in: Character, Manly Lessons, Podcast

• Last updated: October 1, 2021

The Art of Manliness Podcast Episode #49: The Way of Men With Jack Donovan

In today’s episode I talk to Jack Donovan, author of the book The Way of Men. We discuss his conception of a universal code of masculinity and if it’s even possible to live “the way of men” in modern society. Be sure to tune into this one for Jack’s always incisive and thought-provoking comments on manhood.

Highlights from the Show:

  • The difference between being a good man and being good at being a man
  • The four tactical virtues of manliness
  • What mastery has to do with manliness
  • Flamboyant dishonor
  • Why every man needs a gang

Book cover,the way of men by Jack Donovan.

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Special thanks to Keelan O’Hara for editing the podcast!

Read the Transcript

Brett McKay: Brett McKay here and welcome to another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. Now a question, we’ve attempted to answer on the Art of Manliness is, what is manliness? And as our guest points out today in the podcast, that is one of the hardest easy questions to answer because I think a lot of people think they know what it is, they have an idea of what it is, but pressed to give an answer, they fumble a lot and they can’t come up with something articulate or concise.

But our guest today in his new book, sets out to give a universal definition of Manliness, his name is Jack Donovan, he is the author of the book, The Way of Men and in today’s podcast, we’re going to talk about, what is The Way of Men and what is manliness and he’s also going to share, what he thinks are the universal tactical virtues of manliness.

Really interesting discussion, so stay tuned. Jack Donovan, welcome to the show.

Jack Donovan: Thanks for having me.

Brett McKay: Alright, so your book in The Way of Men came out about two years ago, is that correct.

Jack Donovan: Oh! Yes, I think a little less than that.

Brett McKay: A little less than that. Well – and it’s one of the better books on masculinity, that I’ve read. What I loved about it is that it challenges you. You know you’re not going to agree with everything, but you forced the reader to like, question their assumptions about things and I had like mental debates with you, while I was reading and even my wife read the book and she thought it was great too and we have these like, okay what did he mean by that, so kudos for that, for writing a challenging book like that.

Jack Donovan: Thanks, thanks.

Brett McKay: Alright. So I’m going to start off by asking you a question that you asked to me in writing this book, “The Way of Men” because I think it sets up what the way of men is about. So, you asked me this question, I thought. At the time, I thought it was super insightfulness, I still think it’s a real insightful question. It is what’s the difference between being a good man and being good at being a man, so what is the difference between being a good man and being good at being a man?

Jack Donovan: Well, that seems you have ended up being one of the big takeaways from the book, that people – I think it’s a really good separation and basically the whole project of “The Way of Men” was to develop a universal definition of masculinity and it seems like the question, what is masculinity, is the hardest easy question for most men to answer and I want to try answer and as I listened to other answers that men gave, I began to realize, they were actually having two different conversations.

And on one hand they’re talking about mortality and about the moral virtues they attributed to men and on the other hand, they’re talking about something else, something older, or something more primal. What it means to be a good man changes with religion and ideology. It changes a lot from society-to-society, it changes if you’re Muslim, it changes if you’re pagan, an atheist, it changes if you’re capitalist or communist, it changes if you’re rich or poor, but I wanted to react to something else. I think we react to something else, when we talk to other men and we just kind of are in their presence and I think, we identified as manliness and I want to figure out, what that is.

So, I think we can look at man and have a reaction to him and no matter what his culture or social or class he comes from and get census what being manly is and you can have this really good guy, a really nice guy who does all the right things and he maybe doesn’t come off as being manly at all and then you can also have man, who is real jerk and still recognize him as manly and the good guy.

One of the questions that people like from the book is Darth Vader, unmanly, and if you like Batman and you think he’s doing the right thing, does that mean that Bane is unmanly and I don’t really think that you can say, Bane is really unmanly and be honest with yourself. So, I want to just figure out what else was there, what are we reacting to.

In “The Way of Men” I wanted to figure out, what we recognize in men as manliness, whether they’re good men or bad men morally speaking. When we think about being a man and I mean being good at being a man. Outside of morality or religion or politically, or ideology, I came to conclusion that we are identifying trades that in other men that would make them more successful in a survival situation.

