What Men Like in Men: An Argument from 1902

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 24, 2013 · 83 comments

in A Man's Life, On Manhood


Editor’s Note: The following article appeared in a 1902 issue of Cosmopolitan Magazine (which started out as a quality family magazine before becoming a women’s rag). I think it raises an interesting question: What do men like or admire in other men? Lots of articles these days are about what men find attractive in women or what women find attractive in men, but rarely discussed are the qualities that men respect and admire in each other. It seems like men sort of intuitively know what traits we respect in other men, but we often cannot articulate them. This article attempts to put such thoughts into words.

I’d be curious to know if you think the same traits that the author found noteworthy in men over 100 years ago are still ones that modern men admire in each other. What traits would you leave out or add in? Share in the comments!

Please remember as you read this article that it was written in 1902. So the author has some opinions — particularly about women — that might offend modern sensibilities. 

“What Men Like in Men”
By Rafford Pyke
Cosmopolitan Magazine, August 1902

If you were to ask the average man to tell you offhand just what qualities he likes in other men, he would probably boggle a good deal over his answer. His first impulse would be to say, “Oh, I don’t know!” which is with men a convenient formula for avoiding thought upon unexpected or (to them) uninteresting topics. A little later, after turning the matter over in his mind, he would give you a catalogue of qualities to which he would be willing to swear. His list, however, would bear a strong resemblance to the “hundred-best-book” lists made my persons who sincerely believe that they are expressing their own literary preferences, but who are actually indulging in a bit of intellectual pose. Just as these individuals mention the books which they feel they ought to enjoy reading rather than those which they really read, so the average man will name a number of qualities which he thinks he likes, rather than those which in his heart of hearts he actually does like.

In the case of one who tries to enumerate the characteristics which he admires in other men, this sort of answer is not insincere. Although it is defective, and essentially untrue, the man himself is quite unconscious of the fact. The inaccuracy of his answers really comes from his inability to analyze his own preferences. The typical man is curiously deficient in a capacity for self-analysis. He seldom devotes any serious thought to the origin of his opinions, the determining factor in his judgments, the ultimate source of his desires, or the hidden mainsprings of his motives. In all that relates to the external and material world he observes shrewdly, reasons logically, and acts effectively; but question him as to the phenomena of the inner world – the world of his own Ego – and he is dazed and helpless. This he never bothers his head about, and when you interrogate him closely and do not let him put you off with easy generalities, he will become confused and at last contemptuous, if not actually angry. He will begin so suspect that you are just a little “queer”; and if he knows you well enough to be quite frank with you, he will stigmatize your psychological inquiries as “rot.”…

So when you ask a man just what it is that he most likes in other men you find him utterly unable to give you any satisfactory reply. …

[I]t will clear the ground a little if we first discover what it is that men dislike in men.

I suppose that every man who is a man would readily agree that he dislikes a “Sissy”; but it is doubtful whether most persons could give off-hand a really comprehensive definition of what a Sissy really is…

The subject of Sissyism is really very interesting – first because there are so many Sissies in the world, and in the second place because only a very small number of them are usually recognized as being such. Hence it may be worthwhile to give a little space to Sissyism here and to regard it in a scientific spirit, since, negatively at least, it has a definite bearing upon the subject of this paper.

Most persons when they think of Sissies, have a mental picture before them which is easily described. A slender, youthful figure, smooth-faced, a little vacuous in the expression of the countenance, with light hair and rather pale blue eyes a little wide apart; a voice not necessarily weak, but lacking timbre, resonance, carrying-power. The mouth is wavery and the lips are imperfectly closed. The chin tapers away a little. The shoulders slope, not with that peculiar slope and droop which often accompany great physical strength, as shown in the famous statue of the Farnese Hercules, but slanting straight down, so that unless they are scientifically padded by the Sissy’s tailor, they scarcely give you the effect of being shoulders. The neck is usually long, and the pomum Adami or Adam’s apple is very likely to be noticeable. The hands and feet are often large; or if not large, not very well compacted and put together, but giving one a general feeling that they are more or less imperfect. Such are the main physical attributes of one particular kind of Sissy.

In other respects his traits may easily be sketched and recognized. He is polite and rather anxious to please. He wishes always to do the thing which happens to be the proper thing at any given time. He never would think of initiating anything novel or starting out in a new and unexpected course. He likes very much to be with ladies, and ladies like him – in a way. He is a most useful creature and absolutely harmless, intended by Providence to carry wraps and rugs, to order carriages, to provide theater-tickets, flowers, bon-bons, opera-boxes and four-in-hands, according to his means and the position which he holds. He will call regularly upon a girl and in fact upon all the girls he knows, and he will keep it up for years, and it will never mean anything to him or to them, for he is essentially a tame cat…He is really an indispensable person in our modern life; for it is desirable that young women should have some male creature about them to fetch and carry – one who will do it all for the mere pleasure of the service, and who will never agitate them and disquiet them or make them feel it necessary to be on their guard. The best picture of a this especial type of Sissy, perhaps a little bit idealized, is that which is drawn by Henry James in his delicious story, “An International Episode.” Turn to its pages and you will find there a sublimated portrait of a Sissy, in the character who bears the subtly felicitous and expressive name of Willie Woodley.

But the Sissy of this sort is of no particular interest to philosophical students of human life. He is merely a somewhat effeminate young person who does not count. Men laugh at him, perhaps; yet he is not of sufficient consequence to be actively disliked. The true Sissy, who has never yet been classified as such, is the man of any age or any external appearance who for certain physical reasons always inspires you with a vague yet insurmountable feeling of malaise. He need not be a physical weakling at all. The most perfect specimen of this type that I have ever seen was a man over six feet in height, of powerful build, and with the torso of a gladiator. When you first saw him you said to yourself, “Here is a man!” Yet he was a Sissy all the same. Nature had merely mocked him in giving him a presence such as his. Back of his thews and sinews, back of his broad chest and massive head, there dwelt a Sissy-soul, and every man and woman who came to know him felt it by an unerring instinct. I never encountered so striking an illustration of the relative importance of mind and body. When he spoke, he uttered nothing but inanities. When he laughed, the sound concealed a giggle. When he was angry, he scolded like a peevish woman. When he was hurt, he whined. When he was pleased, he simpered. Whatever he did or said or thought, he was always flat. This kind of Sissy is the kind that men dislike – and women too; and the reason for it when you get down to the last analysis, is that in everything he is somehow incomplete. He tries to do as others do, and yet he never rings quite true. With men he endeavors to assume an air of manliness, and they laugh at him or else avoid him. He is always groping for something that he never finds. With women he endeavors to ingratiate himself, and they resent it. He is chicken-hearted, cold, and fearful. He would like to be considered dangerous – a rake, a man of the world, a gaillard, a viveur – and when he nerves himself up to some piece of petty vice, he runs about the cackles over it, though all the while he quakes internally lest the wrong persons should ever hear it. He has no daring, but he ventures on all sorts of odious little familiarities – the furtive squeezing of hands, the pressure of arms, the ogling and leering which he considers safe and yet conducive to a reputation for gallantry. He is of the class of the street masher, only with him it all means nothing, for his blood is water. How women hate him! They will always, in their heart of hearts, pardon a man who is impetuously overbold, even though they ever after shut him from their presence; but a Sissy with his flabby, feeble, mawkish imitation of an ardor which he never felt, affects them with a sort of moral nausea. Nothing that he tries to be can he succeed in being. He tries to be witty and is only flat; he tries to be profound and is only platitudinous; he tries to be daring and is only impudent; he tries to be ardent and is only offensive. As I said before, he represents a certain intellectual and spiritual incompleteness, in the presence of which the normal man experiences a most intense repulsion.

The traits in which this type of Sissy is most lacking are the traits which men most like in men. And yet this is a very negative description. Moreover we must distinguish between the man who is merely “popular” with others, and the man who is really liked, the man to whom other men will go not only in their jovial moods but in their serious ones as well, the man for whom they will make sacrifices and of whose friendship they are really proud. Many a man with easy manners, with a reckless, careless, hearty air, is popular. He has the gift of picking up acquaintances at every turn, of entertaining them, of making himself known as a “good fellow.” Yet all this sort of thing is superficial. Deep down there must be something more fundamental in order that a man may grasp and hold the hearts of other men. These vital attributes are few in number, and with the exception of just one they do not need much more than a mere mention.

