?

26 Joe December 13, 2010 at 7:38 am

This is a well written article. I think over the past few decades the male role in the family was downplayed and at times thought to even be unnecessary. Your article proves both to be unwarranted. I stumbled across your website while looking for the “Band of Brothers” speech in Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and have been a daily viewer ever since. Your website also proves that it is OK to be manly and that not all men are overbearing, drunken, womanizing, jerks. Keep up the great work.

27 Daniel December 13, 2010 at 7:47 am

Ah, Fight Club. It’s discussed in Universities as one of the most influential modern texts on masculinity and consumer culture. And this website I’m talking about in my blog, even if I might have just ranted and rambled in the heat of the rare moment where I actually get fired up about something. Point is, I can relate to Fight Club, I’m finding this site VERY informative (my dad is a workaholic who comes home tired, whinges over dinner about it, and watches the sport channel before going to bed; he also laughs at my efforts to do… well, anything… and constantly tells me to get a Real Job) and I’m talking about the site and the state of manliness (or lack thereof) in today’s society.

On a more positive note, the guys at my local church are pretty manly. Not the butch prize fighter type, just everyday types, but they have spiritual guidance and the ability to make personal connections. With this site and their presence (and plenty of other life-altering awesome factors) I’m finally taking my first steps on the road to being a better man than I am (which admittedly isn’t much). So sincerely, thank you, Art of Manliness. It’s good to have the guidance my father has so-far failed provide!

28 peregrine December 13, 2010 at 8:06 am

Unfortunately, there is a little too much bending of historical fact here. When mentioning the Industrial Revolution as the initial removal of the male force from the family home, you are missing quite a few facts. Families living in tenements were generally ALL working. Factories paid women and children 1/2 to 1/4 the wages of men, and therefore preferred to hire them. In many instances, father, mother,and children would work all day in factories and return home to work again as a family at a second job (Shelling nuts, laundry etc). The massive growth in alcoholism during Industrialization was men, with nothing to do, because women and children were working in their place. Only when child labor laws were introduced, along with compulsory education, did this begin to shift.
This coupled with men on the battlefield in the Civil War, Spanish American War, WWI, WWII – women had to do most of the jobs. Men were out fighting, women took the classrooms, the farm, the factory floor, the checkbooks. There really wasn’t an alternative if we were going to survive as a nation.
What about all the wives of our current service men? Their husbands are serving- so technically by your argument, haven’t they “left” their children to be reared by “single” moms? Every military wife I know struggles with having to handle the whole show on her own.
There is plenty of real history out there to support your ideas, please don’t distort information to make it fit your needs/

29 Hallee the Homemaker December 13, 2010 at 8:18 am

As the mother of three – two of whom are sons – and a husband who has been in Afghanistan for the last two years, I found this article brilliant.

I try very very hard to get my children as much man-time as possible – between grandfathers, men at church, uncles — I encourage male play and just count down the days until their dad is home for good.


30 Tony Ryan December 13, 2010 at 8:20 am

Brett, I’m sure you’re making a great father. In response to this quote…

“Some people say that it’s “sad” that men need to learn how to be men from a website. Such criticism seems to be born of an assumption that boys pop out of the womb with an innate sense of everything there is to know about being a man.”

This is so true. Thank you for creating a website such as this that gives guys training to be real men in this world. Personally, my father was VERY involved in my childhood and I am forever grateful for that. However, he wasn’t the most alpha of men and because of this, I unconsciously adopted a few of his traits. However, through the resources available to me, I took control and developed myself.

I think it’s important for guys to NOT develop a victim mindset if they didn’t have a male figure growing up. Wining about it is the exact opposite of manly behavior. We have resources such as this site and many other online, as well as mentors we can seek out that can help us develop into strong men. It’s up to us to quit thinking we’re victims, and that the world owes us anything and make the best use of these opportunities and resources in front of us.

Great article man, keep up the good work!

31 Brian December 13, 2010 at 8:26 am

“be born of an assumption that boys pop out of the womb with an innate sense of everything there is to know about being a man. Of course that’s not the case—we learn how to be a man from the mentors in our lives.”

the classic rationalist v. empiricist, Descartes v. Hume example

good article. definitely think that we learn this stuff through our sense experiences and we need more of that for the modern man’s revival of the lost art.

32 Andrew December 13, 2010 at 8:30 am

Been and avid reader of your blog for well over a year now and I must say that this is the best article yet!! I forwarded it to most of my friends already.

Thanks again for your time and commitment to this wonderful website and keep up the good work!

33 Ike December 13, 2010 at 8:30 am

Great article. Very reminiscent of Robert Bly’s Iron John. I think I saw that mentioned up there in the comments somewhere.

34 MasterRanger December 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

“If there’s one generational difference I notice between my parents’ generation and mine, is that my generation values time over money. And not because we’re lazy either, but because we’re not willing to trade time with the people we love most for a gold watch at retirement.”

Early candidate for quote of the week. Good job.

35 Ryan Tyler December 13, 2010 at 8:42 am

Very interesting, and I think there’s room to expand your discussion. I was expecting you to reach a point where you discussed the military. You discuss public education, but I wonder whether the teaching demographics are the same in private schools and especially boys’ schools. If so, do the graduates from these schools tend to be more “masculine?”

36 NMF December 13, 2010 at 8:50 am

As a child, my father was around much of the time, but what I think shaped me more was sports. I was NOT athletic, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Doing martial arts from the 5th grade taught me a lot of values, especially confidence, perseverance, and indomitable spirit. So, by high school I tried out for sports teams anyways. Got cut a couple of times but when I eventually made it I learned even more character from my coaches. At the time I thought Tae Kwon Do was fun (getting to fight people once a week) and soccer and volleyball were fun too. But in hindsight I feel like they really shaped who I am (even if I don’t do those sports anymore!)

37 frgough December 13, 2010 at 9:00 am

There is so much wrong with this article historically that it’s pretty much worthless.

1. Children on the farm didn’t work alongside Dad. That would be a waste of labor.
2. Women as ruler of households is a tradition thousands of years old over many different cultures; it didn’t start with the Industrial Revolution.
3. Everyone worked in the factories, not just Dad.
4. Women as teachers does not mean men become feminized. Just as men as teachers does not mean women become mascinulized. Post Hoc fallacy.
5. Since women have always been more prone to religion than men, yet feminization of Christianity is relatively recent, women cannot be the reason for it or the feminization would have occurred thousands of years ago.

So what has caused it? I think most of it is traced back to the countercultural revolution in the late 1960s, where it became culturally acceptable to separate sex from marriage and children, followed shortly thereafter by feminism which sent the following conflicting messages: 1. That to be equal to a man, a woman had to be like a man. 2. That men were the source of all moral evil in the world. 3. That freedom for a woman consisted of turning her into a sexual object. 4. That children kept a woman in bondage.

Because men largely define themselves according to their interaction with women and children, feminism, coupled with an abandonment of Christian morality reinforced the concept of machismo (manliness measured by sexual conquest), or feminization.

Anyway, My two cents.

