When Masculinity Fails Men

It’s been an interesting week for talking about masculinity. To start with, ABC’s 20/20 aired a story about the Manosphere and the Men’s Rights Movement (which, ironically enough seems to have touched off a weird Jay-Z/Nas-esque feud between two leading voices of the MRM). The Daily Beast provided a thoughtful, if somewhat flawed, report on the MRM, including some of the grievances and injustices it claims to be trying to remedy in today’s society while Jaclyn Friedman wrote about her sit-down with one of the MRM’s loudest gadflies. What makes it fascinating to me is watching these various figures trying to be firebrands and movement leaders, addressing the feelings of inadequacy and lack that many men are experiencing through articles like “Women Are The Natural Enemy of Men”, accusing (literally) random women of falsifying rape charges and generally flailing about flinging shit everywhere like a tweaked-out mountain gorilla taking pot-shots at Italian plumbers.

"...yeah, you KEEP running! You tell that Sarkeesian woman too!"

“…yeah, you KEEP running! You tell that Sarkeesian woman too!”

The most frustrating thing is that, frankly, the MRM isn’t entirely wrong… or at least it wouldn’t be if they were actually trying to help men instead of looking for excuses to keep hating on women.

There are legitimate grievances to be had over the way that, say, child custody in divorce tends to favor the mother even if she’s otherwise unfit, or the way that adult male victims of sexual abuse or rape are functionally ignored by both society and law enforcement. The problem is that the MRM types are so up their own asses with their hatred and fear of women that they resemble a one-man Human Centipede. They’re directing all of their efforts in the wrong direction. It’s not women who are the problem. It’s men. More specifically, it’s masculinity. The traditional societal definitions of masculinity – and its attendant gender roles - fails men.

The Inherent Fragility of Manhood

Let me ask you a serious question: would you want to be part of a system that sets standards that are literally impossible for many – if not most – people to achieve?  What about one where you’re expected to be always on the verge of violence? One where the only acceptable emotion is perpetual anger? One that requires that you sever or truncate most of your emotional relationships in pursuit of  membership? Especially when your membership is continually in danger of being stripped from you through random circumstance?

Because that’s part of the concept of “a real man”.  I’ve written about this before: the definition of “masculinity” pitched to men – especially young men – is one of violence, social dominance, anti-intellectualism and aggressive, even uncontrollable, sexuality. “Toughness” and stoicism are the only acceptable forms of expression besides anger and danger is the only worthwhile pursuit. Respect isn’t earned so much as taken, only to be given when you’ve impressed others sufficiently with how tough – how manly – you are.

Part of what’s amazing about the modern concept of masculinity is how fragile it is; being a man isn’t something inherent so much as it is things that you do. In PUA and MRM circles, everyone talks about being “alpha” ((Which, ironically enough, doesn’t even exist in nature...)) but “alpha” is a nebulous and ever-shifting set of behaviors, rather than some natural state of existence. It may be “Not taking shit from other dudes” as easily as “fucking lots of women” or “having the flashiest job”… all of which means that being alpha is a temporary state at best. Every so-called “alpha” is just a “beta” waiting to re-emerge. Every real man” is in constant danger of being downgraded back to “pussy” or  being somebody’s “bitch”.

After all: when manhood is something you do rather than part of who you are, that means that it can be taken from you. We hear this all the time when men who act insufficiently masculine – acceding to a spouse’s desires, not finding some woman sufficiently sexually alluring, expressing a stereotypically feminine interest – are told to “turn in their man card” or they’re asked if they “left their balls at home” or “in their wife’s purse.”

"I take mine anywhere I take my penis."

“I take mine anywhere I take my penis.”

It’s an expression of the idea that manhood is an inherently insecure position that others can revoke at any time. A moment’s vulnerability or non-stereotypical male behavior means that suddenly you aren’t a “real” man until you can reestablish your masculine bona fides. More on that in a moment.

One of the most common ideas of “manhood” is the idea of “man as provider”. A man, we are told, provides for his family no matter what it costs him. The problem, of course, is that once again, this reduces manhood and masculinity into an external factor, something that can be taken… or destroyed. If a man is defined by being the provider (and it’s always the provider, not a provider) , then he is perpetually at risk of losing his manliness. If your status as a man is dependent on your financial situation, then your manhood is entirely at the whim of your employer; with the stroke of a pen, they can rob you of both job and metaphorical testicles. An economic downturn – something the average man can’t avoid or guard against – can destroy entire generations of men by casting them out into the street, powerless eunuchs desperate to regain their former status of “real men” at any cost.

We see this fear reflected over and over again in our pop culture – be the One Who Provides, no matter what it costs you. Jax Teller can’t leave the Sons of Anarchy, no matter what the club has cost him in blood and suffering, because he can’t stand the idea of being a half-rate mechanic dependent on his more successful wife. Walter White sacrifices everything – love, family, everyone he knows – on the altar of “provider”… because it’s about being a man rather than how much he cares about the people he’s supposedly trying to support.

They cling to the altar of manliness because that’s what you’re supposed to do no matter what it costs you – or, ultimately, the people around you. And like so many other men, they live with the constant dread that this could all go away.

To Be a Man Means To Be Afraid

The brittle fragility of manhood means that men must always be on their guard against moments when their masculinity might be destroyed. A moment of weakness means that it can all come crashing down around your ears – handing in your man card and accepting your position as “bitch”. As a result, any vulnerability must be defended against because weakness means that somebody else will take your power – your manhood – away. A sleight against your power or status must always be answered or else you will be tacitly acknowledging that you are that person’s bitch. You have to establish your alpha dominance in the group by taking away other people’s power, or else they are in a position to take yours. There is no in between when it comes to manhood – you’re either a man or you’re a pussy, no in-between.

And the most common way of establishing this power? Violence and the threat of violence.

If you ever stray into MRM boards or witness the way the way they respond to visible feminists like Amanda Marcotte or Caroline Criado-Perez or Anita Sarkeesian or any other female writer you might care to name, then you will notice that the threat and promise of violence is ever-present. Even threads on MRM subreddits complaining about one’s divorce quickly devolve into “well, the best way to handle it is to kill her”, with increasingly specific suggestions as to how. It’s because they feel threatened by these women – a moment of vulnerability – and now they need to re-establish themselves by punishing them for daring to make them weak.

Violence and the willingness to use it is a key part of the stereotype of masculinity; we’re supposed to respect the meat-eating badass who breaks heads with his bare knuckles, not the vegetarian who tries to avoid conflict in the first place. All the moments in Breaking Bad that are calculated to make us want to punch the air and shout “fuck yeah” involve Walt threatening horrific violence on people.

Your hero folks: a hyperviolent sociopathic drug-lord.
Being willing to apply violence becomes a key part of establishing why people should respect us. It’s a quick and easy way of saying “Yes, I’m a manly man.” In fact, much of homophobic and transphobic violence is inspired by the need to reassert one’s manhood; homosexuals and trans people threaten their beliefs of masculine identity and behavior and thus they lash out as a way of reaffirming their status as “man”.

But even when violence isn’t the immediate go-to answer, men are in constant fear of seeming weak and attempt to hide or diminish anything that detracts from being a man. Another aspect of being a man is that a man is always rock-hard and ready to use that steely erection at a moment’s notice. But – as all men know – there are numerous times when an erection is almost impossible to achieve whether due to stress, health, alcohol or performance anxiety.

Or occasionally God deciding to just fuck with you.

Or the occasional sign of God’s hate…

Once again, one’s existence as a man is in danger because if you can’t get it up to fuck some bitches, you simply aren’t a man. As a result, Viagra and Cialis remain some of the most profitable drugs of all time, while other men turn to dubious and potentially life-threatening herbal supplements and “male enhancement pills” to firm up flagging erections because not being ready to fuck at a moment’s notice makes you more like a woman… the ultimate insult.

Of course, the problem isn’t that women are going to judge them – in fact, women are far more likely to forgive whiskey-dick, especially if he’s willing to apply himself in other areas – but other men.

It Means Men Can’t Trust Each Other

You see, women aren’t the enforcers of traditional gender roles. In fact, modern feminism means that women are far more encouraging of being willing to step outside of typical gendered behavior.

No, the gender police in this case are other men. Men are incredibly quick to pounce on gender-atypical behavior and to punish others for it. Because being a man is a binary situation – you either are or aren’t – being willing to enforce the dictates of masculinity on others is one of the surest ways to show others that yes, you are a man. It’s a way of stealing somebody else’s dominance. And if you’re not a man, you’re a woman. The most damaging insults men throw at each other – faggot, bitch, pussy – carry connotations of femininity and weakness. The so-called “Man Crisis” that (mostly male) pundits whinge about complains that men are “refusing” to grow up to take the traditionally heteronormative path of their forefathers and instead are becoming perpetual adolescents – or worse, fags instead of rippled He-Men demanding all the eggs and bacon they can get and growing luxurious facial hair.

Prototypical example displayed here along with his impressive but ultimately impotent penis metaphor.

Prototypical example displayed here along with his impressive but ultimately impotent penis metaphor.

Their complaints about the dearth of manliness is part of the social script for correcting gender variant behavior: mocking the people who diverge from the traditional role and exhorting others to guide or coerce them – sometimes violently - back to the role of hairy-chested manliness. The punishment for non-masculine behavior can be as overt as mockery or violence, or through subtle sabotage. A 2010 study from Rutgers University found that men who abandon “macho” behavior get punished by others; in this case, less macho and self-promoting men applying for jobs suffered from social backlash from prospective employers. Modesty in men was seen as weakness, while it was rewarded in equally competent women applicants.

Since being femme or otherwise unmasculine for even a moment means being kicked out of the Man Club, it becomes almost impossible to open up and be honest with other men. When deviation from the accepted role leads to any reaction from social approbation to exclusion to violent correction, you’re left forever guarding against the possibility that someone might realize you’re having doubts or fears. Worse, you have to reestablish your man cred, usually at the expense of the other person, further eroding the trust and openness necessary for emotional intimacy and friendship. Every expression of emotional openness needs to be followed by some reminder that you’re still a man at some level, even amongst the people you are closest with – thus the symbolic violence of the three-beat “man pound” that accompanies hugs between guy friends or the profoundly sophomoric declaration “no homo”. You can only open the door so far, even amongst the people whom you trust, before having to slam it home again and pretend that you don’t repress your emotions as much as possible.

Masculinity Makes It Harder to Get Laid

One of the unintended side-effects of the rigid enforcement of traditional gender roles is that it ruins our sex-lives.

The traditional gender divide insists that men are hypersexual beings, insatiable satyrs who can’t restrain themselves and would fuck anything that was warm enough and provided enough friction.

That ain't frosting...

That ain’t frosting…

Men, so the theory goes, are perpetually walking the knife’s edge of sociability, always one exposed ankle or glimpse of cleavage away from being unable to contain their urges.

Women, meanwhile, are passive, the receptors to male sexuality. They neither enjoy nor want sex as much as men do, preferring emotional intimacy to physical intimacy. Since men are continually primed for sex, women are the designated guardians of sexual propriety and must regulate men’s sexual desires for them by not giving them the opportunity to fall from grace.

In reality, women are equally as lustful as men, if not moresoIn fact, most women would like to be as sexually open and aggressive as men are, but the social script won’t allow it.

Men often complain about having to be the aggressors, lamenting over and over again that women don’t approach men and thus have all the power in the sexual arena. Many insist that women don’t approach simply because they appreciate being the choosers, preferring to make men dance in attendance on them, leaping through hoops in order to prove their sexual worth. The truth however is simply that women don’t approach men for sex as often because men tend to get profoundly uncomfortable when gender roles are reversed. Men tend to either find sexually aggressive women intimidating and off-putting or else far overestimate the woman’s level of interest – turning “Hi, what’s your name” into “Fuck me in the bathroom right now.”

That lack of communication between genders is part of what leads to men getting themselves stuck in The Friend Zone. Traditional masculinity makes it more difficult for there to be legitimate friendships between men and women; men, after all, supposedly can’t be friends with a woman without sex inevitably getting in the way. The socially mandated distance – when every non-sexual relationship between men and women is predicated on dishonesty by definition - makes it harder for men to actually communicate openly and honestly with women and understand how women are socialized to communicate; as a result, men are prone to misreading signals, assuming interest where none exists, or being unable (or unwilling) to take friendship for friendship’s sake rather than a way to backdoor their way into her panties.

Of course, it doesn’t help that the dominant sexual narrative is of the commodity model of sex – where a woman’s intrinsic value is based on the sex she doesn’t have. A woman who is willing to be the aggressor implies that she’s had other partners before, marking her as too easy and a slut. After all, if she’s been less discriminating in her partners before, then it means that her current partner (i.e. you) isn’t special. He’s not the person who managed to seduce her or is so amazing that he was able to overcome her innate resistance to sex, he’s just another ride on the “cock carousel” as some MRM wags have termed it.

Traditional gender roles also encourage the perpetuation of rape culture – where rape is normalized or even condoned by societal mores. The dominant narrative – as seen in the Stubenville and Maryville assaults and with Reteah Parsons – is still to place the blame on the victim; she shouldn’t have been drinking, she should have known better, what did she think was going to happen at a party full of boys? The message to women is that men can’t or won’t restrain themselves when presented with the opportunity to fuck somebody, consent be damned and, thus, women have to guard their own virtue. Women who might otherwise be open to a casual sexual relationship or a one-night stand with somebody are far less likely to act on that desire when the social and physical risks outweigh the potential benefits. As the saying goes: men are worried that women will laugh at them, while women are worried that men will murder them.

Masculinity is Literally Hurting Men

The most insane aspect of traditional masculinity is that it literally hurts men.

One of the most notorious aspects is the treatment of male victims of abuse, assault and rape; they are almost functionally invisible to the justice system. It’s estimated by The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network that boys and men make up at least 10% of sexual assault and abuse victims. I say “estimate” because it’s almost impossible to get accurate numbers; there haven’t been any studies funded to track the issue, and little apparent interest in starting one. The majority of sexual assault victims in the military aren’t women, but men… a fact that largely went unreported until recently. Because being a man means never showing weakness, men are even less likely to report their rape to the authorities than women. Being assaulted – being made somebody’s bitch – is the ultimate sign of having your masculinity stripped away from you and most victims can barely process the humiliation that comes with that. And in a cruel twist of irony, men reporting their assaults are just as likely to get the same smirk and victim-blaming attitude from the police as women are. After all, a big, strong man should’ve been able to fend his attackers off; he must have wanted it.

The dominant idea that men welcome any and all sexual opportunities offered to them means that male victims of sexual abuse and statutory rape are also ignored by the authorities, especially if the perpetrator is a woman. It tends to be seen as a victimless crime at best or the young boy was lucky to get laid. Chris Brown is one of the most notorious examples – he tries to sell it as being so sexually precocious that he was able to seduce a woman nearly twice his age instead of calling it rape. The idea that boys are perpetually horny overrides the damage, the confusion, shame and humiliation that sexual coercion and exploitation can do to them, making it that much harder for the victims to even understand what had been done to them, never mind get help.

OK, time for a puppy break to clear the soul...

OK, time for a puppy and kitten break to chase the taste out of our mouths…

Unsurprisingly,  it’s the fragile nature of masculinity and the constant need to be forever on one’s guard against the potential consequences of gender atypical behavior that takes greatest toll on men. A study on masculinity and aggression from the University of South Florida found that innocuous – yet feminine – tasks could produce profound anxiety in men. As part of the study, a group of men were asked to perform a stereotypically feminine act – braiding hair in this case  - while a control group braided rope. Following the act, the men were given the option to either solve a puzzle or punch a heavy bag. Not surprisingly, the men who performed the task that threatened their masculinity were far more likely to punch the bag; again, violence serving as a way to reestablish their masculine identity. A follow-up had both groups punch the bag after braiding either hair or rope; the men who braided the hair punched the bag much harder. A third experiment, all the participants braided hair, but were split into two groups: those who got to punch the bag afterwards and those who didn’t. The men who were prevented from punching the bag started to show acute signs of anxiety and distress from not being able to reconfirm their masculinity.

It’s that precariousness – the ease of which one’s perceived manhood can be taken away that has profound physical and mental effects on men. The constant state of being on guard wears away at the body and spirit, contributing to numerous health issues. The stress and constant need to reassert one’s masculinity has been linked to hypertension, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem as well as an increased propensity for violence.

It is literally killing men by insisting they can never show weakness, never vary from the restrictive role laid out for them.

Trapped In The Box

It’s more or less inevitable that there will be people insisting that I hate men, that I’m sucking up to women in hopes of getting laid1 or that I’m a beta male trying to bring down my alpha betters.

To which I reply, no, I want to help. I want to see a world where manhood isn’t something that can be taken away or lost and day to day existence isn’t about trying to shove everybody into the same inflexible roles, constantly having to repress their feelings and living in fear of having a vulnerable moment. We can make manhood into something inherent instead of something that we’re constantly having to prove, where the only value you have is your willingness to hurt other people who dare to step out of line. Something where men aren’t constantly living with the neverending anxiety instead of contentment and self-assurance and afraid to be themselves and where simply trying to be a man doesn’t end up causing us more damage than any imagined feminist agenda ever could.

The traditional idea of masculinity has failed us.

It’s time to be better than we are.

 

  1. Man, if that actually worked, I’d be out of a job… []

Comments

  1. Gentleman Horndog says:

    Great article, but as a BB fan, I must take exception to the absolutism of the following sentence:

    "All the moments in Breaking Bad that are calculated to make us want to punch the air and shout “fuck yeah” involve Walt threatening horrific violence on people."

    I will now debunk this statement with three simple words:

    "Yeah bitch! MAGNETS!!!"

    • You mean you don't see that that might reinforce masculine gender roles by degrading the feminine?

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        Perhaps, though in context, "bitch" is more of a verbal tic than anything else. It encourages the audience to regard the character who says it (Jesse) as a dumb-ass. (Yet under his ridiculous middle-class white boy wannabe thug exterior, Jesse actually WAS very smart.)

        My larger point, though, was that it's an exultant moment that had nothing to do with Walt threatening/executing violence.

    • Funny thing is, that scene where he says, "I am the danger" made me think that he was kind of weak and clueless. Sure, it is easy to say that to your nice, middle class wife to scare her (and make her hate you), but Walt never it in him to directly challenge anyone stronger than him. Everything was done through scheming and using others to do your dirty work.

      Don't get me wrong, I loved the show, but Walt always seemed like someone who was weak playing at strong to me.

      • Gentleman Horndog says:

        Yeah. Generally speaking, legitimate tough guys were NOT impressed by Walt's bluster.

        I always loved how Mike could say Walt's name like he was saying "Motherfucker."

        "Hello, *Walter.*"

        • Mike was the best! No bluster or posing. Gus was my other favorite. So calm and confident that he never had to flaunt anything.

        • Cthulhu's Intern says:

          (Breaking Bad spoilers here)
          Don't forget how much his facade changes when there's someone more dangerous. Like when Gus threatened to kill his family, he was terrified in front of the same person he said the "I am the danger" quote to.

          Also, in terms of awesome quotes that are not over violent: How about anything Badger says?

      • This exactly.
        Anyone that punched the air and shouted "fuck yeah" whenever Walt went on one of his rampages would have been totally missing the point of the show. He was losing control. There's nothing masculine about that.

    • Hank was the manliest guy on the show anyways.

      Actually Hank is probably another perfect example of what's going on here. He had to hide his PTSD from people and coworkers who genuinely cared about him because it wasn't the manly thing to do.

      • Actually Breaking Bad itself is probably a good study in why masculinity is failing us. Walter wants to be the man, Hank has his image to uphold, Jesse wishes he were a better man…

        Sopranos had a ton of that shit too.

        • Saul, oddly enough, was the most true to himself and never was trying to "be the man". In a weird way he had the most integrity of anyone and always did the best he could for his clients.

          • We'll see if Better Call Saul affects that much or not <_<

          • I am having trouble even imagining that show. I might not watch it because I am afraid it will disappoint.

          • Gentleman Horndog says:

            I don't know what's more hilarious; the fact that you used the word "Integrity" in reference Saul, or the fact that you may be right.

            "If you're committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it."

          • I know, nuts isn't it? But he always came through for his clients and gave them the best and most honest advice for their circumstances. He also always kept his word if he said he'd do something.

    • i've started watching Breaking BAd – up to season 4 – and its pretty clear that Walt's model of masculinity is really destructive. the alternate is Hank, who starts off as more stereotypcally masculine but usually undercuts that by actually caring about the people around him

  2. Doc, you write an awful damn lot for one article. Wow….Masculinity…I'm just one woman in the world of millions but, masculinity should equate to 5 very simple things in a man. Self worth, self confidence, self respect, assertiveness and being your genuine self. All this other sh*t that the media puts out there, spins around and tries to sell as masculine is utterly sad. Buy this and buy that and women will want you- as you now have suddenly become…..masculine. Sad.
    Being masculine is being able to be a man and not a boy whose stuck. Being masculine is being in touch with your inner emotions and not being afraid to show them from time to time.
    But slapping around a woman or just strutting around with rock hard body doesn't make you masculine especially when your pea-brained. Pea- brained in no way is masculine. I could go on but…I'm a girl so….

    • This isn’t as helpful as you may want to think it is. The opposite of helpful, in fact.

      Saying “Real Men think (things we want), not (things we don’t want)” still implies that masculinity is externally validated, and that being a Real Man remains the ideal. You’re just quibbling the details with everyone else what earning one’s manhood involves.

      • LOL. Is that right? It's as helpful as it should be but perhaps you in particular are seeking out some sort of super pill. It doesn't exist. Every woman has her own level of what she deems to be masculine about a man. That's pretty much it. A man can go to the gym 8 days a week, be as cut as a pro hockey player, look as if he is ooozing masculinity but the minute he opens his mouth and it turns out to be a facade….the ill perceived masculinity fades. You don't have to like it but it's true. Axe, fitted clothes and a cool hair cut can only get you so far on outer masculinity. All of that is just man candy for viewing purpose.