First of all, a man must be what other men call “square” – which implies that he must have a sense of honor. This means so much in the relations of men with men. From women they do not expect it, at least in the fullest sense – a man’s sense; but it is the very corner-stone of friendship among men. For it does not mean that one must be merely true to his friends, but, in a sense, to those who are not his friends, who are even, possibly, his enemies. Fair play and the rigor of the game is a masculine ideal; and men will trust and like and honor those who live up to its strict requirements. The foundation of it all is justice – the most masculine of virtues, and the only one in which no woman ever had a share. Some women have been generous, and many have been brave and wise and self-denying, but there has never lived a woman who was absolutely just. Justice, even-handed, clear-eyed, supreme over prejudice and passion – this is God’s gift to man alone, and man alone can feel how splendid and sublime a thing it is.

Allied to it is reasonableness, another virtue that appeals to men when found in other men. It involves a number of related qualities, and most of all a sense of humor which throws a clear light of its own upon so many difficulties, and sets things in their true proportions, and shows how small the small things really are. Reasonableness is the lubricant of life, as the lack of it is the irritant. No other virtue can quite compensate for the absence of this reasonableness; and he who has the quality is one to whom all men will be drawn as by a magnet.

Then there is courage, without which man is not a man; and generosity, which really is an element of reasonableness; and with these, modesty, which, while it quietly conceals the other traits, does in the end enhance their value and increase the charm which they possess. And dignity, which many would not name or think of, is a most important element in the character of the man whom other men most like. For dignity is not to be confounded with its counterfeits – with stiffness or pomposity, or even with reserve. It is the touch of self-respect which exists in every fine character and which is never consciously assertive but which even the most careless spirit can feel and recognize. No really great man ever lacked it; and no human being ever felt it to be other than a claim upon his liking. For it means that somewhere there exists a barrier which none can pass, a barrier which shuts the way to the sanctuary of a human soul. And men respect this, and without respect there is no liking that endures.

The last of all the qualities which men like most in men is one of which but few are conscious even when they feel its influence. We have seen that men dislike effeminacy. They do. Yet in the nature of men whom other men like best there is always to be traced a touch of something that is feminine. It is like a thread of silver woven in some useful fabric, gleaming amid the plain, strong texture of the web, not very noticeable and yet imparting just a hint of beauty to the whole. This feminine quality in man gives fineness to the character. Intellectually it means intuition, sensitiveness to all impressions, and the imaginative element which illumines the dark places of the mind and shows the way to great achievement. Temperamentally it denotes gentleness, and the tenderness which is the perfect complement to strength. It is to men who have this last and finest gift, that other men, since history began, have given not alone their liking but their service, their devotion, and their very lives.

What then is the conclusion? Men like in men these traits: the honor that ennobles; the justice that insures the right; the reasonableness that mellows and makes plain; the courage that proclaims virility; the generous instinct that disdains all meanness; the modesty that makes no boast; the dignity that wins respect; the fineness and the tenderness that know and feel. But when one thinks of it more carefully, may he not sum it up in just a single sentence, and accept it as truth, that all men like a gentleman?

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

1 John PJ October 24, 2013 at 7:49 pm

His description of a “sissy” was hilarious.

2 Tim October 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm

The traits I admire most in other men-Humility. My father would not stand arrogance in his boys. It is a sign of being self centered and therefore not caring for others. The other is willingness to disagree respectfully but not be swayed by mere popular opinion, only by facts of good debate. Another good article

3 Simon October 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm

A masterpiece! Absolutely amazing, this sums up the very thoughts that I have been forming since I entered manhood (legally) at eighteen this summer. My friends from high school have been keeping up with each other, and even though I was never the most popular, they’ve included me in the circle. I couldn’t figure it out, til now. I was, on occasion, the conscience of our group. I think that’s a part of the “reasonableness” and “squareness” that Mr. Pyke talks about here.

Since graduating, I have wanted to become a real man, one out of the old days when men were men, and in that way it was a true gift to read about what a man thought real men should be back then. This article will get a lot of study from me. Thanks Brett, great post!!

4 C Jackson October 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I think what I got most out of this are two things:

The definition of a sissy made clear a contradiction I see in a few fellow men: the difference between strong and tough, which was also covered well in a more recent article. How interesting it is to see men looking like pro-wrestlers who whine and complain and also guffaw like jackasses at cruelty. Some sissies come in the form of very large child-like men.
I also enjoyed the analogy of femininity in men as a fine silver thread. The quality doesn’t make up even a large portion of the fabric but must be there to have true character. Without this fine thread you get a man who may be bold and courageous, but lacking in pity, which is a man who is dangerous to others.
I personally need to work on virility, I think. I don’t want to ever be a bully but the idea of being a people pleaser and not wanting to hurt feelings hit a little close to home haha.

5 Dom-Beard October 24, 2013 at 9:30 pm

This borderline rant about sissies took the words not out of my mouth alone, but out of the very fibers of my being!

6 Rick October 24, 2013 at 10:09 pm

While I understand the positive qualities of being generally forthright and honest, this article actually sounds like a bit of 1902 homophobia.

7 George G October 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm

A very interesting article. It made for a good read, however I can’t help but wonder about that “hundred-best-book” list mentioned in the first paragraph of the article.

8 Sarah October 24, 2013 at 10:57 pm

Thanks for sharing that. Imagine publishing a paper with that tone in a magazine today. Impossible!

9 Caleb October 24, 2013 at 11:40 pm

I feel like comments like Rick’s represent a lot of what’s wrong with masculinity today. First, the whole gay/straight thing the way we understand it now didn’t even exist in 1902 and people weren’t obsessed with it the way we are now, so I really doubt the author had homosexuality in mind when he was writing this. Second, I personally believe that there are very manly gay men and very effeminate/sissy gay men, just like there are very manly straight men and very effeminate/sissy straight men. There does seem to be more effeminate gay men than straight men, but I believe this is due to learned cultural practices rather than biological sexuality. Unfortunately, people have the idea that being born gay means you are also born effeminate, so that if you’re against men being effeminate, then they accuse of being anti-gay or homophobic. I just wish we could openly say all men should act like men, gay and straight alike.

10 Daniel October 24, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Pyke might consider there to be nothing worse than a man who is effeminate, perhaps shy, who enjoys the company of women but doesn’t put them “on their guard.” But for me, there is nothing more contemptible than a man so intolerant of others and their differences.

This conception of masculinity is so simplistic and outdated, and so disdainful of others. What a disappointment to see it on this site.

11 Jimmy October 24, 2013 at 11:51 pm

I kind of disagree- the type of sissy I dislike is not the type described, which wouldn’t even register as the kind of person to care about either way. The kind of man to dislike is the kind who isn’t a man at all. Every bit of their persona is actively built to appear a certain way they think is going to get them laid or get them some form of prestige. Think of the stereotype of the vegetarian yoga hipster with a ponytail. He’s a villain trope in pop culture because he seems assembled and fake, rejecting male respect while still aiming to impress women.

12 Ivan K October 25, 2013 at 12:49 am

I think Caleb had an excellent post, though I wouldn’t dismiss our culture’s recent preoccupation with gay/straight issues as an obsession. I personally believe that it’s just the first time that it has really been at the forefront of our civic consciousness, much like the civil rights movement was in our minds from the 1940s through modern day. Once it has gotten largely settled, I think our attention will shift elsewhere. It’s a natural process. The article was an interesting window into the early 20th century’s views on manhood. I particularly enjoyed the quote “The typical man is curiously deficient in a capacity for self-analysis.” It is a quirk, I think, of our society’s treatment of males.

One thing that I don’t like about the article is that it defines manliness by what it is not. While somewhat useful, it is only useful in the one case. Imagine that you were trying to describe a dog to someone who had never seen one before, and you said that a dog is not a cat: helpful, but not overly helpful. What I like about this site is that it usually tries to define manliness in positive terms – what it IS, as opposed to what it isn’t.

