What Does It Mean To Be A Man?

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Give love advice to dudes for long enough and eventually you come up on the question of “What does it mean to be a man?”

At first, this question may sound like basic Philosophy 101 material, the same sort of intellectual masturbation that we think is, like, soooo deep after a couple of joints or bong hits at 3 in the morning in your dorm room. The first instinct is frequently to give a flippant answer and move on. “Being a man means being able to fold a map and never stop for directions.” “Being a man means getting yelled at for forgetting to put the seat down.”

Then you start to realize that, no, this is a serious question. For the last several decades, society has been grappling with this nebulous sense that somehow, we as a culture have “lost” what it means to be masculine. Sociologists, pundits, and writers – male and female, feminist and otherwise – have been wrestling with the idea of what makes a man, whether we’ve lost sight of it and if we have, whether this is a good or a bad thing.

The anxiety about what manhood manifests itself in myriad ways. As the economy crashed, news media began to run breathless articles about the “man-cession” – the struggle for men to find or keep work while women outnumbered them for the first time in the workplace. Universities were thought to have reached a point of crisis as male attendance began to wane and the performance of male students flagged behind women. Pop culture brings us shows like Mad Men wade into the nostalgia of a lost era when “men were men”  while fantasy series such as The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones externalizes the concept of masculine power versus feminine in a realm where the rules as we know them have been tossed aside and every day is a literal struggle to survive. Movies celebrate the overgrown man-child and what it means to grow up. Men, desperate for an external source to help quell the insecurity and nagging feeling that something is missing turn to groups that promise to restore that feeling of “manliness”, whether it’s the Promise Keepers or the Pick Up Artist community.

Society tells us that we’ve lost something… but nobody seems to knows what, exactly, that it was, or how we lost it. Some blame women for stealing it from us, or for convincing us to give it away. Some blame our culture and how it’s evolved. All we know is that something is off, but we don’t know why or what to do about it, so we’re casting about for answers.

The idea of a growing “masculine crisis” is a popular one; it externalizes the feeling of angst about  who we are as men and what we’re supposed to be doing. Now instead of a nebulous feeling, it’s something we can understand: it’s a threat, a problem… something we can take action on rather than sitting around and worrying about it. Of course, to do that, we’d need a better idea of just what the issue is… but never mind that! Crisis! Rawr!

So… let’s talk about it. What does it mean to be a man in the 21st century? Strap yourself in, this is gonna be a long one.

Where Have All The Good Men Gone?

Being a man used to be simple; he was a leader, a beacon of strength and order in a chaotic world. Men were strong. Men were the rulers. Hell, men made the rules. The world was a large and scary place and it required power and strength to beat it into shape. Issues felt clear and simple; we all had roles given to us by virtue of biology and reinforced by society. There were clear sign posts on what was masculine and what was feminine and we had these rules handed down to us from father to son for generations. It was a simpler time and a simpler society1

Then society done went and changed on us.

Now, roles are murkier and role-models are fewer and far between. More and more men find themselves cast adrift as traditional gender roles have been upended and formerly tolerated behaviors are considered to be taboo or boorish. The concept of “man as patriarch” is increasingly uncommon; in fact, more and more children are raised by single mothers – approximately 9.9 million households according to the 2009 census. The typical “ideal look” for men – as evidenced by pop culture and advertising is increasingly youthful with less muscular definition, softer features and markedly less body hair; that is to say, more feminine than the 70s and 80s when the masculine ideal was considerably more mature and hirsute.

Turn on your droolers, girls.

Moreover the concept of “man-as-provider” has been overturned; previously, the traditional role of a man was not just the head of the household but as the one who was singularly responsible for it’s financial security. A man’s identity was tied intimately to his career; what you did was an integral part of who you were. Today, the concept of the “career man” is almost non-existant; a man can expect to be an economic nomad, working one job for approximately 3 to 5 years before moving on. Worse, a man who wants to raise a family can take it for granted that – unless he has either been born to privilege or manages to strike it rich in some way, shape or form – it will almost certainly require a two-income household to provide an equivalent lifestyle to what his parents or grandparents enjoyed.

Men today feel as though they’ve been cast adrift, caught in a maelstrom of confusing and often contradictory indicators and messages. With fewer distinct role models in their lives to provide guidance and society in such flux, economically and socially, men are frequently flailing about for meaning and definition.

Now, let’s be clear: when we’re talking about the change in the definition of masculinity, we’re talking about within the last 40 to 50 years; you aren’t going to find many people agitating to get back to the days of pre-Enlightenment Europe, and even the hardest of the hard core SCA participants will freely and cheerfully acknowledge that they’re celebrating a fantasy version of history. In post-World War 2 America, the world was black and white. America had just emerged as a new world power following a morally “clear” war. The engines of commerce and industry were churning along at full speed as the we shifted away from a wartime economy and back to “business as usual”, bolstered by technological advances. For (white) men, the world was their oyster. It felt like success and prosperity were well within reach; all that was needed was a willingness to work hard and you could give a better future to your children. Men were men, women were women; men knew their purpose and women knew their place. God was in His heaven and all was right in the world.

Which, of course, meant that things were about to change.

What Happened?

AKA: "Why is this guy getting more tail than me?"

A short answer is: The 60s.

A slightly longer, more helpful answer is that it was a mix of societal adaptation to greater financial and personal security and the advancement of technology.

Society and culture does not exist in a vacuum; everything about our culture is shaped by exterior influences. The post-World War II America was experiencing unparalleled growth and economic success. Pent up frustrations lead to increased consumer demand for goods. Housing sales surged, buoyed in no small part by cheap and easily-acquired mortgages and the advances in aviation or electronics connected us to the world in ways that were never possible before. It also lead to the population explosion known as The Baby Boom.

When a society enjoys increased prosperity and safety, social roles adapt. The increased prosperity allowed for greater civil change, especially in a generation growing up connected to the world at large in a way that the previous hadn’t been. Cultural borders were starting to melt and blur thanks to telecommunications. Increased social awareness across the board was leading towards the fight for civil rights for minorities.

And in 1960, the FDA approved the Pill for use in contraception. Suddenly the ability to discretely and conveniently control their reproductive system meant that women had levels of opportunities that they never had before. Being able to control their fertility meant that women could delay marriage and opt instead for education and careers. In fact, female enrollment in higher education spiked sharply in the years following the approval of the Pill. In addition, having the freedom to engage in sex without fear of pregnancy permanently altered female sexuality; women now had the same sexual freedom that men enjoyed and were looking forward to exercising their newfound agency.

