Something I’ve found myself wondering for a while is why there is a lack of intelligent discussion pieces on masculinity or what it means to be a man in modern times. Feel free to look for such discussions online. The results can be ruthless – unrelenting digital trench warfare between various men and feminists who strive to gain territory for their respective opinion. And make no mistake, as our society continues to evolve and traditional gender roles begin to perish, the underlying concept of what it means to be a man moving forward couldn’t be more important.
Why do I say that you ask? Because masculinity is a set of attributes made up of both biologically-created and socially-created factors; and today, those social factors are being picked apart, challenged and redefined by academia, politics and left-wing media. This isn’t a problem in itself, as I for one am happy for masculinity to be under the spotlight if we can have an honest debate and move forward with masculine attributes that make our species stronger. However, this is a very difficult environment to get an honest discussion from when there is an unrelenting pursuit of equality at any cost which often overlooks reality at the expense of such a debate. The pursuit of an honest discussion of what it means to be a man in modern society can be one with many enemies lurking to take their shot before anyone utters a single word.
What the fuck is masculinity first of all? Well, that depends on where you are. Various cultures have their own definition of what makes someone masculine and while these traits and social expectations vary from place to place – They all share a single, important purpose.
The virtues of masculinity are the attributes that formulate society’s best fighting force that is most effective against the adversity of life. Men tend to be physically larger and much stronger than women, so manliness includes special guidelines for being the best above-average-size-and-physical-strength person you can be. Men tend to be more aggressive than women. There are observable higher rates of certain hormones that naturally cause this. This means masculinity should be aiming to use this natural aggression for good when appropriate, and controlling it to prevent it from causing harm.
For most women, they simply don’t have the testosterone levels to develop the musculature to do serious battle with the most vicious of the human species. Women’s bodies simply aren’t adapted for savage fighting. As a result, this aforementioned fighting force has predominately always been men.
With the unknown dangers that our species has continuously faced throughout history, this would be the force most capable of protecting the community from harm. Other men in this force would need to know that they can depend on you, because everything matters, and your weakness, fear or incompetence could get any one of them killed at any moment for the lack of certain traits (Discipline, loyalty, honouring one’s word, leadership etc) and threaten the group as a whole. Men who are good at this job – men who are good at the job of being masculine – will earn the respect and trust of the group. Those men will be honoured through a socially created reward structure and treated better than men who are disloyal or undependable. The men who deliver victory at the moments of greatest peril will attain the highest status among men. They will be treated like heroes, and other men – especially young men – will emulate them. Even today, men evaluate each other as men, they still look for the same virtues that they’d need to keep the perimeter secure. Men positively respond and admire the qualities that would make men useful and dependable in an emergency.
Everything that is specifically about masculinity, the art of being a man – not merely a person – has to do with this role. What kind of men do you want at your flank when you’re fighting for your survival? When nothing else matters? This is the social element of the masculine construct that has defined the traits of successful warriors throughout time.
But it is today, in this modern world where this whole subject gets fucking confusing. A time for many where the greatest battles now take place in the closing seconds of an eBay bid, or within the confines of the company boardroom. Never before has our world been more privileged, complex and engineered to our everyday needs than it is today. And it is this incredible achievement, that has essentially eliminated the need for survival in Western Society that even allows one to pose the question: Does masculinity have a purpose in today’s world?
For many men, a modern peaceful environment which has essentially been in place for 0.001% of all of human history – is not an excuse to give up the lessons of masculinity, passed down from history that has been earned through blood and sacrifice regardless of what people think of them. For those who still face adversity on a regular basis (Those in the military for example) will laugh at such a motion. Within the confines of any military base, you will find a fighting force predominantly made up of men regularly training their bodies and minds for war. The virtues of masculinity still hold true in such environments and are the most effective traits at getting the most out of a band of men during an unmerciful conflict.
But what about those who aren’t training for war? What about your average man? What does he have to benefit from harnessing his inherent biological advantage for fighting and embracing the tenants of masculinity? Is there not an advantage to prepare his body for fighting – to be ready to protect loved ones in the event of an aggressor in a modern urban environment? Is there not an inherent benefit to seek those who have discipline, loyalty, integrity and courage in a modern business environment? Of course! There are countless benefits. However, there are also countless disadvantages for a society placing such expectations on ALL men – many of whom aren’t suitable for such demands. These are the men who place no importance for such virtues – men who would rather curl up with a pizza on the couch and watch Netflix than go hiking while embracing their inner beast. This unconditional social pressure that demands masculinity from people who have no business within the realms of adversity comes at a cost – By funnelling everybody through the narrow range of masculine ideals, many will suffer from their inability to navigate these complex traits without something buckling – Emotional suppression that often leads to violence, academic apathy and depression are just a few examples that can form out of the heavy turmoil placed on boys and men who were more suited for a different path than a life of honouring the virtues of masculinity.
