Manliness Doesn’t Just Happen

by Brett & Kate McKay on August 10, 2011 · 234 comments

in Uncategorized

TR: A Man of Action. A Man of Contemplation.

From time to time, readers will email me an article they’ve read that argues a point contrary to the message of the Art of Manliness and suggest that I respond to it. I have typically declined because I am of the idea that it’s better to act than to react and that the best thing to do is to keep on doing my thing, because the cream will simply rise to the top. And I don’t see the point in giving misguided opinions greater exposure.

But today I’d like to break that rule. Because a reader pointed out an article that addresses an issue I’ve seen pop up in comments here, and is something men might be wondering about. The article in question is entitled, “Male Identity,” and was published on Askmen.com. I don’t have a high opinion of that website–as I’ve stated before, those kinds of shallow men’s magazines are what prompted me to start the Art of Manliness in the first place. So the article itself really doesn’t warrant a response, but it will serve very well as an excellent jumping off point to explore an important issue.

The author, Ian Lang, begins the article by taking a swipe at the Art of Manliness, goes on to lament our culture’s preoccupation with being a man, and concludes by arguing that “real men” don’t worry about what it means to be a man.

There’s plenty to find fault with in the article from the author’s cherry picking of AoM articles, to his assertion that straight razor shaving is more expensive than using modern razors, to the irony of his criticism of male lifestyle websites on the biggest male lifestyle site on the web.

But today I just want to focus on these assertions:

“Finally, do you think your dad would enjoy lying in a field with you making daisy chains and contemplating what it means to be a man? No. He would tell you to work hard, that life doesn’t ever get easier and to stop being such a pussy.”

” To paraphrase perhaps the best teacher I ever had in school, you know you’re a man when you stop trying to prove that you are.”

“Real men don’t waste time worrying about it. Real men get on with their lives, whatever their lives may be…They don’t stop and ask what it means to be a man because they’re too busy being one for that kind of self-referential bullshit.”

Is Manhood Born or Made?

Lang’s argument is not uncommon—and should be expected from a generation that often eschews work and free choice in favor of a “born this way” ethic. But the assertion that a man just is only makes sense if you are ignorant of the historical record and/or believe that manhood is something that you exit the womb with or magically absorb through the ether as you grow up. Those who don’t come out of the womb endowed with manliness and a furry baby chest are thus lost causes.

But while you can be born genetically male, manliness is something that must be learned, earned, and proved.

While Lang paints the picture that our modern preoccupation with what it means to be a man and the desire to prove our manhood is a modern phenomenon, it’s actually a very ancient tradition. The desire to prove one’s manhood has been the driving force of males since our caveman days. And many of history’s greatest men not only pondered what it meant to be a man, but studied the question deeply throughout their lives. Teddy Roosevelt’s insecurity about and desire to prove his manhood is what drove him to preach the doctrine of the strenuous life and accomplish a lifetime of amazing feats.

Being preoccupied with what it means to be a man is not the aberration–the idea that men simply are and should just get on with it is the modern invention. It is a concept that flies in the face of thousands of years of tradition. In fact, I’d argue that Lang’s position–that real men don’t worry about what it means to be a man–is one of the biggest contributing factors to the sad state of many young Western men today.

Manliness Can Be Taught. And It Must Be.

“Anyone who has practiced what is good is ashamed to turn out badly. Manliness is teachable.” -Euripides, 423 BC

As we’ve highlighted countless times on the site, in almost every culture, in almost every time, societies have spent a great deal of time “worrying” about what it means to be a man. For thousands of years, men around the world had rites of passages that initiated them into manhood. Elders would take young men underneath their wings to ensure that they were properly taught how to perform the duties and responsibilities of a man. And once boys became men, maintaining their manhood was a lifelong preoccupation.

But in the past 50 years or so, we turned our back on that tradition. We stopped worrying about what it means to be a man. We no longer celebrate rites of passage into manhood. The books and speeches frequently given in times past on the topic of manliness and manhood have ceased. Mentors have disappeared. Society refuses to offer any concrete ideals of what it means to be a man lest we offend people and make others feel left out. So we let boys create their own idea of manhood and just expect them to figure out what it means to be a man on their own.

Without any clear guidance on what it means to be man, we shouldn’t be surprised that we have so many young men today coasting along in life stuck between adolescence and adulthood without any direction. That’s what you get when you don’t take the time to contemplate and study what it means to be a man.

One of the most important things that our ancestors understood, and we have forgotten, is that left to our own devices, humans will take the path of least resistance. Every time. In life we are constantly swimming against a great current–once we stop making an effort, the current pushes us downstream. Real life long-distance swimmers must consume a great deal of calories to fuel their progress. We too need fuel to drive our manliness–we must constantly be filling our tank with the best advice out there, writings from websites and books, advice from friends and family, to fuel our actions.

A Man of Contemplation, A Man of Action

It is truly a false dichotomy to say that “real men” don’t need to spend time thinking about manhood and that they should just get busy being men.

This is a very American idea of manliness, gleaned from cowboy and action movies–shoot first now and ask questions later. But if you’re a broader student of history and culture, you know that far from being mutually exclusive, contemplation and action go hand in hand.

Yes, a man should be a man of action. That is the end of his creation. But what is the means to that end? What kind of actions should he take? What is driving that action? What is the purpose of that action? What kinds of goals and priorities, values and morals should a man have? Contemplation is needed to answer these questions. Contemplation leads to right action.

No one would say to someone who wishes to be a scientist, “No need for studying–just get in the lab and do something!” The scientist must first study the basic principles of his field and then experiment, and then make discoveries. It is no different for manliness.

It is easy to point at our grandfathers and fathers, as Lang does, and say, “They were men and they didn’t worry about being men.” Sure, our grandfathers were men of action, but many had jobs that made them unhappy, were in unhappy marriages, didn’t know how to deal with the scars of war, and were distant and cold fathers. (And many were quite happy as well, of course!).

As far as our fathers go, many of the Baby Boomer generation worked too hard, got divorced, and failed to pass down the art of manliness to their sons. They didn’t take the time to think about what was truly important in life. How many men in our generation only wish their dad had spent some time with them “lying in a field with you making daisy chains and contemplating what it means to be a man.” Well, maybe not the daisy chain making part.

Neither action without contemplation, nor contemplation without action will get you very far in life. A man must learn to harness and balance each force.