        • Sure, every woman can decide whether or not she finds a man masculine (and of course, whether she is interested in a man regardless of her opinion of his degree of masculinity). But I believe Nona is saying that being a man not actually something that has to be earned through any particular behaviors or qualities, it's based on any given man's determination of who he is and how he fits into his gender.

          • Nope. "…how he fits into his gender…" Boys of adult age love to consider themselves as men when they are not. And yes, men do have to earn their right to call themselves men and it is in fact through the way they behave as men. I'm not saying society has to rubber stamp them as being a man, I'm saying it takes a hell a lot more than looks, the right words, adjusting to "fit" into anything. A man becomes a true man in his actual strengths, being and knowing who he is and what he is about genuinely, truly, down to his core. He has a belief system that isn't easily swayed by following the fads or the crowds. He is true to himself and with that comes the confidence, worth.
            Now, no one at all has to agree with me one bit. But if you're looking for me to say something different in what I think a true and real man is…not happening here. Being a man, just like being a woman is far more than coming of adult age fitting into your gender.

          • Clarification: I wasn't trying to say it's based on if he fits in sufficiently to his gender, but how he sees himself as belonging to his gender.

            But sure, you're entitled to your belief on who and what gets to define manhood. I'm just not sure your particular definition is any more valid than anyone else's.

          • I just want to speak up and say that I have a problem with suggesting that men and women can't be "real" men and women unless they fit some specific set of criteria. A man is an adult male human being. A woman is an adult female human being. Shaming people for not being "real" men/women doesn't help anyone. Some "real" men do unsavory things, and some do good things. Let's focus on the behavior itself and not the "real"ness of their manhood.

          • No other man gets to decide whether or not a man is a man.
            No woman gets to decide whether or not a man is a man.
            The only one who gets to decide that is the man in question.

            Of course it's the same for women and everyone else.

    • etherealclarity says:

      "Self worth, self confidence, self respect, assertiveness and being your genuine self."

      Aren't those good qualities for a woman to have as well?

      • Yep. But how many men work at reflecting that in themselves instead of just ": I look good…I work out…this is manly-masculine…" and that's all….

        • Probably about the same as the number of women who work at developing those qualities instead of just saying similar gender-based things about themselves.

    • What if the genuine you doesn't have any self confidence or respect?

      • Then it'd probably be helpful finding ways to develop some. Self-confidence and respect are pretty darn useful things to have for anyone of any gender.

        Though I don't actually believe that these things have anything to do with whether or not one gets to count as a man, so I can't say what effect it has on your Real Manliness.

        • There are always so many qualifiers to any advice telling you to just be yourself.

          • Well, I think of people as being somewhat amorphous – there are a lot of things about one's personality, opinions and self-perception that are not set in stone but canchange depending on all kinds of internal and external factors. There are all kinds of ways I could 'be myself,' and I'd still be myself if I developed, say, more patience, or more confidence, or if I got stressed out and anxious, or took up a new hobby. Why not try to be the best, happiest version of yourself possible?

          • Who is to judge when you've reached the best, happiest version of yourself?

          • You.

          • But if you were a good judge of that you wouldn't be looking for advice on how to improve yourself to get the attention of other people.

            It is one big circle.

          • If you're not happy with yourself and your situation, then you're the one who has to decide you're not, and look for ways you could change that to become happier, including advice on how to do it.

          • The solution to that is to work toward improving your judgment, so that you can rely on yourself more in the future. Fortunately you can do that at the same time as you work on the specific things you're trying to improve.

          • Here we have self-reliance coming to the forefront again. That being one of the things that we are told is essential to masculinity. So what is being said here is that to fix the common view of masculinity, we must conform to the common view of masculinity.

          • You are, obviously. When you're happy enough with yourself that you don't see the need to keep reaching, you stop worrying about it.

          • But being happy with yourself isn't the be all and end all. It is what this blog would call a baseline requirement, surely?

          • It's not the be all and end all of having other people want to date you. If that's something important to you, you may need to make some changes to be more appealing to others/ meet others etc. in order to be happy. But you get to decide if you're happiest doing that or not.

          • Which is why "be yourself" is the worst way of framing this.

          • I think it's a pretty general concept, used to give an overall message, not trying to delve down into every subtlety of application.

          • That is the problem, its thrown at people looking for advice like confetti and without further explanation actually means the exact opposite.

          • He's done a more detailed article about it: http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/01/just-be-you

          • It is impressive how many times that article contradicts itself.

          • Look, if you don't want to be happy and be yourself, don't. No one's forcing you.

      • Everyone does on some level but it's up to the individual to decide if they want continue with the mindset of believing they don't. Any person can continuously build up their self confidence in themselves and self respect. How does one do it? Ask yourself why you believe you don't have any.

        • NotQuiteBrummie says:

          I'll get saving for some plastic surgery and hope they invent a procedure for pumping fat into someone's anorexic looking body.

          • Wanting to improve yourself should be purely on a internal scale so not to appear shallow.

          • Hey NQB, have you ever worked with a personal trainer? Some of them are quite knowledgeable about the best ways to build muscle/gain weight for a variety of body types. It's not my field so I can't tell you anything specific, but one of my friends managed to put on a bunch of weight (muscle) after finding a training program that worked for him.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            I've been on 4 doctor designed diets to try and help me bulk up, all but 1 led to me losing weight. Personal trainers cost money that I don't have I'm afraid.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            Why the hell has this been thumbed down?

    • I'm not sure if either of the five traits you listed are inherently masculine. Women can have all of these traits to. Is not feminism the philosophy (as opposed to feminsim the poltiical movement) about women finding self-worth, self-confidence, self-respect, assertiveness, and being their genuine selves?

      Nor all these five traits good in themselves? A person's genuine self might not be a good person and can include many negative traits. The MRM is certainly assertive and we do not see this as a positive because they are wrong about many issues. Doubt can be useful trait at times. The staggering self-confidence of many political leaders has led to the deaths of millions and other disasters. Same goes for self-worth and self-respect. You need to have things that are actually worthy or respectful in order to morally be free to feel those things. A person whose self-worth and self-respect comes from something that is amoral or immoral has no right to enjoy those things.

      • So….a person with self worth is not worthy unless that worth can be substantiated. And…self respect is nothing unless its…some some kind of thing that shows your actual worth….like perhaps a degree or something? And if you have self confidence it has to be somehow compared to the supposed self confidence as exhibited in our highly conceited, above the law mind set, over inflated ego political leaders.
        Now either I just took everything you said you said out of context or you initially took everything I said and turned it inside out. Either way, everyone is different and know one has to show and prove to another what makes them masculine or manly.

      • Why does "Be a man" have to equal "Not be a woman?" That's what I'm confused about. Why are we what men are struggling not to be. We're just people sitting over here.

        "Be a man" should be graded against, "Not be a boy/baby."

        Women, and what women can or cannot be should have nothing to do with it. Boys struggle with all those five things, mature and composed men do not.

        Isn't it about time men left us out of this one? Figure out what masculinity is when it has nothing at all to do with women, then we'll have an answer, because in the end.

        "We are terrified someone will think we are like YOU." Is really toxic for the dynamics between the sexes.

        • YES YES YES a thousand times yes.

          The antithesis to Man is not Woman but Boy.

          The antithesis to Woman is not Man but Girl.

          • I think that another problem is that women as a cultural collective did not define feminine by what pleased us, it was defined by what pleased men. "Meekness, humility, caring, comfort, looking pretty, being young and beautiful, etc." Only recently have women BEGUN the process of defining feminine by the things we actually enjoy, and there's a much wider range and we're much happier about it.

            On the same token, men haven't defined masculinity by what pleases them, the cultural collective has defined it by "What gives men power" Violence, bulk, sex (leaving a genetic legacy), wealth, mastery over nature, etc.

            I think we're only beginning to see the tip of the iceberg of men starting to wake up and say, "Wait a minute, we don't actually like all this crap, and it is stressful trying to maintain that power to what purpose?" But giving up "Male power" in anyway seems to be terrifying to the cultural collective because I think they're afraid that in giving up power they may be subjected, the way others have been subjected.

            What I wish people would realize is that most people who have been subjugated know it sucks and don't want to do that to others. There are always some crazies out for revenge, but you know, screw them. As a group there has to be a way for everyone to sit at the table and be respected and heard without all this drama. We're all people. The game can be fair.

            The death throws of unquestioned male power are scary though.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "YES YES YES a thousand times yes.

            The antithesis to Man is not Woman but Boy.

            The antithesis to Woman is not Man but Girl."

            As another poster says, this just goes around and around. This just becomes the vaguer version of the above "bad" definition of masculinity.

            A "boy" shows his emotions. A man has control over them and doesn't express them.
            A "boy" has to put up with other people telling him what to do because he's a boy. A man doesn't have to, and can kick anyone's ass who tries to make him.
            A "boy" has to cooperate with other people because he's a boy and he's weak. A "man" can do it himself, and has no need to cooperate with other people.
            A "boy" hasn't hit puberty so sexuality is not a problem. A "man" has sexual needs and gets them fulfilled, no matter what…

            I'm not saying I believe these things, I'm making a point – saying that being a man is about not being a boy is no less toxic than the extremified and overdone version of masulinity in the article above. Traits like emotion, sensitivity, etc, are just as easily described as being "Boy" qualities and not manly.

          • MordsithJ says:

            Equating children with weakness is nowhere near as damaging to society as equating women with weakness. We all start out as children, we all grow out of childish tendencies, and we all occasionally lapse back into them.

            Telling an adult that they're acting like a child is generally a legit criticism, even if the comparison sometimes get misused.

    • I appreciate your willingness to recognize intelligence and emotions as positive qualities in a man. That's great, and it's been a missing part of the masculinity narrative for some time now. However, I have a problem with this idea of defining what is/is not a "real man" by ways of acting or thinking. It doesn't leave much room for mistakes, which I think is a big part of the Doc's message in this article: the whole idea of constant vulnerability. If a man is only a "real man" when exhibiting these qualities, then whenever he isn't exhibiting them he is not a real man, and whether or not his status as a man can be earned back isn't really defined. Ultimately, it still relies on external validation to determine whether a person is "real" or not, rather than allowing everyone to do what makes them happy without fear of judgement from others.

      Interestingly, it seems that the discussion of "what makes a real man" leads to similar conclusions as "what makes a real woman." Perhaps we are gradually moving to a society in which pre-defined gender roles are no longer valid, and we all value the same qualities in one another. Let's all be adults, and the things that make you a good person aren't modified by the sex organs you were born with.

      • Sooooo what I'm gonna do is have a drink and watch the European football game(s) I missed earlier, do a lil gaming and then I'll more than likely be able to form the correct words for my reply. I hope to make it as simple and short as possible.

    • OtherRoooToo says:

      " Self worth, self confidence, self respect, assertiveness and being your genuine self. "

      It all sounds wonderful.

      But unless you — universal "you" — define your terms, you're still just flailing around.

  3. “You see, women aren’t the enforcers of traditional gender roles. In fact, modern feminism means that women are far more encouraging of being willing to step outside of typical gendered behavior.”

    When you start looking at actual behaviors, the community of “being a man means you have an endless well of power and privilege” is just as happy to exploit gender norms when they’re convenient. It’s a basic human failing, but I wish to fuck people stopped acting like feminism was a shield against basic human failings.

    • I don't think "exploiting" is the right word, really. The essence of feminism (actual feminism, not the word the "men's rights" types use) is wanting everyone to come from the same baseline without gender-based biases or expectations. Where you go from there is up to you: some people (of any gender) can choose to style themselves with more "masculine" traits and some with more "feminine" traits, except they wouldn't have to think of them as masculine or feminine because they're not inherently tied to biological sex. This means that if a man – free of obligation to have a "man card" – chooses to hunt and fish and open doors for other people and hold down a steady job, he's welcome to do that. And if he would rather sew and dance and be a stay-at-home-dad, he's welcome to do that too.

      So the "exploiting" here is just the basic human reaction to take what is offered – if a person of any gender chooses to hold a door for me, should I turn it down based on their biological sex? A feminist would try to be aware of any outside issues which caused that person to feel like they had to hold the door (and work for change when necessary), but a practical feminist would just walk through the damn door and say thank you.

    • ^This. Some of the feminists mentioned in the article itself aren't immune to using gender essentialism from time to time. Anita Sarkeesian uses the concept in Tropes vs. Women that violence is masculine and negotiation is feminine.
      As another example, the SJW boilerplate loves reblogging fat acceptance posts, but slams critics as probably overweight neckbeards in the very next post. Men's issues can easily get hijacked by actually-it's-misogyny-in-disguise derails, in a hilarious inverted form of "wut about da menz".

      It's not masculinity that is broken, it's the gender binary.

      • Double plus this. Negotiation may be something women in the current society are better at than men at this point and time because we are socialized and taught to be better at it. It is learned, not innate. Going for violence/physical intimidation is also learned and girls who grow up seeing violence as the first option will use it as readily as men. They just tend to go for weapons rather than fists if the opponent is bigger.

  4. Anyone else but me notice articles like these are strawmen the doc builds up so he can take down? I don't know, I find articles of this type vague, nebulous, and partly useless to helping getting better at actual dating, even indirectly.

    • Because understanding gender roles, how social norms trap or impede progress, and what most women actually want in a partner (hint: it ain't "being alpha") is obviously not helpful at all.

      • Vancouverois says:

        I agree with Mr Lopez in this case. I find the version of 'masculinity' that Dr NL depicts in this article is a strawman – exaggerated to such an extreme that it isn't worth discussing.

        • Really? You find it a straw man, despite the dozens of MRA and PUA articles espousing the exact same philosophy the Doc is trying to discuss? How can it be a strawman if he's just repeating what they say?

          • Vancouverois says:

            Because the Internet is a place where you can find all sorts of wacky stuff that has no bearing on the lives of regular people, and it isn't terribly helpful to address the extreme nonsense you can find there.

          • It may not seem important to you or impact your life, which is fine. But it does for a lot of us, myself included. So it is helpful, actually, to some of us anyway.

            A lot of these attitudes aren't stated openly so much as implied, which is why its so important to call them out.

          • A big part of the audience the Doc is going for are people who are getting out of that wacky stuff, so I'd say that debunking it is consistent with his message, even if it doesn't help 100% of his readers.

          • I'm actually inclined to agree with Chucky. The way the doctor describes the cult of masculinity is over the top and clearly ridiculous. No reasonable person would ever say something like "“Toughness” and stoicism are the only acceptable forms of expression [for men]". Of you want to effectively criticize an ideology, you should describe in the most attractive light possible and then show that it is actually horrible, rather than burn an effigy cobbled together from the most extreme arguments made in the seedy corners of the internet. Otherwise, any reasonably articulate PUA advocate could come in and say "you're misrepresenting the community", and they'd probably be right.

          • Nobody ever says that toughness and stoicism are the only acceptable forms of expression for men? They might not say this directly but men with different traits wouldn't be routinely mocked as femme or otherwise lacking in manliness otherwise.

          • The attitudes the Doc discusses are very real in MRM and PUA communities. Sometimes they're stated bluntly, other times they are underlying, but they are there.

            To agree with LeeEsq, anytime a man is mocked for displaying qualities associated with femininity, it stems from these bullshit attitudes. And I think the aim of articles like this is pointing them out so we can realize the underlying bullshit.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Just start this off with saying that feminists have a strong theme of hating men, sex, and any masculine, and you have just an apt description of feminist communities –

            "The attitudes the Doc discusses are very real in MRM and PUA communities. Sometimes they're stated bluntly, other times they are underlying, but they are there."

            You can just quote this article itself to see that kind of twisted attitude –
            "Prototypical example displayed here along with his impressive but ultimately impotent penis metaphor."

            I mean they're not even bothering to try to avoid looking hypocritical – they start off complaining that men supposedly define themselves by "…and aggressive, even uncontrollable, sexuality", then immediately try to shame a male stereotype by saying he's "impotent".

            All I see it 2 opposite sides of the same coin.

          • Bro, impotent in that instance is not being used as an insult. It's a fact that a lot of sexually violent or aggressive men act out because their impotence represents a loss of masculinity. It's also a reason some men rape. They take drugs and they assert their sexual dominance over the people they perceive to have taken their masculinity.

            Also, it's important not to ignore all the good points about society and socialization as a whole because of one thing you don't agree with.

          • I think the stuff he's 'repeating' is an exxageration.

        • Except DNL provides examples of communities that are this extreme. Also, those examples clearly demonstrate certain tendencies in most male groupings, even if they appear in less extreme or violent ways. A group of nerdy guys aren't necessarily prone to the violent assertiveness outlined in the article, but they are likely to guard against a level of emotional intimacy regarded as "feminine, therefore weak" amongst the group.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            "Also, those examples clearly demonstrate certain tendencies in most male groupings"

            Don't agree with "most" male groupings at all. What's described is the "extreme" end of guys getting together, and I've seen absolutely no less tolerance from women.

            For example, see anything on the topic of "bromance". If I hear someone say it, it's usually a woman (not always, but usually). And when I do a google search, the only obviously gender specific reference is "10 Signs Your Guy Is in a Bromance" – http://ideas.thenest.com/love-and-sex-advice/deal

            Or anything about being a "manchild"…

            I've seen no difference in enforcement of the "feminine, therefore weak" mentality towards men from either men or women. It's done somewhat differently, but that's it.

          • MordsithJ says:

            I dunno about "bromance," but calling someone a "manchild" is not an accusation of being feminine/weak, it an accusation of being immature.

          • I'm also unsure that "bromance" is supposed to be shaming men or accusing them of being feminine. The article you linked didn't treat it as a problem. If anything, a lot of the women quoted seemed to find their partners' "bromances" endearing.

          • Bromance isn't traditionally seen as a negative thing, but the prefix bro- is pretty obviously masculine (comes from brother, via frat culture.)

        • You obviously aren't at all familiar with the MRM and the "manosphere" then. Just recently on some of the most prominent MRA blogs, we have someone literally holding up Walter White as a prime role model of alpha behavior (the only issues he takes with WW's behavior are the drug dealing and murdering), another guy who thinks that for a man to ask for help after being raped is "emasculating" (and in the comments you can find such wonderful sentiments expressed as that marital rape doesn't exist because a woman consents carte blanche when entering a marriage), and this fellow (one of the leaders of the MRA, by the way) framing college guys publicly chanting about having sex with unconsenting women as simply "silly college antics" and mocking people for being bothered by it. Just as a small sampling.

          The people DNL talks about at the beginning of the article are actively trying to encourage this very toxic version of masculinity, and eagerly shame men who don't fit it. It's not a strawman.

          • I kind of feel the same way as Chucky in regard to the article. The issue for me is that I think the influence and spread of MRA and their ideas is exaggerated – They're certainly not so well known that I could simply discuss the discussions around them with people I know in real life and be confident those people have any idea what MRAs are or the beliefs they have. The way the article reads it somewhat implies that the MRA/PUA version of masculinity is the dominant one being spread by all cultural influences.

            Perhaps it's simply a matter of age and generation – I'm 34 – but there are significant portions of DNLs article that do not resonate with me or my experiences.

          • My above comment wasn't strictly a response to Mel's comment; it was more of a general one. I'm still getting used to this format for discussion threads.

          • Sure, but there are a ton of things that influence the nerd culture that most mainstream folks wouldn't have any idea about…. but I don't see anything complaining when we discuss Doctor Who or issues in video gaming in relation to dating in these articles.

            You're right that MRAs aren't huge enough to have infected a lot of mainstream media, but they are *huge* on the Internet. Since nerd culture has both feet planted very firmly in the knee-deep slick muck of the Internet, it's not surprising that MRA attitudes would inform and be featured more prominently in discussions relating to nerds.

            I mean, my mother and non-nerdy friends have no idea what 4chan is… but you can't credibly argue that 4chan hasn't had a HUGE impact on nerd culture.

          • DNL's article doesn't have any content or contextual arguments relating to nerd culture and toxic masculinity, so it seems to me that nerd culture is irrelevent in this case – especially when compared to many of his other articles where he'll take a general dating/advice topic and specifically discuss how the issue relates to nerds and nerd culture. This article seems more directly addressed to men in general, which is why framing it as an argument against a form of masculinity that seems to me a lot fewer men are exposed to than implied makes it come across as incongruent.

          • I'd agree quite a few men aren't aware of the extremes of the MRM. But the problems DNL describes in the article I've seen in action out in the real world. I've heard people making jokes about how "lucky" a young teen boy was to "get to" have sex with his teacher (rather than recognizing that this is just as much rape as if the genders were reversed). I've regularly seen guys shame and insult each other for being "pussies"–for getting emotional in a sad or anxious way rather than anger, for example–or act out with violence when they're feeling off balance. I've dated guys who didn't know how to handle me being sexually assertive and went along with things they weren't really comfortable with because they felt a "real" man should always be up for sex. Etc.

            So, yeah, the most extreme version of all of the above is indeed an extreme. But the roots of those ideas are all through our society and culture, and seem to have a major effect on how men see themselves and related to each other and to women.

          • They are not huge on the internet, I never heard of the MRA movement until I got on this site, MRA's don't have an impact on nerd culture. Macho behavior existed way before and will exist after the MRA movement.

          • You obviously haven't spent any time on 4chan, any of its affiliates, Reddit, Kotaku or gone anywhere near popualr video game forums that mention Anita Sarkeesian. If you haven't heard of ElevatorGate or Anita's Kickstarter controversial, then I'm not sure using yourself as a barometer for what is talked about in the nerd community is a good idea.

          • Chucky Lopez says:

            I spend time on 4chan and reddit, I know about kotaku but never go on, I'm not a fan of Watson or Sarkessian to say the least either. The buillshit you will find on those forums and associated with those two people has fuck all to do with the MRA movement.

          • Chucky, you have a tremendously oversimplified way of looking at everything.

            ~If I've never heard of it, then surely it's not a big thing.
            ~If it doesn't effect me, then surely it doesn't effect nerd culture at all.
            ~If not everyone thinks this way, then surely it's not worth discussing.

            Uh, yeah, no….

          • Uh, yeah yes….

            I never said that if I never heard of it it's a bad thing.

            It (the MRA movement) doesn't affect me and it doesn't affect nerd culture.