13 Brad Williams October 25, 2013 at 2:40 am

I write fiction using the vernacular of the late 1800s, with a heavy focus on traditionally “masculine” characters, and so I was positively thrilled to read this and see it on AoM. You have to love the style of the writer, simultaneously cordial and formal. Intellectual, yet in a totally different style than is written today, this is a valuable look at historical concepts of manliness from not that long ago.

Some will say it’s homophobic or plain misogynist, but who cares? History is not always pleasant to look at but worth knowing. Let’s look at it as a fact of history regarding how people thought and draw our own conclusions.

It is always amazing to me to see writers from 100 or more years ago voicing their concerns about men going “soft” even so long ago. There are statements like that all throughout Victorian adventure stories. I wonder what those writers would think about the world today? The squareness thing is very challenging in today’s world of “who you know not what you know” boot-licking, high-pressure sales, and throat-cutting to get to the top. The modern world is full of people willing to cut every ethical corner for success and sometimes, for survival. That impulse in us to do what is fair and just and place principle before personal advantage is a very important thing to encourage now. Also, we don’t place much importance on giving our word. People flake, change their plans, and change their mind at the last minute all the time. A line frequently used in Allan Quatermain stories comes to mind, “Having passed my word, it was impossible that I should change it.” That’s a square guy right there and although it’s going out of style, those who do possess this quality will still be highly respected today.

14 Professor Steve October 25, 2013 at 3:47 am

The attributes to which admiration were attributed reflected the ideals of knighthood and Chivalry that were very common in our literature of the 1900s. This article mentioned “honor, justice, reasonableness, modesty, dignity, and refinement” which are very similar to the values of the old Chivalric codes expressed by Cervantes in El Quixote and Chaucer: honor, courage, justice, nobility, faith, mercy, and justice, to name a few. All of these ideals of manhood were perpetuated by the books and tales that children read throughout their primary education. All of these were the basic codes of “virtue” established by the Greeks and Romans. Remember,the word “virtue” means, manly codes of conduct! Thanks for an interesting read from the past.

15 Rahul October 25, 2013 at 4:33 am

I paused a bit right at the beginning of the article to think about what I admire in other men. There was also the bit about us not being truly aware of what we really like, so I thought about all the people/personalities I admire and idolize.

On reflection, there was one thing that stood out in everyone i idolize. It was that they struggled and fought. They fought for their goals and ideals, to overcome bad circumstances and to get a better life for themselves and their families.

There are many other qualities that make a man, but for me, as a man that is the quintessential quality to aspire for.

16 Fents October 25, 2013 at 6:11 am

The modern world needs to wake up to the fact that males are males and females are females for a reason. They’re two different instruments capable of playing the same tune – BUT THEY’RE TWO DIFFERENT INSTRUMENTS.

It’s true that the treatment of women in the past was unjust in differing degrees through the eras, and the need for “Women’s Rights” was valid. But it only says something about the strength that men naturally have inside them. Back then, it was a dog-eat-dog world where strength – at face value – seemed the most important thing and qualities such as gentleness and emotional availability were obviously shunned in those times, thus the underestimation of the female role. I personally believe that effeminacy (and I daresay even homosexuality) in men existed simply due to the absence or weakness of a father, just as the overly-aggressive male lacking that “silver thread” of femininity comes about due to the lack of a good mother. Of course, the ability and presence of the parent isn’t the sole factor in determining the man’s character, but it’s the strongest foundation, and it’s pretty darn lasting in a man’s (and woman’s) life.

Now, the dramatic increase in effeminacy and the lack of “real men” today is due primarily to the feminist movement which, while at first starting out as a noble fight for Women’s Rights, has gone COMPLETELY out of bounds by attempting to make the woman EQUAL to the man, WHICH THEY’RE NOT. Men and women are indeed equal AS HUMAN BEINGS, but in their gender roles, entirely different. The attempt to cage masculinity is an epidemic, and is more powerful than ever with the media which perpetuates the feminist agenda without our even realizing it – just look at the amount of sitcoms containing smart, independent women in control of sissy, stupid men! Besides feminizing men, also has the effect of bringing a sort of unconscious paranoia to the modern male concerning the loss of his masculinity – an example being such terms as “no homo” being automatically uttered by a notable majority of the latest generation whenever a man compliments or admires another man. Compare this to the past, when male friendship was a thing to boast about, and men were openly affectionate with each other without any element of being “homo”.

Anyways, I’m starting to rant. This is just an issue that I feel very strongly about since I myself admit that for the majority of my adolescence, I also fell victim to the dangerous messages of the media, and looking back, I was pretty much the “sissy” described in this article. I’ve had countless male friends who’ve all suffered in this journey in some form of another, and when I bring up these truths to them, it’s amazing how much it shocks them and opens their eyes – BECAUSE THEY KNOW ABOUT THE MODERN MALE MALAISE AND FEMINIZATION OF THE WORLD WITHOUT EVEN REALIZING IT!

It’s good that websites such as The Art of Manliness exists, and again, says a lot about the modern male who felt so lost about his natural role in the modern world that he feels the need for such a site to even be available. It’s a great first step.

17 Steve Kopischke October 25, 2013 at 6:33 am

I think the last paragraph sums up quite nicely the thrust of the article. Something that was modeled to me by my father was how to act like a gentleman – never in so many words, but by his actions. As men, we could all benefit from seeking to be seen as gentlemen.

18 zeno October 25, 2013 at 6:42 am

Commentors who dislike this article… I really wish you would read it again. There is a lot of deep stuff in this essay. Some of you have missed the point by miles.

19 AZDuffman October 25, 2013 at 7:32 am

Interesting article and if you read through it you see one of the huge problems in men today, they are being feminized. The bold and decisive guy is called a “cowboy” and told he shouldn’t judge right and wrong.

As to the “sissy” comment to see the difference between the “manly man” and the “sissy” watch “Mad Men” and the difference between Don Draper and Pet Campbell. While Don is no saint, he knows how to do manly things and can step in to save the day as needed. He will put a person in their place if needed or comfort a woman in distress. In one episode, the women can’t even figure how to stop the sink from running, and while Sissy Pete is getting his tools, Don solves the problem.

OTOH Pete thinks the world is to be handed to him, by his presence nobody takes him seriously. His presence is one of a sissy.

20 Greg October 25, 2013 at 7:59 am

This is a good article, especially considering when it was written. One must remember that back in 1902 there was no “homophobia” as some like to classify today, as homosexuality was considered a mental illness until 1974. No matter, because the way I was raised, and what I believe today is that a “sissy”, whether straight or gay, is basically one who aspires to have more interests, hobbies, demeanors, and traits that are more associated with women, and whom will be “pushed around”, not only physically but socially and emotionally as well. On the other end of that which is also not welcomed by men who have true manhood, is the physical, social, and emotional bully, both of whom have no manly character or dignity. The true man, even of today, is one who exhibits, character, fairness, morality, even-handedness, respect, and one who also has self-respect without brashness, confidence without over-arrogance, physical, emotional, and social strengths…….This my friends is a true gentleman….who gleams of manliness in 2013.

21 Moss October 25, 2013 at 8:51 am

Brilliant article and exceedingly instructive. There is a lot in this article and it deserves to be revisited and practiced.

22 Rob Dyson October 25, 2013 at 8:57 am

I found it interesting that the author begins by differentiating between what one believes he is expected to say, and what he really thinks. The author then goes on to point out that self-analysis and support for personal opinion is lacking. This is so important to note, that many times we unknowingly act from a defenseless position. The unexamined life isn’t worth living.

The sissy stuff in the article was a little much. I found it curious that one of the commenters thought gay men should act like men, when straight sexuality is the true male ideal.

23 Ed October 25, 2013 at 9:07 am

I truly enjoyed this masterpiece! A wonderfully thought provoking article, Thank Brett!

24 Steve October 25, 2013 at 9:11 am

From what I have observed of both genders is that a bully is a bully no matter what the sexual preference.