Of course it also comes down to your definition of what constitutes “a real man.” It’s true that it doesn’t take much work to look at galleries upon galleries of hot babes of the week. But if you believe that being a man means living a life of virtue and excellence and reaching your full potential, then that won’t happen without a great deal of both study and effort.

This definition also means that studying and contemplating what it means to be a man does not necessarily mean reading only books specifically about manhood, although that can be beneficial. Rather it means engaging with works, both ancient and modern, and people that can teach you the virtues and practical skills you need to become the best man you can be. This covers a wide spectrum of subjects!

Is Manliness a Fad?

I do agree with Lang on a few things, mainly that the glut of hand-wringing articles about what is wrong with men is getting beyond tiresome and the commodification of manliness, and the resulting spate of man-focused products is unfortunate. We did just fine before the advent of bodywash designed just for us.

But the real danger in this resurgence of interest in manliness is not that it’s making men wimpy as Lang argues–quite the opposite as we’ve just discussed. Rather, the danger is that manliness will come to be seen as just another passing trend, like metrosexuality. There are books and tv shows coming out on the theme, endless newspaper and magazine articles, and social commentary galore. I fear that people will get tired of all the media attention, which will prompt a backlash, and an inevitable swing back in the other direction, back to where men don’t give a damn about being the best men they can be.

The return to true manliness advocated by AoM is not a trend or a fad, it is an effort to close the gap created during the past few decades and once again grasp the ancient tradition of manhood. One in which men contemplated what it meant to be a man and took action to attain that ideal.

{ 234 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Cory B.A., OK August 10, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Well done. You’ve made excellent points to help educate the masses that probably esteem those like Kanye’ West and the morons from Jersey Shore as representatives of what men are. We are witnessing first-hand the result of a society which is severely lacking in adult male leadership in England right now. Youth with no purpose, character, or mentorship could topple that entire nation.

2 Jack Donovan August 10, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Well done.

The idea that men never contemplated manhood before is just plain wrong. Not “a matter of opinion.” Historically false.

3 Nick Rosaci August 10, 2011 at 6:08 pm

What I don’t get here is that there could have been a collaboration between the two sites. Instead, the author decides to start a fight. If that’s what he wants, fine! Men like to fight, too. But lets put it in the ring. It’s women who like to have catty arguments.

4 Titus Techera August 10, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I’m glad to see someone is at least sticking up for the notion that men reflect on the need to be a good man.
You should not quote Euripides there. He was not a man of action. And he was probably not favorable to manliness… You need to pick your authorities better because you need to establish that there is a kind of manliness in contemplative men, at least if you realize that you need them to defend the manliness of men of action theoretically. I recommend Xenophon, who was also a great general and political historian, so he should have a better reputation among men.
Finally, the problem with manliness did not start 50 years ago. It started when people decided that in the future, there would never be any need of men. And that men in fact get in the way. — If you read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which is one popular summation of progress, there are no men there. And he was not an original. The ideas were old already at that point-

5 Rob August 10, 2011 at 6:21 pm

Very well written and professional rebuttal. I have never looked at askmen.com, but just looking at the main page made me not to want to go back there again. I come to Art of Manliness for thought provoking posts like this one. I’m glad I don’t have to filter through superficial posts about who is hotter than Anne Hathaway!

Thanks for this site Brett/Kate. Keep up the good work!

6 Peter Hernandez August 10, 2011 at 6:27 pm

fantastic job, this is the reason I continue to visit this website. You handled that with knowledge and dignity. Excellent examples and logic.

But I do warn to my fellow commenters… this isn’t about picking a fight. We don’t need to go over there and start a fight with their readers. Brett has made his point, lets follow his example and leave it at that.

7 Ross August 10, 2011 at 6:28 pm

I thought Lang’s article was poor, and his points were way off the map. I liked this article and i like AoM

8 Geoffrey Kidd August 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Actually, this applies on a somewhat wider scale. None of us are *born* human, although just about all of us are born with the hardware. Humanity is something that we all learn and choose to be.

9 Jake August 10, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Brett,

I turned 21 last week. I’m proud to say that I’m a better person because of some of the things I’ve read on this site.

Another point I’d make is the necessity for a role model during the maturing process. It is essential to be guided and carved by one wiser. Nobody ever became great without great influences. It is because of the guidance that you find yourself along the right path.

Good work, I thank you.

10 Steven August 10, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Emerson and Thoreau, who are among the best of American Philosophers, both contemplated what it means to be a man as well.

11 James August 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Brett, thanks for posting this. I emailed you this link earlier today upon seeing the article on my facebook feed. Like you have said before, and made mention too again here, I’m not a huge fan of that website or sites like it, however I do believe that it’s good to always have an eye out for different opinions, and they do, on occasion post something worth while (mainly health related).

The reason I felt I should share that link with you was more to make you aware that they were, basically, “slamming” this site, which, being my favorite blog to visit, I took issue with.

Your response here has only reaffirmed my respect for you, your wife, and this excellent site. I appreciate the effort you put into these articles, which have helped myself, and many other readers grow, ponder, and act, three of the most important aspects of being not only a man, but alive period.

12 Wayne Levine August 10, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Superb article, Brett. It can be helpful at times to refute silliness.

13 Gary August 10, 2011 at 6:47 pm

Hand wringing and navel gazing about manliness may be a fad but authenticity and integrity are choices men make that are manifested in action. Authentic integrity never goes out of style.

14 Tone August 10, 2011 at 6:48 pm

Kudos, Brett! This rebuttal was very manly. Real gentlemen don’t solve their problems with name-calling and bitchiness; that’s what little boys do. Unfortunately, as you’ve pointed out, the lack of manly role models for at least two generations of ‘men’ has resulted in at least two generations of unusually tall and muscular little boys.

I have to admit I am one of these boys, but I am doing my darnedest to learn how to become a man. I owe it to my son, and I also owe it to myself.

15 Chris August 10, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Well written. Well done. But how do I counter the deluge of misinformation about men that movies like “The Hangover” produce? Women love that film if only because it reinforces beliefs that men are just a bunch of dumb-ass oafs. God forbid they should be introduced to the likes of Roosevelt or Pierre Trudeau (there’s a wikipedia project for your American readers). They’d dismiss him as an a aberration and go on living the happy lie that men are amusing playthings to be coo’ed at along the same terms as pet dogs or cats. Until they need a shoulder to cry on. Then, suddenly, we’re not so “funny”.