((The Pill may well also have had a hand in changing the sexual ideal for men. Women who are ovulating are drawn to men with indicators of higher levels of testosterone – thicker brows and jawlines, heavier musculature and deeper voices. A woman in her infertile stages of the menstrual cycle are drawn to more feminine men – ones with less masculine faces and builds. Because the Pill mimics pregnancy and flattens out a woman’s hormonal cycle, it can influence what types of men a woman is attracted to for as long as she takes it. When you consider that the Pill is the single most popular form of birth control, it does make one question its effect on the masculine sexual ideal in our culture.))

Add to that the publication of The Feminine Mystique and the birth of the Second Wave of Feminism, which focused on pushing back against sexism and discrimination in society. Women were fighting for equal social footing with men and forcing a cultural dialogue on the role of women socially, sexually and politically. This, incidentally helped change the definition of “marriage” by leading to changes in divorce law in the US, making it easier for men and women to dissolve marriages without interference from an opposing partner.

The cumulative effects of all of these events set us on the course to where we are today. Socially, women are closer to full equality than they have ever been before; men, on the other hand seem to be reeling from the sudden changes.

  1. or so we like to think; we have a tendency to romanticize the past and smooth over the rough edges. This is why as far back as Plato’s time you will find people complaining about how kids today don’t respect their elders and run wild, not like it was in the good ol’ days. []

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  • Anthony

    This is a well written article, and I agree with everything you said. In my opinion, for society to take the next step forward, the idea of 'masculine' being ascribed to men and 'feminine' being ascribed to women has to be shed. If you changed all of the traits above to woman, her, she, etc, that would be pretty much my ideal woman. Not because I'm craving some kind of masculine woman, but because those are gender neutral and incredibly attractive qualities. To be a man biologically means one thing – you have a Y chromosome. Everything beyond that is societal, and therefore incredibly flexible. It's going to take a long time, but if everyone who reads this blog tries to impart some of these ideas on the men that they meet throughout their life, someday we (or our children or their children) can live in a far more balanced (and happier, I would think) society.

    • Well said. Both the article and comments.

    • guest

      "To be a man biologically means one thing – you have a Y chromosome. Everything beyond that is societal, and therefore incredibly flexible."

      That's not really backed up by science. There's an excellent book called "The blank slate" by Stephen Pinker that goes into exhaustive details debunking this idea. The existence of transgendered individuals also refutes this claim. Given the history of pseudoscience being used to justify oppression and eugenics, it's not surprising that we really want to view personality as entirely a function of nurture, but it doesn't seem to be.

  • I was just talking to someone last week about this issue. I have become close to a coworkers children, the oldest being a teenage boy who recently turned 16. He is a VERY young 16 year old though. The boy is shy, bookish, sheltered and a bit of a nervous type. He's tall thin and good looking for his age with all the right gadgets and clothes to be popular, but a little awkward, very quiet and embarresses easily. As an adult, I find him charming and adorable. As a reader, I love that we can discuss novels and how he sees them versus how I see them. Recently, he was being teased about getting a car and "getting girls", but I found a group of other coworkers making offhand "Not likely" comments. I could not figure out why, but after some prodding I found out that the general consensus is that he is gay. I couldn't place WHY people thought this other than a general "lack of masculinity" in his demeanor, which I personally think is coupled by the fact that he is a minority and lacking any of the stereotypical tropes associated with his cultural background. He may be, I am pretty sure he isn't, but either way it doesn't matter, and I was very upset that they felt the need to put this kid in a box under their own guidelines when he may not have set any of his own yet. Nevermind that he is growing up at a different time then they did and maybe they have not realized that the guidelines have changed.

    • JD

      I have to say that I sympathize for the kid. I have to admit a lot of my problems with women came from their perception that I am not as "masculine" (as defined by arbitrary social trappings) as they want in a guy.

      That could be my perception, of course. After reading one of DNL's articles, I realize I fall into the trap of the "I am not good with girls" self-identity. But, I do think women are affected by the modern, broken, definition of masculinity, in regards to how they pick partners.

      • As a female, I'm not even sure what the modern definition is anymore? I never saw what they did. Even after they brought it up, their explanation was so vague that I am not sure if they have a definition. I still don't see what they do even though I am now aware of their views, however, I am wondering if their views are outdated?

  • Jess

    I'm going to print this out and use it as a guide for raising my son. Bravo!

  • Josh

    I find this to be oddly relevant.

    "Be A Man" – Mulan

  • sarah

    I think Anthony has a point – maybe the problem is that men need to come to terms with a future in which they have to be good PEOPLE, rather than good MEN. Presumably not an easy thing to do with a media culture that wallows in nostalgia and constantly tries to revive 1950s masculinity.

    Also don't be too harsh to pre-Enlightenment Europe, if you go far enough into the past you find that most Celtic and many Germanic cultures were very gender-equal, not to mention Norse ones. Celts, Saxons and Vikings all left evidence of being cultures which valued their women and men equally, and while they had certain gender roles, stepping outside of them was not particularly frowned upon. It's the Greeks and Romans you want to watch out for in terms of restrictive gender norms, it was only when the Renaissance caused a revival of classical culture that European societies really started to adopt the damaging gender roles of the recent past, and they didn't become common outside of the higher classes until the mid-1700s. It's true that technology was a key factor in dismantling gender roles in the recent past, but there is historical precedent for gender-equal societies in Europe, even without contraception and information technology.

    • 2 O'Clock Queen

      Hearted for your history! That's been my analysis as well. Christianity also gets a bum rap as being "bad" for women, but the early church was actually very forward-thinking in its gender roles: as a nun, you could shun marriage and embrace a learning profession, something not even high born ladies could do. You could even own land and hold a certain degree of religious power.

      Women and homosexuals actually didn't have it that bad in the early church. ("Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality" by John Boswell.) It seems like it wasn't until somewhere near the Renaissance that the religion started to turn against these minorities. (This is just from my hobby-reading; can anyone confirm?)

      • Cat

        Confirmed. The anti-homosexual sentiments were starting to creep in in the Middle Ages, but it was really much more of a social thing than a religious thing. And, when it started to be noticed by the Church, it was less of a "this is an abomination," and more of a "that's a pagan (Roman) thing, therefore not Christian."

        In the Middle Ages, especially amongst the nobility, nobody really cared if you were gay, as long as you were a good fighter, a good leader, and generally a good representation of their idea of "masculine." They couldn't care less who you were fucking.