            Everything is worth discussing, but on these boards it amounts to notihng more than a circle jerk.

          • "I never said that if I never heard of it it's a bad thing." Um, what I said was "it's not a BIG thing," which you did say: "They are not huge on the internet, I never heard of the MRA movement until I got on this site."

            Point is, just because you've never heard of it doesn't mean it's not a BIG thing.
            And you alone aren't the barometer for what effects nerd culture. Again, your tremendously oversimplified way of drawing conclusions makes it impossible to take you seriously.

          • Charles Ranier says:

            sorry but "I never heard of it therefore it must not be huge/popular" is a pretty big logical fallacy. You have not seen it because you a) haven't looked for it and b) being male, it hasn't come looking for YOU.

          • They're not coming and looking for anyone, just saiyan…

          • Dr_NerdLove says:
          • Gee doc, it's like you're judging that movement by it's lowest common denominator.

            Kind of like how most people judge feminists by their lowests common denominators. (rad fems who say men are just genetic abnormalities that should be circumsized)

            Or even my fellow atheists, like the one who beat up that pastor, you should judge all of our actions by the example set by that guy too.

            Definintely the smart thing to do, that way all your bases are covered.

          • Chucky, the most recognized and powerful figures and websites in the MRM have openly advocated harassment of women they disapprove of. This isn't the lowest common denominator–it's what the movement is all about. I have yet to see a website that identifies itself with the MRA community and doesn't include posts/articles talking about how awful or inferior women are. Can you point me to even one? If not, you don't have any foot to stand on in claiming that the movement is mostly made up of reasonable folks and those examples are outliers.

            If the main feminist leaders and websites all claimed that men are genetic abnormalities, then I wouldn't blame people for assuming that was what feminism was all about either. Judging a movement by what the majority of its members do is totally fair.

          • Secondly, the Doc isn't even condemning the entire movement. He's pointing out the specific attitudes that are problematic.

          • 'I have yet to see a website that identifies itself with the MRA community and doesn't include posts/articles talking about how awful or inferior women are.'

            I think you have confirmation bias so you will look for women shaming and call it that even when that is not the intent.

          • All you have to do to prove this is the case is show me an MRA website that doesn't have that intent. Like I asked you to. You can't claim I'm seeing hostility only because of confirmation bias without providing at least one example where you feel none of that intent is there. If those people are the outliers and most MRA organizations aren't like that, it shouldn't be hard. Unless they are in fact quite rare compared to the "extreme" ones.

            As long as you don't do so, I and anyone else reading can only conclude that you either can't actually find such a site, or you don't actually believe in your argument enough to be bothered offering a minimum of proof (whereas I and others have already offered several links to proof of the problematic attitudes and behavior that've been part of the MRM). Continuing to criticize me without providing any evidence to back it up does nothing to support your argument.

          • I'm sure you'll find something in there that doesn't paint feminism in a good light and call it mysoginy or something along those lines but at least I tried.

          • Sorry, but this link fails the first part of my request. I said a website "that identifies itself with the MRA community". Right there in the FAQ for that site it says this:

            "Is CAFE a Men’s Rights Group?

            CAFE is a human rights group that advocates equality for all members of society. Our focus is currently on men and boys because that issue receives much less attention than equal rights for women. We do not consider ourselves a Men’s Rights Group because discrimination against men also adversely affects many women including the daughters, mothers, sisters, partners and friends of male victims. Inequality can affect anybody and should be everyone’s concern."

            Bolding mine. Notice they're not only not identifying themselves as an MRA group, they're actively stating that they aren't MRAs. I wonder why that would be? :P

            So that site is as good an example of MRAs as a site that says "we do not consider ourselves a feminist group" would be of feminism. But you're welcome to try again, properly this time.

          • *Confronted with his own ignorance, Chucky backs down and offers only silence*

            This comes as no surprise.

          • http://just-smith.tumblr.com/

            Identifies as an MRA amongst many things.

          • As well as a feminist and about 12 other things.

          • OtherRoooToo says:

            I'm not sure about that ( that their influence/spread of MRA ideas is exaggerated). They're actually unbelievably reactionary ideas, and some of the ones that don't pertain to more modern innovations like child support have actually been around for centuries.

            If you ever did an experiment where you asked men — and in your age group, too — whether they believed some of the things MRAs believe, and described the ideas conceptually, instead of saying something like "Are you familiar with MRA concept X?" … I bet you'd come up with an interesting result.

          • If I asked men what they think about child support, front line military service, etc they might agree with the MRA just like most of the men I know would agree with feminists about womens rights and the wage gap, etc. What most people would disagree with both groups on is what causes the gap in equality, I'd say both groups are wrong in that respect.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          "I agree with Mr Lopez in this case. I find the version of 'masculinity' that Dr NL depicts in this article is a strawman – exaggerated to such an extreme that it isn't worth discussing."

          Yeah, he finds the most exaggerated version he can and holds that up as what "men" are taught masculinity is supposedly like.

          I don't find this to be any common full definition of how mainstream society defines masculinity –

          " the definition of “masculinity” pitched to men – especially young men – is one of violence, social dominance, anti-intellectualism and aggressive, even uncontrollable, sexuality. “Toughness” and stoicism are the only acceptable forms of expression besides anger and danger is the only worthwhile pursuit. Respect isn’t earned so much as taken, only to be given when you’ve impressed others sufficiently with how tough – how manly – you are."

          In any way whatsoever. I don't know if I can even think of a single tv show that demonstrates a man who's the "good guy" having all of these qualities.

          • Jack Bauer.

          • Paul Rivers says:

            Jack Bauer is close, but not sure how he's socially dominant, anti-intellectualism, or demonstrates uncontrollable sexuality.

            The quote also defined what it wrote as "the definition of 'masculinity' pitched to men', so I would expect a whole crapload of them…

    • Then go away.

      Or you could start petty arguments that go one forever- oh, you already did that.

  5. I just wanted to thank you for this article. It's one of the best examinations of how traditional masculinity is enforced, and how that harms men, that I've read.

    To add to the section on how gender roles can literally hurt men, a lot of men are reluctant to seek help for mental health issues because they regard that as a weakness, which I've seen cited as a major factor in the prevalence of male suicide. So traditional masculinity can literally kill, as well.

  6. 1) Major kudos on the metaphor-pictures. I let out a bark like a seal at the ribbon.

    2) Much applause to your logical take-down. I continue to be just… flummoxed, by the contradictions in MRA and even PUA literature. So any woman who isn't a virgin and doesn't find a partner before she gets dried up at 25 (the age keeps going younger, it seems) is a slut who rides the cock carousel until she finds a beta desperate enough to marry her. But… the definition of a man is nailing a whole bunch of women. How exactly do the numbers work out?? How are men supposed to both sleep around AND all still have a virginal 21 year old wife? I'd say it's wish fulfillment hiding underneath an attempt at rational discourse, but…. it's not even close to that, the whole thing falls apart at the slightest scrutiny.

    • A lot of contradictions are revealed when you actually articulate the idea. My suspicion is that, in the PUA universe, girls aren't slutty because they have sex, they're slutty because they are willing to have sex with non-alphas (presumably because she isn't hot enough to attract the attention of the "real men"). I imagine that if a woman had a lot of sex but made it clear that she only ever slept with the alphaest of the alphas, she would still be desired by PUAs. The dirty truth is that they don't actually want virginal 21-year-old wives; they just want to feel like they're one-upping other guys, and sleeping with 21-year-old virgins is a way to do this.

    • No offense, but I'd very surprised if most of the DNL's readers experience with MRA and PUA 'literature' comes from what DNL says is MRA/PUA literature.

    • I could give a lot of justifications, but the short and insidious answer is the numbers aren’t supposed to work out for everyone. Hypermasculinity as DNL describes above is based on the idea that only the 1% of super-alphas get to live the dream – the regular alphas, betas, gammas, deltas and so on get the leftovers and rejects of their “betters” or nothing at all. That’s why it’s so competitive and, ultimately, toxic – every man who consciously or subconsciously subscribes to this attitude is competing with every other man, and with only so much room at the top due to scarcity of the most desirable (according to hypermasculine philosophy) women, for one man to ascend necessarily requires another to slip.

      • It’s unfortunate that this post was ignored in the comment flow, but you capture the psychology of it exactly. It’s literally the ideology of laissez-faire capitalism, applied to social and sexual relations. Everything in MRA/PUA ideology stems from concepts of a supply and demand economy. The Darwinian tendencies of ‘nature’ (as if nature was some monolithic corporate enterprise) are retroactively fit into that model to explain and, worse, justify, modern human behaviour. It is highly toxic and perverse thinking, but it affects all of us.

      • All this talk of alpha, betas, gammas, deltas and so on reminds me of Brave New World.

    • I think it worked better in the days of nobility. At least for the nobles.

    • An Engineer says:

      PUAs and MRAs are different.

      • Explain how?

        • In most ways, really. MRAs look to actually pursue equality – equal consideration for issues like male-victim rape (especially by female aggressors), for male circumcision (can you imagine if female genital mutilation were as widespread?!), and for things like the disparity in male workplace deaths. (Also consider news headlines like "5 killed in ferry accident, including 4 women!" – okay, so that one man is without value completely?). Many of them seek not to be elevated above women in any way but rather to be truly equal to women. Keep in mind that some MRAs are even women themselves (myself included).

          PUAs, on the other hand, are entirely interested in picking up and using women.

          • The MRAs who aren't misogynistic assholes and really want equality are actually – wait for it – feminists. But they've bought into some un-truths about the root cause of the problem. Everything that you mentioned can be traced back to the patriarchal structure of our society – it harms men, too.

      • To quote myself a while back:
        "Meh, reductive and offensive attitudes towards all, loud and assholish misogynists as the faces of the movements, and the fact that both groups like to swarm feminist sites and whine. It's an understandable conflation to make, though yeah, they are different breeds of jackasses."

        • The ‘manosphere’, as they call it, is a network MRAs and PUAs all posting on each other’s blogs. They may be ‘two different things’ technically, but if you overlapped them as a Venn diagram, you’d end up with a perfect circle.

  7. Can you post some sources on women being favored in custody? Because I see that said all the time, but whenever I try to find anything, it's a breakdown of how often women are awarded custody with no information about how often the fathers have sought custody, which is a useless statistic.

    • But that says nothing about whether the fathers wanted custody. I do think the numbers skew to women, but it is a more meaningful number if you exclude couples where the father never wanted custody and ones where the mother never wanted custody.

    • I would love to see these numbers as well. I do think it more often favors women but my sister lost custody of her son and she's not a drug addict or anything. She just didn't have the money and resources that her ex has. I don't think it's as skewed as it used to be, and I think it's way more swayed by money/connections than gender but I'd love to see some numbers to get a better idea of what the big picture looks like.

    • I know in Minnesota, the mom automatically gets custody in a divorce. She could be a horrible child abuser, and it wouldn't matter. In the case of a cousin of mine, his mom was abusing him and his siblings, but my uncle was not given custody for years.

  8. I've always said that MRA's are right about the EXISTENCE of certain problems but are wrong about who is to blame.

    • They kind of have the right diagnosis, only kind of though, but their perscription is way off.

      • Paul Rivers says:

        They've just copied feminist rantings –
        1. Find something you don't like
        2. Come up with a long diabatre about it
        3. Completely and totally blame it on the other, despite your own gender's large involvement in it

        • Its more like they copied road range. Maybe we can solve the problems of the MRM with more public transportation so they don't sit in traffic and broad to much about these things.

          • OtherRoooToo says:

            I don't want more of them on the train with me, but thanks anyway for at least putting some thought into a potential solution.

  9. Great work doc!

    I personally think most of the "game-playing" in masculinity is ridiculous as well. It just shows that you're perpetually insecure. Unfortunately, even knowing that, it can be hard to take all the shit from guys that buy this. What would your advice be about asserting and defending yourself in a healthy way? Because with the current way things are, speaking up seems like the same old script and to start, I can find myself just fitting the lame masculine mold. Just a thought…

  10. I think that the current cult of the bad-ass isn't helping either. The cult of the bad-ass creates the impression that masculinity is an active trait, something that you have to do rather than something you simply are because of biology. Even some of the most gentle male characters in media like the Doctor are active rather than passive. What is needed are more passive male characters, not passive in the sense of weak-willed but in the terms of not being active. The problem is that there doesn't seem to be much of a market for passive male characters anywhere. See the reaction against Shinji Ikari from NGE, who is constantly criticized for failing to rise to the task.

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      The problem with that idea is that passive characters make for shitty stories.Nobody wants to read about the day Bilbo decided to sleep in, make an extra cup of tea and sat out on the front porch reading.

      • And that isn't just true of male characters. If Cayce Pollard didn't take the contract there wouldn't be much of a story.

        Passive main character only worked with Proust and Kafka, and Kafka's wasn't all passive. He did turn into a bug

      • Well JesuOtaku made a good point that stories, just like the real world, require all kinds. Diversity in casting and roles are good, but it's still not progress if the character is written or played as a gender or racial stereotype. The problem with passive damsel in distress characters is not so much that they're in distress, but that they're *always* damsels. A passive or less reactionary character can be just as interesting, if used appropriately and realistically; look at Peeta from "The Hunger Games." I think you can tell rich and interesting stories with passive characters mixed in, and I'll be glad to see the shift when there are just as many dudes in distress as damsels.

      • I disagree. In many ways Shinji Ikari was a passive character even though he acted. He was passive in sense that he was thrown into a situation without preparation, over his head, and to the kept resisting his circumstances. People didn't want this, they wanted to Shinji to kick but. Franz Kafka wrote good stories with passive characters.

        Maybe passive is the wrong word, perhaps a better word would be innate. The mysterious waif with all sorts of inherent powers that exists simply because she does is still a relatively popular troope. Maybe what we need are male characters who are special simply because they are without having to necessarily be transformed or to act.

        • Off the top of my head, the only male character who fits that description is George Orr from Ursual LeGuin's "The Lathe of Heaven." There may be others.

        • This may just be personal taste, but I could do without mysterious waifs with all sorts of inherent powers, regardless of the gender of the waif. A person doesn't need to be empty (which is what the mystery is usually hiding) to avoid being an action hero.

          I could do with some more Kafkaesque characters and some more gentlemen in distress, however.

      • Jean-Luc Picard.

        • I have a hard time seeing him as passive. Cautious, yes, sometimes slow to act. And sometimes his way of taking action is through diplomacy rather than fist-fights. But an awful lot on the show happens the way it happens because of what he chooses and does.

    • NotQuiteBrummie says:

      The fact Michael Cera still has a career suggests that the clueless dork who gets the girl movies are still being made. Granted in those same movies nerds are portrayed as even more clueless dorks who are stick thin and laughed at for being so but lets ignore that.

      Also, look at the crap the new Doctor reveal got because, while being an incredible actor, he's older and not conventionally good looking.

      • Huh, most of what I heard on that topic was "You say the Doctor can reincarnate as anyone and we just happened to get ANOTHER white dude? Effing hypocrisy."

        • There was a little bit of huff and puff from some female fans about a Doctor who wasn't cast for them to look at. I…well, I disapprove of that particular angle, but I can kind of understand it in the context of how women are treated on the show. At every point during the new series, there's been a young attractive female companion for the eyes of the male fans, and a couple of them haven't had much more to their personalities than that (I'm looking at you, Clara…). In that context, I can see how it feels unfair that guys get fanservice while female fans don't.

          • And if they purposely picked an ugly assistant they'd get called shallow for taking that decision.

          • So casting older or less attractive actresses is shallow, but being annoyed when an older (but in my opinion rather nice-looking) actor is cast is also shallow?

            If you're under the impression that the companion roles (or for that matter, roles in any TV show or movie) are open to actresses with a variety of appearances and cast purely on talent, you're kidding yourself. When they wrote Clara, the part was for a pretty young nanny, and the only people they considered for that role were pretty young actresses. I think it's worth considering why they couldn't have written a role for a plain young nanny, or an older, experienced one.

          • Well yes, if they were purposely picking someone based on their appearance to appease the complaints of some fangirls then they would be shallow.

            I don't know if you've noticed but most female lead roles are played by attractive women, as indeed are the majority of male ones. Sex sells.

          • Sure, but if they're selling sex, I think it's a valid complaint by female fans that the show is only selling sex to their male counterparts and is ignoring them. If, on the other hand, the show wants to pretend it's only looking for incredible actors, other groups of women have a point that it's favored looks over talent in several female roles.

          • It is also not selling sex to homosexual viewers as the actors playing both lead roles are straight. It never ends.

          • Sure, I'd be willing to listen to that complaint. Last season, I thought it was kind of striking that we got stuck with that whole impossible girl nonsense when Vastra/Jenny/Strax seemed like much more interesting characters.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            I'm going to start a campaign to get a kissless virgin Doctor into this show. I find it shameful that my community isn't recognised in such a show and I demand the new one doesn't leave the Tardis and gets laughed at by women of all species across the galaxy.

          • I'm pretty sure a couple of the old school doctors never got any action, though I'm not necessarily sure they wanted it, either. But, sure, go ahead.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            Not just the characters, the actors playing them must be too.

          • That's actually a little different. Race and gender and attractiveness are a little difficult to separate from the actor's own traits, and uniformity in casting there tends to mean that some people never see stories about people like them. Sexual orientation, which can be portrayed more easily by people whose own is different, might be the closer comparison.

            But, again, sure. Go picket on behalf of kissless virgins. I'm fine with that, too. I don't think you're going to find you can talk me into telling the fangirls to shut up and like that their gender is only represented in terms of hot, increasingly personality-free manic pixie dream girls, while male roles can be played by actors of a variety of ages and appearances so long as they're talented (and, of course, white).

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            If its as easy to find a vacuous yet attractive female lead it should be easy enough to find someone who is a kissless virgin that can't necessarily act but is there purely to appease people's complaints.

            I'm constantly told there are more people like me than I think, there might even be an actor among them.

          • Okay. I'm not arguing with you.

          • Actually, I'm a man and I'm kind of pissed off with the Doctor always having a female companion to, the entire vibe of the relationships were getting annoying. What I was hoping for was a male Doctor with a male Companion.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            I'd like that just to hear the deafening silence from the show's female fans regarding there being no eye candy for the straight male viewers.

          • Why would they need to protest that? I'm sure the male fans would complain plenty. Why is it women's responsibility to look after your viewing interests for you, particularly when so much entertainment is already catered to the desires of straight men?

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            I thought you were all for equality. Male entitlement and all that jazz.

          • MordstihJ says:

            This has got to be the weirdest variation of What About "Teh Men" I've ever seen.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            Ah, I'm slowly working it out. Its only entitlement when it is the other gender demanding something.

            Bear with me.

          • You're asking women to identify and protest things that unfairly affect men, even if the men in question are indifferent or not willing to bother.

            We're merely asking men to listen after we have already done the work of identifying and forming arguments against things we find unfair- sometimes not even agree, but simply to listen.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            I'm asking you (not women – plural) to practise what you preach rather than want the very thing you complain about when it is in favour of men.

          • But I'm not wanting the very same thing. Like I said, I'll nod along with you if your arguments are good, and I'm certainly not going to advocate for a Doctor Who cast full of eyecandy guys (that sounds like a stupid show).

            But there are far too many men – including you, I suspect – who use this tactic as a way to attempt to overwhelm women and to persuade them to stop complaining altogether. If you actually want something, get the ball rolling yourself and then I'll give your arguments a fair hearing. All I ask of you is the same.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            "But there are far too many men – including you, I suspect – who use this tactic as a way to attempt to overwhelm women and to persuade them to stop complaining altogether"

            It is going well isn't it? The reveal of Capaldi as the new Doctor went without a single complaint about his gender, skin colour, age and general appearance.

            Oh no, hang on.

          • Well, yeah, I didn't say that you guys were successful in your attempt to shut women up. But you're certainly trying to do so, and it should be called out.

          • It's always struck me as funny that men who would never themselves protest the the way women are treated and represented feel that feminists should devote an equal amount of time to caring for their needs. It doesn't work like that. Advocate for your fanservice yourself. If your argument seems fair, I'll nod my head right along with you, but I'm not starting the fight on your behalf. Media is already dominated by the tastes of straight white men, and I have lots of other things on my plate to protest.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            Well thank goodness feminists have never demanded men change their perception of things.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            Oh sorry I'm victim blaming again…or am I a rape apologist again, I can never tell on here.

          • I'd actually say you're arguing in bad faith. I don't believe you would care much if there were a male companion or if there wasn't a "kissless virgin" Doctor. You just want women to shut up.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            To shut up complaining that a TV show has attractive female leads when the same women have been drooling over David Tennant and Matt Smith during the majority of the exact same period of time? Indeed I am telling them to shut up.

          • But, as we noted at the beginning of this conversation, the ratio has now changed. And you still want women to shut up.

            But at least you're honest about it.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            And feminists still aren't happy about it.

          • Well, no, why would they be? After all, it's changed so that there's both no fanservice, no well-written female character, and no female Doctor. That seems like a loss all around.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            There used to be a female Doctor? Must have missed that change to an all male run.

          • There's been a loss of one thing (I'd argue two, since the female characters used to be better-written) without any gains in the other direction. Why would women be happy about the change?

            None of this is Capaldi's fault, of course, he's just caught up in a debate about the way the show has been run.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            Well the last series went from having a male companion to 2 extra female ones, but we're splitting hairs here.

            Sherlock Holmes is still portrayed as a man too by the way and Humpty Dumpty is portrayed as an egg when it was almost certainly a cannon.

          • I'd have no problem with a Sherlock revival that wanted to switch that, though the Doctor is a bit different because he changes his appearance and personality regularly without a series reboot.

            When the last time you've seen Humpty Dumpty portrayed at all in popular media?

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            I honestly don't know, does the show ever show a Time Lord change race or gender?

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Both, actually.River Song changed ethnicity and the Corsair has been a woman at least once, if not twice.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            Good to know.

          • Changing your perception is merely nodding your head. I don't think feminism has ever realistically expected (or in some cases, even wanted) men to go around identifying problems affecting women and leading the charge on their behalf. There is a difference there.