First point: In an agrarian lifestyle, children did NOT go out with dad into the field until they were old enough, and even then, they were assigned different areas to work to maximize their effectiveness; they did not spend all day next to dad plowing the field; that would have been a waste of labor. Second, the Mother being ruler of the household goes back thousands of years across many, many different cultures. It is NOT the product of the industrial revolution. Third, as another poster stated, both women and children worked in the factories during the industrial revolution. Fourth, women in education is irrelevant to the feminization of men. If those women hold a certain standard of manhood, they’re going to impart it in the classroom. Just as men can communicate a standard of womanhood to women, women can communicate a standard of manhood to sons. The feminizing of Christianity was not the result of more women going to church than men, because more women have always

38 Drew Nishiyama December 13, 2010 at 9:12 am

Great article! I encourage everyone to take a serious look at Men’s Fraternity (there’s a link in the article). This had a profound and lasting impact in my life and understanding of what is a man.

Thanks, Brett! Much appreciated!

39 Eric Granata December 13, 2010 at 9:28 am

What an informative, thought provoking and ultimately encouraging read! A wonderful way to start the week.

Chieftain mentioned Boy Scouts up there and I couldn’t agree more. I only made it to Second Class before blossoming into a cynical little punk, but I admit, every time I meet an Eagle Scout, I’m impressed.

40 caleb December 13, 2010 at 9:39 am

It is definitely sad to see the state of manhood in the world today. Sadly, many men don’t even what it means to be a man.

The religious realm is rough. The “average guy” does not get much out of the structure of most churches and it is hard to be relevant but not cheesy.

That is why I have always been a huge promoter of the BSA. I don’t have a son (daughter on the way this week!), but the importance of masculinity compels me to work with the next generation of men.

I was blessed to have a dad who was a firefighter and got to work and spend a lot of time with us. His dad was more absent, so much of what he did was over the top. Though it was annoying at times, I really did love it.

41 cw December 13, 2010 at 9:42 am

This is a brilliant article. As someone who was mostly raised by my mother (and taught by women in school), I feel like I missed out on many unspoken lessons in masculinity, that I didn’t discover until I started paying close attention to the actions of, my grandfather, father and many historical figures (influenced and enhanced by this site). After I started doing that, I understood the thoughts and feelings behind their actions, and realized that I too have these same thoughts and feelings, but until now have been led to quell them by strong feminine forces in my upbringing.

I find the bit about the numbers of male teachers decreasing significantly in the past few years extremely interesting. I wonder if there is a correlation between this and the fact that school (mainly the early grades), over the past hundred years has shifted more from intro to reading, history, arithmetic etc., to more or less ‘play time’ occasionally supplemented by lessons. Report cards in these years have a blaring lack of significant, meaningful grade on the child’s intellectual development, but instead makes sure that they ‘play well with others’ and that they respect the teacher.

Thanks Brett, for this site and these articles. Reading posts has become part of my morning ritual, and I find that they have really helped my outlook on life, and shift my idea of what it means to be a masculine figure in society.

42 Claude Warner December 13, 2010 at 9:43 am

I have had the privilege of working from home with my wife for the last 14 years, so our kids have had Mom and Dad around for a good chunk of their formative years.

Only time will tell as they have their own families what the true impact of this will be.

What I can say is that it has been awesome to be around them, to share lunch and after school stories, not every day, but many days, and then head back into the office.

I can say that my kids know me (the good and the bad) because they have witnessed me in action on many an occasion.

A number of other commenters have spoken of the role of God in their lives, and viewing my own personal journey through the lens of God as father has helped me make sense of what could otherwise be construed as a journey of seemingly random and unrelated events.

By taking this meta view so many things have fallen into perspecitve and have enabled me to see my life as having had a far more intentional path than I originally thought.

This has helped me to make a make a huge inner shift in my own sense of identity and self worth.

My responses to various major life events were mostly positive, but because I could not see the connection I totally missed seeing how God was using them to intentionally raise up the man I have become.

It is not so much what happens in life (although that can be pretty hectic), it is about how you respond.

Once you move out of blaming your nature or your nurture for where you are at, and accepting responsibility for the choices you make and have made, only then you can move forward powerfully.

We are ultimately a product of our choices; even in scripture God gave man the freedom to choose “Choose for yourself this day, life or death, blessings and curses”.

So, accept responsibility for your choices, endeavour to be as present for your kids as possible, practice what you preach , and trust that God uses all things for good.

These are the Outliers that can make the difference to you as a man and as a father.

43 RicksterM December 13, 2010 at 9:55 am

Your post is very well done and resonates with me. You speak of parents wanting to give their kids what they themselves felt lacking during their own upbringing. My observation, many parents who grew up during the depression frequently were all about giving their kids the homes, possessions and comforts they didn’t have during their own upbringing, even if it meant dad was not around much or at all. As you point out, I too think there is an increased interest in providing hands-on fathering precisely because much of that was missing from our own childhoods. I know it’s a priority for me and don’t think it was so much for my own folks…. and absentee dad. Well done.

44 Santi December 13, 2010 at 9:56 am

A great article! Another ‘call to arms’ to us men to look for male mentors and to be mentors to others.

45 Thomas Brooks December 13, 2010 at 9:57 am

As a pastor of an evangelical church, I can say that you are absolutely right about the feminization of men in the church. Joel Osteen is the perfect example of what we Christians often mistakenly portray as the ideal Christian man; soft spoken, smiling, gentle. Fact is, that doesn’t appeal to men, nor should it. I had not heard of Billy Sunday, but I like what I read of him.

Thanks for the article. This is a great place to think about what true masculinity is.

46 Amber December 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

This is an excellent article — it’s especially sad that American churches are lacking in male leadership where it’s needed most. I dare say that might be connected to the lack of male presence in the family. Anyway, as a well-educated, independent woman, let me say I am, so far (in my 30 minutes of reading this article and perusing your site), a big, big fan, especially of your articles about how to treat / approach / date women. Please, men, please — don’t “hang out” with us. We hate it (the real women do, at least). We want to date you (and we want you to ask). We want you to do manly stuff we don’t understand or care for. We want you to step up and take charge in our family, churches, and schools. We even want you to (at rare times) to look us in the face and tell us “No” when we’re being unreasonable yatches (in the most respectful way possible, please). Thank you for reviving and encouraging a conversation on manhood that desperately needs to be revived and encouraged.

47 M.S.Saint December 13, 2010 at 9:59 am

We must also consider the explosion of the drug culture and the federal government takeover of the educational system that took place in the U.S. in the 1960s as well.

48 drl December 13, 2010 at 10:04 am

Good article; I’m a little disturbed by the opinions many men here have on feminism. My father, a great man by any standard, considers himself (as I consider myself) a feminist. Feminism is simply a search for equality. It has nothing to do with demonizing men or manly pursuits; that is the refuge of a few nut-bags (“all sex is rape” comes to mind) who denigrate feminism.

As a young man, I can say that sports and martial arts have helped shape me as a “man”. Most kids today (sorry to indulge in generalizations) spend so much time doing “solo” activities which , even when they involve others (PS3 online / Xbox3 Live / Internet gaming / Facebook), do not include the essential “manly” things that boys and young men used to do. Maybe this has something to do with it.

49 Matt McCraw December 13, 2010 at 10:06 am

Thanks Brett. I’m a youth pastor that works with families every day. Nearly 100% of the kids that have significant issues in their lives have a breakdown with their family. This article is right on and a great help for me. I’ll archive this in my records to resource later. Keep up the good work.