16 Cal, Paducah Ky August 10, 2011 at 6:51 pm

thanks for another great article. as a young man, struggling through my days, its refreshing to read someone else’s view on such topics. i cannot express how your site has helped me over the last few months.

17 Turling August 10, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I’ve been to that website a few times, and honestly, I believe they have a 15 minute limit with their articles. Meaning, don’t take more then 15 minutes to write anything and, like most of the magazines/websites you don’t want to be, it’s much easier to degrade something else then to actually critique it, especially when you only have 15 minutes. “Daisy chains”? Really? That’s necessary? No, but it uses up a few words and hits the emotions of people. In my humble opinion, that site is a complete waste of space and I hope you don’t do them the service of responding to anything of theirs in the future.

18 Michael Lunsford August 10, 2011 at 7:09 pm

Manly as always, Brett. I’m adding this to my list of inspirational quotes. I think it sums up the post superbly:

Neither action without contemplation, nor contemplation without action will get you very far in life. A man must learn to harness and balance each force. — Brett & Kate McKay

Stephen Covey likens contemplation to deciding which wall to lean your ladder against, and action to climbing the ladder. It’s rough to get to the top of that ladder only to discover you’ve had it leaning against the wrong wall.

19 Antonio August 10, 2011 at 7:13 pm

I´m from Portugal and cannot stop thinking about what Cory B.A. said:
” We are witnessing first-hand the result of a society which is severely lacking in adult male leadership in England right now”
This totally applies to my country, and myself right now.
Once more, thanks for a good article. I have to say that i am becoming a very frequent visitor of this well-conceived website.

The best cumpliment i can get out of my head is this: Food for thought. That is the best definition of what your website means to me.

20 Rissa August 10, 2011 at 7:33 pm

@Nick Rosaci,
One question: Are women *supposed* to have catty arguments? Or are we just stunted in our growth (by ourselves as much as by others) and incapable of actually making logical points in a respectful, eloquent fashion?

As a female fan of this blog, I say bravo. I learn more about men (and women) from these articles than I do from most of my studies and friends, and your defense of contemplative/active men is wonderful, Brett. Thank you for all you do.

21 Nick August 10, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I’ve read the article on AskMen and I have to agree with it, the point that ‘masculinity’ is being abused as a marketing tool; we see many brands stating that without using their products, we might as well cut our balls off.

Of course, the author goes too far with this. He probably doesn’t realize is that the James Bonds in this world had their own role models too. Also, it’s a bit hypocritical.

22 WowGiveUpOnLife August 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I am a young sixteen year old High School student in Vancouver, B.C,
I’ve been reading this for the last two years, non stop. I try to visit this website
atleast twice a day, since I enjoy reading about all the fantastic quality article’s
and because I look for ways to improve my life on a daily basis.

From experience of my life so far, I’d say that it isn’t that we lack the motivation or anything, it’s just the difficulty since we have no tools given, nor do we have anywhere to practice these amazing feats. Yet from reading the Art Of Manliness it not only give you the “know how” on how to do these things, it can give you the inspiration to go seek your own better life.

A website like AskMen.com is mainly for laughs nowadays, It is a thin wired guide from people who are to chickenshit to actually go make mistakes. People more so are scared of failure, and are unconfident in their own actions. Look at every dating article for example, and you’ll see my point. They don’t realize that there is a difference between ” Trying to improve oneself” From ” Trying to make oneself feel better” and it is a very thin line that Askmen has yet to cross.

There was a fantastic article in the August edition of Esquire that would be able to point out, Antonio’s main mistake in his comment. Which is relating World Event’s to other things, I’m not saying that your outlook is wrong, It’s just your looking fragments of what ” Could be” Instead of the actual “be” The article does much more justice for this then I ever could, so I’d recommend reading it.

I hope your not down on yourself Brett, nor do I have any reason to think that you are, Your writing is suberb, and your technique keeps your article’s memorizing. I’m starting an Art Of Manliness Club at my Highschool, and I think it will be extremely successful, it was inspired by the continued work of what you do here on this website.
I just wanted to say how much you’ve changed my life for the better, and thank you for your great job.

“A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.”
Max Lucado

23 Shawn O'Neill August 10, 2011 at 7:52 pm

You can clearly see in Ian’s article he didn’t fully review the site. To him he thinks it’s just about straight razors and fedoras. A manly man in his eyes is driving a truck, loving boobs and having abs. A manly man to this site, and to our ancestors before us, was a man who was good to his friends, family, and neighbors. A man you can count on, trust, and respect. AOM has several articles relating to core values and virtues. When he says real men don’t think all day what it means to be a man, all I can think of is that it’s the complete opposite! A real man, daily thinks about how he can be a better man. And this site teaches you that. Ian probably wrote this article while waiting at SuperCuts for his crappy haircut, sitting next to his girlfriend who wonders why he didn’t hold the door for her. Yes I drive a 4×4 Jeep, I love boobs and wish I had abs, but that doesn’t make me man. My penis makes me a man. What makes me manly is being an all around good person, and wanting to better myself through articles on this website. This site sure has helped me and thousands more. I know one thing is fore certain, my girlfriend sure did notice when I stopped going to SuperCuts and started going to a barber. And my future son will appreciate me handing down my W.R. Case & Sons knife, which I would of never even thought about buying before I visited this site.

24 Ryan August 10, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Well put. It seems that Lang doesn’t know his deal. His article raises some valid points, though they are hidden amongst the jabber. I think being aware of whatever your identity (be it manliness, race, religion, etc… or any combination of) is imperative. Awareness and thought of these are what give us identity and allow us to empathize with others. One cannot be expected to learn about this on our own, this is what role models and mentors are for (both of which are becoming entirely too scarce); just as women couldn’t be expected to know all about womanhood immediately.

I find it surprising that an article like that came from a website whose motto is, “become a better man,” I suppose they have a different definition of better and/or man. I’m unfamiliar with their site, but it appears the better man can afford better cars and wears tons of awesome name-brand clothing.

The sentiment expressed in Lang’s article is disheartening, it appears that men all over share that sentiment. I personally believe the unexamined life is futile. Self-awareness and the noble pursuit of being a man are crucial. All things aside I agree that looking to define our manliness by a can of body spray is pointless.