The straight guy bullies others individually and openly, often using brute force and fear, while the gay man bullies in a snide or covert way relying more on group pressure than on his own individuality to achieve an end to his means

Either way, bullying is not a manly trait but a flaw or weakness of the personality.

Authority, honesty and humility is what makes a man.

25 Geoff October 25, 2013 at 9:25 am

Very interesting article which expresses much of my own personal struggle and development into a man. To paraphrase Dom-Beard, the depiction of a sissy took the wind out of my sails and my very being.

Having learned much of how to be a man from old Catholic teachers such as St. Francis de Sales, St. Augustine, St. Thomas and St. Alphonsus it brings me joy to hear the secular and populous attitude. While I cannot explain, in detail, what I love in other men I can definitely say that what I detest is this depiction of “sissy”. And I detest its expression most in myself.

I think that, like Caleb, the whole homosexual issue was not the powder keg it is today and that it is inappropriate to ascribe modern sensibilities to something written before it was a societal concern. To do so would be to look at racial comments from the early 1800′s and say that people who referred to blacks as “niggers” hated africans. This was simply the common mode and “how it was” and should not be considered in the light of modern sensibilities.

Humility, it seems to me, is the principle characteristic of the gentleman. True humility, according to St. Francis de Sales, is not saying “I am the least among men” as that sentiment is a type of pride: saying that despite not being “good” you are the best of the “bad”. True humility is understanding your strengths completely (I am an excellent carpenter/IT/physician/nurse/etc.) and being able to use those strengths to the best of your ability. True humility also means that you understand your weaknesses and work to improve them. Through this humility of true self-knowledge a man may come to understand those around him (women have a greater tendency to do this instinctively and do not require the same amount of focus on humility in general). What flows from this place of humility is all of the traits that make up both manliness and womanliness: empathy, love, respect, honor for oneself and others, appreciation, strength of mind, strength of character and strength of body.

I believe that men who look at the above depiction of a “sissy” and it causes a visceral distaste may be suffering what, in a religious context, is rightly described as a “crisis of conscience”. It forces us to look at ourselves and evaluate ourselves in the light of an external standard. We may disagree with the fundamental argument, but to point at the argument and shout “Homophobic” strikes me as being the very essence of a “sissy”. It is manly to hear criticism and calmly evaluate whether it is appropriate or not and then to act on that evaluation. A man does not shout “NO!” at an idea espoused by another unless it could directly harm another person. A man will stand up to offer an explanation of his dissent followed by his idea on a correct criticism or path of action.

I am not certain if any of what I wrote will be of value but I wanted to express my opinion as cogently as I could.

26 David H October 25, 2013 at 9:26 am

My first thought is being a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. Things like giving up your seat to a woman, holding the door, watching your language. These skills have gone out the door! Behaving in a dignified and mature manner, especially in mixed company.

27 David Y October 25, 2013 at 9:31 am

Mr. Pyke’s comments on sissies did not strike me as homophobic. I think he was describing men who are inoffensive, but basically insubstantial in their character.

I mostly agree with him on the virtues that we think of as manly. Being square, reasonableness, courage, humility and the silver threads of tenderness are good characteristics to strive for.

We seem to worry that these traits are being lost in our era, and for good reason. But, reading this article and other similar ones show that people have had these worries for a long time.

28 mattoomba October 25, 2013 at 10:03 am

I think some of the criticisms in these comments are coming from people who stopped halfway through the article. (It was very long-winded and circuitous.)

The author described the stereotypical “sissy” at length, but then made the case that actions, not physical traits, describe the true sissy in his estimation. Then, after a lengthy description of what a man is NOT, he nails down at length the traits of what a good, likeable man IS. Then he thankfully sums it all up in the final paragraph.

What I thought might be controversial is his description that “no woman ever had a share” of the virtue of justice. What are everyone’s thoughts on THIS statement?

29 Bob October 25, 2013 at 10:09 am

He left out reliability.

30 Eliel Ruiz October 25, 2013 at 10:17 am

Great read guys, keep up the great work!

31 John October 25, 2013 at 10:17 am

His comment “…without respect there is no liking that endures….” is something I’ve believed for years, and speaks volumes. I didn’t know mine wasn’t an original thought. Hmmm.

32 Scott Sideleau October 25, 2013 at 10:34 am

Honor, justice, reasonableness, courage, generosity, modesty, dignity, and tenderness the author touched on… but I can help but wonder, for 1902, why the author withheld piety? In our modern secular world, I would term this quality as reverence (i.e. the ability to show due respect). I think this is a significant oversight by the original author.

33 Tyler October 25, 2013 at 10:45 am

Much agreed with Tim above, Humility. Not found nearly as often in anyone as it should be.

34 Justin October 25, 2013 at 11:29 am

Loved this article. What my experience has shown me is that modern young men are largely behaving like spoiled and petulant children. No sense of respect for others, no notion of responsibility and accountability.

If one trait needs to resurgence, it is respect. Articles like this need to come back in our modern world. And thanks to AoM for doing it’s part to improve the man.

35 Tyler October 25, 2013 at 11:30 am

As a gay man, I have often observed ‘Sissyness’ in other gay men, and been disheartened by it, not to mention repelled. This author’s depiction of it is so accurate: something which is hard to define, yet undeniably there. I have been working to remove those qualities from myself, and understand how to be a proper Man, and articles like this are some of my best sources right now.

Caleb’s comment is exactly right, I could not have said it better myself. It will be so much better for society at large and the gay community in specific when people realize homosexuality and masculinity must not be mutually exclusive.

36 brian October 25, 2013 at 1:58 pm

This was very interesting and although outdated in many ways the basic theme of a good man being humble, just, loyal and compassionate is where he is really going and this seems to be the theme of AoM as well. This has nothing to do with homosexuality. Obviously, there is a great misunderstanding of women in the article by assuming they cannot achieve the same virtues. I have known many women who are better men (defined by the standards of this article) than most men out there today.
He points out that to be a good man one has to have some of the attributes many women possess and I think it’s the same for women but in reverse. A good man may be just and loyal with a hint of female compassion and intuition but a good woman will be intuitive and compassionate with a hint of male courage and bravado.

Good find

37 Rick October 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Can we just say that these attributes are positive attributes for men and women alike? Honor, justice, courage, generosity, modesty, dignity… Do these attributes have to be associated with men only? Personally, I think I would fall head over heels for a woman that demonstrates all these attributes, just as I would immediately befriend a man who does.

38 Jack Daniel October 25, 2013 at 2:54 pm

this article was life changing

39 James October 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I agree with the statement that “The foundation of it all is justice – the most masculine of virtues, and the only one in which no woman ever had a share.” However, his context is wrong. Women have never truly had a share of justice in the same way that poor Nigerian children have never had a share of an American style pumpkin pie. Or just, for that matter. Women have, at least in Western societies, been treated poorly and degraded out of hand for millennia, and this article does justice to that only in such a way as it displays the author’s unjustified, chauvinist thought processes.

Geoff, “I believe that men who look at the above depiction of a “sissy” and it causes a visceral distaste may be suffering what, in a religious context, is rightly described as a “crisis of conscience”.” This is a great summation of everything that’s good about the (highly homophobic) first half of the article. Yes, I understand that this was written in a different time, but true men are better than the “sissys” that are only able to mimic self-determination. The physical traits that the author describes are ridiculous and prejudice. But the personal traits, and the sick feeling that contemplating them inspires, are spot-on. It is the height of manliness to seek to see all truths about oneself, then to attempt to strengthen all that is good while shedding the negative.

” I personally believe that effeminacy (and I daresay even homosexuality) in men existed simply due to the absence or weakness of a father…Now, the dramatic increase in effeminacy and the lack of “real men” today is due primarily to the feminist movement which, while at first starting out as a noble fight for Women’s Rights, has gone COMPLETELY out of bounds by attempting to make the woman EQUAL to the man, WHICH THEY’RE NOT.” Fents, your personal beliefs should be kept personal. They’re not just homophobic, sexist, and ignorant, but also distasteful in the extreme. Not distasteful in the way of bitter medicine, but rather unto the distastefulness of bleach.

Daniel: Exactly.