50 Brad December 13, 2010 at 10:07 am

As a counselor in Oklahoma this post reminds me of the unique opportunity I have to influence the young men I work with. Our divorce rate is outrageous here, especially when considering the amount of religious bolstering that goes on throughout the state. Thanks for the thought provoking article, and keep up the good work. It’s greatly appreciated.

51 Jesse December 13, 2010 at 10:10 am

I’ve been watching this site for some time and I’m a huge fan. I, too, had an absent father but I was fortunate enough to have really great male mentors to turn to. I was reading some of the comments and was really disturbed by the underlying notion that “the feminist movement” was to blame for many of the issues men currently have. I would agree on some level but I hesitate to completely blame a movement that wished to “elevate” women from their “inferior” positions. However, I will blame the one-sidedness of that movement. Much of the modern forms of feminism (i.e. Lifetime. Don’t ever let your wife watch it.) tear men down and categorize us abusers, kidnappers, or just general evil beings. Unfortunately, we have also come out with a few “counter-feminist” messages which are so macho that they don’t even allow us to be human. I guess I’m saying that I think we should have more men in our lives to teach us to be men but our journey into manhood shouldn’t be connected with tearing women down.

52 C.J. December 13, 2010 at 10:11 am

I agree there is a lack of manly mentors around and fathers, because of their own lack, don’t know how to father… The face of this nation would look amazingly different if men were back in their place of manhood. Many women and children’s heart cry is to see their husband/father stand in his place of manhood. The burden put on women to carry the load of mother and father has taken it’s toll…heart disease is up as well as cancers, depression, anxiety and other maladies. I cannot help but believe that is somehow related to bearing the burdens not meant for their shoulders. Thanks for rising up and teaching young men (and older)…may this breed a new generation of MEN!

53 Matthew Arant December 13, 2010 at 10:12 am

Great post. Agreeing with Brett point by point is not the point. Getting us to think about our involvement in the world and our families is what he’s discussing. What I see is the quest for identity as our life proceeds. Our perspective may be more influenced by one parent or mentor over another however, as we grow and learn, we have the ability to think, reason, and determine where our strengths lay and where our weakness may need improvement. I spent a lot of time with both parents growing up and there are still things I recognize as missing as my wife and I raise our children. Depending on attitude, this is an exciting part of life, because it is an adventure in real life. Will I be able to do better by my children, absolutely! Why? Because like many of you, I care that my life makes a difference and am learning to make the most of the opportunity. This includes continuing to learn what it means to be a man in an honorable and noble sense, and passing along that influence to my family, church, work, and community.

54 Mike December 13, 2010 at 10:14 am

This article really struck home for me. I grew up without my Dad, who was a State Trooper and died in the line of duty before I was born. Like several of the other posters, I didn’t have a really strong, manly presence growing up to serve as a blueprint for my own life. Ironically, I try to better myself as a man daily by trying to emulate my dad. You see, he died so that others may live, and I can think of no manlier single act than that. So, while I am indeed a product of a generation of men raised by women, I don’t like to think of it as a handicap or a reason to excuse myself as a second-rate father and a husband.

I think that I have had an awesome male influence in my dad, who I never knew. I would rather never have had my dad around and known that he was a hero than to have a living one that’s an absentee wuss. Brett, I enjoy your site thoroughly. Keep it up. Good luck with that boy. I’ve got boy number 2 on the way!

55 Andrew D December 13, 2010 at 10:14 am

grgough – Good points. I do, however, think Brett is hitting a strong kernel of truth despite some room for disagreement in the historical cause and effects discussed here. E.g., just because dad and jr weren’t pushing the same plow doesn’t mean dad wasn’t a bigger influence in jr’s life when they both worked on the same farm.

That said, your point about the cultural revolution of the 1960′s is right on – this is a huge part of the feminization of modern men. It all works together.

Anyway, great article, and great discussion.


56 Tom December 13, 2010 at 10:15 am

“Some people say that it’s “sad” that men need to learn how to be men from a website.”

I think this website is terrific. For me, the biggest thing I have learned is that it is ok to be a proper man, even in today’s society where everything and everyone seems to be striving for men and women to be the same. We are not the same and we should celebrate the differences rather then oppose them.

57 Jen December 13, 2010 at 10:25 am

When I was a kid, my dad worked night shifts and I hardly see him for most part of my childhood. As time goes by, we kind of drifted apart and have little in common. And I haven’t really got the concept of manhood as a teen. So I just want to say that this website is really useful to learn a lot that i missed out on and thanks for all the contribution you’ve made.

58 Dave Wood December 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

Anyone who thinks that we need a website to teach us to be men is an absolute fool. The art of manliness does not teach us to be men. It is just an amazing resource of ideas and topics. We all know the golden rule and I believe that to be the base of being a man. We have to have integrity and treat each other with mutual respect. We do not need a web site to teach us that. What we have is a meeting of the minds to help us ponder situations that we normally would not think of. Between the family life and work it is hard to find the time to learn about the great men in history, or fine art, or the case for the cold water shave, or how to make our own aftershave, and so on. This web site gives us the opportunity to learn one great thing from almost every man on the planet. Keep up the great posts.

59 Jack Wylie December 13, 2010 at 10:30 am

Tremendous article!
Takes a man to make a man. I’ve been in so many conversations with men about the loss of manliness in The Church. I really think that there is a revival of sorts coming back into our faith as well. Embracing masculine traditions of hunting are also taking hold in many parts of the country and I for one am glad to see it.

60 Pam J December 13, 2010 at 10:32 am

I was excited to have you articulate so well some ideas that have been running around in my head. I was blessed to have both parents involved in loving and rearing me. My Dad changed diapers in the 50s. He kept his job and family responsibilities in balance and loved showing us kids–all of us–camping, backpacking, lighting fires, doing handy-man jobs, building things, etc. This broad experience and feeling of competency I believe helped me, as a women, feel that I COULD do anything I wanted, and what I wanted was to be a stay-at-home wife and mother!
I wanted to make the point that I believe I have learned that children need both Mom and Dad, with one or the other being most important at different stages of life. I do believe that infants, young babies, and toddlers really do best breastfed, cuddled, and talked to a lot by their Moms. Men CAN do this job, but women are biologically adapted to it what with breasts, verbal brains, and maternal hormones that make babies appear cute and cuddly to us.
However, I have noticed TWO times when Dads are a must: preschool and adolescence. Preschoolers are ready to leap from Mamma’s arms and PLAY–something men LOVE to do. They need to be thrown in the air and build forts, climb up Dad’s legs and flip over, wrestle, throw balls etc. This is fun, educational, and builds confidence. Second, Adolescents, especially boys, need to have a MAN use his forceful physical presence and voice to settle their hash. Mom can say the same thing to a teenaged boy as the Dad says, but that boy will take it better from Dad. I’ve noticed that teenaged boys HATE to hear a woman’s voice yammering and nagging–about anything. And of course, they need mentoring about everything, a role model. But teenaged girls also need Dad–otherwise they tend to be “looking for love in all the wrong places.” They need to feel respected, loved, be told they’re pretty, have Dad put his foot down about certain outfits they may want to wear, and feel that they have a life of the mind and work that is important other than just being decorative. They need financial security.
Overall, Dad provides a strong, hard foundation to spring off of.
BTW I am 49 and have a boy and girl, 17 and 22.