            So, no, Virginia, feminism is not about making women write letters to ensure you can keep seeing hot girls on Doctor Who.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            Absolutely, do you have the address of the female lead writer of Doctor Who feminists are complaining to about the run of attractive female lead actors?

          • That's…uh…actually non-responsive to what I said.

            But sure, go write her. Write Moffat too, since a lot of this has his fingerprints on it.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            "I don't think feminism has ever realistically expected (or in some cases, even wanted) men to go around identifying problems affecting women and leading the charge on their behalf."

            So asking the writer of a show to redefine 50 years worth of a characters history to change their gender/skin colour doesn't fall into that category?

          • Um. No. That is the definition of a problem women identified themselves and are making arguments about. Note that we're not sitting around complaining why male fans aren't making them on our behalf.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            No you're just implying they're all collectively wanting to shut you up because they dare disagree with it.

          • Well, first of all, who is "they"? I think that Moffat has some real issues with the way he portrays women and may be sexist, but he's not trying to shut me up. He's not communicating with me at all.

            I also don't think that men who respond to complaints on substance are trying to shut me up. I disagree with them. I find some of them sexist and some of them not, but they're arguing in good faith.

            This claim that I'm obligated to use my energy to protest every lack of fanservice for men and every slight male fans might have experienced, even if male fans don't bother themselves, before I'm allowed to talk about the portrayals of women? That's an attempt to shut me up, and that's the route you chose to go down.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            I think you're on to something regarding the sexism, he hasn't made Sherlock Holmes or Watson a woman either yet.

            Oh and I'm sure accusing a group of people of all being sexist isn't an attempt to shut them up though. Definitely not.

          • The problem isn't just the lack of a female Doctor. I wouldn't even say that's a big part of the problem. The problem is the way he portrays the women who are on the show.

            I haven't accused an entire group of being sexist, though. I think that some of the men who hold a certain belief are, and that others are not. Guys are more than welcome to discuss the issue. Obviously, I may judge them depending on what they say, but I think that's the case with most discussions.

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            Because he's a terrible writer, he needed text prompts to explain John Hurt was playing The Doctor…in a scene solely featuring doctors. He can't end an episode without it being some sentimental crap reason like a leaf appeared or the power of love conquers all. It isn't a sexist or misogynistic issue he's just utterly shit at his job.

            So in short, by labelling people as sexist you're doing the very same thing you were accusing me of earlier?

          • I'd agree he's not a particularly good writer (he was very good for individual episodes, but he relies too heavily on the same themes, many of which are shallower than they initially appeared), but he's also sexist.

            You can keep trying all you'd like, but it's not the same thing.

          • hobbesiean says:

            The new doctor who has male fans?

            I'm totally serious.. like 99% of the fans of the new show I come across tend to be women.. so if there are guys who are fans of it I'm genuinely surprised..

          • To be fair, as US fans, we're all in the minority. I don't think you can really tell what's going on with the show's real intended audience based on us.

            But, yeah, there are male fans in the US too. I know a dozen or so.

          • Dr_NerdLove says:

            Yup. Like me.

          • Also my old (male) boss, who liked it enough to recommend it to random employees. That's how I started watching.

          • hobbesiean says:

            well I mean it seems to be HUGELY popular on campus.. TONS of women wearing shirts and stuff relating to it.. but I never see guys doing so.. it's just weird.. cause growing up Doctor Who was one of those 'icky things' that only basement dwelling grognards watched..

          • That doesn't necessarily reflect the fandom completely. In some cases, it's just a matter of which way a show's merchandise leans in terms of style. I have a Who shirt and a couple of Game of Thrones shirts, but there are some things I'm fans of that I don't own any merchandise for because the women's stuff is ugly.

            The show has definitely picked up American fans since the relaunch, though. I would say it's universally more popular. There's probably also a difference in it being a currently airing show than a declining/cancelled one. If I've got your age right, the show would have been cancelled for most of the years when you were a kid or a teenager, and that really does make a difference in whether something is mainstream geek or niche geek.

          • hobbesiean says:

            Oh yeah the show only came back on when I was like 21.. I remember watching it on PBS in the early 90's,.. which was when i got into that and Quatermass.

          • I wear shirts…but it's the old Doctor Who I'm a fan of, never even seen the new. I just like that there are nice shirts now.

          • hobbesiean says:

            thats cool.. I tried to talk to some people who were wearing them but we just had nothing really in the way of cross over at all.. I dislike the new show and don't watch it.. and they had never seen the old show, or if they had had seen a few random eps on netflix….

            I dunno.. It just seems really divided… certainly not faulting them for likeing the new show.. I just don't like it..

          • What about Captain Jack?

        • Don't even get me on this. Sci Fi and fantasy are usually lily white and if there are non whites they are primitive or decadent (side eye GoT). That is one reason I prefer reading to anything visual. I can imagine it how I want

        • Yes, I demand a Jewish Doctor. Everybody knows that the best Doctors are Jewish. ;).

          • But no native Doctors please! Hollywood/media depictions of us always suck, they'd probably cast some non-native in the part and stick on some beads/feathers/braids (hard side eye at Johnny Depp)

          • As much as I love most of Johnny Depp's movies (and on a more shallow note, as much as I appreciate looking at him), I may have uttered an audible, "Oh, Johnny, no!" when the first commercial for that movie came on.

          • I facepalmed the minute I heard they were doing a remake of that story. It is just bad on so many levels

          • Yeah, some things just can't be successfully redone. I wouldn't mind seeing some sort of cowboy hero movie with a focus on native/hispanic/black/mixed characters (especially since that's more realistic than the all-white versions), but I think you'd have to start from scratch with a new concept and cast properly.

          • I would love to see one about the Mexican cowboys who were brought to Maui to teach how to ranch in the Kingdom days. Apparently they are the origin of slack stringed guitar.

            Mainland is tough, even with a diverse cast because the conquest is just such a fraught history. It would have to be more of a war/occupation movie than anything else. Blood Meridian might come closest to accurate depiction, but it would not film well.

          • I have never heard that story. That's a thing that happened?

            I can understand that, and there is no way Blood Meridian is in any way filmable. I suppose Cormac McCarthy might write a script along the same lines, since he does do that, but I think it might lose a lot in translation. I also think it would be unfortunately hard for that movie to get made.

          • It is a pretty cool story: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/06/travel/in-mauis

            He's probably the only director who could do it, but an accurate story would be so depressing most folks wouldn't want to watch it

          • hobbesiean says:

            I'd really like to see a film made about the Aztec Eagles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec_Eagles

          • OtherRoooToo says:

            Okay, I'm not the only one who was feeling really betrayed by that.
            *sigh*

    • I'm not sure I agree; I think it depends how you define "passive". I'm with you that it doesn't help to equate "manly man" with "ass-kicking action hero", but there are many ways for a character to be active. They don't have to be violent, or even confrontational. I would say that a story about someone attempting to create or build some great work, or pursuing a relationship or a friendship they want, or making a journey, or bettering themselves as an individual, are all about active characters.

      Passive main characters don't tend to make for very compelling stories. You risk the plot turning into just a series of things that happen to character X, with no real arc, if the main character never tries to take charge of their life; there's nothing to move the plot along. I think audiences also get very frustrated with characters who won't act when it's clearly necessary, and find it difficult to relate to characters who don't seem driven by some kind of goal. It's not just the guys, either; female characters are criticised for being too passive, as well. It's one of the major criticisms leveled at Bella Swan in Twilight, who often gets compared unfavourably to more active characters like Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games.

      Of course, those are very broad definitions of "active" and "passive" – if you were thinking more "action hero" vs. "man of words", that's different.

      • The Simple Man says:

        I agree. I read Metro 2033 and dear god is the main character sooo passive in that book. He does do somethings but he often has other people save him from trouble (though its justifable but still).

    • infiniteandsmall says:

      Tavros and Rufioh Nitram (from Homestuck) are both VERY passive characters. It's interesting to explore, but they really need strong personalities and active characters around them to make them interesting. Because Homestuck has such a huge cast, it works. But in a story with a much smaller cast, nothing much would happen. Plus, the risks of making a character like this is that they become a woobie. Things happen to them. They never take initiative and do things.
      (Saying this as some who LOVES both Tavros and Rufioh but is pretty sure that a Homestuck consisting of characters like them might result in no one playing the game in the first place!)

  11. Nope, Chucky. It's just you.You alone see the truth. No men actually think like this. Understanding the role society plays in your dysfunctional dating life is totally unnecessary. Go forth and be nevermore burdened by Dr. Quack's Bad Advice for Men Too Clever and Unfairly Treated to Get the Girl.

    • To be somewhat fair to Chucky, there are a lot of very sexist and mysogynistic men out there with great love and sex lives. There are more than a few traditionally-minded women that are attractived to men that adhere to the traditioanl masculine idea of some sort. There might be fewer in the past but they still exist. There is no correlation between a man's opinions on feminism and women with his love or sex life.

      • I don't agree completely with the last bit. I think the place where this trips people up is that, like most things about attraction and dating, it's never just one thing. There are men who are sexist and misogynistic who are very successful with women. Most of them also have some qualities that are considered generally very appealing to women as well, like good looks or charisma or money.

        For a lot of people struggling with dating, there are multiple areas where they have room for improvement. It's rarely just someone's weight, or confidence issues, or unemployment, or attitudes toward gender roles. Having healthy attitudes about love and sex is an attractive trait in a partner to most people, and it's one thing people can cultivate to make them more attractive partners. If those same people chose to put all their energy into being more attractive, or finding work, or improving their confidence, they'd also be more attractive partners. Some people need to do lots of work and other people have things they simply can't change about themselves, so it's good to talk about all the options.

        I think the other issue is that some of this advice is tailored to the specific audience. It is a nerd dating site, and many of the women who are available to nerdy men are themselves nerds…and I've noticed that women in these circles tend to lean toward feminism or at least away from traditionalism.

        • DNL advise doesn't necessarily seemed tailored into getting nerdy men to date nerdy woman. If anything, there seems to be an assumption that a lot of the readers are actively going to try to get non-nerdy woman, especially the advise about grooming. If your attempting to date a woman that identifies as a feminist than not being a mysogynist is going to hurt but agreeing with her isn't necessarily going to help either. Especially if part of it is just an act. I don't know how many people changed their minds after reading an article like this but I imagine a few decided to at least try to pretend being a feminist.

          Has to having a healthy attitude towards love and sex, thats really in the eye of the beholder. I think my attitude towards love and sex is generally healthy on an intellectual level or at least I understand sex positivity. (Yes, I know). Frustration and anxiety makes it very hard not to maintain an entirely positive attitude, I'm the type that needs evidence of the result.

          • I actually think a lot of it is geared toward men who are trying to date nerdy women. Not all, of course, but there are a lot of articles focused on dating within one's friend group, meeting women at nerdy events, and so on. I'm not really sure what you mean about the grooming tips – I'd consider myself a nerdy woman, and many of those sound right to me. I'd agree that some of it's also focused on men meeting women who probably aren't nerds in other situations. But…well…it doesn't sound like those being discussed are particularly traditional types either. We haven't had a lot of discussion on how to meet women in religious groups, for instance. A lot of the non-nerdy conversation focuses on meeting women in bars. Some of those will be traditional, some will be feminists, and a lot will probably hold some beliefs from both ideologies.

            I would agree that agreeing with someone isn't necessarily going to make a woman interested in you. However, having negative attitudes about gender roles and sex are one of several things that may make a woman who would be otherwise interested decide she should look elsewhere. As for whether someone can change his mindset, I don't know if it's possible. I'd think that this advice is perhaps the most helpful to men who are most of the way there.

            Not going to dwell too much on your personal situation, but I think there might be some room for having a better mindset about things. It's not so much the frustration. I think at least some of your issues come from the fact that you tend to think about relationships in very black and white terms (youthful romance versus horrible dull marriages) and that your desires conflict with each other (you're a cautious, careful person who isn't entirely comfortable with the ways some people express their sexuality but who also seems to be craving sex without a serious commitment).

          • Possibly, I haven't figurered out the way to resolve these issues yet. I don't know if I can. There is a sort of feeling of having missed a lot of things other people get to experience. I'm afraid of runnign into a giant wall of "no" to any idea or suggesiton or being with somebody with a "been there, done that" attitude. Well, I haven't.

            I'm definitely never going to stop being a cautious, careful person. Its not so much that I want sex without serious commitment but I want sex without being held to more requirements than previous boyfriends because it'll make everything feel like a struggle.

          • I'm not really sure where you get this idea that people say "been there, done that" or that they start new relationships and decide that this particular boyfriend is going to have to audition for the husband role, while it was fine for previous ones to be casual.

            What sorts of specific things do you actually have in mind, anyway? Skipping work to have sex? Holding hands in the park? Getting really drunk at a nightclub and getting thrown out? Getting high together? Various sex acts? Because, of the people I know who take a "been there, done that" attitude, it's either been because the behavior was very irresponsible in the first place (which doesn't sound like your scene) or because they didn't like whatever it was when they tried it in a past relationship (in which case, it's not like the old boyfriend got some great benefit from trying something once or twice with a partner who didn't have a good time).

            I know your last therapist wasn't working for you, but I really think you could stand to talk to someone on a regular basis about these issues and about coming up with some kind of feasible picture of a relationship.

          • Oh nothing rational, I'm just paranoid about having to hear about somebody tell about all these wonderful, wild things that they did with their ex-boyfriends like drop out of life for a year to bum around India or something or have some sort of wild sex adventure while getting shot down for saying "hey, its a nice day out, lets go for a walk in the park."

          • Hypothetical 1: Your new girlfriend asks you to quit your job and come with her to bum around in India for a year. She's leaving in January. Are you going with her?

            Hypothetical 2: Your new girlfriend suggests that you have a foursome with an attractive couple she knows, or suggests that perhaps the two of you should head out to a bondage club. Are you interested?

            Because – and I think this may be a huge part of your problem – you don't come across on here as someone who'd be particularly interested in either of those things. If you really are that kind of guy, I think you need to make some changes to reflect that. If you aren't actually interested in those things, then I think you need to relax the fixation on them.

            Occasionally any girlfriend (wild India-traveling sex adventurer or no) is going to turn down going to the park. Sometimes she'll probably want to go too, but there will be days when she's hungover or busy with work or would rather chill out and watch television. Frankly, I'd be kind of scared of dating someone with this particular hangup, because it seems likely to lead to a dynamic where I couldn't express that I wasn't in the mood for certain things without having my past dating history dragged into it.

          • I'm very well aware that there would be days when my girlfriend is hungover, busy with work, or would rather chill out and watch TV. I just have this fear of hitting a giant wall of no in a relationship and not being treated like a boyfriend. Its from a lack of experience and continued rejection.

            Hypothetical 1 is more plausible for me than Hypothetical 2. I'd like to be capable of Hypothetical 2 but I'd probably chicken out. Hell, I'd freak out at a three some with two women most likely.

          • Another thing is that at this point I'm deeply confused at what I can reasonably expect from a girlfriend. I know that she isn't supposed to be a Magic Pixie Girlfriend and that nobody owes you sex but I have no idea what sort of things that a girlfriend should do.

          • There isn't a girlfriend scope of work or contract or some one size fits all duty statement.

            Maybe think of what a boyfriend should do and then think of behaviors/characteristics that fit with that model. Like you want to be spontaneous on occasion. Do you want her to propose spontaneous plans too? It is more a question of thinking of the type of girlfriend you want rather than what one "should" do.

          • You could reframe this thought. You aren't the one who missed the good parts and now is being held to requirements. You are the one who doesn't have to go through the failed experiments and, "Huh. How do I do this without my teeth scraping him? Oops! Obviously not that way." You know, you get to miss being kneed in the balls because your partner hasn't quite mastered how to change positions on the fly yet because now she knows how to do it.

          • I'm a bit too much of a pessimist to view things that way. Usually to make myself feel better, I think about the divorce rate. Thinking like that would require a much more fundamental change that goes beyond anything about relationships.

          • If that makes you feel better, then go for it. If you find it isn't working, try thinking of how you don't have to deal with cheap beer being puked on your junk because your girlfriend hasn't learned how to control that pesky gag reflex yet.

            Some experiences are worth missing, unless you like the smell of slightly used Natural Light.

          • It seems to be a situation where you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater though. If enduring some miserably hilarious scenarios are necessary for the experiences I want than so be it.

          • You can also just appreciate that you are with someone who can actually not puke on you during oral and forget about how she got there or what she has done that you "missed".

          • I just wanted to say that "Some experiences are worth missing, unless you like the smell of slightly used Natural Light." is the best sentence I've read today.

          • I just have to interject to thank eselle28 for this bit:

            "Having negative attitudes about gender roles and sex are one of several things that may make a woman who would be otherwise interested decide she should look elsewhere."

            So, so very true. In my last relationship (with a nerdy man), we were pretty happy together most of the time, but as I got to know him I realized he had absorbed some really shitty attitudes about women. He treated me well for the most part, but little comments here and there betrayed some seriously backward thinking on women and gender roles/stereotypes. And this was definitely one of the things that made me decide to look elsewhere.

            The Doc has talked before about the "deeply engrained sexism in nerd culture" (no, I'm not saying nerds are all sexist) and his presentation of healthy attitudes about women, sex, and relationships is aimed to help readers improve themselves and their outlooks. And helping them improve themselves is a great way to "help the nerd get the girl."

        • OtherRoooToo says:

          " Most of them also have some qualities that are considered generally very appealing to women as well, like good looks or charisma or money."

          Not only that – I find it … telling that there are so few queries as to what those women gave up to be in – and stay in – that relationship.

          Which at that point, whenever these sexist & misogynistic mens' love lives are coveted as great, always makes me wonder "Great for *whom*?"

          I mean, I'm sure lots of people would have lots to say about my standards, but I tend to perceive a couple's love life as "great" when *both* people are happy and fulfilled.

          Somehow, I just don't get the feeling that that's the specific definition of "great" that's being applied here.

      • Actually, the majority of the studies on this topic suggest that men in more equal relationships tend to have more and better sex within marriage. So if you're talking short-term, then the only correlation is that misogynist men tend to end up with sexist women. In the long term, though, a man's opinions on feminism do correlate with having more frequent and more satisfactory sex – as long as those opinions are backed up with action and aren't just rhetoric.

        • Gender equality is not the same thing as feminism, just saiyan.

          • You're right, in that the relationship between explicit claims about beliefs and equal behavior in a relationship is mediated by class. The higher the class, the more likely you are to make claims about your beliefs and not back them up with behavior; working-class men, on the other hand, are the most likely to go ahead with an equal partnership while loudly claiming they are not feminist at all.

          • I'm right in any and all cases, do define feminism as being identically equal to gender equality is wrong.

          • OtherRoooToo says:

            "I'm right in any and all cases"

            And with such a … flexible .. perspective on things, you're having trouble finding fulfilling romantic relationships?

            You don't say.

          • There's some things you don't get to be flexible on.

          • "I'm right in any and all cases"

            No, you're not. You're a shitty debater.

          • Yes, I am.

            I do have a ways to go before I can be called a good debater though.

          • Robjection says:

            Anyone who is not open to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, they have got it wrong should not participate in any arguments at all ever.

          • Oh I'm wrong or just not educated on several faces of a multitude of subjects, it's just that I'm wrong not in this particular case.

          • "I'm right in any and all cases."

            Oh, so you're delusional. I'm glad you cleared that up so we can all safely disregard your opinions as bullshit.

          • How so? Gender equality is the stated goal of feminism. You might disagree with what they mean by gender equality but their goal is gender equality. I also feel to see how one can achieve gender equality in a sexist system without some political movement dedicated for the rights of the persecuted gender, which is the female gender without exception in this world. Might as well give this movement a name and feminism is as good as any.

          • I think many feminists are playing at semantics when they use the word gender equality.

            Those semantics also let them say stupid things such as one is either a feminist or bigot, or one is either for feminism or is not for gender equality.

            I'm for gender equality, but I am not a male feminists nor do I have any desire to be one. I think they're wrong in many cases about what causes the gap in equality so calling myself a feminist would a category error.

          • Some would define that as equity feminism. Hell, gender equality can mean anything from "equal opportunities, not equal outcomes" to gender quota, to use an example. You're free to label yourself as anything you want, and embracing the self-devouring snake of semantic wank distracts from concrete discussion, but don't be surprised if people mistake you for a feminist purely because the mainstream definition encompasses gender equality as a central tenet.

          • Yeah, I fail to see how gender equality can be achieved by focusing solely on the problems of one gender.

            It requires that every instance of inequality favors men, which in my humble opinion, is bullshit.

          • TheWanderingDude says:

            Because you can't fix everything all at once at the same time.
            There are problems faced by men, and some of them are addressed by feminism, including the problems that come from socially imposed gender roles.
            But it's always a question of priority, and in cases of inequality you should focus on the group that has been held back the most first.
            And anyway, correcting some of the inequality would have a positive effect on not just women but men too.

          • Very well, WanderingDude. Well met.

            If modern feminism focused more on the problems socially imposed gender roles create for everyone, I'd be more inclined to identify with it.

          • Feminism these days has started to branch out. Some of the feminists have realized how this hyper masculinity has made the male gender/sex victims as well and want to help them.

            I suggest looking around for groups that are tackling the gender roles and being a part of that group.

          • thixotropic says:

            So this is wrong?

            “Feminism is the radical idea that women are people.”

            In other words, people just like men are, aka gender equality. Not special treatment, or control over men (that would be contradictory!) or any of the bizarre fantasies continually spun to keep working-class white men hopped up and paranoid.

      • Eh, I'm inclined to disagree with your last point. I would identify with a feminist precisely because doing so helps me have healthier, more understanding, and more mutually satisfying relationships with the women in my life. That's not to say that it's impossible for people who have a more traditional understanding of gender roles and relationships to have a healthy relationship, provided they share common goals, values, and attitudes. However I think feminism makes it easier for men and women to negotiate differences in goals and attitudes in a way that is mutually beneficial to everyone involves, rather than having one party assert power over the other.