To everyone who claims this isn’t homophobia because of the time in which it was written, I must ask: Was the chattel-slavery of blacks not racism? Was it permissible because of the times in which it happened, or because it was the will of the majority? Do you reconcile your own prejudices in this way, simply because of the times in which you live? Can you really consider yourself a truly manly man because you follow the majority and think other men should speak up not with their own voices and thoughts, but with the words and ignorant ideals of others? I’ll answer for you; no. Dismissing homophobia (or racism or sexism) because of the time in which it happened is a weak-minded justification after the fact. Great persons have been those who stood strong against the currents of ignorance, laziness, and injustice. They stood alone until the weaker minds and hearts of the eras found themselves able to stand in the wake of those strong individuals. The homophobia, which you dismiss, is a
dismissal of reality; a dismissal which killed one of the greatest men of the last century, if not all time: Alan Turing, the father of computer science and an unsung (perhaps under-sung?) code-breaking hero of WWII. Dismissing that homophobia as a sign of the times is the same as saying that one of the greats of the “Greatest Generation” deserved what he got because people were scared by homosexuality (the definition of homophobia).

40 Scott October 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Who else could relate in part at least to the sissy section? My how our culture has changed in a sad way. Men are now more feminine and women are now more masculine. This is such a great read.

41 Edward October 25, 2013 at 3:19 pm

While I had mixed feelings about this article, I liked the end message.
I do think the author is dead wrong on justice being a male only trait. In general, men are more single minded, focused, and obsessive than women. There are more male serial killers and geniuses when compared to women. Women on the other hand, in general, tend to be more holistic in their approach to life and problems. They tend to be better investors and money managers. In business, while men are great at identifying problems, potential solutions, and executing those solutions, it is usually the women in the group asking how one “solution” will affect other aspects of a business. They see connections faster and with more depth than most men.
If there is anything that needs a holistic approach in society, it is justice.

42 JB October 25, 2013 at 3:34 pm

I think we too often lament about how feminine men have become without looking at the true root cause…it’s us. Men have allowed this to happen by too often not honoring their responsibility to be a father to their sons. How many boys do you think grew up without a man in the home in the early 1900′s? Now, how many boys grow up without a man in the home now?

That is the root of the problem. We cannot realistically expect women to raise boys into men but that is what has happened the last 40+ years. Until men embrace the role of truly being fathers to their sons we will continue to see boys feminized by being raised by only their mother.

43 FeatherBlade October 25, 2013 at 3:51 pm

The descriptions of sissyism in men were highly entertaining.

I don’t know that I’ve ever met a man of the former type and I’m having trouble identifying his modern counterpart, but the latter type the author described seems like a picture-perfect portrayal of what we today call the Nice Guy ™.

44 brian October 25, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I think the fixation on the physical attributes of sissies was extreme

45 Tony October 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm

As the Gay Man “over six feet in height” AND with a “broad chest and massive head” (I look like a character from South Park when I wear a hat) I’ve got a few things to say about this article and the anti-sissy sentiment. Since it was 1902, and as other commenters have already noted, the idea of “homophobia” as we use the term didn’t exist; we were considered crazies. There is nothing in this article about Gay Men per se (we didn’t exist then as an understood category; rather we were an *afflicted group*), but rather it’s about traits considered to be “unmanly” during this time. What I would ask my fellow men-who-enjoy-the-company of other men whose hackles have been raised by this aged piece would be to take a minute to ask themselves why we still conflate the idea of “sissy” with “gay” 111 years after this article was written. Yes, effeminate boys and men are still called sissies and treated pretty abominably (and within the gay community itself this is rampant), but not all gay men perform those particular behaviors. To be clear: some of the strongest men I’ve met in my own journey through life were/are right in line with the author’s description of a “sissy”, just not with all the negative personality attributes ascribed to them in this article. The BS they have had to put up with in their lives but still standing strong is a testament to their resilience and strength of character. What’s being slammed here in this piece is men behaving in a “weak” manner (read: feminine) and we were still in the cold deepest depths of Victorian Gender Mayhem when this was piece was written. This was the time when men banging one another was considered a wink-wink “oh the lads were a bit tipsy!” when same-sex activities came to light, UNLESS you were unrepentant about it like Oscar Wilde and other Various Dandies. THAT was what blew peoples’ tops off back then, puns possibly intended. If you want to learn about a true 20th Century Bad-Ass, go read up on Quentin Crisp. He didn’t take sh*t from nobody.

46 Jop H October 25, 2013 at 6:19 pm

It’s a nice read, but I think it actually doesn’t move past the point of what men say they like in other men. Honor and courage are pretty much the first things man say that are manly qualities.
For me one of the things I appreciate in other men is intellectual reasoning. Sparring about topics, just for the sake of it. Clear examples of these guy discussions would be things such as politics, ideals, philosophy, life goals, but it could be work, science or anything. One man doesn’t have to convince the other, but just discus the topic, see how your idea’s hold up when someone else shoots at it. It’s probably similar how women like to talk about emotions and problems, without the desire to find a solution. I don’t think women are less good at intellectual reasoning, but it is something I appreciate in male friends more than female friends. I also notice I have more male friends who appreciate this than female friends.
Another thing I appreciate in other man is humor and not taking everything too serious. While taking the right things serious is a great quality for anyone, a typical thing I appreciate about man is to show you what is not important, often with humor. While you might be worried about something and are unable to focus on anything else, it are often man who show you if it’s not important or do something that allow you to focus on something else.
If there is something or someone bugging me, especially if my issue with it/them is poorly defined, it’s easier for me to talk to women about it (although I generally avoid trying to talking about it all, to prevent of falling into gossip). If something is truly worrying me, I would talk to men about it. They either tend to help you with a solution to the problem, or question you whether I have a problem at all.

47 Matthew October 25, 2013 at 6:26 pm

James I think your comment highlights completely the rigid thought control that modern political correctness places on society in general and men in particular. Clearly one may not dare to utter an opinion on classical manly traits without being labeled a homophobe, racist, or mysognist – the three most dreaded things to be called in such an androgynous and egalitarian society like ours. Good work!

48 Mark October 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm

A sissy to me is someone who will not stand for what he believes in, or will not help his friends if it means bringing even the possibility of bodily harm upon himself. There’s nothing more shameful than seeing men turn a blind eye to a friend in trouble.

49 Dan October 25, 2013 at 10:03 pm

I agree with the comment about the way men are portrayed in sitcoms. TV commercials are no different. There are any number of TV spots where the woman has to use her “superior intellect” to show the man the proper way to do something. I honestly cannot recall a single recent ad where the guy outshines the woman in intellect or ability. If the women were treated in these ads like the men are, there would be an outcry from feminists. I, for one, make it a point not to patronize those companies that put men down in their advertising. They way things are going, I may not be able to buy anything in the future !

50 Josiah October 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm

This is a brilliant article. The description of sissyism hit home with me, in more ways than I am comfortable admitting. Going to take multiple reads to wrap my head around the article.

51 RussTX October 25, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Pyke describes a number of “manly” qualtiies which are in fact admirable or useful, or both – but of course we now know, with a hundred years’ worth of further experience on this planet, that these qualities are not confined to men alone.

Like nearly all other writers of his time, what Pyke lacks, especially in his degrading description of the hated “sissy” is – humility. And all you straight, macho dudes reading this article and lapping up every word of Pyke’s need to be reminded, I think, that Pyke is not the Voice of God, nor are you nearly as wonderful as he makes you out to be, even if you possess all the “manly” characteristics.

Because by far the most of your talents, abilities, and aptitudes came to you not through your conscious choice – but simply because of the luck of the draw. You just happened to inherit those inborn “manly” leanings, just as you inherited your blonde hair or your brown eyes, and the thousand-and-one other components of your body and mind. Home training helps enhance your natural inclinations as “manly men,” of course, and so does practice.

But don’t pride yourselves too much on all that. You never chose to be a male zygote. You might have popped out of the womb as a baby girl – and now where would you be? Not reading this article, I suppose.