Being good at being a man has a high value to us today because it had a high value to our ancestors as they were struggling to survive. Men who were stronger, more athletic, men who were strategically smarter, men who are more skillful, more daring, more depth of doing things that require specifically of men, who were fighting to survive, they’re going to be idolized by other men, followed by other men, emulated by other men.

We still do that with sports heroes. For instance though, sadly most of only seem to do that with warriors, if they’re actors playing warriors in the movie. So whether we’re talking about being good men or bad men; however, we define who is good or bad. I think that being good at being a man is about demonstrating and embodying the qualities that would have made our primal ancestors valuable members of a fighting group.

In “The Way of Men” I called these qualities tactical values or tactical virtues sorry, strength, courage, mastery and honor.

Brett McKay: So, I love that point it’s like, I think you’re on to something because I’ve recognized that too. There’s like guys, that I initially don’t think they’re good guys, but like I’m like, man that guy is really manly, like that guy is masculine. He’s got some sort of energy or thumos about him that just like exudes not like that, I want to be like that guy in some ways, even though he’s not that good of a dude.

Jack Donovan: Yes, yes.

Brett McKay: And I think I guess you’re right, you’re hitting on the nail. So, being good at being a man is sort of this primal masculinity, what made our ancestors successful as men thousands of years ago.

Jack Donovan: Yes, yes.

Brett McKay: It’s okay, you talked about these tactical virtues honor, strength, mastery, courage. So, how did you decide on these, for me it was. You alluded to that it’s, these were the virtues or attributes that made men successful, but how did you determine that those were the ones, was it the research or reading or just thinking about it, what was it?

Jack Donovan: Well, I think a lot of it it’s a thought problem. I mean, I started trying breaking things into categories and you know when you talk about masculinity and men talk about this all the time, you know it becomes is this masculinity, this is not masculinity. Is this manly, is this not manly and this is ongoing debate forever and ever.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: And I wanted to try to figure out, how you are going to answer that? And that how do you answer, is this manly, is this unmanly? You know at first, I looked at the qualities that make men most different for most women and that’s an important way to say that because difference between the sex is aren’t about absolutes, they’re about majority trends. It’s like, the easiest one is strength. Men are stronger than women, every man is not stronger than every woman, but most men are stronger than most women.

So strength is a defining characteristic for men whether you’re talking about good men or bad men and stronger men have a higher value in a survival group than weaker men. The idea that men should be strong, so comes from that, it’s not you know people want to make it like, it’s some kind of arbitrary social programming that we get from the media and you know I think it’s much, much older and much deeper than that

And you know same thing with courage. Men tend to be willing to take more risks than women. It gets us into a lot of trouble today, you know that’s why young men are pullover more for speeding and all kinds of things, but it’s a good thing for a group, if not always for the individual, primal band of hunters and fighters, you know

You need people who are willing to take risks and spear that angry boar.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: So, I got into obviously deeper explanations for all the virtues in the book, you know I don’t really have time to get into all that now, so to your listeners want to check that out, that would be cool.

Brett McKay: I thought, mastery was a really interesting one because I wouldn’t have thought that, but what do you mean by that, you kind of just briefly.

Jack Donovan: Well, we’re just kind of missing hole in the puzzle. You know as I was trying to put together these virtues. You know our mastery, you know without some kind of mastery strength and courage are kind of ridiculous.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: You know they don’t, unless you’re confident. You can be a strong and daring as possible, but you’re not really going to achieve anything and I think that’s something that men judge each other on constantly and very harshly and you know, not to disparage women, but when you talk to, I think women are much more comfortable being like, oh my god! I’m totally not good at that.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: You know whereas men want to be good at everything.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: They want to be good at, they don’t want to admit they’re aren’t good at things and I think that’s the reason is because you know men judge each other by how good they’re at doing the job that they need to do.

Brett McKay: Yes, I thought it was interesting in my research about the history of bachelorhood in the United States like in the 1600s like you weren’t considered a man, unless you – people thought of you is being a master and not necessarily I men like, having slaves, but like you had mastery of yourself, mastery of life, like you had your stuff together, you can contribute to society.

And so, when I read that, then I read your section like wow! That’s a really good insight that you got there and we kind of, I guess we kind of lost that idea of men you know valuing men for their mastery in the particular skill set or whatever because usually we don’t talk about – we really don’t talk about that much anymore in today’s society.