25 Jacob August 10, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Excellent Post! The way you put this article Brett is much more sophisticated than the way Mr. Lang had so gracefully worded his. Fine by me that he thinks this website is about doing things the old school way just because it’s the trendiest fad out there at the moment. I’ll continue trying to “Become a Better Man” on AoM. I also noticed we have more comments in both quantity and depth on AoM than Mr. Lang’s article on AskMen. Also, the more thoughtful comments comprised, as I had seen it, of mostly AoM readers or future readers. Feels great to be a part of such a great community!

26 Kyle August 10, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Best article I have read on this website so far. Keep up the good work Brett. In the few months I have read articles on this website I have noticed positive changes in my life as a man. This includes women, jobs, fitness, you name it. My only complaint is that there aren’t articles more often!

27 Luis August 10, 2011 at 8:08 pm

All I can say is that AoM may be that one idea that may help fix the PUSSYAFACTION of todays boys . We have to start some were!

28 Thomas August 10, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Well put, AoM.

Until I cam upon the art of manliness I’d never subscribed to these ‘men’s magazine’ types like Maxim because they didn’t speak to what I believed a man should be. Cars, fancy technology and breasts are all well and good but they don’t make me a better person. I’m disappointed that there are so many of these magazines that it’s widely accepted that the rubbish they publish is equal to manliness. So thank you for speaking out for those men who believe that bettering ones self is the true pursuit of manliness.

29 TR August 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Brett,

Thank you for your integrity in this scenario. You defended yourself and the work you do here without stooping to inane tactics, and it’s just a further testimony to what can be found in the community here.

I’ve read many Askmen articles myself to get an understanding of what some men believe today, and integrity is definitely something lacking in much of its content. It’s materialism and sex, basically…and even articles on fitness are geared towards looking sexy for the beach (so you can, in turn, add another woman to your list of booty calls) rather than the approach I’ve seen here, which is for ones personal benefit (integrity). Advice columnists spend half of the article berating their subject for not buying their book than actually answering questions (Doc Love? Really?), and many treat women as just another possession to be had. The impression I get from that site is that life is a game: somewhat trivial and about how much you can get. The impression I get from you, Brett, is that life is worthwhile, and that just as our fathers and grandfathers left a legacy, we will, too, one day.

In short (so why didn’t I just write this to begin with…): Askmen is mainly fluff that gives men more lists of things they need to make themselves better. Artofmanliness above all else asks men to look within and better themselves based on the teachings they’ve received from men who did it already – from legacy. It’s about personal, internal integrity, not external solution. And the fun articles about shaving and cold showers you produce from time to time? Those are dessert. Not the main course. And I can’t say the same for Askmen.

30 Brad Hall August 10, 2011 at 8:53 pm

The raison d’etre of AoM and AskMen.com are very different. One is to provide a wealth of knowledge and philosophy on what it is to be a man in western society and the other is to provide eyeballs to advertisers.

I agree with all of your justifications, but as you said at the start of the article; Act don’t React.

I think AoM is the best thing on the Internet!

31 Jason August 10, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Well said. Understanding that you are not a man just because you happen to be a male is half the way to the prize.

32 Matt August 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Look up any historical studies where there are large roaming disjointed populations of men roaming around the country side. Look at whats going on in England now… and also reported in China. “Too many Men” by (Sixty Min). Sad but all too predictable.

33 Gary August 10, 2011 at 9:04 pm

And this is how you win an argument like a man.

Askmen is no where near the level of AoM in terms of thought-provoking, brain-stimulating articles. These “magazine” type articles has never made me want to go out there and do something, or at the very least research the person, topic, or vocation.
Will Askmen ever have an article on wood-whittling? I think not.

34 Brandon August 10, 2011 at 9:25 pm

“Teddy Roosevelt’s insecurity about and desire to prove his manhood is what drove him to preach the doctrine of the strenuous life and accomplish a lifetime of amazing feats.”

I didn’t know Teddy Roosevelt was insecure about his manhood. Was that only when he was younger or even into his adult years?

35 Jesse August 10, 2011 at 9:27 pm

If you examine the ultimate goals of each website then the victor is clear. At askmen.com there is material marketed toward the popular mainstream trends. More hits equals more money. Simple.

At AofM you have thought provoking articles aimed at contributing to the true improvement of men seeking to be men.

When the trends die down, and the page hits taper off, one company will lose its capital while the idea of the art of manliness will carry on.

36 michael August 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Brett and Kate,

My dad grew up during WW2 and afterwards lived a life of action. After sailing the world on tramp freighters he joined the Foreign Legion and fought in Indo-China. Numerous more adventures followed. He died at 75 flying a plane he built.

But my dad never grew-up. He left a trail of emotional wreckage through-out his life. He was unable to relinquish his selfish, childish wish to do whatever he wanted to do. Consequently he never had the kind of strong trusting relationships that he could have had with his wife or children. I loved (and love) my dad, and so admire him to no end. But I still find it hard to acknowledge that such a brilliant and energetic man could not spend some time on working on himself. I know it would have been painful (his mother was a tyrant), but it would have been so worth it. Instead it is up to my generation with my siblings who have all sworn to break the chain of behaviour my dad engaged in.

Is it worth contemplating what it means to be a man? To me, absolutely.

37 Brandon August 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

AoM should start having conferences around the US promoting the…well…Art of Manliness!!! :)

38 April August 10, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I appreciate someone who understands the importance of men being real men. Yes, I’m a woman. A woman that is thankful to be married to a manly man. A woman who is thankful for a husband that is helping raise our son to be a manly man. I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by real men in my life, but not everyone is as fortunate. Feminism has done it’s damage to neutralize masculinity…telling men they need to “get in touch” with their “feminine side”. Telling parents to raise their children in a gender neutral fashion. Thank you for speaking out for manliness. I, for one, want to see it on the rise again in our country!

39 Trent August 10, 2011 at 9:43 pm

TOO LONG DIDN’T READ

NOW IF YOU’LL EXCUSE, IMMA GO SHAVE MY SCRUBS SO THE TREES LOOK TALLER

http://www.askmen.com/video/dating/51-shave-your-shrubs-so-the-trees-look-taller.html

*brofist*

40 Nick Rosaci August 10, 2011 at 10:31 pm

@Rissa,

Very good point. Maybe not women, but like someone else said about men vs. boys, I would say that my comment is about women vs. girls. It was just a joke to get some people to crack a smile. Maybe it was a bit in bad taste.