61 Rob December 13, 2010 at 10:32 am

When my first (of two) child was born I vowed I would give her all the things I never had as a child. Not material possessions mind you, but the attention and guidance only a father can provide. I grew up in a two-parent family but my father was an emotional absentee, offering little guidance or example on how to conduct myself and live my life. I am and always will be the guiding force in my children’s lives and strive always to make the tough decisions with a firm but loving manner and let my son in particular know that today’s culture is NOT necessarily more enlightened than in years gone past.
Great article and much to think about.

62 Josh December 13, 2010 at 10:33 am

I was raised by my mother after our father left my brother and I. I was very fortunate to have a great mentor and father figure in my grandfather. He dragged me out of the house every weekend and summer since I turned 14 and made me work in his meat market. I learned what hard work, honesty, and a good marriage looks like thanks to him.

I think this generation coming, for the most part, is starting to realize the problems inherent in not having fathers at home and are wanting to change it.

63 AndrewR December 13, 2010 at 10:41 am

This article is great!

I think you are correct in the assumption of hope in our generation. Like you, I see many of my peers saying no to 60 hour work weeks and the pay raise that may come with it so they will be able to spend time with their family.

As much as I respect and admire my Father for making the sacrifices that he did to provide for his family, I REFUSE to take time away from my family to chase the ever so elusive “American Dream.” I think the true dream is to bring our children up in ways that reinforce morality, kindness, justice, peace, and humanity. I want to teach my children to think and reason so that they might be able to spur change within the world.

Thanks again for such a great piece. I will be sharing this with all the men that I know.

64 Nina December 13, 2010 at 11:03 am

This post seems to resonate with a lot of men, inspiring them to take an active role in the raising of the next generation. That’s fantastic. However… The historical fallacies noted by earlier commenters are significant, not just because they’re wrong. I think, Brett, that you are falling into the trap of the “good old days” myth. The days of pioneer families with a strong male presence were also marked by the absolute power of the head of the family, with all the abuses that tend to come with it. Apart from current social stigma, has there ever been a time when men had the primary role in working with toddlers and preschoolers? And do we have any empirical data suggesting that it helps men to be more masculine (and I’m still not sure what that means…)?

I think your article is written with the best of intentions – get men involved in the lives of their children. And I realize that women are not your target audience. But my primary question throughout the article was this: what do you suggest women do? Restrict themselves to raising girls while men raise the boys? Are we to return to a Dickensian gender-divided society? You really made no effort to address teamwork between genders, which I’m assuming was your intent – and I think is vital.

65 Jared December 13, 2010 at 11:06 am

Great post about an increasing problem with our generation and how we are responding to it. I am so thankful to be part of a church that is driven to bring in and train men, mars Hill in Seattle. Pastor Mark is always hammering the dudes for Jesus. I want to share a sermon he preached last year on what it means to be a Biblical man today, how we should prioritize our lives and how God looks at the guys who abdicate their responsibility and want to just “drink beer out of sippy cups.” I hope it is beneficial to all of you who watch or listen to it. http://www.marshillchurch.org/media/trial/marriage-and-men

Thanks for the site, you’re doing great work!

66 Michael Hilton December 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

I myself have been raised by my mom practically all of my preteen/teenage years, mostly because my dad had lost his job as a pastor, and decided to become a LPN instead, which resulted in less time spent at home studying, and more time at a nurseing home working.

But, after years of trying to cope with the effeminating generation, I ran across this site while learning how to use a flint and steel fire starter. I read a few articles, joined the community, and have been growing ever since in The Art of Manliness.

Many thanks, Brett.

67 Aaron December 13, 2010 at 11:13 am

Superb article. In many ways, I’ve grown up as a man raised by women, since my family was structured much like an industrial revolution family. Father worked all day, mother stayed at home and looked after my sibling and I. Yet, perhaps in an even greater shift, my mother began working full-time when I was in my teens, so I was really only left with my teachers and peers to be my guide – not a situation I would desire on any child.

I decided very early on in my teens that I didn’t really care about money. Everyone I knew seemed to, but I felt that, as long as I had enough to subsist, I’d want to spend my life doing what made me happy, both as an occupation and for leisure. Now, even calling myself a man feels premature – I’m twenty years old, in university, and can’t get a job to live independently…and I still live at home because of it, and commute to Uni everyday. I’ve a lot of development to pass through, and I can’t wait to experience it. However, I don’t want any of my kids to learn things this late. I want my twenty years old son to be working, living independently of myself, if he is able for it. I would want to prepare him for it throughout his life, being there to guide him all the way and support him as he needs it.

In the end, I think manliness comes from independence. I can’t feel manly since I’m still so dependent on my parents and, without that father-mentor support, it doesn’t seem to be inspired by the teaches of women through society. I think the whole role-reversal concept, where women become the bread-winners and the men become the nurturers, doesn’t work either. A well-rounded individual would need the lessons of both parents, and, while it’s easy to forget in our man-centric discussions, we also need to think of the daughters. What women would be raised from the daughters who learn all their lessons from man? Perhaps the reason women have become so crucial to our development also comes from the advantage of daughters being so close to their stay-at-home mother over the century.

While its only anecdotal evidence, I’ve found that, in school, male teachers definitely get the most out of their male pupils. Yet, like most, I’ve had my teaching dominated by female teachers. Now, in university, most of my professors are male, and it’s an astounding change.

I’m glad that our modern age is facilitating working from home. I hope that, as I mature, I get to take advantage of such an advantage and be there for my family. Thanks for the stimulating article, Brett.

68 Patrick Pugh December 13, 2010 at 11:37 am

Especially interested in the return of men in the classroom. Where are all the male teachers? The few I’ve had have made such an impact in my life. Male teachers, regardless of their teaching style, bring a different vibe in the classroom atmosphere. I think a healthy balance of both genders in the educational system is the ideal scenario, however, it’s looking like we have a long way to go. How can we get more men into the educational system? Why are they shying away from this profession? One reason is because the word “teacher” is so synonymous with “female” nowadays that it might be emasculating to even consider the profession. Can we make teaching a little more…androgynous?

69 TsunamiNoAi December 13, 2010 at 12:02 pm

At least one response, religiously speaking, of the apparent feminizing of Christianity has been a subtle move towards orthodoxy.


Not necessarily a move for everyone, but it is an interesting alternative.

70 T. Thema Martin December 13, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Brett, I am a black female who has been a loyal reader since earlier this year when I stumbled across your site. The title is what got me since I believe Manly Men are a dying breed unfortunately. I don’t know how many blacks or females read your blog, but I am sure that the numbers are low. A lot of men don’t know how to be men, especially black men, but people forget the second part of the equation. A lot of women don’t know what it is for a man to be a man, once again, especially in the black community. Considering 3/4 of black kids are born to unwed moms, the idea of being a man is pretty much thrown out the window because there are no fathers, grandfathers, or any other male in these children’s lives.