Jack Donovan: At least not using those words, I mean I think that we all look at, a guy who really has a stuff together and we’re like, I want to be more like that.

Brett McKay: And then talking, you mentioned how it’s nice to be thinking of these virtues as these tactical virtues these are like social conditioning and I think it is really primal because it’s still like even today, even though, we might not place an emphasis, as a society on these attributes or these virtues like people or men get really touchy, if you call them weak or you say, they’re chicken or they’re yellow, right?

I mean, even like the most not very manly guy will still kind of that stings for some reason.

Jack Donovan: Coward is a fighting word.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: You know it’s a still fighting word for men. You know it’s not something women really react to like, what?

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: Or okay. Yes for men, you call a man a coward that’s yes not good.

Brett McKay: So, what are the consequences of, for men in society in general for not living by these tactical virtues, is it a malaise, is it bad? I mean, what do we get out of living out of living these four tactical virtues?

Jack Donovan: Well, I mean I think because we’re kind of primarily, set up, we’re kind of wired to want to display these things. So I think, when we don’t get an opportunity to do these things, I think, yes there is a malaise, there is a little bit of depression I think, a lot of men feel like they’re lacking direction and lacking things to do.

I mean, we’re not really designed to, you see this with boys who are they get diagnosed being hyperactive in school because we are not really designed to sit in the chair all day, that’s not, you know that’s not what our ancestors did, you know some of us are better at the others, you know and they can find their own way through that, but you know we’re not really designed for that.

And I think that, you know well people who are kind of top of the society, have the opportunities to, you know they’ll sit, be investment bankers all day and then go climb Everest because they’ve a million dollars to do it.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: I think for the mass of us, you’re just creating a society of men that’s disengaged because you know we’re not getting a lot of being customer service representative.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: We’re not really getting a lot of satisfaction out of what our lives are.

Brett McKay: I want to come back to that, like what we can do, kind of your solutions. You talked about that in the “The Way of Men,” but before we get there I want to talk about one of the virtues a little bit, which is honor and because you did a really great job and we actually you know, we wrote a big series about the history of traditional honor.

Jack Donovan: Yes, I don’t know anyone who’s done more. It’s good stuff.

Brett McKay: Thank you. It was like the hardest thing, we’ve ever written. I mean, it look seven months, I think and just for our reader, hope you’re listening. When we are talking about honor, we are not talking about honor in the modern sense. I think most people, when they hear honor, they think it means integrity or like, I’m being true to my personal values or whatever.

Jack Donovan: It means, whatever is good.

Brett McKay: Yes, whatever is good, exactly. You’re talking about honor and we’re talking about honor in the traditional sense, which what honor was for most of human history and is still what it means you know some nonwestern cultures and as basically, what it comes down to you, is your reputation as a man, right?

Jack Donovan: Absolutely.

Brett McKay: Your reputation, you would say in living these four tactical virtues, that would be like the code of honor, the code of “The Way of Men” is you have to live up to these things and if you don’t live up to these virtues or these attributes then, you have dishonor and you experience shame.

One thing you talked about and it really still got to me and I thought that was both funny and interesting, just a way to describe it was the opposite of honor and you call it flamboyant dishonor, what do you mean by flamboyant dishonor and can you give an example or man being flamboyantly dishonorable?

Jack Donovan: Well, you know as you said, that being honor is really about caring about your reputation that as a men with other men and I think that, that gets very abstract in a big society.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: In a tribal society, it makes a lot of sense. In a big society, well who is your group. Is it, who is it everyone, is it, I mean because you can’t, you can’t care about what everyone thinks, but I think for the average men even today it’s more about what people around you think, what did your friends think, what does your group of men think? What I think more importantly, what are the group of men that you want to belong to?

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: What do they think? What kind of man that you want to be that’s kind of your group of men? So, you know I think that, I don’t know like dishonor means dramatically failing at being what a man means in that group. When we think of, a man is being dishonored we think is being ashamed. The part of that is that, you know thread of shame and dishonor motivates us to try harder and to do better to be better men because we value the opinions of other men and you know I think the opposite of honor is to be shameless about your failures as a men.