        • Joe

          You have to be careful when making broad claims about such distant history. It's easy to exaggerate the evidence. I would say as important as the Pill was to women's liberation, it was building upon the foundation of hygiene and anti-biotics in the decades before. Before then, a large percentage of women died in childbirth, largely because the replacement rate was so high, the average woman had to birth four children just to maintain the population. Northern European cultures were more egalitarian than more urbanized ones because i) disease spreads less efficiently than in dense urban environments and ii) having a less reliable food supply means you can't overspecialize your labour force too much, so women are more likely to be called upon to do "men's work". But childbirth was still a killer.

          The early Church did offer more opportunities to women than pagan Roman society, for sure. But it basically amounted to offering Christian women two vocational options instead of the one offered to pagan women. Bear in mind at this point many early Christians believed the Second Coming was just around the corner so absolute chastity for both sexes was seen as highly desirable. When Christianity became the state religion and thus the establishment, it had to start concerning itself with the good of society at large and to their eyes that meant returning to traditional Roman gender roles.

          Boswell's work does not enjoy consensus among other academics. That doesn't make him wrong, but his views need a lot more support before you can really make authoritative statements about them. That said, recent genetic research suggests that of all men who have ever lived, maybe 10% managed to pass their genes on to the next generation (as opposed to over 95% of women). In that environment, homosexuality probably wasn't a huge deal, especially among the lower classes without much to inherit, because most straight men weren't passing on their genes either.

    • Paul Rivers

      "I think Anthony has a point – maybe the problem is that men need to come to terms with a future in which they have to be good PEOPLE, rather than good MEN."

      Both men and women would have to genuinely see this as the best order of things for this to happen, though. I don't believe in "women only date assholes" – the few instances I've seen of that have far more matched up with "assholes date assholes", lol. But people do tend to date people of the opposite gender who fulfill their expectation of the other genders "role". They date them, are attracted to them, etc etc.

      In most (most, not all) relationships I've seen that have lasted, they generally conform to our societal expectations of gender roles – the guy is less emotional than the girl (I didn't say unemotional, just less emotional, it's not the 50's, lol), the guy is more aggressive (how many times do you see the advice that the guy should be asking the girl out), etc etc.

      It's not a one-gender thing, it's a whole system, and it's not just one genders fault. In high school my best friend was a Russian guy. I hung out with him a few times after high school and still talk to him – those guys got in fights all the time. But when I asked him how the fights started, 9/10 times it involved a woman. I was there for one of them – this girl claims this guy made nasty comments about her, and insists that the guys in the group go over and kick his ass. The guys…don't really want to, but don't want to just let it pass and look weak either. Other times the guy really was being an ass, but still it was about a girl. It's not a one sided thing – as long as girls want some form of macho, guys fill that role. I mean in american culture it's much, much rarer – generally it seems like girls want guys who could at least stand up for themselves when it matters, but don't really get in fights. It's a lot closer to equal in american culture. My point though is that it's not a purely one-gender thing.

      • Anthony

        I agree wholeheartedly. This is a societal change that has to come about, and not just a male change. If men slowly but surely drift towards a less 'masculine' way of life, and refuse to beat up a guy because a woman says so, eventually women won't come to expect it. And if women don't expect it, men won't do it. It's a wonderful circle that we can go around many times, but it boils down to someone starting it. As a man, I know how I can buck trends and try to provide a different view on things. Rather than telling anyone that men need to be less masculine and women less feminine, I'll just let my actions speak for themselves. If I am happy, productive, and have achieved goals that most people share WHILE being less of a gender norm male, that's the best way to make this change happen. And if part of that involves having a less 'feminine' or more 'masculine' female partner, even better (although that would by no means be a prerequisite). I will do my part to show society that change isn't bad, and possibly lead others to feel more comfortable doing the same.

  • CaptainBobo

    Wow Doc, bravo. Fantastic article. Not only did it teach me a bit about the past, it made me recognize some hard truths about being okay with failing, something I'm still struggling with. And I've got a lot of demons in my past about things I've done, but I guess the only thing to do is confront them, and move forward. Thanks a lot doc, keep up the great work!

  • 7

    For an article on male masculinity, this article certainly contains a lot on the Pill and female hormones.

    • Cat

      "A lot" being two paragraphs out of a 3600 word article? And two very relevant paragraphs, at that…

  • Wade Wilson

    If you're trying to define men, I ought to be able to go through those final definitions and replace phrases like "A man is…" with phrases like "A woman is not…"

    A woman makes excuses
    A woman is not at peace with her emotions
    Women do not welcome equality

    Hmmmmmm. Sounds to me like your definitions of masculinity are just a description of ideals for people in general? Which is nice and all, but it doesn't help to define modern masculinity.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      That all depends. Do you think that men are only defined in opposition to women?

      • Wade Wilson

        I agree with most of your analysis about modern masculinity being poorly defined and the reasons for that. But I think, if your definitions of masculine ideals can be equally applied to feminine ideals, then they're really just contributing to the lack of definition. It's like saying "A real man has two eyes".

        If you're trying to say that the reason why there is no clear definition between masculine and feminine ideals is because there shouldn't be, and men and women should behave the same way and people should just get used to the idea, then that's also a valid point of view. But it's not the argument I picked up while reading the article.

        • Gracie

          You'd be correct in saying that all these virtues could be easily applied to ideal women as well, but that's rather missing the point, which, as you say, is something like the ideal of 'masculinity' has evolved to include being a decent human being as opposed to being uber-manly masculine men.

        • Summer

          If you really want a dichotomy, you could think in terms of Man vs Boy. Most of these traits are ones that are learned and applied as children mature into adults.

    • Cathryn

      I think the point he was trying to make is that "masculinity" is an archaic concept in the face of a truly gender-neutral future.

    • Summer

      I believe the point is that viewing gender as a dichotomy of masculine and feminine is no longer applicable in today's (and a future) society. Viewing men and women as "not" statements isn't actually helpful for anyone, it only damages everyone who doesn't fit perfectly into those narrow guidelines. What we need to do is remove the dichotomy and the narrow gender roles/descriptions and focus on being better people.

      • Anthony

        Like I said above and sarah furthered and you said here, men and women are not opposites and should not be defined as such. For the recent American history, that has been the case. But if society does anything, it changes. And if a change is coming, we may as well push it in the direction we want it to go – namely, the direction where 'masculine' and 'feminine' aren't used to define the pinnacle of manhood or womanhood. The above list is an outstanding list of qualities and traits that would make a great adult. It should not be limited to men to being a great adult.

        I will ask Wade one question – when being successful and important used to define being a man, does that mean being unsuccessful and forgettable defined being a woman? And, if it did, is that a path that we want to follow?