        • Defining feminism as being non-traditionalist is wrong too, I'm progressive in my mindsets about sex, relationships, and gender roles but I do not self-identifiy as a feminist nor do I feel there is any need to in order to be non-traditional.

          • Chucky, it may be a bit of a logical fallacy to use yourself as the example for every point you attempt to prove…

          • I wouldn't say that feminism is about being non traditional– I mean, hell, one might even call feminism itself a tradition of sorts. The label means different things to different people, as labels generally do. Out of curiosity, why not? If you are progressive with your attitudes, then you'd probably agree with most of what feminists say.

          • I agree with feminists on what needs to change, I disagree with what casues the disparity in equality, I don't think rape culture is a thing, I don't think the 'patriarchy' is as over reaching as they say, I don't believe in the 'male privelege' espoused by feminists, etc etc. It'd be like me being a memeber of the KKK and not being racist.

      • True, whether a man is feminist or not has little impact on his relationships or the quality of the relationships- the only thing more pathetic than a unlucky in love nerd is an unlucky in love nerd becoming a feminist in hopes of getting dates

    • How many wives as Rush Limbaugh had again?

      • More than he should of had in a just world.

        • Gross. Limbaugh is a horrible person, but wives aren't doled out according to merit, and a world where that happened wouldn't be terribly just.

          Frankly, his wives were probably similarly unethical, selfish people themselves, which is why they were happy to be with someone like him. Or isn't the moral character of a woman important?

          • Yeah, I'm still not 100% sure what could have attracted them all to multi-millionaire Rush Limbaugh.

          • I'm sorry that my attempt at humor failed. I can't be successful with my wit all the time.

          • Ah, sorry, that didn't come across as being a joke. I think most of us have a dry humor not coming across in print failure now and then.

          • The internet is not good for nuance.

          • Robjection says:

            It's also not good for finding out the name of a tune that goes something like "Dun dudder dun, dun dun dun". Though it would be pretty awesome if we could actually do voice recordings of our comments in various places.

        • OtherRoooToo says:

          " just world"

          I'm thinking that's a great example of why that phrase is used to describe a specific kind of fallacy.

  12. Robjection says:

    I'm not a dog person or that much of a cat person, but I needed that puppy and kitten break.

  13. Great article, but I'd say that the primary gender policers of *men* are men. There's an argument to be made that women gender police other women more than men do — at least among younger women.

    On a different note, another way in which masculinity hurts men is that men tend to suffer more intense emotional and physical fallout from breakups, because they don't generally have the support network that women have. http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/coping_with_a_b

    • thixotropic says:

      Actually, that is what the article says. Men police men. You’re totally right that women gender police women… quite brutally, I might add. Men have =no idea= how brutally.

      • Actually, the article says "You see, women aren’t the enforcers of traditional gender roles. " As I noted, that's true for men, but not necessarily for women. Women tend to police gender roles for other women.

  14. It's one thing to try to help men be better men, but masculinity should not be decried or degraded because of it. Masculinity is as much a part of human life as femininity, and it is not inferior. Specifically, there are certain aspects of masculinity that I do not want to "grow out of" or move away from:

    -Noblesse Oblige. Yes, I think it's my job to open a door for a lady. I'm not insulting her ability to do it herself; I'm being nice to her because that's what ladies deserve. Courtesy and etiquette are part of gender roles, and they should stay there.

    -Facts over feelings. Particularly in the business world, everything is supposed to be about understanding, empathy, and service. I think there's still room for masculine virtues. Henry Ford didn't offer his cars in designer colors and he didn't use fancy advertisements, he made a cheap and efficient car that worked and showed people why it was better than everyone else's. Apple computers are cutesy and user-friendly, and their place as a fraction of the market share businesslike PCs is well-deserved. There's a time and place for considering the human aspect, but there's also a time and place for a gray box that just works.

    -Competition. Not every human encounter has to be about working together toward a goal. Even sports, supposedly the epitome of masculine virtues, is succumbing to this. Right now, the World Series is going on, and the Cardinals and the Red Sox depend on each other for ratings. Once upon a time, the American League and the National League hated each other and wanted to drive the other out of business if possible.

    Well, I enjoy that competitive spirit. I like games where I can either outwit and crush an opponent, or get taken to school myself and know that I put everything I had into my attempt. Life is not all a feminine discussion group.

    I read http://www.artofmanliness.com and I think that site does a good job of talking about being masculine without being a jerk to others. I don't want to be completely feminine.

    • Ugh. Look, you're welcome to cultivate facts over feelings and competition if those traits suit you well. The "noblesse oblige" bit is different, because you're dragging me into your gender and personal expression. For starters, even the phrasing you're using implies that you're superior to me. Beyond that, what if I don't want you to be "nice" to me in that particular manner? It's more than possible to be courteous to everyone around you without making a special effort to single out women, and most of the efforts that do single out women for attention are extremely uncomfortable.

      • Then it becomes *your* responsibility to act with courtesy. Recognize that someone is putting forth an effort to express his personality. If you saw someone spitting on the ground, would you upbraid them, or stick up your nose and walk by, or demonstrate the right way to act in front of them? You can do the same thing if someone offends you by being overly officious.

        • But you're not actually being courteous toward me. You're forcing your gender expression on me in a condescending way. Why can't you find a way of expressing your masculinity that doesn't require other people to participate? It seems quite rude for you to force me to be involved.

          (If I saw someone spitting on the ground, I would ignore that person but also think less of them. It's a bit different with a door, where I can certainly think less of the man, but don't have the option of ignoring him if I actually need to enter the building.)

          • If you find it necessary to make a statement, you can just stand there until the man gives up and enters himself. I just think that's more petulant than entering, saying thank you, and then going on your way.

            Put it this way: If you want to *break* the same gender roles that I'm expressing by holding a door for a man, and that man was me, then I would do just that–walk in, say thank you, and move on.

          • I guess the difference is that I wouldn't do that unless you were right behind me and it seemed natural, because I would consider it quite rude to try to include a stranger in my public statement about gender roles.

            It doesn't seem like etiquette for you to do the same, and frankly, I find it a bit unfair that I'm expected to go through life deciding whether I want to be seen either as petulant or as endorsing this sort of obnoxious behavior by accepting it (and, apparently, thanking the men who force me to go along with their bit of playacting). Why can't you be manly on your own time, and let me go about my business undisturbed?

          • Because it's not all about you. I'm not holding the door because I think you're weak. I'm holding the door because it's the right thing to do. Tradition and roles are part of that reason, and if you eschew tradition and roles, that's fine, but I don't. When a tradition is oppressive, like a woman being made to walk behind a man, I say toss it out. When a tradition is courteous, I'm going to keep it.

          • But the way you're using this particular tradition is kind of oppressive. I'm just over here, eschewing tradition and minding my business. You're the one initiating the interaction, leaving me with the choice of either clarifying my ideals and being seen as petulant (and possibly beginning a public argument) and submitting to gender roles I dislike. Additionally, in both cases, your attempts at courtesy have the actual result of making a strange woman interact with you and give you her time, which strikes me as not being particularly kind or considerate. This last part is a real consideration, as I've noticed that men are far more likely to be "chivalrous" to young, pretty women than to ones who are old, pregnant, or otherwise possibly in need of the assistance.

            Why does your adherence to tradition trump my dislike of it?

          • "as I've noticed that men are far more likely to be "chivalrous" to young, pretty women than to ones who are old, pregnant, or otherwise possibly in need of the assistance."

            Then there's a self-interest in that, which is not what I'm talking about. I'm more likely to hustle through with an able-bodied person than otherwise. I'll extend my range of holding for people with limps, or canes, or crutches, or carrying packages. As I said elsewhere, pregnant women get my highest level of attention. I'm not doing this for a date or for a cookie. I like a thank you, but if I don't get one I'll mutter under my breath and walk away. Why can't you do the same?

          • Because I don't want to have to deal with your muttering.

            The fact that you can't accept a refusal silently says a lot. You don't want to be kind to women. You feel entitled to their attention, and want to be able to continue to force them into interactions where they're required to give it to you.

          • This is all kind of weird to me. I was brought up to hold the door for everyone, regardless of gender, age or physical status. It is just not polite to let a door slam in someone's face. Thanks are nice, but not required

          • Oh, I don't think we're really talking about holding the door open for someone behind you and not letting it slam in someone's face. It seems like everyone agrees that's rude, and even PJA says he'd do that for a man.

            What I'm talking about is when a man hurries in front of a woman so he can hold the door open while she walks past in front of him, which I think is a fairly specific thing and often not a kindness.

          • Ahhh. Check. I have only seen older men do that, unless it was someone carrying packages, and it seems to happen for men and women. That was why I didn't get it. Wonder if it is kind of a regional thing?

          • And I don't want to have to deal with your self-empowerment, but I do. Every time I try to have a discussion here, you try to cast me in the role of an oppressor. I'm not. When I hold a door open for a woman, I'm not oppressing her, even if she thinks otherwise. I'm not showing entitlement for her attention. All I'm doing is being courteous. You think you know what I'm thinking, but you don't.

          • But I'm not making you do a bunch of acting that recognizes my self empowerment. If I wanted to follow you around opening doors and pulling out chairs for you, that would be imposing on you. But all I'd like is for us each to leave each other alone, and it seems like asking someone else to refrain from doing something is a smaller request than asking someone else to interact with you.

            I don't know what's going through your head, but what you're actually doing is putting women in a position where they must speak to you and feign gratitude for a mostly useless gesture, or deal with your nasty muttering. To me, that sounds an awful lot like entitlement to women's attention, and it's not so very different than what the guys who catcall me in the morning do sometimes when I get the choice between smiling lamely at their insulting "compliments" or ignoring them and getting yelled at in a more threatening way.

          • 'I don't know what's going through your head, but what you're actually doing is putting women in a position where they must speak to you and feign gratitude for a mostly useless gesture, or deal with your nasty muttering. To me, that sounds an awful lot like entitlement to women's attention, and it's not so very different than what the guys who catcall me in the morning do sometimes when I get the choice between smiling lamely at their insulting "compliments" or ignoring them and getting yelled at in a more threatening way. '

            This kind of thinking is why feminism has a bad name in the general public, most women don't think this way and will go out of their way to distance themselves from this kind of thinking as well.

          • Whether or not you're right about how most women think, a person doesn't get to claim to be generous or kind when the only choices on offer are "pretend that you are grateful for my behavior, no matter what you actually think about it" and "deal with my nasty, resentful muttering."

          • Yeah, I was reading some of PJA's posts thinking, "Why is he getting so many downvotes, that doesn't sound so–oh wait, never mind." Many of them are some combination of statements like "I make a point to hold doors for women" which are either fairly innocuous or are things people can and do disagree on, followed by statements like "and I'll grumble about it if people don't recognize what a classy, polite gentleman I am" that are at least mildly problematic no matter how you look at them.

          • I am right, at least in the context of the people of my general area, most women do not self-identify as feminist and in my own circles (including several science and engineering for women groups), the general consensus is that feminists give women who actually work to improve the lot of other women a bad name. Whether this is justififed is another matter.

          • See, talking about your own experiences with women is actually much more convincing than your broad and totally unsubstantiated statements.

            I do notice that you're not responding to my actual point, though, which is that calling the choice being offered "kind" or "generous" or even "minimally polite" is hypocritical. Generous behavior isn't a gift if you expect to be paid; doubly so if you're nasty about it if you don't get what you were expecting.

          • You do realize that just saying something without giving any reasoning or evidence to back it up doesn't make what you're saying true, right?

            Studies have shown that belief in chivalry is significantly correlated with beliefs that women are less competent and should stick to traditional roles and witnessing "chivalrous" behavior encourages women to worry more about fitting traditional standards of femininity (study described toward the bottom of the article). But, hey, what should be more important to us–taking into account scientific research on actual problems with the behavior, or taking into account Chucky attempting to shame people for caring about those problems? Real hard decision there.

          • Gee Mel, two 'studies' with the claim that people who identify as chivalrous are actually closet sexists. Golly me, that totally destroys my point. This is me holding my head down in shame due to my crushing defeat. Woe is me.

          • It must take a lot of ego to think that your personal opinions and experiences matter more scientifically designed studies. I'm not sure why you're putting "studies" in quotation marks–do you have some reason to believe that the universities and psychologists who ran the studies didn't follow proper protocols, or that the scientific journals that published them don't hold to the usual academic standards? Your not believing in something doesn't make that something immediately invalid, as hard as that may be for you to accept.

            And by the way, you couldn't have made it more obvious that you didn't bother to read even my comment fully, let alone look at the articles to see for yourself, given that only one talked about sexist beliefs and the other showed a different sort of effect. :P You like to accuse me of confirmation bias–what sort of bias is it when you don't even bother to look at material that disagrees with you, because you automatically assume it must be wrong, do you think?

            But sure, continue to use sarcasm to try to hide the fact that you have no actual data to support your own points. I'm sure no one will notice. (Oh, look, I can do sarcasm too!)

          • NotQuiteBrummie says:

            "It must take a lot of ego to think that your personal opinions and experiences matter more scientifically designed studies."

            Or being religious.

          • Chucky Lopez says:

            I don't find two studies, one from a feminist blog, very revealing, it'd be like myself showing christians the error of their ways by taking them to an atheist web page. My not believing in something does not in any way, shape, or form make it not true, this absolutely correct. However, psychology is not as grounded a science as physics is for instance, so many 'conclusions' are more up in the air and open to interpretation. So pointing to me psychological studies aren't going to prove your point. It's especially not going to prove the point that holding a damn door open for a woman is a form of oppression.

          • Uh, dude, both articles provide summaries of research that's been published in peer-reviewed journals. The point of peer review is that multiple independent readers make sure that the study authors are drawing grounded conclusions and haven't made methodological or conceptual errors.

            Related: reading research critically is a skill in which one can become expert, and which would let you make criticisms of these studies that actually have some grounding. There's a whole world of ways to analyze research beyond "I don't like psychology studies," which just makes you sound ignorant.

          • Well I don't want to come off as ignorant. Obviously saying I don't like social sciences because they're not the hard sciences and therefore they have no value would be incorrect. Psychology has its methodology and is a science in it's own right.

          • Thank you! I'm glad you clarified.

            One way to become a better debater would be to learn about how to critique psychology articles effectively. That would mean understanding the methodology enough to understand how to take it apart. I spent several years training to do this, but I think you could get the basics down in 2-3 months of focused reading if you were interested.

          • Like kleenestar said, the study referenced on the feminist blog wasn't conducted by the blog, they're talking about a study conducted at a university published in an established research journal. It's pretty narrow-minded to assume that nothing mentioned on a blog could be valid just because you don't agree with the overall theme of a blog.

            But whatever. I wasn't trying to prove that holding a door open is a form of oppression. I was trying to prove that eselle could have perfectly legitimate reasons for not feeling comfortable with guys holding doors open only for women, and even if in fact most women don't feel the same way (which you haven't offered any evidence of), that wouldn't stop her reasons from being valid. There are tons of things that at one point or another the majority of people in a place have believed are wrong that turned out to be right, or right that turned out to be wrong. Assuming something must be correct because the majority of people believe it is such a major fallacy it has it's own Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populu

            You were trying to shut down eselle's reasoning with nothing more than a statement that most women didn't agree and in fact would avoid people who thought that way. The first part, as noted above, is an argumentative fallacy. The second, I can't see how it could be interpreted as anything other than an attempt to shame her into silence ("if you keep talking that way, no one will like you"). If you actually have any solid, well-reasoned arguments, pulling out the above is not only pointless but makes you look like you'd rather bully people into shutting up than have a rational conversation.

            In case, you know, you actually care about rational conversation. :P

          • I know what argumentum ad populum is, I've faced it many times when arguing with theists. If my disagreement with a person 'shame's them into silence, then they must not care very much about their opinions. I don't respect her opinion on the matter, that doesn't mean she has to shut up about it. She can say whatever she damn well pleases and I have the right to imply that what she is saying is an example anti-social/rude/paranoid behavior and/or thinking.

          • I didn't say that you didn't have the right to imply it. I said that doing so without any logical basis was a) not conductive to rational conversation, and b) an attempt to squash her opinion using social pressure instead. You have a right to do both things. I am simply pointing out that neither is a very admirable or productive approach to debate.

            I mean, seriously, if someone tried to argue with you saying, "Most men don't believe X, and would keep their distance from anyone who thought that way" about something you'd said, would you think that was a reasonable argument, or would you tell them off acting like it was? I highly suspect you'd do the latter, so I don't know why you'd expect other people to accept the same behavior from you.

            (Speaking of which, if you know something is an illogical tactic, maybe don't use it when debating? Saying that you know it's a fallacy only makes you look even more like you don't care about having a reasonable conversation, only about snarking at people whatever way you can. Which you also have a right to do, it's just also not particularly admirable.)

          • Much like we have the right to point out that doing those things is rude, unpleasant, and bullying.

            "If my disagreement with a person 'shame's them into silence, then they must not care very much about their opinions." …ugh. Because I can punish someone (with scare quotes!), they don't care about their opinion, so obviously they have no right to say it.

          • An Engineer says:

            You're not doing too well. Society no longer accepts these norms. Find a subculture that does.

          • What makes you think you know how your actions affect another better than the person acted upon?

          • Re opening doors, you should see the bit Jean Stapleton did on Carol Burnett. Hilarious!

            It seems like rampant miscommunication is going on. Men insist on speaking their language, and women theirs. I'm a woman and I don't feel taken advantage of if a guy opens a door for me. I used to think 'hey pal, i can do it myself!'. But the act makes him feel helpful. It's a validation for him, not a knock on me. So now I smile and say 'thank you'.

            My only issue with the original comment is 'facts over feelings'. Much as we try to filter out emotions, they are there and must be reckoned with. I think a huge factor in the problems highlighted in this article is the fact that men are forced to ignore all emotions except anger. Even guys who laugh too enthusiastically are given the stink eye.

            We are human beings, and we all have emotions. If they go unacknowledged, they will rear their heads in counter-productive ways – heart attacks, nervous breakdown, violent outbursts. True science/analysis dictates incorporation of all variables. Who would fly with a pilot who said 'I don't make room for turbulence'?

          • Yeah, I'm a psychology researcher and people who talk about "facts over feelings" crack me up. Human beings have so many cognitive and emotional biases – that phrase tells me is that the person in question is too clueless to be aware of theirs.

          • **Who would fly with a pilot who said 'I don't make room for turbulence'?**

            I <3 this so much, thank you. Especially since school started for me recently, I really struggle with balance, making time for everything, keeping the emotions in check yet not denying them, practicing self care yet not spiraling into self indulgence, etc. Also coming up on the two year anniversary of my sister's death.

            Anyway, enough about me: Thank you.

          • Not to mention, justifying one's decisions as totally factual when such a thing isn't achievable is a chestnut to dismiss any opposition as emotional.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            If it is the right thing to do why not just hold the door open for every body?

          • An Engineer says:

            Probably because under the Chivialrous moral-set it's right to do different things for different genders?

        • I'm confused about what you're trying to say. eselle pointed out that efforts to single women out for "courteous" attention are often extremely uncomfortable. Are you saying that even if someone makes you extremely uncomfortable, it's your "responsibility" to be courteous and recognize they're just expressing their personality? Or are you saying that you should upbraid them/ignore them/teach them the right thing? I'm not sure how a person can do both at the same time.

          • It depends on if the discomfort is justified. Holding a door or tipping a hat is not worthy of discomfort. If the standard is, "whatever you feel makes you uncomfortable is justified," then a chauvinistic man could claim discomfort by a woman speaking out of turn. That man has a responsibility to shut up and defer to the woman. In the same way, a woman has a responsibility to either accept a courtesy, or politely reject it.

          • In the same way, a woman has a responsibility to either accept a courtesy, or politely reject it.

            Why can't the rule be that men have a responsibility nott to force courtesy on women?

          • Because courtesy, if done in good faith, demands a polite response.

          • It seems like these rules are set up so that you can do pretty much whatever you want to me, regardless of whether I approve or appreciate it, and that I'm required to smile and feign gratitude.

            It's almost like the rules of "courtesy" and "chivalry" were written by men, with only their own interests in mind….

          • Not really, because a man who *doesn't* show those courtesies ought to be looked down on. That's why it's noblesse oblige.

            In any case, as I said, this is not about you. It's about expressing who I am. I'm a door-holder. If you want to disapprove, you can do that, and I'll disapprove of your disapproval, and so forth, and we'll be two people who disapprove of each other. That's fine, no rule that says everyone has to get along. But what I'm inferring from you is that you want me to take the things that are only in the interests of gender-roled men and put them into the interest of non-gender-roled women. Why?

          • Because I think that, as a first principle, people should be allowed to be left alone.

            If my way of expressing who I am involves tangoing down the street, I think most people would say that I'm obligated to find dance partners from among my friends (and watch where I'm going) rather than expect strangers to either dance with me or very nicely excuse themselves. Likewise, in the interest of not imposing yourself on strangers, I think you should limit this particular form of self-expression to women who you know and who have agreed that you can hold doors for them.

            I'm going to again call out the use of "noblesese oblige." Do you think you're superior to women?

          • I would disagree with you. If you're dancing in the streets, you are free to ask me to join in. It's not rude to do so. It's only an imposition if there's a clear indication that the person you're trying to engage is refusing. If I'm wearing dark glasses and a hat, and if I have my nose in a book, you could make the case that I've given a passive refusal. But just by existing I haven't indicated that I don't want to deal with other people.

            "I'm going to again call out the use of "noblesese oblige." Do you think you're superior to women? "

            Within the limited context of when I'm closer to a door than a particular woman, I am superior in the metric of door-opening position. I then have the physical option of closing that door and leaving her to fend for herself. I consider that an ignoble selection.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            Are you saying this in the context of being closer to the door in the first place, where most people do the polite thing and hold the door open for everybody?

            If you are then just hold the door open for everybody because its nice and you are saving somebody some effort.

            If you are only holding the door open for women why are you being rude to men? It is a annoying to have a door slam on you that guy was holding a second ago even if you are also a guy.

            And if you misjudge the "courtesy distance" and the person walking up waves you off because they got it then move on.