You’re saying, I don’t care if you guys don’t think that I’m manly and you know a lot of people will set make that heroic today, but I think it’s kind of cop out, it’s really easy to not care what other men think about you. You know it’s really easy to be like, I’ll just do whatever I want and be myself and you know that’s not really that rebellious. It’s just kind of you know it kind of liberates you from having standards.

So I think that, when you are trying not to be manly, if you’re making a big show of it and I think, this is different from saying that, you know men who are just simply not very manly, I don’t think that’s flamboyantly dishonorable. I think that’s just, you know okay they’re not very manly and that’s, but what I mean by as the opposite of honor is being flamboyantly dishonorable, is men who make a big show of it.

And I think in any group, if you’re running around dressing like a women or acting like a women or openly rejecting kind of what most men would expect from you and making a big show of it, you know because you want attention for that, then I think that’s the opposite of honor. You’re basically saying, I don’t care about being part of this male group and I think men are kind of reasonable to kind of mock and shun men, who say, hey I don’t care what you think.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: It’s kind of this, kind of passive aggression, really you’re saying, I don’t care what you think really loud.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: So I mean, why would you want those guys around. It doesn’t make any sense and I think that your men get a lot of flak for ejecting men who don’t act like, men in their group should, but you know why would you want those guys around and I think that, you know another, we can talk about that you know in terms of feminist or you can also talk about men who go out of the way to reject codes of masculinity in kind of intellectual way meaning a lot of feminists, who were basically making a big show of saying, I’m a feminist, I care more about what women thinks than what men thinks.

What men think is stupid and what women think is good and so if you’re saying that, again I think that men have every right to be like, yes well you don’t want to be part of our group, we hate you. We don’t like, why would we want you around.

Brett McKay: Yes and I think it’s interesting thing too at the same time, like they’re like you know they’re saying making a big deal like, okay I reject this idea of manliness or manhood that you have there and by doing that, I’m actually more manlier than you, like, sometimes they.

Jack Donovan: I know, it’s so tricky. It’s sound like, they’re doing the same thing. It’s like, they’re still trying to be man, they’re still trying to outman us.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: But in rejecting masculinity. So it’s like, they aren’t really even in contradiction with anything I’m saying.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: They’re still trying to outman us.

Brett McKay: Yes and I think guys, they say they don’t care about it, but like at the same time you can tell they still do because they go out of their way of like saying, I’m more of a man than you because I don’t bully these stupid archaic idea of masculinity.

Jack Donovan: Yes, I mean, I looked into it like, you know like if you look like someone like Michael Kimmel, like he makes his, he frames everything that other men in terms of fear.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: I think I wrote a quote from him the other day about saying that, the primary emotion of manliness is anxiety because you can never be good enough.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: Well, that is true because that’s what standards are, that’s you know at the same time he becomes heroic in framing other men as being fearful, you know.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: Because he has conquered his fear or really he’s just being himself, you know but there are a lot of guys like that, who want to make you believe that they’ve conquered their fear and are manlier than you because they don’t care about being manly, which is kind of fun.

Brett McKay: Yes, yes and like shame is bad and that’s another thing too like any type of shame is like toxic. I mean, I guess there’s like some type of shame, I can see okay, you shouldn’t really feel bad about that, but there’s like certain things, you got to have standards, are you saying you got to live up to that and it’s okay to experience some shame because shame compels you to improve yourself. Right?

Jack Donovan: Yes.

Brett McKay: That’s why involve that feeling. And like, it seems like a lot of these guys too, they’re kind of shifting the goal post of masculinity or manhood.

Jack Donovan: Absolutely.

Brett McKay: Like they still want to be considered a man or masculine or whatever, but they don’t, they can’t live up to that standard that maybe a strength or being courageous or having mastery. So they just tweak a little, so like being a man or being manly means this and but you’re moving the goal post forward, so it’s not that impressive.

Jack Donovan: Yes, it’s a Nitzchian for sentiment. They’re taking the strong and making it weak and the weak making it strong.

Brett McKay: Yes, alright. So great stuff, I mean definitely people need to read that, some great insights about honor there. So, okay you mentioned earlier that okay most of these guys are working as clerks or doing information entry at a cubical and.

Jack Donovan: Walk into Wal-Mart, they’ll love you.