In the same way, it would do your character much good to stop and think about this for a moment: do you suppose that that “sissy” young man you detest so much – see all the repeated comments on this point above – and whom you consider to be contemptible, and thus subhuman, and thus having no real reason to exist – be honest, now – do you really suppose he sat up in his cradle and decided one day, “Oh boy, I’m going to be a sissy when I grow up!” – do you really?

Or is it just possible that he was born with a certain body, and a certain set of talents and abilities and aptitudes, just as you were – but different from yours? Is it possible that you yourself, through no fault of your own except the random stirrings of DNA and perhaps a splash of environment on the side, might have turned out to be just like him?

Pyke’s words are those of the bigoted 19th century straight white male – notice his sly put-downs of women – and on a par with other writers of the era who similarly dissed blacks, Mexicans, Chinese, Irishmen, Italians, Jews, and others as being less than manly, less than human, less than worthy of respect or even mercy.

But suppose you had been born black, or one of those other ethnicities? Did you choose to be white at some stage of the reproductive process?

In short, to conclude: somebody else’s “sissyness” is not a character defect as Pyke sees it – it’s their particular inherent nature they were born with. And instead of being so quick to say how much you agree with old man Pyke – have you stopped to consider that maybe what the sissies and the girls and the blacks and all the others need from you is not your contempt, but – your respect as fellow human beings doing the best they can with what they were given – and even your friendship?

Would that be the attitude of a real man, do you think, guys?

52 Ralph October 26, 2013 at 1:31 am

the Cardinal Virtues anyone?!

53 Rakesh October 26, 2013 at 3:55 am

Damn, I’m the definition of a sissy. :/

54 Fents October 26, 2013 at 4:33 am

Ignore my most recent post. Wasn’t proofread properly.

TO JAMES IN PARTICULAR: “Homophobic, sexist, and ignorant”?

Let me be a little more clear with my “personal” statement. I realize it’s very misleading. I don’t mean I made up my opinions nor are they fueled by sentiments. I base everything I say from years of reading, schooling in the humanities, research, and talking with people who have the authority to comment on these matters, which in essence, is ETHICS. These facts are hardly something that’s meant to be kept to myself.

Now, in what world did I say I hated gays? I in fact love them as much as I do a straight man. I never said they were inferior. The only flaw they’re capable of is the HOMOSEXUAL ACT. Nothing more. To marry and have sexual relations with a person of the same sex is wholly contrary to the end goal of romantic relationships: SELFLESS PROCREATION. As in, the natural coming together of the man and the woman, giving themselves completely for persons other than themselves. How we are biologically designed to do so is how we should reasonably determine what is right within sexual relations. To truly and deeply appreciate this fact, I have to bring up Catholic doctrine, but I know that’s the last thing this comment section needs. However, what I said about marriage and procreation stands because it is simply ETHICALLY REASONABLE. Homophobia is clearly out of the question here if you consider my argument carefully.

As for being “sexist”… I fail to grasp this one even more than your homophobic accusation against me. But honestly, you’re not the only one with this mindset. Look, why is it that when one makes a joke about men’s stereotypical qualities, it’s no problem to laugh about it, but the second someone simply says women should be women, all hell breaks loose? If anything, don’t you think society is sexist towards men? But that aside, let me get to the core of my argument: AGAIN, AT WHAT POINT DID I SAY THAT WOMEN WERE INFERIOR TO MEN? I only said that they are equal to each other as human beings, but that they have entirely different strengths in their gender roles. Women are naturally heightened in strength, ability, and perception in areas that men aren’t, and vice versa. Again, just use your eyes and realize that males are males and females are females for a reason. Now, I’m not trying to encourage the image of the macho meathead for men anymore than I am the image of the damsel in distress for women. It doesn’t even take religion to realize any of this. IF YOU’RE A MAN, BE ONE. BUT DON’T THINK FOR A SECOND THAT YOU’RE SUPERIOR OVER WOMEN, BECAUSE WE NEED THEM JUST AS MUCH AS THEY NEED US. The flaw of past society is exactly that ignorance of women’s rights, however, the other extreme has manifested in the modern world because feminism today is an outright EVIL. I have no fear in saying this. Feminism today has a backbone of mysandry (and mysogyny too, for that matter, but that’s a different topic), and, as I mentioned, is overblown, going far beyond women’s right and trying to simply tell women that they can be men, but at the same time cages and shuns the man’s natural aggression. The simple fact that society is overly-sensitive to “sexism” towards women is proof of this unfortunate modern phenomenon. There’s a whole world of things I can say about this matter, but it’s beyond the scope of what I’m trying to get at.

I repeat what I said – this is all from reading, research, and quoting from learned persons. YEARS OF EFFORT IN DOING SO, because these issues hit me pretty deeply. With today’s media, it becomes necessary to take a step away and stop listening to just what culture says and learn truths through nobler ways. I don’t base my opinions off what the media propagates, nor on my personal emotions. I am not “backwards” in what I believe in. I don’t judge as inferior homosexuals nor women. I only wish we would stop trying to practically erase from society’s mind the very notion of GENDER, and embrace the fact that we were born men and women for a reason, and we should take a big hint from that most basic truth.

55 pcampbell October 26, 2013 at 8:27 am

As a female, I am not the least offended by his comments about women. I believe the author means, concerning justice, that women aren’t really equipped to deal out cold, hard justice; we are always inclined to temper blind justice with compassion. Justice, if it is truly justice, is no respecter of person or circumstance.

56 Doc October 26, 2013 at 8:34 am

I find it rather ironic that some posting here having read the article immediately display the exact traits of a sissy, brought about no doubt by our overly whiny feminized educational system (Read indoctrination) … Why in heavens name are they even on here boggles the mind. As the article states they do all they can to ingratiate themselves with the opposite sex and manly men. Alas now we have them here, trying no doubt without success to emulate real men, boys and I mean that is the most disparaging way, you are either a man or not, why fight your sisification, accept who you are, a beta male, but fear not we Alpha males understand you have an important role in society and that is to please. Take pride in your submissiveness and understand it is a necessary thing so that we the Real Men can go about our Manly business.

57 Alexander McDermott (Sascha Yudin) October 26, 2013 at 11:33 am

Very interesting read. As a young man, I witness the opportunities for which I am given yet, naturally. For I wish to seek Love and Friendship. Being a young student, paying my own tuition, working, obtaining great grades, I wish to have a girlfriend. I have lots of friends who are female but none to which I can attest of being in a lovely relationship. This article helped me realize why it is I who Has To Seize the Opportunity when It is Given.

58 SG October 26, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Talk about missing the mark, the lot of you. Talk about a whole lot of worry and anxiety, successfully injected into culture by the truly Powerful Men.

It’s no wonder we’re all bought and sold and have delusions of “personal power”, and delusions that we have any franchise at all. Dopes blaming all their personal or imagined grievances on women and young men and “the educational system” or the godless or Elvis Presley or whatever rabble babble is agreeable to “manly Alpha men”.

This is what is called victory, but it ain’t any of ours. Framing your whole conception of reality as binary, contentious and agitating that, “now”, there is “something wrong” with the fabric of civilization—-but it’s “that guy’s fault”.

Sounds like a lot of you are living in a prison.

You cannot really see your own trauma, can you? Or possibly don’t want to…

“Natural aggression”? Says who? Oh, you mean YOUR PERSONAL unformed and pressing need to hurt something? YOUR unconscious devotion to irrationality and violence?

Like in prison?

59 SG October 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm

And even a cursory, freshman year knowledge of “feminism” will allow one to know that “feminism” is theoretically determined to reduce the ravages of patriarchy, aka, a system of where “some people are just naturally better than others”….you know, a system that should distress all correct-thinking humans—–especially capable men, because capable men are IN the position to challenge it most directly.

Unless you’re a person that has your real or imagined fortunes clinging to those very ideas—-”hey, maybe I’ll be a master someday!’—-No, you won’t.

If you cling to the notions of patriarchy, you are not a man, You are a minion. Nothing more.