          • I do do it for men. But when I do it for women it's a different mentality. It's more of an obligation with women. It's what I learned as a youth: this is how you treat ladies.

          • And let's deconstruct that for a moment. WHY is it how you treat ladies?

          • Using that phrase implies an innate, permanent power differential, and I do think even non-feminist women wouldn't appreciate being talked about like a peasant.

          • Oh, great, he's a proud member of the male-on-male gender roles police.

          • fakely_mctest says:

            The second courtesy "demands" anything it's not really courtesy.

          • Erm, courtesy doesn't 'demand' anything. The entire point of courtesy is that the action is it's own reward, no response required.

            It's more of a 'store your rewards in Heaven' kind of thing, which also doesn't require any form of thanks or validation from others.

          • Then I suppose you're free to say, "fuck off and stop holding the door." But it's not my responsibility to anticipate that response and not extend the courtesy in the first place.

            But I will think less of you for doing it. The person who says thank you, I will consider a lady or a gentleman. The person who refuses the courtesy out of self-empowerment, I will consider a boor.

          • Once again, imposing your gender performance on others and punishing them for a refusal (polite or impolite, you went over this) is not politeness. It's entitlement to the courtesy of others.

          • Well, no, I would actually disagree with you: a man doesn't have a responsibility to shut up and defer to a woman speaking out of turn. Speaking out of turn and interrupting in most cases is rude, regardless of the gender of the people involved, and it's totally okay to refuse to defer to someone being rude to you. (A man who feels discomfort about women talking when it's totally reasonable for them to talk, yes, needs to get over it.)

            The problem with saying women have a responsibility to be polite about any courtesy extended to them is that many of the things some men views as "courtesies" are actually rude. Some examples have been given below where men are making themselves feel good about themselves by being "courteous" when actually they're causing more inconvenience for the woman. Clearly the man is paying more attention to feeling good about himself than helping the woman. So the man isn't really being courteous in that case, is he? Is he supposed to be treated delicately just because he thinks he's being courteous? Motivations aren't magic, and I don't think that people have any responsibility to ignore the actual affects of someone's behavior just because that person thinks they're doing something good.

            I also wonder at what point we can generally shift the concept of what "courteous" is. If we were able to survey all the women in your country, for example, and at some point more than half of them said they feel a guy holding the door open for them and letting them go through first is patronizing and implies women are weak, would you then adjust your thinking and decide it's not courteous to do that, because the majority of the time the woman you do it for is going to feel worse for your doing it rather than better?

          • Forgive me, I wasn't forceful enough in my description of the chauvinist. I didn't mean a woman interrupting. I was thinking of a man so old-fashioned that he expresses shock at the mere woman who dares express her opinion among MEN! That guy needs to shut up.

            "I also wonder at what point we can generally shift the concept of what "courteous" is. If we were able to survey all the women in your country, for example, and at some point more than half of them said they feel a guy holding the door open for them and letting them go through first is patronizing and implies women are weak, would you then adjust your thinking and decide it's not courteous to do that, because the majority of the time the woman you do it for is going to feel worse for your doing it rather than better?"

            It needn't be so scientific. A few tongue-clicks and eye-rolls when I held the door would send a message. But virtually every time I've shown that kind of courtesy, or said good morning to a lady as we passed in the hall, I've gotten a thank you or a polite "How are you?" back, and they've seemed sincere.

          • "It needn't be so scientific. A few tongue-clicks and eye-rolls when I held the door would send a message. But virtually every time I've shown that kind of courtesy, or said good morning to a lady as we passed in the hall, I've gotten a thank you or a polite "How are you?" back, and they've seemed sincere."

            That's fair enough. I just wanted to confirm that courtesy would only be considered courtesy as long as the people it was directed at saw it as such. If you're going to do something specificlly for someone else, after all, it makes sense to consider whether they actually want that thing! ;)

          • You've said you'd be muttering unpleasantly at these women, so frankly, I'm not sure they'd feel safe tut-tutting you. We can't tell which unpleasant mutterers are actually unhinged enough to pull a knife on us or not.

    • Shouldn't courtesy and etiquette be part of *human* roles? Maybe this shows my Midwestern roots, but here, we hold the door for everyone… women hold for women, men hold for men, women hold for men, every combination of the two genders, not because it's some sort of show of masculinity, but because it's the polite way to treat a fellow human being.

      Oh boy. "Facts over feelings." So "facts" are masculine, and "feelings" are feminine. You don't see it as slightly problematic that that plays into the stereotype of men as logical, women as irrational? I also fail to see how "facts" are even necessarily that logical-the fact of a thing can change a lot depending on perspective and amount of evidence. For example, my mother still swears it's a "fact" that Obama is a Muslim, because everything in her experience and evidence given shows that as the logical conclusion. Facts and logic are great and all, but they are not nearly as straight-forward or immune to propaganda as people like to pretend. (Also, gimme a break with the Mac vs. Microsoft war; there are plenty of good and valid reasons to prefer a Mac, and fanboys who continue to crow about the superiority of Windows just look narrow-minded.)

      Lastly… no one is saying you have to be completely feminine. People are just pointing out the troublesome aspects of assigning certain masculine and feminine traits value.

      • I'm a Midwesterner too, and I agree. Holding the door for someone behind you is polite and considerate. I've found that the guys who make the biggest deal about chivalry actually do it in a way that's not actually considerate toward others- the man making a big show of holding open a door when I'm 20 feet away isn't doing me any favors by making me scurry, nor is the guy who holds one open in a narrow space and forces me to squeeze past him.

        • The "range" is always an issue, but my difference is this: For a man I'll walk through the door myself and then hold it behind me. For a woman I'll open it first and then wait until she's completely through. And for a *pregnant* woman, I go into full-on doorman/valet role.

          • Why can't we all just do the first bit, unless there's some reason to think the person can't actually hold open the door themselves?

          • Suppose I said, "Why can't we just all ignore everyone else and not hold doors at all?" Why lower the standards to exactly yours, but no further?

          • Um, because ignoring people is rude? Holding the door should jsut be something you do for politeness sake for all genders; why, exactly, does it NEED to be a male-to-female thing, instead of a human-to-human thing? What exactly is the message behind needing it to be that?

          • What if there is no message? What if there's just an unthinking tradition that had an origin long lost in the mists of time, now just an anachronistic vestige like sewing buttons on the sleeves of sport coats? It's just a thing I do.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            Its not an unthinking tradition you are spending a great deal of time thinking about it to post these comments. You can choose to change the things you do, you are commenting on a blog that is advice on how to change the things you do to bring more positive reactions in your like with people. Are there no traditions that you would stop doing because they have lost their value?

          • There are. Are there any traditions that you would keep even though they've lost their value? I like tradition for tradition's sake. Is there any room for that?.

          • FormerlyShyGuy says:

            No there is not, traditions can start out as a destructive or worthless thing, the fact that they have continued to persist for long enough to be considered a tradition does not give them merit to continue.

            Traditions need to be discontinued or adapted to a worthwhile version it there was never any good in the actions in the first place. Otherwise positive progress in the world will be chained by tradition.

          • Well, there I disagree as a point of values. I love traditions like Christmas, comfort food, and going to familiar places for vacations and outings.

          • I don't see FSG saying that all traditions are bad, only that some are worthless or even destructive. Keeping up a harmful tradition just because you "love traditions" isn't a very good excuse, would you agree? I mean, you wouldn't say it's okay for people to refer to a black person using the N-word or ask them to use separate drinking fountains or whatever just because that used to be "traditional", right?

            I think there's a certain amount of gray area around the type of courtesy you're suggesting. But I can easily make an argument that thinking to yourself that it's more important to hold open doors for women rather than men is rehearsing the idea that for some reason women are more in need of having the door held open for them. Which ties into ideas about women being weaker, less capable of handling physical tasks, or better off when men are taking care of them than when they're looking after themselves. You may not be consciously thinking it through that far, but if there wasn't an underlying assumption of women being inherently different than men, then you wouldn't differentiate between how you treat and think about women and men in that situation. So you are setting yourself up to view women in a potentially harmful way (as people weaker/less capable). You also, if you hold open the door for women more than you do men, are encouraging that attitude in others by modeling the idea that women need doors opened for them more than men.

            It sounds like a small thing, but small things add up. This is why you're getting resistance to your arguments. Not because we think tradition is inherently bad or that you shouldn't be allowed to do things you enjoy or value, but because certain actions have deeper implications that can be harmful, and presumably you can see why people might take issue with someone putting their enjoyment of a tradition over the problematic effects tied into that tradition.

          • Robjection says:

            "I like tradition for tradition's sake. Is there any room for that?"

            If you're going to try to claim that it is right and/or logical to like tradition for tradition's sake, no there isn't.

          • I'd prefer that to the door-holding dance. But I think there's an argument for not letting a door slam in someone's face as a practical matter and for assisting those in need. Your particular hangup with making a big deal out of the fact that the person nearby is a woman seems far less necessary.

          • Robjection says:

            Have you never heard of a middle ground before?

    • I don't think the problem is that people think courtesy, facts, or competition are bad things so much as that it's unhelpful to label those things as inherently "masculine" and the opposite as inherently "feminine". Frankly it's hard for me not to feel insulted that you associate frivolous/superficial things like "designer colors" and "fancy advertisements" with women while associating efficiency and function with men, for example.

      Men are not inherently more factual and practical. Women are not inherently more emotional and superficial. Women are not inherently more in need of courtesy than men, and men are not inherently more equipped to provide courtesy than women. I'm not sure about the data on competitiveness, but I believe that's to a large degree socialized rather than inherent as well. These qualities are associated with men and women in our current culture because of societal ideas, the media, etc. There have been other cultures where men were seen as feeling more deeply than women, for example, or where cooperation was valued in men over competitiveness.

      So… It's fine if you like the traits currently associated with masculinity in North America. But perpetuating the idea that those traits are inherently manly/womanly just makes it harder for the many men and women who have other traits to express those without being shamed for it.

      • And I'm all for both men and women choosing their levels of masculinity and femininity, but those two words still mean something. That they happen to derive from the "man" and "woman" roots of Latin is a foible of language. We could call them "yin" and "yang" traits, or "A" and "B" if it makes it easier. What I'm reacting to is that the article seems to be coming down for yin/A and against yang/B. The very idea of yin and yang is that they are balanced. It's not like good and evil or Yahweh and Satan where you're supposed to follow one and eschew the other.

        • I don't think you followed me. My whole point was that masculinity and femininity don't really mean anything. Which traits we ascribe to men and women varies greatly across cultures and history. You can't dismiss the association with gender is just a "foible of language" when the terms are routinely used to praise or insult people for not following their gender roles. So if we're trying to let people have whatever traits they prefer regardless of gender, it makes far more sense to talk about the usefulness of specific traits than to divide them up as "masculine" and "feminine". (I would be fine with splitting traits into yin/yang or A/B as long as those weren't associated with any particular group of people, although I'd imagine the splitting with necessarily be somewhat arbitrary, so I'm not sure what the usefulness would be. It's not as if factual people aren't often cooperative or emotional people aren't often competitive, for example, so why would we group factual with competitive and emotional with cooperative?)

          And I don't know where you're getting the idea that the article is saying the traits you associate with masculinity are bad. The things DNL speaks out against are 1) the idea that you become less of a man if you do something our culture associates with femininity, 2) the turning to violence to assert one's manliness, 3) the insulting of men by other men for doing anything considered feminine, 4) men being afraid to express their vulnerabilities because of #1 and #3, and 5) men being portrayed as uncontrollably lustful and thus incapable of being sexually assaulted/raped. Do you really think that any of those things are good? He isn't saying none of the qualities that get associated with men (like the ones you mentioned–logic and competitiveness, for example) have any value, or that it would be better if men behaved completely according to traditional feminine traits, only that certain ideas and behavior patterns that have become associated with masculinity are toxic.

          If you're seeing this as black and white, one against the other, that's something you're putting on the article, not what's written there.

          • Agreed on 1) and 3) with the same caveat below–people should be allowed to choose not to choose. They should be able to elect to fill gender roles (and race roles, age roles, sexuality roles, etc.) if they desire.

            But definitely we want to separate out the state of being male or female from the roles themselves.

            2), 4), and 5) get a little bit trickier. Violence, stoicism, and lust are not in and of themselves bad. If someone has a bloodlust for violence, that's part of who they are. It should be channeled, not eliminated. Think about Fight Club. That story fell into the trap by having only men in the club. What if there were women as well? The idea of the club was that people who were so downtrodden by the sanitized society they lived in wanted to get back to their animal instincts and pound on each other until someone went limp or gave up. To say that only men feel that is inaccurate, but to say that it shouldn't be nurtured is limiting. Join an MMA club. Go hunting. Play rugby.

            In the same way, if a person has unbridled lust and considers that a part of them, it's no one's place to tell them they should correct themselves. Someone who's immune to sexual assault because they're up for anything with a pulse is being a little risky, but not so much that they're an active danger to themselves or others.

          • I'm frankly a bit horrified at your last paragraph. So if someone goes around raping others, it's no one's place to correct them?

        • I think there's a huge difference, however, in whether we call them A and B, or femininity and masculinity. You're right that it's not that one set of traits is inherently bad, but labeling one set "male" and one set "female" in itself creates pressure for people to act in accordance with what they're told is the "right" set of traits for their gender. Even if you say that everyone's free to choose "their levels of masculinity and femininity", the language itself makes it seem like "masculinity" is what's more right or natural for men, and "femininity" for women. Which causes a few problems:

          1) Individual people are reluctant to display traits that don't line up with what they're told is right for their gender, and/or they're punished for showing such traits. If logic is treated as "masculine" and emotion as "feminine", then logical women are derided as cold or unnatural, and emotional men are mocked for being weak. Being told you have a very "A" or "B" personality feels very different from a woman being told she's very masculine, or a man being told he's very feminine.

          2) Assumptions are made about entire genders, and individuals suffer the consequences. The head of R&D believes that logic is a masculine trait, and so he (or she!) is less inclined to hire a female scientist. Or the government minister believes that emotion and nurturing are feminine traits, and so doesn't work to increase government provisions for paternity leave. These biases may not even really be conscious.

          • That's fine, and we agree, but the one caveat is that there are people for whom their choice is not A or B but who want to choose the role that society gives them. That choice shouldn't be eliminated in the movement to empower the individual. A right must include the ability to waive the right. A person of either gender should be able to say, "this is the gender I was given at birth. Assign me my roles and let me fill them!"

          • That's kind of a tricky point, though. How can society assign gender roles to those who want their gender roles spelled out for them, while at the same time not putting any pressure on people in general to fulfill those roles? How could a society possibly provide a strict view of, "This is what a man/masculinity is," and, "This is what a woman/femininity is" without people feeling like less of a man/woman if they choose otherwise? (Or, for that matter, if they have different choices forced on them, because that can feel even worse. People who choose paths not traditionally associated with their gender have to deal with a lot of shit, but at least they have the comfort that they're doing what they chose; people who, for whatever reason, CAN'T fulfill traditional gender expectations don't even have that comfort.)

          • An Engineer says:

            YES! THIS!. (I was worrying you weren't going to get there, and would just keep saying that men-should-do-because). Specifically, I would prefer that there be a subculture that takes gender roles seriously, but no stigma about leaving it. (also, who is gender-rolling and who isn't should be somewhat defined.)

            (there should be these about more things in the world, honestly.)

    • What if I don't like those things?

    • thixotropic says:

      I open the door for whomever needs it, or whenever I have the opportunity to do so. It’s a nice thing to do. Why make it about gender?

  15. Another problem with MRA is that their intellectualism isn't that impressive. Its hard for me to take a movement that derives their imagery from the Matrix seriously. A lot of it is just blind, unreasoning rage. This is a problem because they never sit down and actively think about their problems, the causes, and whats affecting them. They do not examine themselves or the larger society. Unfortunately, the MRM is one of the few places that a lot of men have where they can go and complain about their lives and receive at least a little bit of sympathy and initmacy. Unforunately, they are getting sympathy and intimacy from people that are very likely to lead them in a bad direction. Its like how cults get people drawn into them.

    • I think that's a really fascinating read. It's worth noting, too, that the fact that these men are starved for sympathy and emotional intimacy is the direct result of the pressures discussed above that they not show weakness or failure or lose their status as real men.

  16. This is a great article. However, I do wish you'd go further and offer some solutions. Ah well. That would take several novels, I guess.

  17. Paul Rivers says:

    I tracked down the original video for this – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/21/gavin-mc

    I don't really like the guy in the video, but the women is just as bad if not worse.

    As soon as she disagrees with him, she (and the next college professor) jump into shaming him – based on his masculine, and framing anyone who disagrees with them as "weak".

    She says –
    "…And it's just a sign of weakness, and fear, "

    Then immediately after that the next guy says –
    "And if you watch what Gavin is doing here, you're seeing exactly how masculinity works. People define it in a certain way, then threaten those who don't conform. So people who question gender are called wimps. They're considered not strong enough…"

    Like, withing 30 seconds of the video she attacks anyone who doesn't agree with her for being weak and fearful, then right after that immediately someone says that the way "masculinity" works is calling those who don't conform to their ideas of masculine wimps and weak.

    Later Gavin says that society is trying to force women to do guys jobs, like be in the fire department, and the girl responds "Who said that? I didn't hear anyone say that. That must be in your head."

    All I see here is two monkeys "generally flailing about flinging shit everywhere like a tweaked-out mountain gorilla taking pot-shots at Italian plumbers" at each other, along with the usual attempts to reframe "masculinity" as "anything we don't like". Attack someone for being weak for not being masculine? Baaaaad. Attack someone for being weak because they're don't agree with your feminist ideology? Good!

    • OtherRoooToo says:

      She says – "And it's just a sign of weakness, and fear, " =/= framing anyone who disagrees with them as "weak".

      Your hyperbole isn't supporting your hypothesis.

    • OtherRoooToo says:

      Plus, here is her entire quote, instead of the piece of it you extracted

      "It's just a sign of weakness and fear and at least some kind of figurative impotence to say, 'No, it has to be like this, I demand that it stay like this, and all of you who are doing things that are different are messing with nature,'" Franks said.

      so that people can evaluate for themselves whether or not what she said might be true, and not be manipulated by your … creative editing.

  18. Paul Rivers says:

    Also, this is the article he was actually talking about regarding women's happiness – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1189894

    "Women are less happy nowadays despite 40 years of feminism, a new study claims.
    Despite having more opportunities than ever before, they have a lower sense of well-being and life satisfaction, it found.
    The study, The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness, said the same was true for women of different ages and whether or not they were married or had children."

    • I think that's only to be expected, given that changing gender roles haven't yet reached a point where women are able to make a wide variety of choices about work, marriage, and childbearing and have them all considered mostly acceptable. Instead, we're in a midpoint where there's almost nothing a woman can decide with regard to those things without attracting criticism. Childfree women are selfish and will regret their choices when they die alone, while women who have large families are painted as either irresponsible or religious fanatics. Women who have children later in life are risking their children's health and won't be able to keep up with them. Women who have children early in life are missing out on youthful fun and exploration and will regret it later. Working mothers are neglecting their children. Stay at home mothers are betraying feminist principles and are helicopter moms on top of it. I think that we can allow that these changes are causing stress to women without arguing in favor of turning back the clock.

      Just as a hypothetical, would you want to live in a society where your social value was determined by your youth, beauty, chastity and fertility, and where you were expected to find a stable, probably older wife fairly early on so that you could devote yourself to domestic tasks and childrearing? Let's say, hypothetically, that you're guaranteed that your gender as a whole would be happier if your choices were taken away, but weren't given any guarantees about your individual happiness. Would you be willing to sacrifice some of your freedom? (Yes, I'm switching around the gender roles. The breadwinner role is the rigidly enforced male one, but it's also one that comes with some degree of autonomy. Even if rigid gender roles hurt men as well as women, men have historically been assigned rigid roles with more perks.)

    • Define "happy". I assure you happiness wasn't the same thing 40 years ago as it is now. My grandmother lived through the second world war – so having food on the table and not being oppressed by a megalomaniac counts as "happy" to her. Having a husband who doesn't beat you was basically winning the life lottery for a woman a 100 years ago, when today it's the bear minimum for being even considered a worthy human being. It the same as world studies on "happiness" – I love it how they always claim people in poor countries are the "happiest". Yeah, because their idea of happiness is waking up in the morning. The worse off people are, the more they define "happiness" not as an abundance of positive occurrences, but rather as a lack of negative ones.

      • Yeah. My grandmother's version of happy is having enough food, a soberish, only occasionally violent husband and 12 out of 15 kids living past age 5. Everything else is just gravy.

        • Paul Rivers says:

          You guys aren't 100% really disagreeing when you list out logical criteria that you think one "has to have" to be happy.

          Saying that someone has lower requirements for being happy doesn't make them less happy. Personally, I think we'd all be happier people (men and women) if we didn't have such a "once I have these 27 things – *then* I'll be happy" attitude culturally.

          Also, if I could, I would bet $1,000 that if I waited until a few articles went by, then posted what you did above that women used to be happy back in the day just having food on the table and no being oppressed by a megalomaniac, I'd get a long stream of comments saying that idea was rediculous and women back in the day needed a lot more than that.

          • I'd hazard a bet that women in my culture are MUCH happier than our parents and grandparents. We had some pretty dark times up until the 90s.

          • I have a very long post about how having partially, but not completely, made the transition seems like a likely culprit here that appears to be stuck in moderation. At the moment, women have choices, but all of the choices they make are easily and constantly criticized. I would rather we go forward and take away the judgment rather than backwards and take away my rights.

            Out of curiosity, would you trade flexibility and freedom if you knew that your group as a whole was guaranteed to be happier (no guarantees on an individual basis, you'd have to play the odds)? Because most people I know who tend to quote this study don't themselves sound like they'd like a life where they had limited rights and a limited ability to choose paths besides doing domestic labor.

    • … there are a lot of things that have changed in the past forty years besides feminism. The study's conclusions are a good deal more modest than that article makes them sound.

    • OtherRoooToo says:

      And what you're doing there is something similar to what someone else described MRAs doing upthread:

      Identifying events, but then misidentifying their causes.