Brett McKay: Yes, exactly. “Idiocracy.”

Jack Donovan: Yes.

Brett McKay: And as I read this book, you know it definitely like it stir something man I want to do this, like this is awesome, but at the same time you’re like wait a minute, you realize that modern western society isn’t very friendly to these tactical virtues anymore in fact. We go out of our way to sort of sometimes punish it like you said like, in some cases, but the best sort of diminish them.

So is it possible to live the tactical virtues of manliness in our modern culture?

Jack Donovan: Well, we can do the best we can. It’s absolutely correct to say that, modern western modernities and odds with tactical masculinity because it is, basically our level of civilization means outsourcing the job of working in the perimeter as a fighting men, then we outsource that to very, very, very tiny percentage of men.

Whereas, you know if we were in smaller groups a larger percentage of us would have that job.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: But in this giant, you know as global group now I think that UN actually had done its first real mission as it own army, which is kind of creepy, but as a global group, you know there is only, it’s tiny class of men, who are going to be allowed to do this and it’s even in the military, it’s only like a percentage, of a percentage, of a percentage you know like, who even get to ever shoot at anyone, you know. So it’s really is at odds and so I think it, you know in a society where everyone is kind of on the same page, I think that gets channeled into things like sports and so forth, but even that’s becoming increasingly stigmatized and so we’re like getting a smaller and smaller and smaller box and I don’t really see any way to change that without kind of refiguring what society is. I mean, I think.

Brett McKay: Sort of like wiping the slate clean in some ways, I mean you have to do that.

Jack Donovan: Yes, I mean I just don’t see where because I think that, our society is kind of run by big money. And nothing is more disruptive to big money than angry young men. Men who are running around creating trouble, being tribal doing their thing, you know that’s very disruptive, and you know supply chains get messed with, and you know people make less profit and we wouldn’t want that. So I mean as long as, we kind of still organize our society by this kind of giant finalized globalist mess, I think that masculinity would actually be increasingly stigmatized.

Brett McKay: Yes, it’s interesting. I mean, I get interviewed a lot, by reporters and podcast and they always ask me like, what’s wrong with men today? And you know they’re looking for like, you know a pretty short answer like, oh! it’s feminism or it’s like, it’s the economy or it’s video games. I mean, they want to something, right?

Jack Donovan: It’s all of those things.

Brett McKay: Yes, it’s like really, it’s like modern life. It’s like modern western society has done it and yes, it’s just these virtues like you said aren’t applicable in this life and I think it’s interesting that, lately there’s been this like peel and drought like end of world things and like zombies and like “The Walking Dead” and like, you watch those movies and like those things you talk about in your book.

Mastery, courage, strength like those are the things that keep people alive.

Jack Donovan: Yes.

Brett McKay: And like people are obsessed with it, like they want to a zombie apocalypse, right?

Jack Donovan: Yes, it’s like everybody’s secret popular fantasy now.

Brett McKay: Yes and I think it’s because a lot of guys feel like, I want to be able to experience that, right, like I want to experience those primal virtues or attributes inside of me.

Jack Donovan: One day as a Lion.

Brett McKay: Yes, exactly. What’s that one quote, like every man like wants to lift the black flag and like slit throats or something, there’s some.

Jack Donovan: Yes, yes, it’s a Mencken quote.

Brett McKay: Yes, yes, I think that’s kind of I think every guy got that in them a little bit.

Jack Donovan: A little bit, yes.

Brett McKay: Okay, so this kind of related. You talk about, I thought was a really funny description, but kind of I think that’s a good job of describing what western society is like is The Bonobo’s Masturbation Society. What do you mean by that and how has the Bonobo’s Masturbation Society been detrimental to the way of men?

Jack Donovan: Well, you know as we discuss there aren’t really a lot of outlets for masculinity in modern culture and so, you know everything we do is kind of simulated, it’s a simulated in the way that masturbation is simulation of sex you know, what we do, you know all of our forms of masculinity are kind of simulated.

You know sports is a simulation of war.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: I mean everything we do is kind of, we don’t really need because we need to do it. We do it because it makes us feel good.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: So I mean like, yes we can go out and learn how to hunt, but we don’t have to.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: And we can learn how to fight, but we probably never have to. And so everything is very masturbatory and so like to really experience authentic masculinity, you really need that need to do it. It has to be like this overwhelming, you know you have to feel like, your role is actually necessary because everything outside of that is just, you basically playing a video game of life.