41 Chris August 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Manliness really does just happen. You don’t realize you have it until it comes to you without even thinking about it. I’m not saying practicing good virtues and ideals is bad or anything of the sort. Merely saying that something usually just *clicks* and everything falls into place afterward, similar to how it is when you talk to people or have studies or going through work. You won’t know that you have it until someone points it out to you.

42 Andrew August 10, 2011 at 10:49 pm

If you don’t have any enemies, you haven’t stood for anything!
I’m glad to see, since finding this site, that there are other real men out there commited to changing and “Man-ing Up”. If you’re not growing, you’re probably dying. As a young college man, being surrounded by “boys who can shave” can give one a pretty bleak outlook on the state of society. I’d love to see AoM grow into a traveling seminar with more AoM original books. Let’s continue to lead by example, men.

43 Ben August 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm

I agree Brett. There’s a huge difference between being a Man and being a male of the species.

44 Carlo d. August 10, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Brett,

I’ve been following AskMen way longer than AoM. Truth is, I never forget the things I’ve learned here. I’ve become a better person thanks to what you’ve shared. Keep it up! Thank you, Brett.

45 Matt August 10, 2011 at 11:23 pm

This is the most important website I’ve ever encountered. It has been my homepage for going on half a year. Never let anybody else try to undermine the significance of a site like this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

46 Lucas Chapman August 10, 2011 at 11:39 pm

Always liked this quote and perhaps it will adhere to this situation,

“It’s not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” — Theodore Roosevelt

47 David August 10, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Comment on askmen and pummel that nasty article into the ground. U don’t need an account or anything either.

48 Miller Industries August 10, 2011 at 11:53 pm

“We must always think about the future, for it is where we should spend the rest of our lives.”

Go, be manly. Umm how? Men need other men, not only for validation, but teaching as well. If I asked my grandfather how to be a man, I dont think he’d just tell me to ‘be.’ No, rather he would set me aside and say ‘follow me, learn from me.’ He wouldnt say ‘quit being a pussy.’ No, he’d say ‘never quit asking questiona.’

The point is this: real men ARE concerned with their own manliness, but not only that, but the manliness of others. Real men want others to realize and fulfill their full potential. Real men dont just ‘be.’ Real men teach. Real men lead by example. Real men recognize faults, contemplate a solution, then act.

And real men don’t call other men pussies.

49 Cole Bradburn August 11, 2011 at 12:06 am

Great and timely article, thanks Brett. Being a man seems simple, but only buy studying the complexities of manliness is one able to grasp the simplicity within. I also think that men without a calling or purpose (as Ian Lang appears by his opinions) have no reason to seek the study of manliness or self-improvement/actualization. Void of being devoted to something makes one egocentric and self-aggrandizing to fill the emptiness. Lack of purpose is a huge ailment that I see in today’s men, maybe because the discovery takes so much work?

50 Isaac August 11, 2011 at 12:12 am

Being only eighteen, this article almost seemed to apply to me. I’ve only ever visited AskMen on a couple occasions, both of them, I believe, dealing with how to match shirts, ties, and suits (although AoM has fairly recently posted an even better article on the topic). I will not lie, I do appreciate a “hot babe,” but that is not manliness, that is shallow, for lack of a better word, boyishness. A man does not contemplate wether Anne Hathaway is hotter than Katy Perry, a man contemplates how to practice chivalry, earn respect, and exude confidence. This is an excellent article and I do hope that the fine writers over at AskMen take the time to read it.

51 John August 11, 2011 at 12:54 am

Excellent post, Brett. I read AoM because our makes me think about the man I want to be, and gives me ideas about how to achieve it. No doubt Lang would say to Aristotle, ‘real ethical people just be ethical; they don’t think about it.’ This just seems like lazy thinking on his part. Please, keep up the great work!

52 Dom August 11, 2011 at 12:58 am

Great article Brett and Kate. I’m glad you decided to take on the boorishness at Askmen.com

Keep up the good work at AoM.

53 Dewar August 11, 2011 at 1:14 am

Where would the world be if a lifetime of scientific knowledge was not passed from one being to another? Our lives would never move forward, never improve.

The time I spend on AoM (once I have completed all actions of my day) allows me to understand and appreciate the lifetime of knowledge acquired by other men while I still have a lifetime ahead of me. The ideologies presented are not to be mirrored but to be adapted to allow each man to understand and remain true to his duty. Everything about this website attempts to allow each man to continue to broaden his shoulders to carry society forward to a new generation from the experiences of our fathers.

Your response is excellent and I would agree. I would also add that Lang is not going to convince a man who spends time contemplating how to be a better man that they should stop and man up. Just as much as Brett (in an article such as this) cannot convince men who subscribe to Lang’s opinion that they will improve their life by spending time contemplating how to be a better man.

I hope the men that are contemplating whether or not contemplating how to be a man is manly will come to this site to learn that our only task as men is to be the best men we can be, full stop.

54 Mark August 11, 2011 at 2:07 am

Another great post! I always look forward to these.

55 Paul August 11, 2011 at 2:24 am

“Our masculinity, like so many other things in our lives, has finally become a commodity. And we’re buying it.”

If he’s going to be all self-righteous about what’s contained in that quote, he could have found a better site to post the article on. The majority of the articles of this site have nothing to do with buying expensive shit.

Anyway, take the high road….

56 Carlos August 11, 2011 at 2:31 am

Manliness has always been taught, whether explicitly or by example. Fathers (or father figures) have been teaching their sons what it means to be a man for generations. To say that it is something that is inherent in every male born is ludicrous. Sure, we’re born with common characteristics, but the ‘art’ of controlling those characteristics is learned from the men that we admire. Nothing that’s worthwhile comes about easily.

57 Patrick August 11, 2011 at 2:40 am

I wholeheartedly agree with your article Brett. Keep up the good work, that’s what the men of today need.

58 Ken August 11, 2011 at 3:11 am

I feel that discounting the opportunity to improve yourself is a fairly ignorant or even naive thing to do. Lang is “writing off” the lessons learned on this website. Not only are your articles extremely insightful, but the comments by readers can often be profoundly revealing. It’s clear that most of your readers are well educated and dedicated to bettering themselves. I read the Lang article and it almost seems juvenile (well… not almost). I don’t identify with every article on AOM (souped up shot guns and throwing tomahawks are not my thing) but I find some of the best self realization is coming form a guy and his wife obsessed with a picture of a shirtless man ready to punch someone (that’s you at AOM). Keep up the good work. Oh, before I forget, I picked up a copy of King, Warrior, Magician, Lover and I can’t wait to follow along with your articles.