    • I think the real story is that someone not only invented a machine that can measure happiness but is also capable of traveling through time!

  19. Doc,

    this is a *VERY* good article.

    I've said elsewhere and here before that I believe that fundamental problem is that men cling to a world in which they're needed because they don't get the experience of being *wanted*, at least not a lot of them. Whatever the reasons – and you mention a couple, yet only social ones like slut shaming – there *IS* a disparity in physical desire – certainly in the *kinds* of physical intimacy desired – between women and men that simply can't be explained away with post-patriachy-everything-would-be great for everyone. It probably wouldn't be.

    From – http://www.thedirtynormal.com/2010/06/08/men-have

    "I am reporting 60+ years of research with the same finding, replicated over and over and in multiple research methods.

    Also, I’m relying on the same quality of evidence when I say that only about 1/4 to 1/3 of women are reliably orgasmic from intercourse. You believe me when I say that, right?

    It’s not male bias in science, though male bias exists. It’s not just differences and problems in reporting, though that exists too. The results are too robust to doubt.

    For better or worse, this is where the disparaty starts that leads to different gender roles, expectations, and the boxes for women and men that we sometimes experience as reassuring and sometimes experience as oppressive. But they're all social responses to a fundamental gap in desire between the two human genders, and sometimes, as in the case of patriarchy, they exacerbate the problem for most men while helping very few of them – which means that the term itself is actually a misnomer, but that's a different story.

    The big question is, will we ever get to a point in which we can truly balance those differences in desire? Because if that won't happen, we'll always have a commodity model in which one thing is traded for another. In which, I'd say, gender roles will likely be unavoidable.

    • I'm not entirely convinced about the desire gap, given the fact that most adult women were raised in fairly sex negative environments.

      That being said, I don't think all of this is about desire. What comes across in a lot of these complaints is that men are looking for validation, attention, reassurance that they look nice, someone to listen to them, comfort, and other kinds of emotional inputs. And, to the extent there's a gender gap, I would say that a lot of it is because women have been trained since they were fairly young to provide and rely on each other for these things. Sometimes that comes with negative baggage – like Mean Girling and social competition – but there's at least an attempt to provide them. While younger men seem to be better about doing this for each other than their fathers and grandfathers were, I still think a lot of guys could benefit from learning to rely on other men to some degree for this kind of affirmation rather than looking for it exclusively from women (this is one of those things I think the MRA community could potentially be useful for, if it wasn't otherwise such a poisonous place).

      • I think there certainly is a social part of the desire gap. Hopefully the bigger one, because it's easier to deal with. But I think there also *is* a "testosteone effect" that will probably persist. Btw, when I say desire gap I'm talking about *differences* that lead to trade-offs. But neither women nor men will be able to ever feel desired like they desire, there will always be an additional level of lack of understanding.

        As for the rest, I agree, except that I cannot really speak about the MRA community, I don't read them, given their lunacy. I always tell myself that most of radical feminism is loony, and it took a good 30 years for more reasonable forms of feminism to emerge in the feminist mainstream. This is probably a matter of time.

      • I think a lot of men actually do use the MRA movement for social affirmation and emotional support, it just gets channeled into really cult-like behavior. Chaning the way that men deal with other men is goign to be difficult.

        • I would agree. It takes a long time for social behaviors to change. We're still adjusting to the changes of the '60s.

          But I'd say that's all the more reason to get started, not an argument for forgetting about it and focusing on how men can get more of their social and emotional needs met by women.

      • Of Course! it is clear women never want validation, attention, reassurance that they look nice, somebody to listen to and comfort them in a relationship or any other kind of emotional validation- they just care that their man looks handsome, is well endowned and adequatly pleasures them! none of that male emotional stuff

        • That's not what I said. Women have similar needs, but have more of a support structure for meeting them when they're not in romantic relationships.

    • There are an awful lot of logic leaps in the cause vs. effect analysis of that article.

      • Care to elaborate?

        • For example it uses number of sexual partners as a indication of lower desire in women, when in fact other factors like social shame and danger to personal health as well as risk of pregnancy are more likely factors in curbing sex with a multitude of partners in women as opposed to an innate lack of desire. If woman had an innate lack of desire for sex, the romance and erotica book industries wouldn't be making so much money. The fact is, women aren't safe to fully explore their sexuality in our culture, so they don't. If they were, then we could determine if the sexes had innate differences in levels of desire that wasn't attributed to the ranges of desire in individuals of both sexes.

          It's like saying "We're going to play tennis! It's fun! Here men, you stand on this side of the net. Great! Here women, you stand on this side with the quicksand and alligators. Now who wants to play? What? No women? Women must not like tennis as much as men."

          • Women often lie about the number of partners they had frequently under-reporting them- they cannot be trusted to truthfully answer questions about how physically shallow they are or how many partners they have had

          • TheWanderingDude says:

            Sorry, being physically shallow does not equal the number of partners.

            Actually, it would be easier to have a higher number of partners if you don't care about physical appearance.

            And if they lie, you then have to ask what motivates to lie. Maybe because there is social stigma or a lot of guys get insecure if their partner has had more sex experience than them.

    • I think it's worth mentioning here that when talking about women not being to orgasm from intercourse reliably this is simply from penetration, I have yet to hear of or speak to a woman who cannot orgasm from clitoral stimulation. All these women are not lacking in sexual desire whatsoever, they masturbate just a often as men and fantasize about similar things i.e. sexual intercourse with the opposite gender. The fact that men are able to cum without a woman's vagina, and women are able to cum without a man's penis makes me question the validity of that argument. As Jess said it is much more likely to be social stigma, risk of pregnancy or health than "cocks can't make women orgasm"

      • Fist of all, it's perfectly possible for a person with a clitoris not to be able to orgasm from clitoral stimulation for various reasons (I'm proof). It is true that clitoral stimulation is in general a much better bet than penetration, however. Second, I find it odd that people are equating orgasming with sexual desire. For people with vaginas, at least (I can't speak for people with penises), sex can still be very satisfying without orgasming. It's not as if the orgasm is the only part that feels good!

  20. As an attorney, I'd disagree with the part about the family court system. A lot of the custody stats don't have sufficient detail to provide a complete picture.

  21. Oh look another femnazi article to make smart men look bad. Drnerdlove is the worst kind of person. American women are selfish entitled money grubbing coniving sluts who creep shame men for stupid reasons. I fucking hate yo manginas who support this new wave f special snowflake tumblr tard feminism.

    • Cthulhu's Intern says:

      CONGRATULATIONS! You just won the unofficial "Trying too hard" award of the comment section. Go ahead and make yourself a trophy if you want.

    • " selfish entitled money grubbing coniving sluts"
      "special snowflake tumblr tard feminism"

      Ok, going for strictly editorial criticism: too many adjectives. Brevity, dude.

      Moral criticism: Whether you're trolling or not, you are a bad person.

    • Hey Gil, people older than 30 have sex!! Sometimes lots of it! Sometimes kinky or in large groups!

      Lesson: I can troll you right back :D

    • just curious, any way to reassign this guy the falling tape roll for an avatar?

    • And I hate you and everything you stand for, which is impressive for just four short sentences. Nice work.

  22. hobbesiean says:

    This was a really great article, and is exactly the reason I keep reading.

    I'm one of those horrid males who refuses to conform to traditionally masculine roles…

    I get more from a massage and cuddling than I do from sex, I attach immense emotional weight to any kind of physical contact. I get emotional over films, tv series (last episode of MASH I'm looking squarely in your direction) books, lots of things and gasp.. even cry over them. I know how to operate a sewing machine and every kitchen appliance.. All things that apparently are "female traits"…

    I don't hunt, or fish, or drive a "Masculine" car.. I don't own any tools, I don't like 90% of sports and I actually kinda wish both teams could win. Sure I like to hike, camp, kayak, mountain climb.. etc.. but those are less strictly gendered activities.. I tend to be very quiet, I avoid confrontations, I'd rather read a book than watch an action movie, and I have absolutely no desire to ever go to a strip club… basically I'm a failure as a "Red blooded american man"..

    Yet all that being said I still feel immensely frustrated and guilty because I don't have a Job, I don't have a house, I don't have a wife or kids, or any of that stuff.. I feel I've failed as a man.. and it does make me feel weak and worthless.. the Job thing especially makes me feel worthless. I hate not being able to live up these ideals, and then that frustration boils over into other facets of my life.. It's really hard waking up day after day each one inching closer to 30, and not having an alternative to living with your mom in your childhood bedroom because You can't "make it" in the real world..

    • hobbesiean says:

      So yeah I just read this http://goodmenproject.com/for-the-love-of-men/whe

      and part of it kinda.. well.. pissed me off a bit because of the way this woman worded them..

      "They limp along with gashes in their hearts trying to survive as the provider or head of a home.
      They can’t provide or be the head of anything because they don’t possess the tools or skillset to do so and—for lack of practice—not even the desire to learn.
      Simple things like changing a tire on a car, cutting the grass, tying a tie, fixing a toilet, working a 12 hour shift or any of the other things we traditionally think a man can do just don’t get taught to them and make them feel like failures."

      So.. why do I need to know how to fix a toilet? isn't that what plumbers are for? Why do I need to know how to work a 12 hour shift? Even changing a tire.. that's what Triple A is for. Sorry, we live in a service economy now, I don't feel I should be expected to know how to do all this stuff in order to qualify as a "man"..

      She completely missed the mark too, my mom damaged me but not from being over or under protective, but by shaming my sexuality and gender due to her being 1) influenced by second wave feminism and 2) going through a really bad divorce.. the logical conclusion was "All men are scum" and that included me. Telling a 10 year old kid you're going to kick him out of the house if you ever catch him with porn, purpusefully discouraging any interest in girls/women, not letting me keep my door closed growing up which made any kind of self discovery extremly difficult.. etc.. this other article completely misses the mark where as DNL's nails it.

      • FormerlyShyGuy says:

        I don't know how or why sewing is considered feminine it is a useful skill for very everybody to have and I know plenty of "Manly Men" in the military that can sew very well.

      • Being able to do stuff like unblock a sink can be pretty useful, because calling a plumber takes time and money and you might have to explain why your sink is full of vomit and beard hairs. Ahem. In any case, taking apart some plastic tubing and putting it back again is pretty straightforward if you take care about what you're doing. Kinda like really smelly Lego.

        Plus, as FGS says, sewing is *also* useful for people in general. Gender roles don't really come into it; I like being able to just get stuff done without having to bother dragging someone over and asking them to do it every time.

        • hobbesiean says:

          I agree that sewing is useful, but it *IS* primarily seen as a women's hobby in the South.. I can't think of the last time I saw a male employee in a fabric or craft store.. (unless it's the manager of course) the only other places that are that gendered in terms of employment are Women's clothing stores.

          I understand the usefulness of being able to do stuff around the house.. but should the need arise that's what the internet is for. I'll look it up and apply it when I need it.. I shouldn't *Need* to know it as an objective thing just for the sake of knowing it, in order to be a man.

          • Right, I guess cultural norms depend on where you are. And yes, absolutely use the internet if you don't already know how to do something. I'm beginning to see knowledge as something that is more something you should know how to find, rather than something you should already have.

        • OldBrownSquirrel says:

          I don't feel compelled to fix my toilet these days, chiefly because I live in an apartment, and that's the management company's job. That said, there are plenty of times in the past when I've fixed toilets.

          I have plenty of tools: hammers, screwdrivers, wrenches, drills, saws, soldering iron, etc.
          I also have a couple sewing machines and a whole bunch of kitchen gadgets.

          My son has seen me repair my car. He's also seen me hand-mending popped seams. He's never seen me watch sports or fire a gun, though he knows I've done the latter.

          I don't pay a lot of attention to gender role.

    • I had a panic moment around 25-27 when a lot of my friends were getting engaged, married, having kids, and I was still at square one. But I don't think it helps to compare yourself to other people. Having kids means that you decide to cut back on all the other cool stuff you could be doing. I was talking to a new father yesterday, and he said that they couldn't go out much at all because their baby needed to be in bed by 8pm, and of course you'll devote much of your time that you could spend on personal projects or trying new things looking after kids. I love kids, and hope to have some one day, but I have a lot I want to do before then, and would feel sad if my sum total achievements in life were shunting my genes down the line.

      Practically, not having a house or a job is pretty common. In the US, incomes haven't risen in real terms since 1979 or so, and more-or-less-permanent jobs are rarer and rarer (Paul Krugman's book Conscience of a Liberal is worth reading, btw, if you're interested in why). People are more educated than in previous generations, so are starting later. If you're comparing yourself to your parents' generation, good luck with that, because those economic condtions don't exist no more. If someone tells you that our generation is lazier than the previous generation, I believe it's legal to beat them with a wiffle bat in certain states.

      Of course, this does mean that you have to fight harder for what you want. Whereas before the crisis an arts degree could get you a decent job, now you're fighting lots of other people for a narrow pool of mostly temporary positions. I chose sciences because the career opportunities were (and are) greater because you can get some hard skills that are still in demand, but even then I know people with PhDs who had to struggle to find work. And yeah, living with your parents out of necessity can be depressing. But don't feel like you're a failure as a person (or as a man, why not) if you don't achieve certain milestones – you just have to work harder to get what you want. And like I said, so what if you have three babies, a picket fence and a job you'll die in by the age of 25? Achieving all your life goals that early sounds miserable; I'd rather grow as a person until they have to nail me in a box and bury me underground.

      • hobbesiean says:

        See the reason why I feel that way is that primarily, I'm *never* going to have the money to live the type of life that I really want.. traveling and seeing places and all kinds of cool things.. but having a family and community is actually accomplishable for a lot less money (yes it's expensive, the costs are primarily invisible and over a much longer span of time)… Plan A is unrealistic, so Instead I'd be content with Plan B.

        Unfortunately though, you are not the sole spokesperson for the Culture in which I live, for all the people on this forum who tell me I'm *Not* a failure, there is yet one more portrayal in a film of a 29 year old billionare, or a Barista who has a kick ass loft and a beautiful girlfriend on TV, or whatever.. not to mention I live in a sub culture of the over all American Culture.. and Southern culture is basically a Hyperbolic version of American Culture. Louder, brasher, more anti-intellectual, more macho, everything is gotta be huge and you *Are* judged for not wearing Camo to Walmart to buy shotgun shells to go hunnin', and then driving your truck to muddin'. And there really is nothing I can do about that right now, I cannot move. Even on my college campus I cannot entirely escape this sort of culture since it's never more than 6 miles away from me and my school *is* in the south so most of the students are *from* the south.

        • Yeah, being trapped in that kind of environment is tough, and like you say it's hard to avoid cultural messages and build a bullshit shield around your emotional reaction to the people around you, even if you know rationally that the messages are negative and the people telling you them are a-holes. I suppose at the very least if you're at college then the prospect of getting a degree at least gives you the possibility of moving out once you graduate and find work. It's much easier to move city if you're moving for a specific job in a specific place, for example, rather than speculatively finding an apartment in another city and then hunting for work. And at the same time, you're right, it is lonely to move to a new place away from your old network of friends and family, even if in the end you have the opportunity to build the group of friends you want, and for someone who wants to settle a highly mobile career is tough. But certainly it's worth fighting for a new life in a new place, if that's what you want – like I say, my advice is to apply for jobs in other places first, and then worry about the move. They might even offer relocation bonuses, although it depends on the company.

    • I'm so sorry you feel this way. It really sucks to feel like you're a failure by standards that you don't value and don't get to control, but that you feel you're judged by anyhow. For what it's worth, your type of masculinity is one I appreciate very much – and I am rooting for you to find the pragmatic success (job, house, relationship, etc.) that you are looking for.

      • hobbesiean says:

        I greatly appreciate it. I hope that I can accomplish what I want out of life, but right now I'm trying to just get through each day as it comes but my natural propensity is to try and plan things and then I get increasingly frustrated as they fall apart due to nothing cooperating with me ever..

  23. So Dr Nerdlove. This Amanda Marcotte you speak off, is this the same woman that is not above virgin shaming? Whos dating advice (for men) always contains hit the gym, be a man, do things Amanda finds interesting? Is this the same Amanda whos reaction to Finklegate wasn't to shame Alyssa Bereznak out of existence, but instead to do a blog post about the right to dealbreakers. This feminism you speak about, is that the movement that tells me that white men lusting after asian women is fetishizing and something aborhent, while white women lusting after black men with large penii is called right to sexual preference? The same feminism that keeps telling me that privilige is invisible to the one having it, yet somehow white middle class women are capable of knowing not only everyone elses privilige but also their own lack of privilige.

    In that case I think I will stick with my men's rights activism. The only emotions feminism seem to allow
    me is self-loating and anger at my fellow man.
    You know what about the last part, how women are valued after the sex they don't have. That is the same right to sexual preference. Not as fun when you are the victim, now is it?

    • Why can't trolls use proper grammar and spelling?

      • Robjection says:

        Come now Lee, they have to make it obvious that they're just trolling. Just in case this happens.

        • So you deny that Amanda Marcotte wrote this article http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/07/for-the-mis…?

          Miss Marcotte can't even go one full sentence without bringing out the virgin shaming. So tell me Doctor. Is this the kind of feminism that is supposed to bring me happines? I think not. I think Amanda is a textbook example of an entitled white woman who thinks that arguments are unnecessary and just screams a little louder.

          • TheWanderingDude says:

            There is virgin shaming in that article?
            http://youtu.be/G2y8Sx4B2Sk

          • Anonymous says:

            Yes. At the very start where she has to tell everyone how cool the mods are, who are out getting laid on a friday night instead of spending it trolling.
            And saying that words don't mean the same thing when they describe something a man does and when they describe something a woman does is feminist tactic 1b.

          • TheWanderingDude says:

            And that has nothing to do with virgin shamming.
            I'm not saying the meaning is different because it's a woman speaking.

            I'm saying it doesn't mean what you think it means because you are obviously making up your own definition to fit your own purpose.

            Virgin = A person who has never had sexual intercourse.
            Shaming = make (someone) feel ashamed
            Shame = a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour

            So virgin shaming would mean "Making someone feel a painful feeling of humiliation or distress by pointing out that they never had sexual intercourse and that they are fools because of that"

            Which is done nowhere in the article.
            The article is about misogynist trolls. Nowhere does she say someone should feel shame sorely for the fact they are virgin.

            So, in other words.
            You keep using that word but it does not mean what you think it means.
            Or, you're making shit up.

          • Anonymous says:

            Great, so next time feminists are screaming their heads off about the stereotype that they are just bitter old hags that are enraged that they can't get laid, I can just tell them that it isn't a problem. Great, so can we get on to the other points now?
            Why is it that white man lusting after asian woman is rascism, but white woman lusting after black man with large penis is just right to sexual preference?
            In fact, why is every stereotyping sexist dating behaviour by women described as "right to sexual preference" while every stereotyping sexist dating behaviour by man is seen as something despicable.

          • drugarious says:

            I don't think anyone thinks that white women lusting after black men is ok, nor have I seen any examples of it in real life. I'm pretty sure the whole thing is just an urban legend-both that black men are well hung, and that white women want them. Shades of Jim Crow, if you ask me. In fact, I've never heard anyone trumpet the "right to sexual preference" in men or women. Both your examples are creepy fetishizing, but I've seen far more examples in the former than the latter.

            Also, pretty sure the reason feminists get upset about that stereotype is that it's for the most part untrue, whereas many MRAs openly admit they can't laid, and that's why they're angry.

          • drugarious says:

            Also, it seems to me the MRAs indulge in a lot of virgin-shaming on their own. I mean, they're either talking about how much they get laid, or complaining about how much they aren't, and why they should be getting laid. I feel like Marcotte was just responding to the fact that the entitlement to sex is a central concern to MRAs.

          • That's pretty farfetched. Though she does suffer from shoddy research(example: http://www.epjournal.net/blog/2011/10/amanda-marc… ) and drawing farfetched conclusions to support her platform(in this article, she claims an MLP spin-off was made to cater to perv bronies, while it was clearly made to compete directly with the Monster High toyline- http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/06/13/t… ), I think that's more the fault of the format she writes for than anything inherent in feminist ideology.

            It's good to be skeptical of the implications of her views, but the moment you start reading too much into every sentence is the moment you're committing the same mistakes she makes.

          • Marcotte isn't exactly a journalist, she's more of a professional opinion writer, but her work is close enough to journalism to require getting the research write. She is not in a position where shoddy research is appropriate, it is unprofessional. Blaming shoddy research on the format is like saying the dog ate my homework.

            Marcotte's feminism is pretty mainstream, there are plenty of feminist theories that are much more radical than anything Marcotte wrote. Most of the hate directed against her is because she is prominent and at times prone to some non-careful writing.

    • The solution to your happiness in life is not men's rights activism, but to stop reading Jezebel.

  24. Daaamn, I really enjoyed this article. Where's that .gif of Orson Wells clapping when you need it?

  25. I agree that I see gender roles as a personal insult – so I can't do something because of my genitals? Piss off, already. I think part of this is rooted in a broader social conflict in the West, where part of the population is taking Enlightenment ideals and seeing how far they can run with them, with a broad reactionary movement aghast that their existing dogmas are being eroded in society at large. At the same time, I admit I don't wear dresses because it's easier just to put on a pair of jeans than have awkward conversations with people all the time about the difference between being transgender and just not caring.

    However, for me sexual attraction is still pretty much gendered. I like homosexuality, but I'm not attracted to people of my own sex, and I don't know exactly if or how that could be changed. Perhaps in a few/several generations sexual attraction will become ungendered if gender as a social marker melts away, but I don't know much about the psychology/biology of how it all works. Certainly humans are fairly malleable, so if pansexuality becomes the social norm then being only attracted to one gender could become a rarer thing.