And that’s what we’re all doing. I think, you know as much as we try to prepare ourselves for possibly the zombie apocalypse. You know, until the zombie’s rise from the dead, you know we’re still left it. Okay, well I’m just going outside and play with guns now. So I mean, I think that and I think we all know that and I think it’s kind of depressing and I think it’s and I think, a lot of men just you know, have a hard time dealing with that, it becomes like what’s the point.Brett McKay: Yes, yes.

Jack Donovan: So you know there is a real lack of that and I think that, if we broke up into smaller societies in some way, I think that life would become a lot more meaningful, I don’t. You know our society is always you know organized around longer life and more people and more consumption and all that, but I think that you know smaller is better I think for men in many cases.

Brett McKay: Yes, I totally, that’s what I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, is the idea of and this kind of relates to my next question because you argue, that the way of men, is the way of the gang, that’s a pretty loaded phrase because if you were to think, oh! gangs, gangs are bad.

But, what do you mean by that? So I think, it kind of really ties in with what you’ve been talking about, what do you mean by the way of men, is the way of the gang?

Jack Donovan: Well, I mean you know it’s obviously meant to be a little bit controversial.

Brett McKay: Sure.

Jack Donovan: You know, but, I mean really this idea of, you know we’ve been talking about the tactical virtues and the survival gang and I think you know the way of men, you know what manliness is really defined by what that survival gang needs and you know has needed throughout history and whatever and you see, that’s in areas where the state is weak or you know which could be an intercity ghetto or it could be Africa or Brazil or men start to break into gangs and then all of the sudden, they’re living that primal role again.

And I don’t mean to say that, I think that’s going to be pretty. I don’t think that’s ever pretty. I mean, I think that can get, that means, we’re going to get hurt for no reasons. It means, you know a lot of things that are not ideal, but then again you know it’s like, I think we’re missing as we were talking about, I think we are missing our narrative of life, that kind of gives us a sense of meaning and you know without that struggle in manliness is kind of masturbatory.

And so, I mean, if you look at areas like Mexico. You know all of a sudden you have gangs rule large portions of Mexico and then you have community gangs, where – because the police aren’t really worth anything and so you have gangs, guys who just want to protect their family standing up to the big gangs.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: And so, it doesn’t necessarily have to be destructive, you know innately it can be, as we would say, they are good men standing up as gangs, but you know as I think that “The Walking Dead” that’s a good job of handling the fact that, the more survival becomes a question, the more mortality becomes an issue and it becomes almost just kind of Machiavellian situation where I can only care about our tribe.

I mean, one of the biggest problems with modernities is that, is universal morality and there is no way to be universally good to everybody. I mean you have sooner or later make choices about my people, your people. You know, my family, your family, you know and do what’s best for the people who you’ve chosen to align yourself with and so that’s your gang.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: You know, so that’s what make sense.

Brett McKay: Okay, so guys who are listening to podcast are like, man yes I feel this, I want that – some of – they’re listening this, yes I want to experience the way it went, like I totally resonate with that, tired of my desk job. What can these guys do right now to start living “The Way of Men.”

I mean sort of like small things that just, I mean it’s tough like we talked about sort of Catch-22 we live in modern society, where these attributes aren’t welcome, but what can they do to sort of start experience, but not in the masturbatory way, that’s the catch I guess, right?

Jack Donovan: Well, I guess it’s always kind of at masturbatory way, until there’s a gun to your head, it’s always kind of a masturbatory way, but I mean, you I think that a start and I get this question a lot. I mean a start, you know like how do I change?

How do I – I understand what you’re saying is right, but how do I change and I think that, the first step in many cases is just, you know A, a lot of these guys don’t have a lot of male friends and I think that’s really important. I mean, if you put men in a group, the way of the gang happens. You know that hierarchy starts to form and you get those kind of interactions and it’s an organic thing because it’s the most natural thing in the world, but you have to get men in a group, with just men and then all that happens.You know so I think that, you know it’s trying to create a situation where that can happen is something you want to look for and I also think that if you see men, as we’re talking about men who, yes, I want to be a little bit like that. You got to spend more time with that guy.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: Because it will rub off.