I wish your site could reach the black community because as far as I am concerned, this is a required reading site. I used to read Esquire, but your site has replaced Esquire. I come from a middle-class two parent household, so I understand the role of a man since I was a Daddy’s Little Girl.

Keep doing what you are doing because when I do find a partner, I want to make sure that he is manly. Therefore, I read your blog to stay on top of things.

71 Bill December 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Great wake-up article I hope!
What saddens me in our school systems is that boys cannot be boys. If they start acting and behaving like boys – they are given drugs to calm them down. It seems that schools over the years have decided that to be taught, boys need to act like girls. (Nothing wrong with girls being girls, but it is destroying a generation of boys who are told to quit behaving the way boys behave.)

72 Keith Brawner December 13, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I am happy to learn manliness from a website. I find that Art of Manliness has something for everyone. While my father is well versed in values, and my step-father is versed in outdoors activities, neither of them have taught me the proper occasion for a sport coat.

If I can find a place to fill gaps in my knowledge, I will do so happily.

I was pleased in this article that you brought up the points of the father never being home/present/active (despite being a provider), and the divorce trend (lower than advertised!).

73 Ivan December 13, 2010 at 12:56 pm

A good article, Brett, thanks.

Family: It is sad that many men checked out in one way or another over the years, and every time I talk to one of the problem kids in my class, it’s about a 75% chance that there’s no father in the picture. My own father has been the best role model he could be, and there are many ways in which I genuinely want to emulate him. My parents raised me equally and did their best to impart all that they knew and valued to me while letting me make my own path, and for that I can’t thank them enough. They also stated that they would have raised a girl in the same way, had they been fortunate enough to give me a sister. I’m getting married soon to a wonderful woman, and the more we talk about kids (and the more I talk to the problem kids in my class) the more I know that my family will be my first priority.

As a side-note, I think people (panicked guys, mostly) get a little too worked up over what they term “feminism,” when they’re not talking about actual feminism, but anti-male leanings. Look: If you’re a feminist (which I am), you believe that people should not be limited based on their gender. That’s all. You can’t take man-bashing “feminists” as representative of the feminist movement. That’s like taking the worst of the misogynistic knuckle-draggers and calling them “manly.” Both camps are crazy, ignorant, and not really worth the time of day.

One other point about family – I don’t think that it’s the job of fathers to raise sons and mothers to raise daughters. Rather, it’s the purpose of both to raise both. No quality or skill is inherently “manly” or “womanly” – these are social constructs, for the large part, and my kids are going to choose how they want to be as much as they are able, and that means me teaching all of my kids as much of what I know as I can (until they get sick of me and decide I’m uncool, anyhow).

Religion: This is where we disagree. While I agree that Religion has historically served as one of the cultural institutions for imparting boys with that culture’s values of masculinity, I disagree that religious education is a key modern universal necessary influence in making a “man.” I feel like a fairly well-adjusted person who received a good education in how to be a man. However, I was raised in an atheist household and so I feel no connection to religion whatsoever. I do not consider religion a necessary aspect of being a man, any more than I imagine it to be a necessary aspect of being a woman. If my kids want to explore religion, that’s fine by me and I’ll support it, but they’ll know where I stand all the same.

Teaching: I’m going to teach high school biology (got my undergrad in biology several years ago, was a biologist for a few years before deciding I felt called to teaching), and what you say about the teaching force is quite true in many respects. I’m one of four or five males in a cohort of about 75, and of the five of us, only ONE is going into elementary education. It’s really astounding how few males are going into education, particularly elementary education and I think it’s a detriment to our society. This isn’t because women aren’t doing a good job – quite the opposite, really. It’s just that a lot of the kids need a strong male role model, both the girls and the boys, and many of them aren’t going to get strong male role models anywhere else. Some look for someone to emulate, and others look for someone to hold up as a standard for the men in their life, since they hadn’t had a good one before. I encourage men to go into teaching at all levels in order to bring gender balance to the educational system.

Again, Brett, thanks for the article. It provided great food for thought and discussion.


p.s. Fun fact: the Vikings didn’t like the first round of Christian missionaries because Jesus was portrayed as the meek lamb of God. The second time the church tried converting the Vikings, they portrayed Jesus as a valiant warrior, swooping down to hell to steal back the souls of the faithful from the devil. Piracy was a prized quality in a leader to the Vikings. Also, he was portrayed as climbing up on the cross under his own power and laughing in the faces of his supposed captors when they tortured him (again, a quality greatly prized by the Vikings – silence was manly in the face of great pain, but laughter was better). Result? Vikings converted in droves.

74 Brucifer December 13, 2010 at 12:56 pm

‘Why Men Hate Going to Church’ by David Murrow covers a lot of bases on the femininization of religion. (Which is why I turned to Odin and the old viking-age gods.)

That said, it must be also observed the women have done a decidedly poor job of raising their sons, even in the area of (supposedly female) domestic skills. Almost all of the young females of my acquaintance are united in lamenting that their boyfriends or husbands are grossly lacking in the ability to clean, cook, do laundry, etc. Mommy has picked-up after these boy-children their entire lives! If not for their GF’s or wives continuing to look after them just like mommy did, many of these young chaps would be feral.

The glaring irony here is that Mommy probability fancies herself a big-bad feminist, but herself fails to act thusly toward her own sons, nor teach them how to properly take care of themselves without her around to wipe their whinny noses all the time.

I’d further submit though, that the larger, and more insidious symptom of all this is not the feminization … but the overall INFANTILIZATION of society. For most all of human history, our youth were fully-enfranchised adults at 13 or so. Now, our youth are treated like children, well into their 20′s. Much of the nanny-state we find ourselves besieged by can be directly attributed, not to some nefarious government plot, but to the undue influence of the insidious “Mommy-State.”

75 Ivan December 13, 2010 at 1:01 pm

A good article, Brett, thanks.

Family: It is sad that many men checked out in one way or another over the years, and every time I talk to one of the problem kids in my class, it’s about a 75% chance that there’s no father in the picture. My own father has been the best role model he could be, and there are many ways in which I genuinely want to emulate him. My parents raised me equally and did their best to impart all that they knew and valued to me while letting me make my own path, and for that I can’t thank them enough. They also stated that they would have raised a girl in the same way, had they been fortunate enough to give me a sister. I’m getting married soon to a wonderful woman, and the more we talk about kids (and the more I talk to the kids in my class) the more I know that my family will be my first priority.

As a side-note, I think people (panicked guys, mostly) get a little too worked up over what they term “feminism,” when they’re not talking about actual feminism, but anti-male leanings. Look: If you’re a feminist (which I am), you believe that people should not be limited based on their gender. That’s all. You can’t take man-bashing “feminists” as representative of the feminist movement. That’s like taking the worst of the misogynistic knuckle-draggers and calling them “manly.” Both camps are crazy, ignorant, and not really worth the time of day.

One other point about family – I don’t think that it’s the job of fathers to raise sons and mothers to raise daughters. Rather, it’s the purpose of both to raise both. No quality or skill is inherently “manly” or “womanly” – these are social constructs, for the large part, and my kids are going to choose how they want to be as much as they are able, and that means me teaching all of my kids as much of what I know as I can (until they get sick of me and decide I’m uncool, anyhow).