        • Wade Wilson

          I guess, in the traditional model of gender roles and stuff, women probably were defined by being unsuccessful, as far as having a career goes. But they were supposed to aspire to be successful in other terms, like being a housewife and whatever.

          But no, I think that whole way of looking at the world is bullshit. I don't want to go back to a 1950's view of the world – far from it! I guess my response to this kind of point wouldn't be that women shouldn't be defined by being unsuccessful, but that men shouldn't be defined by success. Particularly in the current economy 🙂

        • JD

          I guess I'm just not clear why utter gender neutrality is a good thing, or desirable.

          Everyone should the positive, intrinsic traits that DNL set in the article.

          We can do that and still have social trappings that set males and females apart.

          The problem with modern society is that it merges the two in a rather fucked up manner.

          • Anthony

            My problem with the social trappings is that they create a divide – "This is what it means to be a man and this is what it means to be a woman." You're right that modern society has men and women merged in a terrible way, and it sucks. I would vote to move towards a gender neutral society so that people can be who they want to be without worrying about how society perceives them. Having a gender neutral society doesn't mean that all of the individuals act like each other – that would be awful. I am about as individual as one can be, and I differ from American society in almost everything that I do. I don't want the potential to be different to be erased. There are men who will still do 'masculine' things and women who do 'feminine' things, but the people in between won't be marginalized. I'm not proposing that society erase all individuality and subscribe to a more monotone look and feel. But the idea that men and women are inherently different is a poisonous one. While that idea exists, sexism (on both sides, although obviously far more men are sexist than women currently) will still exist. If it were possible to have a binary gender society and for everything to work, I would not oppose that. I just don't see that as a possibility because of the values inherent in any system like that.

    • Amy

      I think it kind of depends on if you read it as man vs. woman, instead of man vs boy.

      A boy makes excuses.

      A boy is not at peace with his emotions.

      Boys do not welcome equality.

      See, that makes much more sense.

      • Jess

        That's just brilliant. I completely agree. If a man needs a standard to say "Well, I'm not THAT" it should be "a boy."

        Leave us women out of it. We're done being shoved down so you boys can lift yourselves up. We've got our own weight to carry.

      • Paul Rivers

        The irony here is that 2 out of 3 of the examples are pretty much the 50's definition of masculinity.

        A 50's man doesn't make excuses.

        A 50's man is at peace with his emotions (because he almost doesn't have any, it's easy to be at peace with them).

    • James (Thortok2000)

      "If you’re trying to define men, I ought to be able to go through those final definitions and replace phrases like 'A man is…' with phrases like 'A woman is not…'"

      If you really think that way, then you've kind of missed the point of the article. That attitude is one of the ones that men aren't letting go of, and hence causes confusion.

      Other than biological, name one thing that a man should be that a woman should never be. I sure can't think of any. If you keep looking for an answer to "a man is" by assuming it must also qualify for "a woman isn't" you're gonna be looking a long time.

      Personally, I would say 'an adult is.' Or 'a good person' is like others have suggested. These are the signs that demonstrate maturity, regardless of gender.

      One thing I'm looking forward to is when the Doc is finally able to follow his own advice (by which I mean the general tone in which he presents his arguments) and go gender neutral on his articles. The main reason this site is still 'helping nerds get the girl' is there's too many men out there who aren't ready to read gender neutral advice. When the Doc finally can go gender neutral, even if that's years from now, it'll be a sign that men are finally catching up.

      • Summer

        Even biology isn't quite the gender split we like to pretend it is. There are tons of people out there who biologically aren't "normal" and would probably be better off if they didn't have to stress over which gender to conform to.


  • Kira

    Enthusiastic applause!

  • Yuki

    I'm not even on the pill, and I outright prefer effeminate men.

    But that might just be me.

    • Summer

      Yea, I'm not entirely sure if his point with the pill may be a bit far. Though the science has been supported, I would doubt this theory. My guess is that the rise of the use of the pill is also the rise of women actually telling others their preferences in men. Remember that correlation doesn't equal causation. There are a lot of factors here that need to be taken into effect.

      • sarah

        Yeah, I think it might be that women are just more comfortable expressing their real preferences now. There has to be something in the fact that both men and women favour young, slim, non-threatening looks. Maybe both genders like to ogle people who are non-threatening.

        Also women have been praising youthful, feminine beauty in men as far back as Chaucer, and I'm positive we didn't have the pill back then. Seems more likely that the preference for hairy, masculine men was a response to a cultural ideal.

        • Joe

          Possibly even earlier than Chaucer, as there are suggestions of feminine beauty in some male heroes of Greek and Celtic myth. It might just be a matter of personal preference. Some women want a man to protect them or put them on a pedestal–those women might prefer "manly" men. Other women might want a man they can nurture, and prefer "effeminate" men.

  • TC

    Very well written, and very well thought out, too. I was tempted at the title of the link to answer snarkily "Tranquil as a forest, but on fire within…" but in retrospect that's oddly true – to be a man is a to be a worthwhile person.

  • Couple of months ago, I think before I stumbled across your blog, I started writing "How to be a Man"

    In hindsight, I'm glad I lost the manuscript, even if the research, and the writing was as fun as losing it was traumatising. (I didn't write a thing for 3 months)

    You're doing a fine job, man. Keep it up.

    • Sara already said it above, I'll still repeat it because I don't think it can be said often enough: Before you can be a good man, you have to be a good Person.

      What it means to be a man, or a woman for that matter changes with society.

      History, and biology have discovered how the rigid, and the ones unable or unwilling to adapt end.

  • gizmo

    great article. and i agree with previous comments that those traits are gender-neutral. and that's one of the reasons the social changes were needed: young boys were taught similar (if not the same) virtues as needed to be a good man, while young girls were taught that to be a good woman they need to cook well, clean well, be pretty and chaste… which lead boys to believe that to be a good man they need to be a good person, but girls to believe that being a good woman depended on their virginity and house skills. after the social revolution in women's roles in family, workplace etc., in my opinion, men are now struggling with something women started to battle a long time ago – redefining their gender value. it's just that men's roles used to be different than women's, so the process is completely different too. it's a good thing that there are such articles and people thinking this way, i'm sure it can be very helpful to any human, male or female.

    • sarah

      Exactly, women have been actively striving to be seen as people first and women second, trying NOT to be defined by our gender. The problem is now that we're nearly there, it means men can't be defined by their gender either. If masculinity and femininity are defined as opposites, and women are proving every day that we do possess 'masculine' virtues like strength, determination and leadership, then the only options are continue to define them in opposition, leaving men with no virtues at all (because of course women haven't stopped having feminine virtues either) or accept that the notion of 'masculine' and 'feminine' as defining roles is obsolete, and we all have access to the same virtues and ideals.