Brett McKay: Yes.

Jack Donovan: There is this guy, at this power lifting gym that I was going to about a year ago and he just has everything together. Dude, sets world records in lifting. He runs a business, owns a gym, has a wife, has kids, builds cars in his off time. He is just got it together. He is really a successful, he’s just a better human being than I am. So, you know like, whenever I got to be around him, it’s like, I want to absorb that vibe. I want to be more like that guy and I think that, you know we have to, that’s what you want to do. I mean, you want to surround yourself with men who aren’t the men, who are maybe always beneath you or going to flatter your ego, but maybe the men, who are more like you want to be.

Brett McKay: Yes, I think that’s like a tough thing because I think our society encourages like the opposite of like, surrounding yourself was like people beneath you because you want to satisfy that ego.

Jack Donovan: Well everyone likes to have their ego stroked.

Brett McKay: Yes, so I guess it takes some humility to say like, yes I’m not as many as I want to be, here’s what I got to do, if I want to be like that.

Jack Donovan: Well, I think humility is a good virtue for men to have, that’s you know.

Brett McKay: For sure. So here is a bonus question because I would like to, it’s kind of more for me personally, but I’m sure, all your readers will be interested too. So you’ve written and done a lot of research about masculinity are there any books you recommend in particular that guys pick up to gain more insight into “The Way of Men.”

Jack Donovan: Oh gosh, I think you’re reading unless it’s ahead of mine, but I think we’ve read a lot of the same books.

Brett McKay: Yes, I think so.

Jack Donovan: I mean, a lot of our talk about, you know honor and I think was informed by James Bowman’s book on Honor, I think that was a really important book. I really like the book, Shop Class as Soulcraft.

Brett McKay: Oh! Yes, I wrote a post about that last week.

Jack Donovan: Oh! Yes, that’s really good at taking a part of modernity and work and kind of meaningless of it for us and for everyone, really. I mean this lack of agency that we have, I mean, I think that will really get people thinking in the similar directions. Let me see here, just kind of looking at my bookshelf.

You know I dug out a book, if you want to look at the way feminism deals with men and if you really want to kind of have laid there the same messages that we get every day. I dug out a book from the 70s called The Forty-Nine Percent Majority and it’s something that Michael Kimmel cites all the time. In every book that he’s ever written and it basically and I wrote about a little bit in my kind of free eBook that I have called No Man’s Land, but if you look at the messages that we get from the modern media everyday and I have a Google alert setup for masculinity and every time it is mentioned, it is about reimagining masculinity and how we can change masculinity and everything.

There is almost nothing good ever said about masculinity in mainstream media and it’s all these messages that we get every day. We’ve really written about in the 70s in this book, The Forty-Nine Percent Majority, it was kind of one of the first pro-feminist male books out there and written by men about their kind of anger with baby boomers writing about their anger with their kind of World War II dads. You mean to them and whatever and it’s all this kind of anger, that these guys had and I think, it really captures it and it captures how emotional it is. Because now it’s been refined and the message is been kind of refined and adopted by the UN and all kinds of things, but you know it really captures just kind of raw, my dad was mean to me and therefore masculinity is dumb.

Brett McKay: Yes and I’m going to my room.

Jack Donovan: Exactly, exactly. So, you know I think that’s a really big eye opener. I mean, it’s not reprinted, you have to get vintage copies, but it’s out there and it’s kind of real eye opener, if you want to look at what the media is saying and see where it comes from.

Brett McKay: Interesting stuff, okay. I’ve to check that, I haven’t read that, I’ve to check it out. Yes, Michael Kimmel quoted it all the time.

Jack Donovan: Oh! Yes.

Brett McKay: It must be good, right? Alright, then. Well Jack, it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Thanks so much. I’ll recommend my readers go out and pickup the book, some very interesting insights. You might not agree with everything, but Jack is going to make you think when you read this book and that’s awesome. So Jack, thank you very much.

Jack Donovan: Thanks so much.

Brett McKay: Our guest today was Jack Donovan. Jack is the author of the book, “The Way of Men” and you can find that on Well that wraps up another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. For manly tips and advice, make sure to check out the art of manliness website at and until next time, stay manly.

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