Religion: This is where we disagree. While I agree that Religion has historically served as one of the cultural institutions for imparting boys with that culture’s values of masculinity, I disagree that religious education is a key modern universal necessary influence in making a “man.” I feel like a fairly well-adjusted person who received a good education in how to be a man. However, I was raised in an atheist household and so I feel no connection to religion whatsoever. I do not consider religion a necessary aspect of being a man, any more than I imagine it to be a necessary aspect of being a woman. If my kids want to explore religion, that’s fine by me and I’ll support it, but they’ll know where I stand all the same.

Teaching: I’m going to teach high school biology (got my undergrad in biology several years ago, was a biologist for a few years before deciding I felt called to teaching), and what you say about the teaching force is quite true in many respects. I’m one of four or five males in a cohort of about 75, and of the five of us, only ONE is going into elementary education. It’s really astounding how few males are going into education, particularly elementary education and I think it’s a detriment to our society. This isn’t because women aren’t doing a good job – quite the opposite, really. It’s just that a lot of the kids need a strong male role model, both the girls and the boys, and many of them aren’t going to get strong male role models anywhere else. Some look for someone to emulate, and others look for someone to hold up as a standard for the men in their life, since they hadn’t had a good one before. I encourage men to go into teaching at all levels in order to bring gender balance to the educational system.

Again, Brett, thanks for the article. It provided great food for thought and discussion.


p.s. Fun fact: the Vikings didn’t like the first round of Christian missionaries because Jesus was portrayed as the meek lamb of God. The second time the church tried converting the Vikings, they portrayed Jesus as a valiant warrior, swooping down to hell to steal back the souls of the faithful from the devil. Piracy was a prized quality in a leader to the Vikings. Also, he was portrayed as climbing up on the cross under his own power and laughing in the faces of his supposed captors when they tortured him (again, a quality greatly prized by the Vikings – silence was manly in the face of great pain, but laughter was better). Result? Vikings converted in droves.

76 JonathanL December 13, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Great article. Like yourself, I enjoy, more than anything, being an integral part of raising my child. I work 40 hours a week without fail, but rarely work overtime, and I work almost no holidays (or a short shift at worst). I was raised by a single mother for more than half of my childhood and my biological father was only around long after he should have spent my formative years teaching me what it means to be a man. Knowing what that experience is like, I’ve dedicated myself to being a role model for my son, and I engage in a 50/50 partnership with my wife. My son will not go without a father figure. I’ll always be there for him, and he’ll never have to look back on his life and see long stretches where ANYTHING took precedent over our relationship, or I was absent for indefensible reasons.

The younger dads I know are like me and you; they’re active, engaged fathers who take pleasure in raising their sons and daughters. They’re not cold and distant figures who would rather shovel the walk than change a single diaper; they’re parents on equal footing with their significant others. And I can’t help but think that maybe our children will be better off than we were, bereft of those who would teach us how to be men.

77 Richyroethke December 13, 2010 at 1:33 pm

The idea of a supposed “loss of manliness” stems from the erroneous presupposition that men and women should always and forever behave only in the manner which the greatest portion of their gender declares is typical. This is a false assumption, and especially where Christianity is concerned, I believe that a feminine man is no less God-honoring than a masculine man. As femininity and masculinity as you have described them are really only social constructs, it stands to reason that a paradigm shift of gender values is a natural and inescapable thing. In the case of Christianity, God made both man and woman in His image, and as such we must assume that in God there is a feminine quality, and that the references to God’s maleness are references to His relationship to the Church, over whom He is and always will be superior. My take on it is really just that if the culture sees men as the protector at one period in time, that is fine (so long as it causes no inherent injustice), and if the culture changes to allow men to become more feminine, that also is perfectly fine.

78 Ryan Jewell December 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm

@frgough, do you have sources you could cite that I can learn more about? Brett, It’s examples like this that make me check in with this site almost daily: intelligent dialog between people with differing opinions. It seems that I am learning just as much from other commentors as the article itself! That aside, this article struck a chord within me. Even though I have had a decent amount of men I could emulate, I still feel that I am missing out on having someone with the raw essence of manliness with which to communicate. This article pushed the point up to the foreground again for me; I need to find some decent traits to improve within myself daily. 30 days to a better man challenge, here I come!

79 Scott December 13, 2010 at 1:41 pm

Thanks Brett for a great article on a sensitive and avoided topic. I was homeschooled all the way through school by my mom while my dad was the breadwinner for family. Thanks to both of my parents, they worked closely together on training my brother and I to be manly men. I go to University in Canada and when I arrived there I could not believe the state that manliness was in. I been able to introduce a number of young fellows to your website Brett and the funny is if they were skeptical about it at first, it was their girlfriends who got them excited about it. Guys, I have found don’t just need other manly men to be around, but woman have a need to be around them too. Thanks and I hope to be able to have the pleasure of reading The Art of Manliness for many years to come.

80 Rick December 13, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for the article. I’m new readership here at this site and generally find it helpful and interesting. But this provoked me in a negative way. And I hope the commenters and the author will understand I mean no disrespect and am interested in a genuine conversation on this subject.

The first point I want to make is that growing up for the male sex is not about becoming a ‘MAN’. It’s about becoming a flourishing human being. I feel it’s closer to the truth. Much of what we understand as being a ‘man’ comes from society, and is entirely contingent on the culture we grow up in. And while there are good reasons for a lot of these constructs, many of them are harmful and unjust, particularly to women, children, and much of LGBT community. I could spell it out for you, but I’m just trying to make a sketch here.

“Family Values” circa the 50′s is nothing to want to go back to. Haven’t you seen Mad Men? Men in those families earned, on no other merit than their gender, power and authority at the expense of their wives. Far be from any man to ever desire that.

Religion, Christianity in particular, is another institution that gets it wrong [most of the time, I've met many Christians who are terrific human beings]. Churches tell men that they are ‘visual’, ‘sex-monsters’, and ‘leaders’. They then turn to the women and tell them that they are ‘emotional’, ‘fragile’, ‘caretakers’, and ‘stumbling blocks’. Not only are these perceptions scientifically mistaken, they propagate a culture where women are blamed for the sins of men, find their worth in men, and hate their bodies. Men, being told they are unable to control, and yet should hate, their desires, also learn to hate their bodies. Homosexuality, which is loathed in the Christian community, is another low point of that religion. While men and women in churches might be given wrong information and encouraged to make poor life choices, homosexuals are not allowed to flourish at all.

As as side note, I have yet to see any recognition on this site of homosexuality- not saying there isn’t- and that worries me. Some men are gay, so it follows that whatever is ‘manliness’ should include them.

As far as education is concerned, I think we can agree that it is very important in the growth of a human being. But I really resent the idea that women are not able to teach men, just because they are women- which seems to be what you are implying. There are a lot of reasons why men might not be doing well in schools apart from the fact that women are teaching them.

Then, there is the premise of the entire article which basically is saying “Blame women for your problems”, which many of the commentors seemed to embrace. At the very best, your premise states “Women are unable to raise men”. And while I agree with most of your conclusion, that a family is very important, that the man should have a very involved role in the child rearing, this is just too far and it’s definitely not manly. Women are as capable as any man in raising of children. I mean, because of what it means to be ‘a man’ most women are sentenced to a life in the home. They have a lot more experience than men do at that sort of thing. And for a man to, at the same time, say “you must stay home” and “you fail at childrearing” is the epitomy of misogyny.