      Sorry, I could go on about this all day. But basically it used to be that full personhood and being a competent adult were little men-only clubhouses with no women allowed. Now women are doing everything that men used to think made them special, and men have to get used to the idea that they have to share the space.

  • Well said! It is very inspiring and reaffirming that there are enlightened men out there that are not defined by their beards, boos, and boob count. Thanks for sharing!

  • JB

    This might sound stupid, but this explains why everyone else besides me seems to "get" Scott Pilgrim except me. Scott Pilgrim is, by all definitions, an overgrown manchild who eventually learns to accept his mistakes, and responsibilities, and grow up. I never identified with this character because growing up and assuming my role in society (i.e. someone who earns a living and doesn't mooch off family) was just something I did. Are there a lot of "Scott Pilgrim" type guys out there who just flounder about until they find a reason to grow up? I guess there must be if this article is any indication.

    At least I understand Scott Pilgrim now as a character and I understand why he appeals to so many people out there. I still don't identify with him, but at least I understand him.

    • Dr. NerdLove

      Scott Pilgrim is a whole host of interesting issues that I'll have to cover in the near future. Especially when you factor in the movie vs. the comic.

    • James (Thortok2000)

      I liked the movie because it was funny. I thought the main character had his heart in the right place but hadn't learned the skills of maturity yet.

      You don't just magically become mature from reading a book or dinging level 18 (or 21) in life. You have to grow through experiences and make mistakes.

      A true manchild would still have been a manchild at the end of the movie. He grew up.

      But again, I liked the movie because it was funny and had all kinds of video game references. How many movies really have video game references? Every now and then there's a movie based on a /single/ video game, but one that just references them in general? Stuff like the Zelda dungeon music in his dream sequences made me laugh out loud.

      I've been interested in the idea of reading the comics but haven't gotten around to seriously looking into it. Is there a cheap/free/legal way of reading those?

      • JB

        I know some public libraries have Scott Pilgrim GN's available to borrow. You'd have to check what's in your area to see what's available. Or you can always see if a friend of yours will lend them to you. Not sure if you have friends into comics, but you're posting on this site so I assume that's not a terrible bet.

        If you're bent on buying the books, used copies on Amazon go for fairly cheap.

        That said. I'd be very interested to see DNL's "Learn from this" for Scott Pilgrim.

  • Jeff Morris

    Very interesting and very much in line with what I've come to see in my ancient 52 years. At my age there's an additional item–"A man takes active charge of his health so that he is able to take care of those who depend on him". Which means you go get the physical and the tests, and if something comes up (diabetes) you learn how to manage it, and more importantly you MANAGE it. And as Anthony pointed out so well, this is something that is not gender specific.

    It used to bother me that I wasn't like "guys"–I didn't hit the bars with buddies at night, drink till I was blitzed, fool around with anything I could get, do all the expected "guy things". If anything, during my active fandom days I was more often with the predominantly-female groups, because to me they were far more interesting to talk to. At one point I was discussing this with my wise wife and she laughed. "Don't you get it? You're walking into restaurants with ten, fifteen women and every guy in the place is wondering, 'what does that guy HAVE?'!"

    Now my daughter is dating a fellow who was pretty much raised by his mother and despite my declarations that I wouldn't do it, I find myself being a bit of a male role model to the guy. I thought it was terrifying enough being a father! (As an aside, want to really piss your daughter off? Point out that she's dating someone who's just like her dad!) I can only hope something positive about me rubs off on him.

  • Eric

    The fight club picture is fitting, your counter-argument seems like the end of the article. It makes the case that the 50's man is the "correct" version in an inconclusive way. You never really counteract that point in the rest of the article.

  • Taro


    Being a man used to be simple; he was a leader, a beacon of strength and order in a chaotic world."



    Not goddamn much to be perfectly honest."


  • Ik

    I don't know. The biggest thing I know is that I really don't want my gender to be nonbinary and I have no idea what that even means. Maybe in the future, gender-conforming will be relegated to a common fetish, maybe a bit larger than BDSM kink is today.

    I feel like there are some various, really hard to explain but still present characteristics in sex and romance. I think about them when I listen to opera, and then completely forget how to describe them.

    As to some issues of aesthetics, I really want to reclaim some of the traditional stuff, but take the awful out of it.

    • Jess

      You can have hairy chests back. They're kinda awesome.

      • JD

        The number of ladies who do like hairy chests would surprise you.

        • Summer

          It's much like the number of women who posted that they love glasses on the facebook about why we love geeks. In my experience you'd have a similar experience asking about beards.

  • Stardrake

    Re: page 1, footnote 1: I think it goes back FURTHER than that, actually. It might be an urban legend, but supposedly there's a Sumerian tablet that reads that children no longer respect their elders and the world is ending etc. etc.

    • Commonly know as X

      The Epic of Gilgamesh, which is about the oldest long story we have, does have quite a lot to say about what it means to be a man and a human. Gilgamesh starts off as pretty horrible and immature, and grows through the course of the epic, with many of the same conclusions as the article. Also proving that existential angst about what it means to be a man has been around for a long, long time.

      “Gilgamesh, where are you hurrying to? You will never find that life for which you are looking. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but (eternal) life they retained in their own keeping. As for you, Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things; day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace; for this too is the lot of man.”

  • JD

    I can say that the lack of a positive male role model royally screwed me up. What really needed growing up was someone I could trust, but most of my life I lived in a single mother household… and when there was a "father figure" he was a psychologically abusive prick.

    All I needed was someone I could trust, who I could go to without fear of being shamed. Someone I could talk to about the bullying I faced when it *really* got bad. Instead I stiffed it out… I spent a whole decade and a half of my adult life pissing around, trying to figure this whole masculinity thing out.

    I never met my dad. Hell, he might not even know I exist. Yeah, progressivism was pretty much a disaster as far as I'm concerned.

    • Liz

      Right because your experience speaks to the effectiveness of the fight against systemic patriarchy as a whole. I'm sorry you had a terrible upbringing and childhood, truly I am, but the harmful actions of one or two individual women do not make it okay for you to spout misogyny.

      • Robert

        Did he say that his experience speaks to the effectiveness of the fight against systemic patriarchy as a whole? He said that it was pretty much a disaster for him. Key words: for him.

        Plus, he never actually said that the actions of women were harmful. The harmful people were the supposed father figures, all of whom I am assuming to be men, so I don't detect any misogyny in his comment.