60 Christopher October 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm

The author begins by making the observation that a true man does not like a “Sissy”. This is very true. I’m of an older generation (48 YO), and as I walk around at work and other public places, I am astonished to see so many “gay” young men. They walk with a swish. They wear gay clothes, they hold their hands as if they were a woman. I instinctively stay away from them. I have absolutely no respect for any one of them. It’s as if they were designed by a woman. They are careful, courteous, kind. Never hurting a fly and never upsetting the apple cart. They will serve a woman happily. How do I know them so well?
I was raised by my mother due to a divorce when I was 12. I had two older sisters. I knew what they liked and what they didn’t. Therefore, I became what I perceived they needed: helpful, handy, polite. Year later, when my marriage ended, I took a look at myself and realized I had stopped living. I had put others first. I was a sissy. Since then, I have realized that a real man loves women, but never give up his priorities, or compromises who he is to be with a woman. Doing so gives away his power. Makes him ineffective. Makes him a sissy.
So where am I now? Who am I? I am what I choose to read. I just watched “Vivia Zapata!”, the 1952 film by leftist John Steinbeck. I am not a leftist, but maybe I am. Good movie. Very striking portrayal of a man betrayed. My favorite website: http://www.sexboozecigars.com. Is what it is. One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t have to make excuses. I don’t need to give reasons. *I* am what I am. I am intensely private. And at the same time, I am desirous to share in order to teach. I love the sun and pumpkins. I love cigars, booze and music.
I do love honor in other men. It inspires me to be better. I love the sense of justice. Without it, there is no respect. Likewise, reasonableness. Otherwise a man is not a man, rather a woman. Courage and generosity? These make the man. Without these, a man is truly mean. Modesty, dignity and fineness stand a man above the rest. These traits set him apart from the common man.
I think the author has truly nailed this on the head: what is a man? He who honors others; he who is just; he who is reasonable, kind and sincere. He who risks all for a good cause and knows what he will lose to do so.
Thank you , Brett for sharing this article with us! Bravo!

61 Christopher October 26, 2013 at 6:05 pm

At Scott: “Men are now more feminine and women are now more masculine.” I couldn’t agree more. Nothing is worse than when a woman is leading. (And I love my women!)

And as remarked elsewhere here by Edward; in my opinion, women are great accountants. Just don’t make them managers or leaders. They take things so personally as to be mostly ineffective.

62 martin October 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I find 90% of the comments posted here to be over-the-top, too analytical, and yes, even too woman-like. The very thing the author is trying to point out is the very thing all of you are doing – unmasculine oversensitivity about the article. Look at paragraph 2:

In all that relates to the external and material world he observes shrewdly, reasons logically, and acts effectively; but question him as to the phenomena of the inner world – the world of his own Ego – and he is dazed and helpless. This he never bothers his head about, and when you interrogate him closely and do not let him put you off with easy generalities, he will become confused and at last contemptuous, if not actually angry. He will begin so suspect that you are just a little “queer”; and if he knows you well enough to be quite frank with you, he will stigmatize your psychological inquiries as “rot.”

If the shoe fits, wear it. The article is not about you . . . or is it? I say we all just accept the article for what it’s worth, stop being so “queer” by talking “rot” and maybe some of you will be a lot less angry.

63 Tony October 28, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Fents: Reproduction is not always selfless. Come on. British Royal Baby frenzy this summer? Men getting their wives pregnant until they have a Boy? We all know it still happens. As another Catholic (Irish) I call you out (in good humor only) if you say that doesn’t happen. But, you are still conflating sexual identity with sexual acts btw. I can be celibate my whole life and still be “homosexual”; men who have relations with another man because there are no women around are not necessarily “gay”, etc.

I think what defines what a “man” is almost exactly the same as what a “woman” is many ways: personal responsibility, accountability, and a sense of humor in the face of life’s toils and troubles.

64 Allan October 28, 2013 at 4:18 pm

The discourse brought about by “gay”-minded individuals seems pretty silly to me. In its most base form, all homosexuality truly refers to I s a man having sex with another man. This article is not about that. So let’s not bother with it.

At any rate, I found myself loving this article for the most part. Especially the description of sissiness and what I guess is false-sissines. The author talks about the kind of guy who is always useful and good for women to use but has no real manliness about him. And that’s a form of sissiness, but not the one that the author was condemning in the article, which I found interesting.

The only thing I didn’t like was the mention of justice as a thing that women cannot have. I honestly have no idea what he means by that.

65 FatChance October 28, 2013 at 4:31 pm

The reason this sounds “offecnsive” to some is that in our current culture we have been programed to look for every opportunity to be offended. In 1902 there was a general understnading of what societty expected from everyone. Men were to protect and serve with honor and dignity. The concept of honor and dignity have been repaced in our culture with selfishness and political correctness. The meanest thing we can do is actually “expect” people to actulaly give back to their society. We are way too busy defending our right to be offended to take responsibiity for ourselves and look after those around us. Men need to take back their place of responsibility within the culture and be men, lead the younger folks in our care and help the women nuture those in theri care as well. Protection of our own is no less a manly trait than a mother’s very being is summed up in caring for her young ones.

We have been afraid too long to take up the mantle of manhood for offending those who will actually benefit for it. Be a man !

66 Fents October 28, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Tony: There are extremes to everything; not just reproduction. That’s what the virtues are for. You even mentioned a few of them at the bottom of your comment! The natural ACTION coupled with the right INTENTION marks a good act. :bd

67 Kyle A. October 28, 2013 at 11:35 pm

I thought this was well worth reading. I was surprised, however, with the list of qualities the author gave after reading one of his earlier comments. He surmised that the average man would give a predictable list of qualities, and would be merely “indulging in a bit of intellectual pose.” With that remark, I expected a more candid, off-the-beaten-trail discussion about what a men admire amongst themselves, yet, as Professor Steve mentioned above, this was a pretty cookie-cutter list of chivalric virtues.

Even so, I enjoyed the article, and agree with much of it. What I wonder is, “are these the qualities men truly admire in everyday life, even today, or are they the ones we idealize and admire only in theory?” What do you think, my fellow men?

I, for my part, believe that men of every age will always admire and desire those qualities which are present in the character of God, because, as a Christian, I believe humanity was created both to have a relationship with, and to reflect Him. To be fair, circumstances in our lives can perpetuate cycles of thinking which I have seen lead to callousness, and, left alone, I have seen callousness lead to an inability to see clear rights and wrongs. In those cases, where the mind has had a prolonged deprivation from self-discipline in right-action, the individual may truly not desire virtue any longer. In fact, they may even detest it! Yet, even in those cases, I believe diligent, decisive right-action will bring restoration, and renewed desire/admiration for these pillars of integrity. I find that virtues of days-gone-by are often analogous, or nearly such, to those staples of right character found in Scripture. Of course, it is unsurprising given the influence Christianity has had on the culture of the Western world. Still what do you think? Do those of you who do not believe in the Bible see it as the converse – as Christian morality/virtues being a reflection of these qualities which men innately admire, or aspire to, which were then, simply, incorporated to a religious system? Do you think that is a contributor to its long-lasting impact on the world? I’m curious.

I hope you will forgive me for digressing into a side topic…

I have a just a couple more questions. What do you think (from observation, of course, since we are mostly men here) women admire in women? Do you think the women most admired by women are also the ones most desired by us, and in turn desire most the men whom are admired by us? In other words, are men and women naturally complementary? You can probably guess my stance since you know what dictates my world-view. Still, I’m curious what you believe and why.

Great posts by many of you, I love this site, and am glad to see that many men, in spite of our differences of opinion, are still active in their concern for manliness, character, and the sharing or ideas in our world.

68 Jeremy October 29, 2013 at 6:07 am

Although the typical man may pay little attention to “why he does what he does,” I don’t see how that this is a good thing and how that can lead to living a life that bestows honor and fights for justice. A good man does what he thoughtfully believes to be right and true without sensing a need to justify his motives to anyone. He stands confident in his beliefs because he has thoughtfully considered the intentions and motives of his heart. We are constantly bombarded with passions and desires that compete for our attention, many of which can destroy a man’s character and render him a fool. As bold and daring a thoughtless/careless man may be, a wasted life he will leave. I would define an “oversensitive” man as one who is stuck in his head and paralyzed with fear, one who is always thinking but never doing, one who is morbidly introspective. There is a balance that needs to be vigorously and watchfully maintained. Most men today are either over impulsive, enslaved to their desires for sex, food, and drink, or “sissified,” enslaved to their desires for comfort and/or people pleasing, tolerating everything and standing up for nothing.