All of the good things you said should not come at the expense of women or homosexuals. Part of being a flourishing human is being just and good. And sometimes what our culture tells us is manly is simply not. I wish to hear your thoughts on this.

81 Rob December 13, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Great article. Completely agree. I attend a Mens Fraternity meeting currently and these same ideas, among others, are echoed there. The over-arching goal there is to become better men. And much like AOM and BetterMen, mentorship and the need to have other men in your life is of the highest value. It is built in to the structure of the meeting. I recommend looking for this in your area by consulting mensfraternity.com for a local meeting.

82 Carter December 13, 2010 at 2:36 pm

The recent increase of feminine or beta male leads in movies and the goal of “Hollywood” to portray religion as evil or erase it altogether from pop culture are not helping with this either.

83 Audrey December 13, 2010 at 2:58 pm

“The Jesus men encountered in the pews became a wan, gentle soul who glided through Jerusalem patting children’s heads, talking about flowers, and crying.”

Haha! I wondered why I never liked certain visual depictions of Jesus – that’s exactly it! Jesus should be shown as a human version of Aslan the lion.

84 Rich December 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm

I admit, I love this website and there is great advice offered within. However, I would have to agree with some of the earlier posts that women have only recently started dominating the raising of men. Thousands of years ago, when men went out hunting, did the 3 year old toddler go with them? I doubt it. They were in the caves with the women.

Many readers of this site would say that the World War 2 generation was the greatest and very manly men came from that generation. Well, according to your article, women were raising men from early childhood, the women were the main teachers in school. So, does the lack of manliness we find today rooted in women being our teachers and raising us from childhood?

Many people say that John Wayne was and still is considered the icon for what a real man should be. Wasn’t he raised in the same way….mom at home and female teachers in school?

So what makes a man a man?

Let me take another example. Most would say that Donny Osmond is not the manliest of men. Yet he was raised in a family dominated by males. He was raised in a church where the culture is dominated by men. Then, what happened? What criteria are we using to consider one a man? Donny is financially independent. He runs his family, is very active outdoors, he’s just not “Mr. Tough Guy”. Yet, most people would not consider him a poster child for manliness. He is considered a teen idol pretty boy.

Do we even need to bring up Michael Jackson? Similar upbringing. Two totally different results.

I watched on the History Channel over the weekend about the United States…the history of us. Thomas Jefferson was featured in one section. Would most people consider him manly? I would say yes. To make a long story short, he left his family $102,000 in debt ($2,000,000 in today’s money) and had a whole separate family with a with a black slave woman. Is it manly to leave your family in debt like that? Is it manly to have affairs? Maybe in the latter case, we are simply talking about values today vs in the 1800′s. However, I say that with some hesitancy because adultery was not considered good behavior even back then.

My point is this, what really makes a man and man? Is it rugged individualism, bouncing back from a major defeat, being tough in a fight, being responsible for your actions, taking care of your family, being a gentlemen? I could go on, but I think you get my point. I think a good example of being a man is like art and pornography, you know it when you see it.

It’s difficult to pigeon hole what a real man is, but we do know that testosterone levels in men is lower than it was 50 years ago, we don’t lead like we used to and it sure seems that we have lost what it is to be a real man, whatever that elusive ideal is. Maybe it is just a romantic ideal from the past? Who knows.

85 CosmikRabbit December 13, 2010 at 3:37 pm

I found this article to confirm what I myself have already found out. To quote Danny Trejo in the classic film Anchorman, “chicks can do stuff now.” My father died when I was 17, and although I didn’t know why, I felt a sense of relief when that happened. However, the guilt that went with that for many years was hard to overcome and accept that I am who I am because of that experience. I’m 24 now, and about a year ago I started a journey with a simple question in mind, “What does being a man mean to me?” I asked because I had absolutely no idea what it meant. And I was scared. I went on a few mens retreats, and I found there the same pain and frustration that my father experienced as a result of his father not being around. It seemed that they, as well as I, were afraid to love. Although going to those retreats made me the person I am today, I ultimately came to believe that they’re are trying to tenuously hold on to an ideal that plain and simply no longer exists. I believe humans are a progressive race, and trying to restore that notion of the always present father is ultimately futile. It was completely necessary for the survival of the tribe for that to exist, and even for the community up to the industrial revolution. But now, as I said earlier, women are on the rise, and I believe that trying to figure out this abstract concept of masculinity as it existed in the past is only hindering our progression as a species. I know who I am, and I know that until I can provide children with a loving, healthy, and safe place for them to grow, I ain’t having them. It took this “crisis” of masculinity to reach this conclusion, and for all those that suffered, including my father, I say, “thank you.”

86 Boyd December 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm

Right on. Boys certainly need the nurturing care given by the women in their lives, but it doesn’t give them a masculine identity to emulate. A boy need an example to follow. For the dads out there who are looking for a way to initiate their sons into a healthy masculine identity, I recommend the book “Raising a Modern Day Knight” by Robert Lewis. There is also a video-based version of the series for presentation with a small group of dads. Robert Lewis also developed the Men’s Fraternity curriculum mentioned in the article, which is outstanding itself.

Messed up men create a great deal of the problems in society. Challenging our boys with a compelling vision of masculinity will go a long way toward curbing violent crime, abuse, and general irresponsibility toward family and society. I’m very glad to see that there are others who sense this need.

87 Geno December 13, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I enjoy this blog a lot; it’s shown me that I have many ways to improve myself, and that I am the master of my own behavior- no matter what my means or living situation, it’s how I behave that makes me manly, and I am in control. When so many of your articles are all about taking control of your own life, I am surprised that you would suddenly post one pandering to a feeling of victimization like this, as well as placing the blame on women.

A few others have pointed out the historical errors, (women worked before and during the industrial revolution, farm kids didn’t work with Dad so much as just elsewhere on the farm, women became teachers amongst other things as men left for various wars, and if men can give a standard for womanhood, a woman can impart a standard for manhood, the ‘feminization’ of Christianity, etc.) but I would like to ask what your ideal solution to this problem would be? From the tone of this article, how it laments the change in roles between men and women, it almost sounds like women gaining equality is a -bad- thing. A few posters have even agreed to this notion, and that is sickening.

If this article was simply meant to point out a few oddities in the method this generation was raised and inspire introspection and motivation for changing in spite of one’s past, I think it failed; many people here are bemoaning their ‘feminized’ childhoods rather than vowing to overcome any difficulties this may have presented. (I myself am still dubious that it presents any at all.)

88 Andy G December 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm

Hi, this is my first post on this website; i stumbled across it a few days ago on my quest to be a better man. I have found many if the articles insightful and interesting especially this one. It clearly sets out why I feel and act the way i do which i am trying to address as I don’t want my boys to grow up into men like i am.

As a follow on to this article can i suggest reading a book called “Manhood” by Steve Biddulph (sorry if someone else has already done this i have not read all the posts), it echoes a lot of the point in here but does go into more detail on each of the subjects.

89 Josh December 13, 2010 at 4:31 pm

The Lord bless you and yours, Brett. Thanks for your poignant words.