Regards,

Major S.
Army Officer

59 Jonathan Q August 11, 2011 at 3:24 am

I just have to say, thank you so much for the Art of Manliness. I am entirely grateful to you and your wife for writing such thought provoking articles that clearly demonstrate that men should aim to be better men. Lang’s article displays the opposite of that, a view that I strongly disagree with. Thank you again.

60 Chris M August 11, 2011 at 3:29 am

I think that it is precisely because modern men don’t stop and ask themselves “how can I be a better man” that we are finding ourselves in this malaise. Advocating the “act first, question never” mentality is a great way to drain your finances and your life. I hope Mr. Lang takes some time to himself to ask how he can be a better man!

61 Corey August 11, 2011 at 3:52 am

Keep on doing the good work you’ve been doing. Your articles are inspiring, challenging and often very encouraging. They do have a bit of a western lean to them (I mean simply that in Asia or Africa, the ins and outs of being a man is influenced by the context one lives in), but the qualities of manhood you often write about are universal and well worth the read!

As far as the articles you mentioned at the start of this one, written in that other mag – well, as you know “consider the source”….you don’t live in the sewer that magazine serves, so don’t bother reading those articles or responding to their authors.

Missionary – Eastern Europe
CBooher

62 Gerry August 11, 2011 at 4:16 am

Wow! Excellent post. Besides being a credit to your gender, you hit the topic in full boar.

63 R***** August 11, 2011 at 4:31 am

Great post. Another reason I have AoM bookmarked in my browser and not AskMen.com

64 Adrien August 11, 2011 at 5:02 am

This site is a lifetime milestone to me. “And now my life has changed in oh so many ways” since I come to read it everyday and my inner quest for manliness finds answers through this website – in an integrative manner which allows me to keep a critical eye on what is suggested and experience it in some aspects of my life to make its general course wider and better. I find tips, pieces of advice here, like those a good friend would give me with a friendly slap on my shoulder, like a male role model I’m craving for. First and only site that you can enter when you want to discover “how to be a better men” (as I googled long ago to finally stumbled upon the “30 days to be a better man”) and little by little become one when you get out of it and take feedback of life experiencing new things learned and suggested here. This question is essential to me. I tip my hat to Kate and Brett McKay, KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

65 AJL August 11, 2011 at 5:21 am

For evidence of what happens when young males are left to their own devices you can look at the riots in London. Keep doing your thing Brett.

66 SimJ August 11, 2011 at 5:30 am

This is a massive subject if taken to great degrees it seems to me as it hook into the whole nature nurture thing. What is innate masculinity and what is either potnetial masculinity or nurture masculinity ?

Alot of the things that are attributed as characteristic of masculinity are simply virtuous traits it seems to me, a classic one being courage. Woman can be just as courageous as men but it seems that the way in which this courage can be exercised can sometimes be different for women and men.

67 SimJ August 11, 2011 at 5:34 am

Wheres your wifes website on the art of wenches ? ; ]

68 Paul W. August 11, 2011 at 6:15 am

I stumbled upon the AoM website through the vocation five part series. Each article teamed with a combination of classic photos, intelligent exploration and insightful comments present a well-rounded treasure of wisdom to guide men in any age. One need not agree with every idea or conclusion to glean nuggets of truth that can be applied in part or whole in one’s life. Better, yet, they stimulate one to “think,” another lost art.

The issues brought up in the askmen article are common to the average person’s philosophy of entitlement/have-it-all now mentality. Something that took our parents years to acquire or cultivate, we just assume it to be ours without any growth through patience coupled with diligence.

It is the age of fast food, where what once would be something you would eat occasionally, while eating at home something your mother cooked that was typically delicious and healthy, t/hat took time to prepare, was the norm.

Now, fast food is our norm and that philosophy has permeated our culture expecting that we can have everything instantly without working and waiting. We have sacrificed quality, craft and development for the sake of instant gratification. We have neglected the need and joy of the process, assuming we already are there.

69 Bill Sugas August 11, 2011 at 6:29 am

Interesting read; as a father of 3 sons, I often wonder if I have fulfilled my duty of shaping their future “manliness.” While I do not fare well when competing for attention with modern vices, and my purpose in life often seems to be one of ATM, the periodic complements of others about what “a fine young man” one of my sons is encourages me to strive on.

70 JT Craft August 11, 2011 at 6:38 am

Such criticism of this website and it’s well thought out and insightful articles implies not only a lack of understanding in the purpose of these articles but also that they aren’t being read at all. What more noble goal can there be as a man AND a human being but to pursue “a life of virtue and excellence and reaching your full potential”. How any reasonably intelligent person can take exception to such a goal is inexplicable. Please continue the good work, your purpose is worthy and brings pleasure to many.

71 Bonnie August 11, 2011 at 6:46 am

I think a lot of males think they’re being men when they’re just being bullies.

72 Chad Colman August 11, 2011 at 6:47 am

An excellent and meaningful post.

AoM has been invaluable to me and my family. I am truly and deeply grateful for the sincere guidance and community that it represents.

73 Gareth August 11, 2011 at 7:01 am

A great response, Brett. I think true manliness has to be worked at, just like great marriages have to be worked at. So many other websites and magazines tell you how to define your abs, be a ‘player’ and provide galleries of unattainable women and nothing beyond locker room banter. I’m very glad that AoM has more depth and sets higher ideals.

74 Kevin Hall August 11, 2011 at 7:20 am

I’m not going to click on Lang’s link in your article, simply because I don’t want to support it with more web traffic than it deserves, but I find it very admirable how well you explained your position without attacking the author or being negative (Which it sounds like Lang needs to learn how to do). Just a concrete, concise counter argument that I’m sure is far more accurate and helpful than anything I’m going to find on http://www.askmen.com. That is true manliness!

75 Alar Aksberg August 11, 2011 at 7:28 am

Philip Zimbardo has a related comment in this weeks TED speech newsletter. Just 5 min. About why boys seem to have trouble succeeding with and against girls.
http://www.ted.com/talks/zimchallenge.html?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2011-08-10&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email

76 JP August 11, 2011 at 7:36 am

Brett,

You could not be more right on with your observations. My father was one of 7 brothers. I was one of three and I have three sons. Being a man – in the truest sense of that word – does not happen by accident, genetics or coincidence. It takes work to be a man and working at reaching and preserving those qualities is exactly what makes a man a MAN.