      • Liz, this is the kind of comment that makes men think feminists are out to get them. This guy has been hurt by his experience and rather than focus on that and work to figure out ways to help other people who have been negatively affected in this way, you have to jump in, read things into his comment that he didn't actually say, and then attack him for a perceived slight against your gender. From one woman to another, grow up.

    • Paul Rivers

      "I can say that the lack of a positive male role model royally screwed me up."

      Personally, I don't think this is incompatible with the idea of gender roles being far less defined. It seems like children look to each gender for how they should behave – if you want gender roles to "disappear", I suspect children would still need male and female role models – the difference would be that they would both act in a very similar fashion.

      "I never met my dad. Hell, he might not even know I exist. Yeah, progressivism was pretty much a disaster as far as I’m concerned."

      Dude, that sucks. But I would have a question – if your only other father figures were psychologically abusive prick's, why would you assume that your biological father wasn't also a psychologically abusive prick? If he had been forced to stick around, would that have been better or worse? Either way it sucks.

  • Liz

    tl;dr: Men are slowly losing their social privilege and are starting to realize that they too are negatively affected by patriarchy. And this is a good thing for everyone involved because now we can focus on being decent humans instead of trying to fit within these constructed ideals of masculinity and femininity. (grad student nerd girl here)

    • Alex

      But aren’t men and women fundamentally different, on a biological level. So wouldn’t it be more intellectually sound, if we didn’t totally throw away what it means to be masculine or feminine. Those ideas need redefinition, not rubbishing.

      • What does it mean to be masculine/feminine on a biological level?

        Most men can grow a beard, are taller and stronger than women.

        How does that fit into a society where those differences are, one by one, overcome with technological progress?

        • Alex

          The fact that dudes are biologically primed to more aggressive and primed to be more sexually active greatly affects our behaviour as we grow up. And that stuff isnt changing too much. I feel that this means that role models for men and women have to be behave at least slightly differently in order for awesome people of both sexes to be created.

          • Vince

            That's actually a fallacious, dualistic assumption of gender. In Neuroscience it's the MAMWAM (Men Are Men and Women Are Women) assumption. Even on a biological level, there are a multitude of different mechanisms of expression, repression, and varying degrees of each both on a genetic level, and on a developmental hormonal level. Most of the research done nowadays actually points strongly towards supporting the thesis that the line drawn between genders is a lot more blurry and malleable than one might intuitively think.

            For example, men being primed to be more aggressive than women is a function of testosterone, but not only testosterone, but whether it gets converted into estradiol in utero, which influences ALSO the development of various sexual characteristics. That converstion STILL is controlled by two or three different OTHER hormones, all of which are present in different amounts in both men and women. There are more aggressive/dominant personality women, and those have been shown to be consistent with the levels of different hormones. The point being that characteristics "typically" of men can be expressed in women just as easily, just through the turning of a few hormonal dials. So once again, we're not NECESSARILY (necessarily being used in the formal logical definition here) different.

          • sarah

            Vince has pointed out the scientific opposition to this view, but it's also not supported by historical evidence. For centuries in Europe it was WOMEN who were supposed to be sexually insatiable, and less able to control their aggression. Before that, people didn't conceptualise a real difference in aggression or sex drive in women and men – gender roles were all about what tasks you did, not who you were innately. It's more likely that people tend to become what they're told to become.

          • Stardrake

            Sarah: That always felt to me to be a part of the establishment of patriarchy – the religious idea that women were weaker in spirit and couldn't control their desires and thus needed to be controlled by men. I think the difference in male and female promiscuity is smaller than many people think, but there are evolutionary reasons for males to be more promiscuous – they stand to lose less from mating with the wrong partner!

            On the whole, I think there are differences between the average man and average woman in psychology – but like many such things, the difference between individuals is much, much greater. Like many stereotypes there's grains of truth that lead to the formation of the stereotypes, but every person needs to be judged as an indicidual regardless of gender, ethnicity, or any other label.

  • Alex

    Wow, my ship just got intellectually sunk. I kinda just wanted to bring up the point that I believe that gender differences are not strictly nurture, that they have a lot to do with nature.

    Well, the differences I pointed out may be as large as I insinuated, they still do exist. I mean I’ve read a case study where a baby boy was castrated during circumcision, and so had a rudimentary vulva created for him, and so was raised as a girl.

    Long story short, It didn’t end well, he ended up committing suicide. Hormones in both the womb and in the child still do play a part in their vision of themselves as either masculine or feminine. As a child she like running and fighting as opposed to playing with dolls, but still felt not right. She was on the brink of suicide and 12, when she was told the truth but that still didnt stop her from killing herself later in life.

    • Summer

      I'm familiar with this story, and it is tragic and does bring up some interesting discussion points. However, it can also be used to argue against your point. It seems to me that it was the gender roles that led to him feeling "wrong" and eventually committing suicide.

      There are a few points that should be made regarding the case of David Reimer ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer ). First, the surgery did not happen when he was a newborn, but was almost 2 years old. He had already become used to his body and had been socialized so far as male. So it's not a strictly biological issue. Second, there has been evidence previously that genetics and hormones before birth affect the brain. Much of this evidence was gathered by people who feel they were born the wrong gender and have since they were children. So it would seem that the above commenter's points regarding hormones would have a lot to do with this case.

      Additionally, I would like to point out that I am 100% a female and I spent my childhood running and fighting, and this was never taught to me as odd. My parents were progressive and raised me to be who I am, so no one ever forced me to be more feminine. Reimer was heavily discouraged from his male-typical play which was most likely damaging and taught him from a young age that there was something wrong with him.

      If there wasn't such a focus on his "maleness" then it is likely that he would never have become so depressed. First of all, it was a concern about him not being male enough that led them to a sex reassignment surgery in the first place. Had his parents and doctors been comfortable with raising a child who was different then he most likely would have continued to be raised a happy boy. This is similar to how the intersexed have been "cured" for years. Pick a gender and make it work, however this rarely works out psychologically for the child in question. Even if the surgery had happened and he was raised a girl, but without the emphasis on strict gender roles, it is likely he would not have been so at odds with himself. Being told that there is something wrong with you is always damaging, especially for a child. Add that to the betrayal of being lied to by his parents and doctors for so many years and it's no wonder this became a tragedy.

      In any event, it seems like it would work out better for everyone if people didn't make such a big deal about biological differences and just focused on everyone being individual good people. Then you wouldn't have to deal with the shame and stigma associated with not fitting the mold. Making the world a better place for tomboys, homosexuals, intersexed, transgender people, and everyone in between.