90 Brett McKay December 13, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Great discussion so far! I’ve really enjoyed your comments and hearing about your experiences. To those who’ve left some very kind words of appreciation for AoM-thank you so much-it’s been really encouraging and it really means a lot.

I’d love to respond to each comment individually, but lack the time. So allow me to make a few brief comments responding to some of the objections that have been left.

As far as perceived historical inaccuracies go-yes, I was already aware of the additional information made in these “corrections.” When condensing history into a few sentences, painting things with broad strokes is inevitable. Yes, fathers and sons did not work literally side by side-the point is that dad’s workplace was also his home, that he was in and out during the day and interacting with his kids as opposed to being gone for long blocks of time. And yes, women and children also sometimes had to work in the factories, but the point is that now there was a clear line between work and home for dad, and he was kept away from his kids. As I point out the ideal of mom at home and dad at work was always more ideal than reality. This article did not say that women caused the feminization of Christianity; it can be traced to cultural factors like the Second Great Awakening-it’s a fascinating story, but again not one I had room to delve into (I will put doing a whole article on the subject and Muscular Christianity on the to-do list). Finally, if you read up on the history of the teaching profession, the shift in the gender ratio did not occur because of wars, but because of the culture shifts I alluded to. In summation, yes there are a lot of facts left out-this topic could fill a huge book! But the points I made are quite valid.

As far as this article blaming women–you’re reading something in there that’s simply not. The article merely describes what happened in history. There’s no need to blame anyone. What has happened is the result of the economic and cultural factors described above, not some conspiracy by women.

As far as people concerned that commenters are blaming their upbringing or women for their problems, I don’t see that. They’re sharing their experiences. Just because someone says, “Here’s what happened to me,” doesn’t mean they think they’re victims incapable of turning things around themselves. It’s okay to let people share their stories without condemning them.

Women can impart a standard of manliness to boys, sure. But there’s a very different level of learning that happens subtly, by example. That’s true for everything in life; someone can describe Europe to you, but you’re not going to really get it until you visit yourself. A man has something to offer both boys and girls and women have something to offer both boys and girls. The ideal is to have the influence of both genders in children’s lives. What I’ve pointed out is that that balance has been lopsided for a lot of people in the modern age. And ideally we should work to get a greater balance.

As far as what it means to be a man, yes, it does means human flourishing, If you’re new to this site, I would recommend reading this article:


Did I hit most things? I hope so. (I guess it wasn’t that brief!) Carry on!

91 Hi Desert Ed December 13, 2010 at 4:50 pm

Very insightful article.
I was fortunate to grow up with a Manly Man for a father. From a very early age my father, a Master Millwright by trade, taught me about how things worked. The skills and understanding of basic machinery and how to “keep things running” have stood me in good stead my entire life (now entering my sixth decade).
Among the skills he taught me were how an automobile worked and how to troubleshoot a problem. This skill has translated into a basic ability to analyze many problems in life and find a solution that works.
I have been asked, from time to time, “How do you know so much?”. My reply has always been “my father taught me”.
All I can say is “THANKS DAD” and try to pass on the skills and wisdom that he taught me.
Hi Desert Ed
On the Mojave
Passing it forward

92 MG December 13, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Another great read, though I’m afraid I can’t agree about the religion section.

Seems to me it’s another potshot at women and the general fear of the feminine that these archaic institutions have suffered since inception.

Religion should never be a barometer to measure anything. Especially manliness. In fact it is the very ideas behind religion and their ‘mind forged manacles’ that has stopped men evolving.

We need to stop being afraid of the dark, get on sober and get on decent terms with the fact we’ll all die alone. That would be manly.

Keep up the great work.

93 Suzanna December 13, 2010 at 5:25 pm

As a 25 year old single woman, this topic resonates with me so well. We’ve had so many talks about this at my woman’s Bible study lately. The guys who are our age seem to be either married, and mostly understand what leadership is— or not married and don’t want to give up their freedom and take responsibility for a long term relationship and a family. I’m generalizing and overstating the problem a little bit, but sometimes that’s how it seems.

Another main topic of discussion among us girls is that dating has become a confusing mess for us. Guys don’t initiate real courtship, and half the time us women wonder if we are just friends or potential girlfriends (and if it is the latter, we wonder how many months and months it will be before the guy wants to talk about it).

I am an independent woman with my own ideas and goals, but I still believe that God created men and women to have different roles. We woman would take over and run the show if we didn’t step back a little bit and let guys develop their leadership skills. Since so many boys miss out on learning these things from their fathers, I think it’s the church’s place to teach boys and men that they need to be strong, decisive and leaders in the church and at home.

94 Jason December 13, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I wonder if ‘manlier’ religion really is a good idea. Religion as the art of smashing chairs because you’re so happy to have Jesus in your life? Answering ‘What Would Jesus Do’ with a ‘oh, he’d call his enemies evil and beat the devil out of him with a baseball bat’?

Religion works differently for all of us, but reverting back to preaching intolerance and ignoring the ‘womanly’ sense of moral sensitivity is not something I think would be a good idea.

95 Daniel Li December 13, 2010 at 6:54 pm

Must you connect religion to everything?
One need not believe in a God to be a man.

96 Joshua December 13, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I agree that family and education are strong foundations in a mans life, but definitely not religion.

We can all learn morals and the difference between right and wrong without falling for the trap of a religion.

97 Rich December 13, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I have to agree with Daniel, MG and others. Religion has very little to do with Manliness. I grew up without religion as did the rest of my family. My grandfather was without a religion and did all sorts of things manly men do….hunting, fishing every year, ran his own business, was faithful to his wife, golfer, etc. Religion shouldn’t be in the mix here. I will say though, that scouting is a pretty good institution for helping boys become men, in spite of the fact that they introduce god into the scout motto and mildly in other places.

98 Travis T December 13, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Just wanted to say thanks for the article I liked it a lot and thoroughly enjoy the website. Due to a number of different things I did not have a great relationship with my Dad growing up. The relationship is changing as I, and he(at about 70), are both growing up, but there are things that I missed out on. Unfortunately we now live in different states and since we are both busy I don’t always have the opportunity to go to him with all the questions that I have. This website gives me answers to questions that I didn’t even know that I had, and has also inspired me to reach out to my Dad even more. So thanks for the website and the time you put into it.

99 Brian December 13, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Excellent website and article, Brett! This site is just what I’ve been looking for as I reassess some things about my own life.

And I appreciate your inclusion of religion in this article. All men are free moral agents, and make their own choices, but acknowledgement of accountability to a higher power is an essential part of being a man. Obviously many will disagree, but it’s part of my definition of man, part of the historical definition of man, and obviously part of your definition of man. Way to go!

100 Jay Sauser December 13, 2010 at 8:19 pm

I believe that people need a mother and father when growing up – not all will, and not all will have that option. But the balance of male and female influences on a life are important.

Meaningful books have been written about the lack of men in the church and how some don’t go because it isn’t manly enough for them. http://www.amazon.com/Where-Are-All-Brothers-Questions/dp/1433501783/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1292289436&sr=8-4

For example – some churches have pastel colored paint and flowers in their men’s restrooms. Who could feel like a man peeing in a room that looks like a garden?

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