    For now, though, I wonder if attraction is still attached to gender roles to some extent for most people, either in looks or in behaviour. On one hand, I find clothes like shirts and jeans on women more attractive than a lot of more feminine things, and I find passivity and coyness very offputting; I prefer to reciprocate more or less with someone I'm interested in (this is partly because I'm shy, of course). But on the other I still assume that sexual attraction for me has some gendered aspects, since I've never been attracted to men. I've read some women say that they get adverse comments if they don't wear makeup (although that of course doesn't mean that *all* people think the same way), and some women who say that they find assertiveness attractive in men (although of course confidence is attractive in people in general, I think). One personal thing is that I find long-ish hair more attractive than shorter hair, even though personally I keep my hair pretty short. Of course, this is all anecdotal. Anyone have any thoughts on this, and whether there should be any caveats to approaching dating, rather than just personal life decisions, for either sex in a fairly non-gendered way?

    (An addition is that I live in Europe, and I still have no idea how "normal" values here compare to values in the US)

  26. It think the problem is that this society is basically too judgemental over what every single person does.

    If you're a woman, you have to be a perfect, docile flower who will give it up to watever man claims you as his own. If you try to be independent, you are a bitch. If you have sex with other people, then you're a whore. Either way, you are a worthless she-devil. Only pure angels can be called "women".

    If you're a man, you basically have to be all powerful, dominating, angry, and stand-offish. If you lose a fight, you are worthless, If you express emotions, you are worthless. If you have any interest in things that are feminine (without trying to appropriate it as something "manly"), then you're worth and even worse a wuss.

    See how this just sounds completely awful? This doesn't give anyone the freedom to do whatever they want or be whatever person they want. It's constricting.

    We need to just stop giving a fuck about what people say or do unless they directly affect US. And even then, you should only care how they affect you if they actually hurt you.

    I don't really know how else to word this.

    • It's even bleaker, methinks.

      Dudettes also get flak for being sensitive, passive and fussy about triviliaties.

      And socially dominant dudes concerned with the classical manly traits of drinking, chasing skirts and tinkering with cars get characterized immature, hedonistic, predatory and materialistic.

      I can easily claim how any adherence or deviation from gender patterns directly affects me and politicize it into a symptom of the broader feminization of society(ZOMG a grill with muscles) or a manifestation of the patriarchy(oh noes, the dude in the subway is sitting with his legs wide).

      • To be fair, dudes who sit with their legs sprawled *are* super annoying. Not because Patriarchy but because I'm then left with three choices I dislike: spend the entire ride with my leg nestled snugly against that of a total stranger, cross my legs so that I resemble a Twizzler and try to make myself magically smaller to fit in the tiny area Sprawly Guy didn't manage to claim, or hope that he is a reasonable person who will not get angry or offended if I present the very awkward request to have a bit more of my space back please.

        • I'd say that if someone would blow a gasket over something so minor, it'd be clearly visible in the body language beforehand and you're unsafe sitting there either way. The person could be annoyed that you're not making yourself smaller, or could see making yourself small as an indication of intimidation and see it as an invitation to harass. Furthermore, someone who would be very self-conscious about making himself small so that this does not happen will make an awkward impression anyway, constantly fidgeting, which in turn can make you uncomfortable.

          Clear communication is still the way to go, methinks, even with Schroëdinger's Flipout in place.

          • Meh, I've been ranted at for a full subway ride for asking a guy to move his legs. Before I asked, he was quietly absorbed in his phone like everyone else, with no signs of rage.

      • That's the thing. We're all held to unrealistic, unattainable standards and punished in varying ways if we can't achieve the impossible.

  27. "You see, women aren’t the enforcers of traditional gender roles. In fact, modern feminism means that women are far more encouraging of being willing to step outside of typical gendered behavior." Bullshit, women enforce masculine traits for more than men do. Why do you think the most masculine (jock) men get the most attractive women?

    |Of course, the problem isn’t that women are going to judge them – in fact, women are far more likely to forgive whiskey-dick, especially if he’s willing to apply himself in other areas – but other men." Also Bullshit, any man whose had the misfortune, of overhearing a group of women talk about there sex lives, knows how cruel and judgmental women are

    • drugarious says:

      I've gotten plenty of attractive women, and I'm not a jock by any stretch of the imagination. And I've heard women talk about their sex lives, and at most it struck me as comical, not particularly cruel (then again, most of my friends have rather…interesting sex lives).

      • NotQuiteBrummie says:

        Congratulations, have a cookie.

        • Wait. So when Anonymous speaks from personal experience that's all cool bro, but when drugarious does it warrants sarcasm and easy dismissal.

          I shouldn't be surprised of course, considering how many people comment here only to have their own views reinforced, not challenged. The willful blindness and mental gymnastics that goes on here is sometimes truly astounding.

  28. >> one-man Human Centipede

    Doc! Please… I just had breakfast.

  29. sdenheyer says:

    The MGTOW movement seems to conform exactly you how you wish to eschew traditional masculinity: they are refusing to be providers or protectors of women, are mostly disinterested in sex, and if you watch Barbarossa or Stardusk on youtube, you can hardly accuse them of being either violent or anti-intellectual. Hm.

    (Not that I am ceding the MRM is, in the main, violent or violence-promoting. I mean really, linking to manboobz? How about some research into primary sources?)

  30. Scott Cunningham says:

    As a male sexual assault survivor, I have to say you did a great job with the article (and the puppy break was badly needed.) The one thing I wish you'd mentioned, though, is also the avalanche of homophobic bullying that falls on men sexually assaulted by men. Because holy crap is there an avalanche of homophobic bullying that falls on male survivors who speak up. Also all the homophobic bullying from before the attack has a way of coming back to haunt us again. And then there's the sheer crappiness of being a male sexual assault survivor trying to navigate a society where nine out of ten things said by other men are either rape jokes or homophobic grand-standing to establish masculinity cred.

  31. I actually thought one of Walt's greatest strokes of genius was his "confession" video which he gave to Hank, and which contained zero threats of violence – that was part of its genius.

  32. Thanks for the great post! I linked it on my fb, and there's some convo going on there. Feel free to drop on by!

    Be well, and keep up the good work.

  33. I'm surprised you don't mention Sex At Dawn…. unless I missed it?

  34. What's with all the foul macho language Dr. Nerdlove? Scared to have a mature. masculine discussion?

  35. IMHO, you watch too much media which is trying to enforce some macho masculine archetype. Its like youre describing the outside appearance of a man, but being a man comes from the inside, its the feeling in your nuts.

    The outward effect is that being a man is all of those things…but at different times. You might practically rape your girlfriend on a particular night, doesn't mean you walk into the bar like a sexual predator. You SHOULD be healthy enough to get it up, if not, stop watching porn and masturbating.

    If someone really pisses you off, you may become violent, but with most people youll be kind and helpful. Dont have a job? That doesnt matter, so long as youre strong and proactive enough to dedicate yourself to finding employment.

    Being a guy is pretty natural once you remove porn, masturbation, gaming and excessive media from your life. Just chill out, and live from your gut.

  36. pseudony mousie says:

    “As the saying goes: men are worried that women will laugh at them, while women are worried that men will murder them.” (From the article)

    Just to nitpick, this isn’t a ‘saying’ per se — it’s a paraphrase of a quote attributed to Margaret Atwood :

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Kf1SSS2jIpMC&lpg=PA184&ots=wJM2IQL9J-&dq=atwood%20laugh%20kill&pg=RA1-PA184#v=snippet&q=%22Atwood%20asked%20women%20what%20they%20feared%22&f=false

    (It also shows up attributed to Gavin de Becker, but the citations for Atwood are older.)

  37. I'm one of those angry feminists who's always shouting about rape culture and policing women's bodies and all that sort of thing, but even as a little kid I could recognize that – at least until puberty – boys had so much more gender policing and shaming than girls did.

    I mean, I'm sure mileage varies, especially in more conservative communities, but (when I grew up in the 90s) little girls could wear pink or blue, they could play with trucks or dolls, they could cry without ridicule for longer – and, most relevant to my childhood, we could get away with being crappy at sports with much less backlash. So even in my fairly progressive community, which was probably reasonably chill about these things, little boys had much less freedom to explore identities outside of traditional masculinity.

    And being pushed towards more masculine jobs and traits might have less economic consequences than being pushed towards more feminine pursuits (ie being expected to be a doctor rather than a nurse), but it clearly has emotional and personal consequences.

    • “And being pushed towards more masculine jobs and traits might have less economic consequences than being pushed towards more feminine pursuits (ie being expected to be a doctor rather than a nurse), but it clearly has emotional and personal consequences.”

      This is what makes me back away from both feminist and MRA stomping grounds. Most of gender involves pressuring people into tradeoffs. (E.G: Men being told that their value is tied to their net worth, so they optimize income at the cost of major stresses.) Each side is hyper aware of their own drawbacks and the other’s advantages, so there’s a ton of energy wasted on pissing matches over who has it worse.

  38. Wow, what is that smell? I think it's the overdone, addle-minded brain droppings of another clueless Gender Studies victim.

    This article is nothing but exaggeration, taking the worst stereotypes and media exaggerations of so-called "masculinity" and pretending that they are normal and real models for behavior, along with a heaping helping of bias and plain old dishonesty. An exaggerated strawman based on archetypes and media fantasies that were already exaggerated. Way to go, "Dr."!

    I've actually done quite a bit of reading on some MRM sites, like A Voice for Men and the MRM reddit, among others….I've seen more rational discourse there than in most places, but of course, you only cherry pick a tiny bit of "examples" to prove your point. I like that you admit they bring up real issues (which you won't dignify by specifying, of course, but simply ignore), but then go on to claim it's all about "hating women". What a load of crap, you could have at least shown evidence of this cascade of woman-hating(if it really existed). You don't mention the many women involved in their causes, either(of course). They must be suffering "false consciousness through male colonization" or some such horse puckey.
    Oh, and nice message of dehumanization with the gorilla comparison there. The shit-flinging monkey, however, is Dr, Nerdlove.

    And pretending that men are more gender policing than women? Funny….if masculinity was such a hindrance to getting laid, it should have disappeared long ago, right? It seems many women prefer a bit of masculinity, if actions are allowed to speak while feminists are talking ignorant shit. Your shallow and ridiculous analysis of the idea of "alpha" is even more ridiculous and broad-brushed than the PUA community you criticize. Your ideas of how men police other men are more ridiculous than the policing that does go on in some groups. And of course, you have to pretend that your exaggerated examples, are the NORM…..yeah, we all mock and beat the hell out of men who show emotion! What a crock…..I haven't seen even mild gender policing among males since grade school. We may kid each other sometimes, but mild jokes used to bond and process emotions are only "violence" or "repression" to feminists with no sense of humor.

    Your painting of outrageous media sensations like the Steubenville case being the "dominant narrative" is telling….a few parents, probably not wanting to believe such a thing could happen, get defensive or go into denial….something that happens in all kinds of situations and other crimes……and yet they are found out, hounded, put on public display, and the whole country condemns them. Yet their bad reactions are "the dominant cultural narrative" of victim-blaming? What a crock of shit. You invert reality 180 degrees and call your creation the norm, when to anyone with eyes and half a brain cell, it is clearly the opposite.

    I've also read quite a bit of Amanda Marcotte's strawman-filled, incredibly dishonest writing. Not once have I seen any "violence" directed toward her, but I have seen plenty of people banned from Raw Story and other sites for merely disagreeing and pointing out her many exaggerations and constant dishonesty. I have seen them have their reasonable(if a little naturally frustrated) comments deleted, and then I have then seen them lied about by other commenters and dishonestly held up as examples of this horrific male propensity toward violence. As almost always, firmly in the imaginations of feminists. (another hint…if you want to see what the MRM is, looking to the perniciously dishonest "Manboobz" is ridiculous. One carefully cherry-picked example isn't a good representative of thousands of people…but you probably already knew that.)

    Your ridiculous strawmen of "masculinity" do exist….as a small minority population that nobody really admires, as stereotypes that few really fall into. Do you really think everyone is trying to be captain of the football team? To pretend they are the "norm" is ludicrous. Yet some masculine qualities you exaggerate and shit-talk here, are in fact admired and desired (and policed)by some women as much as by men. We all know this, and we live our lives and act as ourselves the best we can.

    Seriously………A 5 year-old child playing with a Barbie or a He-Man doll has a better grasp of exaggeration, archetypes, gender, and reality than does "Dr. Nerdlove" here.

    I guess I'll go back to repressing my emotions and policing gender now.(lols)

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      Probably a good idea. It'll be more productive than name calling and demanding evidence without presenting any yourself, but since you brought up Stubenville, by all means present a rape case in the public eye where the victims didn't get dragged through the mud or where there was a lack of scenery chewing about the poor alleged perpetrators and what this will do to their promising future. That there's a narrative.

  39. Nah, you got the definition of manliness all wrong. What happens when a man falls? His brothers help him up. There is nothing more masculine than being the hero and saving someone. Look at celebrated male figures, look at the military. You're missing the component of loyalty and brotherhood that comes with real male attachment. It seems you're drawing your examples of male culture from the bar scene. The representation you have given is of men who won't support each other, cannot be happy for another man's accomplishments, and won't help out a fallen comrade. yeah, emotions tend to be suppressed and there is always jabbing back and forth, but you're also missing that spirit of comradery competition can create. Men don't necessarily have to hate rivals, men don't necessarily want to be unchallenged by other men. Even as a lower man on the totem pole (have to point out this cause I don't want this response to sound remotely mature, but i wrote pole hehehe) I have been shown as much loyalty as that same group of people would show people they liked a great deal more than I. There was a point when the article was thought provoking and interesting, but you went off the rails buddy, and missed out on the biggest thing that characterizes male bonding.

    I'm sad for you if what you have described is truly the only part of the male culture you have experienced. I will tell you that those people you describe are not most men.

    Now if I have missed the point and you're only talking about that small subculture of the Men's Rights Movement that's devoted to hating women, then whoops cause i know nothing about those guys. but I do know several PUA, and they're not even close to this hyperbole of the worst facets of masculinity you represent in this article

    • Gentleman Johnny says:

      I think its more that he's only talking about the parts that are problematic and not trying to say that every aspect of men interacting is an issue.

      • Quoting from the end of the document, "The traditional idea of masculinity has failed us…"

        this is a theme in the article, he is railing against what he sees as traditional masculinity. I an proposing a counterpoint that what he sees as traditional masculinity is not really what is traditional, but is popular in a certain subculture that populates some limited cultural settings.

      • Complete Full Disclosure, I've read 3 more articles of his, and I really don't like what he has to say. The reason I posted these comments is because someone I care about read this article and is taking his views on masculinity seriously, so I'm trying to communicate a more nuanced approach to this subject than the Dr (no not Dr Who) uses when writing about men and hopefully change his mind. I realize the likelihood of that is slim to nil, but its the internet, i've tried more impossible things.

        I'm not going to get involved with the dating advice, cause he gets to say whatever he wants about dating/sex, but i'm a part of male culture and the attempt at total gender equality, and this is not a step in that direction. Its actually pure man-bashing. He says 'traditional' male culture is unequivocally destructive, and what he describes is bad. but that's not every man. its a microcosm, not tradition.

  40. forgottensou1 says:

    Wow – I'm shocked and amazed at the hateful, inaccurate information spread on this blog. Assuming that the MRM 'hates women' is about as fallacious as suggesting that all feminists 'hate men'. Its bullshit toxic ideologies which make 'enemies' of friends and family to satisfy the paranoid needs of the masses which cause such lies. In reality, there are many valid issues on both sides of the fence – for both men and women. If only people could stop slinging mud at each other to see, they'd realize that both genders are humans. For a more accurate description of what the MRM is actually about (re: not the hateful lies spread above) – check out http://www.avoiceformen.com/policies/mission-stat

  41. Dr. Nerd Love?

    Marry me.

    That is all.

  42. bodhisattva76 says:

    My thoughts on masculinity and femininity are thus: Each man, individually, should define for himself what masculinity is, and how he can express himself, and Each woman, individually, should define for herself what femininity is, and how she can express herself. It shouldn't be dictated by other men and women, or society at large. It's no one else's business. If a man enjoys doing stereotypically feminine things, he's still a man. If a woman enjoys doing stereotypically masculine things, she's still a woman. The only thing that defines whether someone is male or female is, do they feel male or do they feel female? Whatever the answer is, it's the correct one. End of story.

  43. It’s going to be ending of mine day, however before end I am reading this

    great article to increase my knowledge.

  44. irichmond says:

    Around age 29, I concluded that being a man is something I am as opposed to something I do. This made everything better. We don't have to compete with other men to be manly. We are and always will be men, we just need to realize it. Since this revelation, I've seen that I'm much stronger than the men who try to constantly prove their "manliness". I've shocked these sorts of men by serenely standing up to them. My trick? I realize that knowing that I'm a man no matter what makes me more powerful than them and that, deep down, they know it. The key to being the most manly man you can be is simply being yourself.

    If you have a penis and you're older than 18, you already are a man. Once you realize this, you'll be more powerful for it. I don't mean more powerful than the other guy (which is that false "macho" ideal), but fully empowered without need to compare yourself. If you need to compare yourself to others, that's weakness.

    Men can and should cooperate. If we're all men just by being, we can be even better by cooperating. And, every non-lesbian woman I've asked about cooperative men agrees that cooperative men are sexy.

    • Dr_NerdLove says:

      I'd simplify it to "do you identify as a man?". Putting the emphasis on genitalia still makes it something external, something that can be taken away. A dude who loses his testicles to cancer isn't any less of a man. Similarly, trans men who haven't had bottom surgery are men. They just happen to come with a multitude of penises instead of just one.

  45. Robjection says:
  46. Robjection says:

    The link I put there explains why "yes really". You got an explanation for why "not really"?

  47. Not really.

Trackbacks

  1. […] to try to be both as objective and empathetic as possible. This article specifically talks about the challenges of masculinity which I found incredibly […]

  2. […] The traditional definition of masculinity breaks down into things that you do, rather than being part of who you are, which makes it fragile and unstable. While traditional femininity is defined by inherent states — the ability to give birth, for example — traditional masculinity is defined by actions. A man, for example, is a provider to his family. He’s dominant, often violent. He’s strong. He’s tough. He shows few emotions besides stoicism or anger. But because manhood is based on deeds rather than an something intrinsic to one’s sex, it means that it’s something that can be taken away from you. […]

  3. […] The traditional definition of masculinity breaks down into things that you do, rather than being part of who you are, which makes it fragile and unstable. While traditional femininity is defined by inherent states — the ability to give birth, for example — traditional masculinity is defined by actions. A man, for example, is a provider to his family. He’s dominant, often violent. He’s strong. He’s tough. He shows few emotions besides stoicism or anger. But because manhood is based on deeds rather than an something intrinsic to one’s sex, it means that it’s something that can be taken away from you. […]

  4. […] The normal clarification of masculinity breaks down into things that we do, rather than being partial of who we are, that creates it frail and unstable. While normal femininity is tangible by fundamental states — a ability to give birth, for instance — normal masculinity is tangible by actions. A man, for example, is a provider to his family. He’s dominant, mostly violent. He’s strong. He’s tough. He shows few emotions besides restraint or anger. But given strength is formed on deeds rather than an something unique to one’s sex, it means that it’s something that can be taken away from you. […]

  5. […] The traditional definition of masculinity breaks down into things that you do, rather than being part of who you are, which makes it fragile and unstable. While traditional femininity is defined by inherent states — the ability to give birth, for example — traditional masculinity is defined by actions. A man, for example, is a provider to his family. He’s dominant, often violent. He’s strong. He’s tough. He shows few emotions besides stoicism or anger. But because manhood is based on deeds rather than an something intrinsic to one’s sex, it means that it’s something that can be taken away from you. […]

  6. […] Dr. Nerdlove discusses how traditional masculinity hurts men and how we need to redefine manliness into something inherent, instead of something to be proved at the expense of others. […]

  7. […] “The brittle fragility of manhood means that men must always be on their guard against moments when their masculinity might be destroyed. A moment of weakness means that it can all come crashing down around your ears – handing in your man card and accepting your position as “bitch”. As a result, any vulnerability must be defended against because weakness means that somebody else will take your power – your manhood – away. A sleight against your power or status must always be answered or else you will be tacitly acknowledging that you are that person’s bitch. You have to establish your alpha dominance in the group by taking away other people’s power, or else they are in a position to take yours. There is no in between when it comes to manhood – you’re either a man or you’re a pussy, no in-between. And the most common way of establishing this power? Violence and the threat of violence.” When Masculinity Fails Men – Paging Dr. NerdLove […]

  8. […] Doctor Nerdlove, “When Masculinity Fails Men” […]

  9. […] article on why masculinity fails men is interesting.  I agree with a lot of it, but I also think it’s not entirely a […]

  10. […] the only contemporary examples are stone-age tribal units that have been cut off from the world. Men have long established and regulated what is considered “acceptable” sexual behavior … and continue to do so today. The ones empowered to set social and sexual standards were men; men […]

  11. […] gender roles, no matter how outdated, are damned hard to overcome. Don’t forget: guys freak out over something as innocuous as braiding hair. But as it turns out, women have a good reason to be extra nervous about flaunting […]

  12. […] This is the message we’re sold over and over again: A woman who is a virgin is a prize beyond rubies, holding her “special gift” for a “special person.” A male (not a man, a male) is a failure. He is a boy, not a man. He is a failure, despite being wealthy, despite being privileged (in every sense of the word) because masculinity is rated on two axes—in our capacity for sex and our capacity for violence. These are the two ways that men establish our masculine credentials: by being a stud or being a badass. […]

  13. […] It is impossible to know at first glance whether a person is one of those poisoned M&Ms. If we want to eliminate this fear, if we want to create a world where a woman doesn’t have to wonder whether every man she meets is going to rape her, we have to change the way our culture perceives not only women, but men as well. […]

  14. Storage says:

    […] — “When Masculinity Fails Men”  […]

  15. […] This article by “Dr. Nerdlove” is pretty long, and I honestly don’t care very much for this dude, but this may be of interest for people who want to analyze the concept of masculinity and all its downsides, or at least the downsides from a man’s perspective. […]

  16. […] In a popular blog by Harris O’Malley (also known as Dr. Nerdlove) that can be found here (http://www.doctornerdlove.com/2013/10/masculinity-fails-men/), it is cited that the definition of manhood is defined by “violence, social dominance, […]

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