      Also, I feel obligated to also make the (always valid) point that anecdotes do not equal data. This is valid for your and my points.

  • GentlemanJohnny

    A question for everyone who thinks that the definition of a "good man" should somehow be inherently masculine. . .ie something distinct from what makes a "good woman" or a "good person in general":

    What would you suggest instead for traits that a good man should posses?

  • Rentless Monkey

    This is a good article. Not something I'd read, since I'm a real man too busy eating red meat and drinking fine scotch, but lesser men would find this article worth reading.

    • cynic2005

      How do you know if it's a good article if you haven't even read it?

  • Matt

    Oh man the Phil Donahue thing…. I used to watch his show after school. I saw the women on there talk about how they hated being picked up, all this 'sexual harrassment' stuff. I got the idea that women hated men showing sexual interest in them. I proudly declared to myself that I'd be this 'SNAG – Sensitive New Age Guy' that they were talking about. I'm only now suspecting that my 13/14 year old brain at the time got f@@@@ by that message. I ended up with a crippling fear, that even if I talked to a woman and showed interest that she'd scream out 'SEXUAL HARRASSMENT!' and I'd be charged and that would be that. I know it's stupid, but it STILL cripples me. That image still stops me dead in my tracks when I see a woman that I'd be interested in talking to.

    Doc, what are your thoughts on this?

    • Paul Rivers

      Yeah, exactly! That was my kind of thing to – it's not that I don't have the balls to face rejection, it's that those stupid shows and that entire philosophy when I grew up instilled in me the feelings that any time a girl got romantic/sexual attention that she didn't like, she always felt like "omg! he's such a monster and this is so totally absolutely horrible! everyone guy who gets turned down is some horrible male asshole who everyone needs to shame and we women are always such victims every time this happen why are men so horrible…" yada yada yada.

      The whole philosphy gave me the feelings that if I asked a girl out who didn't immediately say yes, I had commited some sort or horrible crime against humanity.

      • Summer

        I don't really know much about that philosophy, but I can assure that that's not the case. Maybe in a professional environment, but never a social one. Women may be a little annoyed at the interruption, but as long as you stop when they tell you too (directly or indirectly) then you're fine. If a women freaks out on you for asking her out (assuming you're not being a creeper) then that's her problem, not yours.

        • Matt

          That's really the thing that I didn't get BACK THEN. Reexamining all those lessons taken as a young kid, I can see where I misinterpreted things. You saw these shows, they always highlighted how 'bad' men were but never said "but here's what you CAN do to be a good guy". I see now that it's talk-show sensationalism, bias and drama. I even look at what I posted above and cringe at how stupid it is. But the 13-year-old me didn't see that. He didn't realise that these women were talking about 'creepers' and not normal guys, or that they had emotional problems of their own, or that the show was just made more dramatic and biased for ratings and drama for whatever reason.

          Sorry to rant off topic 🙂 I guess this article made me think of things I haven't really reconsidered in a long time. It's made me realise I need to perhaps go back and re-evaluate the lessons I took away when I was a kid on what being a good guy meant.

  • UM

    Damn good writing. I applaud you, sir.

  • PizzaSHARK!

    I like the Boy vs Man comparison people are bringing up and I do agree that it's probably a lot more relevant than Woman vs Man these days.

    But, damn, the worst thing to happen to men is the utter lack of fashion men show these days. When the hell did dressing like a hobo become the "in" look? Either be clean-shaven or have a beard; having stubble just makes you look lazy, and what the hell happened to wearing a nice suit and a proper hat?

    Doc, the only thing we lost was our goddamn sense of fashion.

    • GentlemanJohnny

      Some guys look good with a day or two of growth and hats with suits went out of style about 50 years ago. You need a pretty hefty dash of panache to pull that off these days without being mistaken for a pimp or an ironic hipster.

      That said, fashion and grooming for men doesn't require a lot of effort to look good. It does require a little care. The doc's got a whole article on it around here somewhere. And on that note, I need to run and get a beard trimmer. I'm one of those guys who looks good with a day or two of stubble. . . or so I'm told.

    • cynic2005

      Yah, I wouldn't focus too much on fashion. Been there done that. Subtlety is masculine. Anything flashy is feminine and shows that you are an insecure male trying to garner attention. Like jewelry for instance. All you need is a wristwatch, no earings or necklace.

      Men should be well groomed, well-matched, and maybe have a slight understanding of fashion, just not self-conscious and concerned with their appearance. I have learned this the hard way. Self acceptance of who you are, subtlety, and disconcern that you're hair has just been messed up go a long way to communicate masculinity.

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  • rumirumirumirumi

    I don’t know why you had to start with such anti-intellectualism (since, you know, questions of philosophy are *so* freshmen dorm), but a decent article nonetheless.

  • Ryan

    I don’t agree with number 7, specifically the part about sexual orientation. I’m personally weary of tolerance being pushed whilst, oddly enough, intolerance is not being tolerated. Isn’t that hypocritical?

    • Dr. NerdLove

      No. In fact, the only thing that we *should* be intolerant about is intolerance.

    • Anthony

      When you are intolerant of someone because of sexual orientation, color of their skin, anything else, you are judging them without actually knowing them. Those intolerant people, however, are doing something worthy of being judged. I understand how you can make that logical decision, but you're leaving part of the equation out.

  • Steve

    One question, Doctor: when's the book coming out?

  • cynic2005

    Certain psychologists have pathologized masculinity, and have idealized adrogeny. They have gone to the extent to say that people who are at the far end of masculinity tend to experience more mental problems, and that adrongenous people are more stable.

  • cynic2005

    Well, this hasn't been so with me. I am now a 28 year old man and still trying to define what it means to be a man. I had a weak and emotionally immature father that never gave me any guidance or any solid piece of advice. Basically, I did not have a real man as a role model, and developed an identity that was essentially adrogenous. The metro-sexual concept especially took hold where I grew up. I was also heavily influenced by a feminist psychologist. Needless to day, I became an emotionally sensitive, politically correct, empathic male who was self conscious, passive, and would allow women to do the leading. But something was not quite right with the way I felt and behaved. I found myself struggling to find that "spark" in relationships. Occasionally I would experience this "spark" though I couldn't pinpoint my finger on why it was there to begin with. I just knew that certain women would do things that made me feel like a man, and I would naturally behave in a very strong, masculine manner. Overall I have felt an angst, that there was a sort of missing piece to my identity, a missing piece to my interactions with women, and have been struggling to find this missing piece, which I now believe is essentially my true, natural, masculine self, that needs to be nurtured and not pathologized by society. I shouldn't have to repress or apologize for being who I naturally am, and I shouldn't pretend that there aren't any differences between men and women. There are clear biological and behavioral differences. Men have abused their natural role, but that does not mean we should demasculinize men in our society. This is a social experiment gone wrong.