Men should be sensitive to what is stirring their passions and affections, a man who is devoid of such analysis is at its worst a sociopath, and a man who is intellectually astute to his inner motives but never getting the job done is ineffective and flat.

69 martin October 29, 2013 at 10:38 am

Jeremy, you’ve hit the nail square on the head. Thank you.

70 Andrew October 29, 2013 at 6:05 pm

I think there is deep truth in this article, but there are elements of it that are untrue. Particularly, there is a confusion of superficiality with the intrinsic qualities that truly make a man’s man. Lesser men will cast judgment on other men they deem “sissies” without knowing the man, based on their survey of the man and his physical appearance and non-confrontational mannerisms. I feel I’ve had men perceive me in this way, because I dress well, have soft demeanor, a thin frame, and potentially threaten their sense of their own intelligence. Also, I think this article is wholly misogynistic, and while that was appropriate for the time, we should in no way endorse the idea that women can’t possess all of these qualities. Things like courage, generosity, modesty, etc., define a good person, and are not exclusive to men.

71 Richard October 30, 2013 at 9:15 am

Honor, reasonableness, courage, generosity, modesty and dignity are what made Statesmen out of ordinary citizens. This type of man is so sorely lacking in politics today. Men who aspire to be ‘leaders’ today often lack even the ability to put forth and defend an argument based upon its merits. Blaming problems on others, name calling, character assassinations and never accepting responsibility when things go wrong are the tools of many who have wormed their way into elected office. Given time, manly men will again regain their prominent role in the world of politics and statesmanship.

In the newspaper every day are stories of males who will never be ‘men’ in the sense that is defined in this article. The baby-daddies, wife beaters, child molesters, welfare bums and those who have given their lives over to entertaining their addictions and satisfying their base desires. We can all see the effect these traits have left on our society and recognize they are not right. Web pages like this one are critical to keeping the truth alive.

72 Melika October 30, 2013 at 10:39 am

PCampbell: As a woman, I agree with you on his sentiment. I don’t have a problem being a woman. I wish men would behave more like men. I feel like a mother to most of them and it makes them extremely unattractive..

@Fents: While I would normally agree with you regarding the feminizing of men, to say women are not equal to men is absolutely ridiculous, sexist, and unmanly. You remind me of the whinging little man-boys who, being incapable of acting as men, insist on bullying women into a subservience position in order to feed their delusions of manhood. There are things that are similar between the sexes and things that are not. There is no “better than”.

Most men (including some pseudo-scientists writing books about the differences between the sexes) don’t understand women because they don’t understand brain structure difference between the sexes. We think differently and have slightly differing behaviors because of brain structure influence by hormones. (Men have an average 50% less connections between the two halves of their brains – discovered by a man).

Women are perfectly capable of being “absolutely just” and logical just as men are capable of being kind and cooperative – it’s called learned behavior. Understanding the genetic/structural influences on behavior should only be used to mitigate/accentuate the learning of desired behavior – not as a club to beat someone over their head.

73 Melika October 31, 2013 at 9:09 am

Melika: Please re-read what I wrote. This is the second time I have to clarify that I never said women were inferior to men. I said that women and men are EQUAL AS HUMAN BEINGS, but not equal gender-wise, simply because of the differences you brought up. “Unequal” in this case does not refer to ability. I’m sorry if that was the wrong word to use. Note my metaphor with instruments in my original post. A cello and a flute are entirely capable of playing the same note, and they are uniquely beautiful in how they sound; they are both instruments in their own right, but NOT the same instruments. You basically gave a scientific explanation of what I’m arguing, and I don’t disagree with you on any of it.

74 8to12 November 1, 2013 at 8:51 am

The description of sissy perfectly describes what game sites call the beta-orbiter.
He is polite and rather anxious to please.

He never would think of initiating anything novel or starting out in a new and unexpected course. (like pushing for sex)

He likes very much to be with ladies, and ladies like him – in a way. (he is in the friend zone)

He is a most useful creature and absolutely harmless, intended by Providence to carry wraps and rugs, to order carriages, to provide theater-tickets, flowers, bon-bons, opera-boxes and four-in-hands, according to his means and the position which he holds.

He will call regularly upon a girl and in fact upon all the girls he knows, and he will keep it up for years, and it will never mean anything to him or to them, for he is essentially a tame cat…

He is really an indispensable person in our modern life; for it is desirable that young women should have some male creature about them to fetch and carry – one who will do it all for the mere pleasure of the service,

and who will never agitate them and disquiet them or make them feel it necessary to be on their guard.

There really is nothing new under the sun. 1902′s sissy and today’s beta-orbiter–same guy.

75 Adam November 4, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Wow! What timeless truths this essay contains, especially the observation on the sissy, a la the modern Beta-male.

76 Bob November 4, 2013 at 3:11 pm

A beautifully crafted article with timeless quality—but what about one of the most important, and unfortunately , increasingly rare attributes–INTEGRITY.
If only there were more of it in today’s
world, especially in leadership roles.

77 Dan November 4, 2013 at 4:21 pm

The qualities laid out by Pyke in his article are truly commendable. Written in 1902 there were important qualities left out that might have ubiquitous or taken for for granted at that time like: a man takes care of his family, is “present” for his kids, self sacrificing and stands up for what he thinks is right even when it’s not popular. Taken at face value in 2013 the guy described appears a little sef-centered to me.

At the root I believe everything Pyke says is true. A man should posess those qualities. But you have to ask yourself is being admired by the majority of other men that important?

78 laurais November 5, 2013 at 7:31 am


Thank you for posting this piece. I’m one of the feminized men of the baby boom generation, and I’ve always rebelled inwardly against it, feeling alternately angry and ashamed not only at myself but at other feminized men. I would like to be the kind of man this piece describes.

D.H. Lawrence make this same point in his novels, so worth reading for men who wish to be men in the sense described here, particularly in “Women In Love,” the relationship between Gerald and Birkin.

For myself and for many men of my acquaintance, the achievement of honor, courage and dignity is a life’s work. Though saddened that our culture has robbed many of us of the qualities that make a man, it’s our responsibility to recover them.

79 James November 5, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Courage is a good one and not just on a battlefield. I’ve found it is useful in day to day life much more than I had previously thought.

It takes courage to simply state what you believe without care for how it might hurt or help your popularity or the response it induces. Many men are cowards when it comes to women and even other men. A fear of rocking the boat and stating what you believe is a characteristic of a boy no matter the age of the one that bears it.

80 Jacob Lynn November 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm

Being “square” means you obey the Golden Rule, and expect everyone else to do the same, every time, without exception. True Justice is expressed fully by natural law, natural rights, common law, and conscience, but what we in this equality-laden society expect the least. “With his flabby, feeble, mawkish imitation of an ardor which he never felt” describes the type of fake man, who with the benefit of make-up, great lighting, and talking points, passes for a respectable man; who can gull many but utterly fails to speak truth; who desires power, and knows only the god of his own belly; this man is a sissy through and through. How joyless an existence it must be to be consumed with manly affectations but to be found wanting in true manliness.

81 Mike November 8, 2013 at 8:12 am

It’s a bit of a flawed effort to even ask what men like in other men. There are so many types of men today that each one will surely appreciate different characteristics.

82 Joe M November 11, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I loved the article. Thanks for posting. I attended military school during my high school years. One item we were made to memorize, and later teach to new cadets, resonates with this article.

The Spirit of Culver

The hope to win, the zeal to dare,
Contempt for what is base and mean,
Pride in achievement that is fair.
And high regard for what is clean
The strength that is in Brotherhood;
The courage that proclaims Success.
The will to strive for what is good,
And first and always, Manliness.

S. E. Kiser


83 Fabio December 9, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Such a sensitive text. The femininity paradox to a male soul is quite subtle and enchanting: nothing related to eagerness to please. Yet, just THE single note that enriches all the whole composition.

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