77 Sean August 11, 2011 at 7:37 am

Great post. Honestly, I think that many of the readers of this site aren’t looking for the kind of ‘manliness’ guidance that the article you mentioned claims they are. AOM provides both solid articles on manly traits as well as intellectual material which was once the mark of a gentleman.

Clearly, this author missed the point of AOM. AOM gives good, solid advice for the modern man. Keep up the good work.

78 Josh Knowles August 11, 2011 at 7:50 am

Excellent response Brett. Somebody pointed out the article of “that other website” yesterday. When I read it, I found something very ironic, even hypocritical.

I am glad that your website continues to print quality material week after week. I am grateful that I can stop by to learn about a wide variety of topics related to being a man rather than just more advice about how to have biceps as big as my head, ideas for what new sex positions to try, and photos of women in skimpy thongs.

Keep up the excellent work. You’re helping lots of young guys like myself to swim against that current you mentioned and become men rather than just males.

79 Darren Bush August 11, 2011 at 7:53 am

Okay…the bodywash comment had me on the floor…

Psst…Brett…your lawyer is showing. :-)

80 Blake August 11, 2011 at 7:57 am

It just proves that others are always willing to take a swipe at others to try and make themselves comfortable with their own weakness. Keep up the good work!

81 Anthony August 11, 2011 at 8:21 am

Thanks for this balanced article on manliness.

82 Kizzy August 11, 2011 at 8:32 am

Brett, as always you hit the nail thoroughly on the head. Askmen.com does try to fill a need by so many men out there for ‘manly’ resources. Just like you, they are not always right. However in this case, I agree with you. Manliness is definately learnable and teachable. I have also taken the calling to teach manliness to whoever is willing to listen. The sad thing is that there is so much noise and even tho, manliness is emerging as a trending theme, I find as a backlash of feminism, being a man and talking about manliness to be frowned on and often strongly despised. Perhaps thats what drove Lang to write what he did.

83 David Y August 11, 2011 at 8:32 am

Brett, you correctly noted that in the last fifty years we haved turned our backs on teaching manliness. I don’t think it was just changing styles or a new fad took hold. It seems like there was a concerted and active move to end manliness. The results are what we are seeing today. Why do that if manliness just is or isn’t?

If that is true, it would contradict Lang’s assertion that we do not need to think about what is manliness and how to achieve it.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

84 Pete jones August 11, 2011 at 8:34 am

excellent post!
manliness is indeed part taught/imparted, part earned/worked at. A chain has been broken by our post modern, existential take on things,partly disconnecting us from a wealthy heritage that needs to be reclaimed. We find ourselves having to regain ground, to contemplate and work it out afresh, precisley because society has become impoverished by the kind of over simplistic and individualistic attitudes that are here addressed. we need to reclaim certain things as rites of passage or even invent new ones. The work we do now, will also reap the benefits in subsequent generations; so lets teach our sons to shave and fish, and handle a power drill; to be deeper than image. I think we’re all in agreement about daisy chains though, Aye?!
Your post hits the mark and tackles the issue head on!

85 Mike August 11, 2011 at 8:36 am

There is a point to this comment:

About 6 months ago, I was talking with a friend from South America and he said that the difference between the USA and countries where soccer is popular is that in the USA, we are concerned about results more that anything else and that in those other countries, results matter, but the process is just as important. I thought that was a brilliant observation

Yesterday I was reading the sports page of a South American newspaper (as part of my attempt to learn Spanish) and I was reading about the most recent futbol (soccer) results and for over 800 words the score was not mentioned once but key moments of the game were described in exquisite detail. Finally, the last sentence of the story had the score – the article was written in a way that it was assumed that everyone already new the results but anyone reading the article wanted to relive the process.

This morning while shaving the way my grandfather did, I realized that my shaving was not about the result but the process. Sure I could get a clean shave with a cartridge, but the process of shaving is now just as important as the result.

Then it occured to me that AoM is not just about the result – being a man, but the process to become a man. The other article and their website, as well as others like it, is not about the process, but the results.

Week after week those type of websites/magazines tell you how to get muscles so you can get laid, what car will get you laid, what clothing is important to get you laid, where to go to get laid. It is then assumed that if you get laid often enough you will eventually find a wife and do the family thing and the final result when you die is that you are a man. There is never anything of substance from for the middle part, the process of becoming a man. You’re a boy and then when you die you are a man.

Please keep AoM about the process, its more interesting that way.

By the way, my appreciation for soccer has risen dramatically since I started thinking about the process of my life.

86 Tom August 11, 2011 at 8:38 am

Spot on.

87 Captain Lars August 11, 2011 at 9:06 am

Having read the Askmen article it seems to me that Mr. Lang has missed the point. I agree with him that guys shouldn’t spend long hours specifically trying to be more manly or buy unnecessarily man-branded products, but AoM has never preached along those lines anyway, in my opinion, and he seemed to be unfairly attacking your site.

The value I get from reading AoM is in picking up small habits or otherwise unconsidered products that could change my life for the better and, in doing so, bring something into the lives of those around me. (My pocketknife has proved invaluable, and the tips on remembering names have been a lifesaver!)

Whilst I’m never going to agree with every individual product, theory or technique that’s suggested on your site, I wholeheartedly applaud both your overall message of just trying to improve one’s self, and the honesty with which you deliver it. Keep it up, and don’t let the ignorant b’stards grind you down.

88 L Neal August 11, 2011 at 9:14 am

I went and looked at the askmen article linked to in this one. It was pretty pathetic. Played into way too many Hollywood stereotypes, including the photo that accompanied it. It completely misses something that has been woven into much of the content on this website, namely that many of todays young men don’t have any solid males in their lives to show them what being a real man is about. They need sites like AOM to get the information they need, like the articles about men from history and their accomplishments, the stories on the minds and motivations of men and the new issues men are facing today they didn’t have in the past thanks to the dumbing down and feminizing of society, in order to help them grow and to be the best men they can be.

89 Zach August 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

Fair play to you. This was well written, well thought out, and empowering to read before I began my work today. I appreciate your fighting on our behalves, Brett, your voice is welcome any given day.

90 Eddie in INDY August 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

Dear Brett,

I must agree with your article completely. I have gone to other “mens” cites that offer you to be a better man and have come to rest at yours.

Your cite speaks to my soul and heart. Theirs speaks to my hormones and the baser side of my being.