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  • fresheyeball

    All the things you present as part of a new masculinity is absurd. These traits are part of adulthood for either gender. For it to be part of being a man it must be unique to men and separate from women.

    • Anthony

      The point is that there isn't a difference to make. The only thing that makes males different from females is a Y chromosome. That comes with certain physiological differences, but when we're talking about fitting into society (because that's what masculinity is – a societal term), there is no difference. People need to be adults, and that's pretty much what the article is saying. Gone (or at least going) are the days where men and women had defined roles in society, and so, too, go the days where men and women are defined by how masculine or feminine they are.

  • Michael Lee

    We evolved.
    We created society.
    Society evolved.
    Society is now creating us to serve it better.
    We are cogs in a machine now, a part of a new non-biological entity.
    We are not in a state of nature, where natural laws of survival applied, we are in society, which has it's own laws.
    Unfortunately, we will now undergo a new state of natural selection, the most docile and society acceptable traits will win out, proof could be said to be the way in which we are being homogensised into one sex entity.

    • Sil

      Society should serve us not the other way around

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  • guest

    How would you differentiate your new version of masculinity from that of the 50s man? It seems to me that what you are presenting is just the same old definition of a gentleman, with a few modern nods to equality tacked on. What changes do you think men should be making in their transition from protector/providers to… well, what ARE they transitioning to?

    I think you caught half of this question by asserting that "you are not your possessions"- but I think that you are missing that possessions functioned as a symbol designating your ability to provide and protect. Your ability to do. By focusing away from possessions to accomplishments- you aren't really changing anything. Men are still defined as "human doings" rather than "human beings".

    These are open ended questions, and I don't propose to answer them here, because I think that THIS is what men are struggling to answer for themselves now. We're transitioning from a culture that provided social bribes and rewards for providing and protecting. Society doesn't need that now. How do we go about finding fulfillment and providing our own validation to ourselves? It's not going to be by just tacking on appreciating women as partners to the old cliched list of rugged gentlemanly integrity. Incidentally, you will actually find a lot of this kind of discussion in the men's rights groups that you so casually dismiss.

  • Dimebag

    This article had me going for a while, had me nodding in agreement, until it got to the point where it proposed we take whats left of our manhood and throw it out the window, driving over it relentlessly until it is no more than a smear upon the pavement of society. We are heading for a more homogenous society where male and female are less distinct, to the point where it really has no impact on who we are. That is the wrong way to go about things, to deny who we are, we need to get back in touch with the man in us, allow it to feel like it can have a say. These ideals we are being told to live up to in the finale of this article are a females ideal man, not what a man wishes himself to be. I say no to giving in to societal pressures, its not what a man would do. Stubbornness is a trait which I am not proud of, but it might also be viewed as resilience. I will not lay down and become a gender neutral being!

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  • I hate Facebook

    Fuck Zuckerberg. I don't want equality, I WANT PRIVACY.

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  • 2cupsofjoe

    Thanks for the article, as asking the question, "What is a Man?" Age wise, I am and reading information on various perspectives is fruitful and hold a truth somewhere in the subconscious. It's um… a sharp contrast when men, who are older making decisions such as creating war for profits sake (totally political.) Does not a "real" man seek the non-violent resolution? It's sort of immature that the political discussion are not more objective, rather it's either a yes or no in terms of dealing with the basic emotions such as violence. What do I know…

  • Unknown Traveler

    Hmm. I've been a virgin for 28 years and proudly so, but not out fear or hate. I just found modern women to be a waste of time. I refuse to forsake myself by comparing masculinity to the amount of women I've kept. However recently I can't help believe that there's nothing left for the modern male except that right. So I had every intention of giving up on women, their value seems to wane to me every day. I'm not gay. It's just it feels I have no place in their world as they have none in mine. To explain I once felt cast aside. But rather then wallow i've done something wonderful, Ive changed my exile into solitude, a feeling in itself that allows one to obtain a certain clarity and peace. By doing so I've carved my own path. If I can't exist here then I will build my own Kingdom.

    I wish I found this article sooner. Maybe things could've been different. But thanks Doc. Every young man needs to see this. Along this path without a model we become warped, if not in one way than another. Still I view your article as a challenge to improve, one that I eagerly accept.

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  • cssuperstar

    I respected your article. My concern is that there is a question being ignored …. 'does a man have to define his masculinity by violence?" Not toward women but other men. Can you address that?

  • WynneL80

    For what it's worth, I personally have never taken the pill and my preference has always (since puberty) been for clean-shaven, clever guys with pretty eyes and scrawny builds. I have never, at any part of my cycle, preferred the beardy-burly types. It varies somewhat, but not outside of that range of preference.

  • I thought this was a good article, but not a great one.

    The initial argument explaining how the concept of a man has changed was well-written and makes a lot of sense.

    The part I disagree with is the author's definition of a man. –the traits he listed are cross-gender. In fact, you can replace the word "man" for "woman" in that section and the statements are equally true. [And if it isn't true, god help us, because that would imply women fear failure, make excuses don't take responsibility, don't recognize their limitations, aren't at peace with their emotions, see sexuality as defining their sex, don't respect others, isn't honest, or doesn't see people as equals.] What I think was really addressed in this article are traits that make a good person, but I read the article thinking I would get more specifics that distinguish the difference between man and woman. Otherwise, this article comes across as a statement that men and women are the same anymore–which I'm willing to accept that claim, but lets argue directly about that topic rather than that there are in fact things or traits that are specific to men.

    Segregation or Equality? Are Men and Women Different, or are they Equal in every way? (except in physiology)

    I'm not fully persuaded, but thank you for presenting your take on the matter.

  • It used to bother me that I wasn't like "guys"–I didn't hit the bars with buddies at night, drink till I was blitzed, fool around with anything I could get, do all the expected "guy things". If anything, during my active fandom days I was more often with the predominantly-female groups, because to me they were far more interesting to talk to. At one point I was discussing this with my wise wife and she laughed. "Don't you get it? You're walking into restaurants with ten, fifteen women and every guy in the place is wondering, 'what does that guy HAVE?'!"

  • mjm1988

    After weeks of searching online for meaningful dating advice and content I think I've found my go-to blog. Thanks so much for this article!!