I would rather be a man then a walking gland with something to prove

Eddie in INDY

91 USCROGER August 11, 2011 at 9:33 am

Remember that show, The Queer Eye for the St8 man, or something like that? I think those guys were trying to teach some couples how to be tidy or fashionable, or maybe how to be MANLY.
After reading this article I asked myself: “What is manly?” Well, I looked up the definition and found that manly means “Having qualities traditionally attributed to a man.” Then I thought, what qualities are they talking about? Are those qualities related to being an idiot and drinking beer as some beer commercials would want you to be, or being adventurous or classy, just as other types of commercials want you to be? We’ve all seen those ads on tv, right? The Budweiser, the XX (dos equis); the Heineken, respectively.
When I was a kid I grew up without a dad. My mom had the great virtue and resilience to do what she had to do; but, she was not manly. However, she did teach me to mend my socks, polish my shoes, to always tuck in my t-shirt (yes, to wear a t-shirt); to never go out without a shirt on or with a t-shirt on; to take off my hat at the table; to put on a shirt at the table; to always take pride in the clothes I wore (even though we were poor in Nicaragua, our poor-mended clothes were always clean and crispy ironed); and yes, she taught me to iron my own clothes; to be respectful of my adults (as it is also the culture in Nicaragua–here in New York, men sit at a bus while a lady stands – UNFATHOMABLE); she also took me to church where I was baptized, received my first communion, etc; and, finally, she also taught me how to make a fist and how to stand up in a fight. Now, my mom was not a boxer nor did she know how to fight nor did she inculcate being bellicose, but she did understand that I was not the biggest kid nor the fighter and she knew well that in Nicaragua, well – boys will be boys and most likely there will be a time or two when a boy is challenged and can’t walk away and he has to do the manly thing. Most importantly, my mother taught me love and self-respect and forged in me an unbreakable spirit and the resolve to always try to better myself, reject mediocracy, and help others if it is within my reach — to me, those qualities, are manly and have helped me at variuos levels of my life.
As I grew older, I learned other things — like firing a rifle in the USMC, survival, how to properly shave, how to survive in the wild; how to learn a language and other subjects I enjoyed in college; most importantly, I’ve learned a lot about myself and other people as well as my weaknesses and my strengths. AoM is a useful tool to remind me of those things I’ve learned and other things I find useful as I walk the path of life and discovery.

92 Ben August 11, 2011 at 9:36 am

Thank you so much for this article. May we all aspire to become men of action, dedication, honor and humility rather than beer-guzzling, womanizing “men” who fart, scratch, and belch out macho ways into idle waste.

Amen, Brett.

93 Mike Martel August 11, 2011 at 9:40 am

Being manly is not a fad. It is simply a return to the balance of nature, the way God intended. I suggest the book Wild at Heart for those who are struggling to understand. Men were created, in their very DNA to defend the household, be committed, strong, steadfast. Women are not any less, only different. Modern society wants to make the roles interchangeable. It doesn’t work that way.

94 Scott August 11, 2011 at 9:47 am

Good article! You are right on this one and Lang is wrong.

95 Daniel J. Ellers August 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

I rarely comment on your postings but today I must. It is true that being a man has absolutely nothing to do with genetics – that’s male. The striving after manliness is a lifelong engaging process that I personally find very humbling. Manhood has to do with our character, and morals, and virtue, which are defined by our actions, or inaction; that is what proclaims who we are the loudest.

While I do not agree with, or even like, every posting, there are far more nuggets than ore; I look forward to starting my day with AoM. I strive to improve who I am through constant effort, and by the grace of God, and through wise teachings. I believe this is noble. In a society of “quick-fixes”, and the ever increasing focus on material gain and sexual immorality, we need this site, and others like it, now more than ever.

Finally, we who are men, stand with you Brett every step of the way. Thank you for founding this site, and for saying that it is okay to be confident men (to stand up and be counted), but there is the right and the wrong way to go about becoming a man of honor. Through Manvotionals, and timeless examples of great men throughout history, you point the way. The choice is always up to us whether or not to follow. Keep up the good work.

96 David August 11, 2011 at 9:52 am

Thank you very much for this interesting article. I actually agree to an extent with Lang’s main point about manliness – ‘you know you’re a man when you stop trying to prove that you are’. I think that while while many things you write about on this site are important, it is far more important that they are not taken to extremes simply for the sake of ‘being manly’.

Lang’s mistake seems to be in his proposed solution – basically stop caring. AoM encourages the far healthier view of caring, but for the right reasons. Instead of going out of our way to prove how manly we are, we should strive to be the best person we can be, and AoM helps with that.

Lang (and Askmen in general) seems to believe that manliness must be the opposite of ‘womanliness’, hence his rant about grooming products. On this site, however, I would guess that over 60% of articles are almost as relevant to women as to men in the 21st century, becuase of the way they encourage behaviour and skills which are not machoistic, but simply polite or useful. I would be interested to know if Brett intended for this site to have so much content that is not gender-specific.

97 Ike August 11, 2011 at 10:10 am

Fantastic article. It’s why I started following this website in the first place.

98 DTWilder August 11, 2011 at 10:12 am

“Society refuses to offer any concrete ideals of what it means to be a man lest we offend people and make others feel left out.”

This suggests that concrete ideals for being a man offend and/or leave out someone, somewhere. This may be true but there’s probably more to why today’s American society is lacking in those concrete ideals. That many of the misogynistic “ideals” of the past have faded is a good thing and does not mean there are no ideals to be had. The challenge, sadly, for a lot of men today is to understand that you don’t have to sport around like some of the “Mad Men” to be a man.

We celebrate the actions and deeds of men and associate that with what it is to be a man but, as Brett points out, we have forgotten that contemplation, before and after, accompanies those achievements.

It’s odd that the Lang article would lambaste AoM along the lines of “worrying what it is to be a man” when my casual perusals of AoM leave me with the strong impression that worrying (not to mention “shoulding all over yourself”) are debilitating behaviours that men should avoid (women too, btw). I think Lang confuses “worrying” with an important element of “contemplation” or “reflection” that AoM rightly points out is critical to a complete man.

[I just read the Lang article...clearly a piece of mindless crap. Happily, many of the comments to it take the author to task.]

99 Christopher Haire August 11, 2011 at 10:16 am

Well wasn’t that Bully! A new classic sir.

100 nathan August 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

wonderful argument. You mentioned there isn’t a real push for mentoring and I look at this site as a form of mentoring.

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