The above video is an excellent example of this entire phenomenon being described by one of my favourite actors: Zach Braff (JD from Scrubs) – explaining his tendency to embrace unmasculine roles in acting. Now is Zach any less of a man than those who embrace a masculine approach to their lives? Absolutely not, he simply chooses not to embrace masculinity (However difficult that may have been for him to avoid initially because of social pressure) Zach specialises in the arts and his charm, creativity and charisma are some of his favoured traits – this is his way of life (One that also looks quite successful and fulfilling to me) His lack of masculinity has no reason to be mocked or ridiculed for any reason. It is simply an alternative path that any man should be free to explore at his discretion.
Masculinity is now a choice. It never used to be (Survival demanded it) but now a man needn’t employ such virtues into their life if they choose not too, and that’s fine – such is the freedom many now have in this world of ours. I personally feel that masculinity is a favourable pursuit of self-improvement, through self-control, assertiveness, controlled aggression, through a grounded and self-sufficient mindset. Holding yourself to this level of excellence shows all those around you that you’re dependable and capable of dealing with disasters and traumatic events where many would falter. But let’s be real – not everyone should be expected to agree with this statement. Our ancestors perhaps didn’t have the luxury of such a choice as their survival certainly depended on it. But let’s get real here – This isn’t the fucking stone age anymore – any person should have the luxury of choosing a path of their own accord. This is the first amendment of masculinity that I am happy to embrace – the immediate removal of the unnecessary pressure placed on all those who would rather choose a different path.
What about women? Can’t they strive for such qualities also? Well sure, of course they can. The socially constructed virtues of masculinity are obtainable by anyone who has the ability to attain them. This is the gift of a modern, peaceful environment of ours that allows any person to define the virtues they deem important without the challenges of survival at stake. But can the modern independent woman always take care of herself and come out of intense violent conflict the sole victor? Not always, certainly not in the case of severe physical danger. It may be politically incorrect to say so, but a lone woman will fall victim to the advances of evil men most of the time.
It is with the above point and a vast history of patriarchy that many women are suspicious of men’s motives when they speak of masculinity today. And let’s be honest here, it is understandable. But masculinity shouldn’t be a threat to those who are in the pursuit of equality of opportunity. Masculinity and it’s fierce execution during a moment of chaos is still a concept that benefits us all over this planet each and every day. If an apartment complex suddenly takes fire, it is the physical traits and the relentless courage, aggression and virtues of masculinity that will typically provide the best candidate who is capable of getting inside quickly and saving those in need. Men are still the most effective gender at keeping the civilised world and danger at an arm’s length. They’re the people who are facing the most violent dangers of civilisation so that those who choose a different path, can do so. They’re the people who have bestowed upon the west, a safe environment that allows a liberal media to encourage pacifism in the first place. But will this always be the case? Will such an environment ever need to readjust its priorities? The future is unknown, and many don’t wish to give up such an effective methodology so easily.
“We’re designed to be hunters and we’re in a society of shopping. There’s nothing to kill anymore, there’s nothing to fight, nothing to overcome, nothing to explore. In that societal emasculation this everyman is created.”
The everyman – The extreme product of a modern society that doesn’t require the virtues of masculinity. Japan calls these the Herbivore men (草食系男子) – Men who have no interest in getting married or finding a girlfriend. Surveys of single Japanese men conducted in 2010 found that 61% of men in their 20s and 70% of men in their 30s considered themselves to be herbivores. Kind and gentle men who, without being bound by manliness, do not pursue romantic relationships voraciously, often having a preference to the company of cyber women to the real thing and having no aptitude for being hurt or hurting others.
There are many complex social factors which can contribute to the rise of the herbivore man. Disdain for the corporate world, the lack of social solidarity, the absence of a valid role in modern society, the decreasing exposure to physical adversity and finally the battle against masculinity in modern culture. The herbivore man is the extreme example of the complete irradiation of masculinity. And this social phenomenon has already seen a vast social shift in Japan with many Japanese women not taking the herbivores’ indifference lightly. In response to the void left by the herbivorous stance, “carnivorous girls” (肉食系女子) are taking matters into their own hands by taking the leading roles in sexual advances and the social domination of their grass-eating counterparts. How quaint.
The blank slate that many strive for in our society, that aims to treat everyone the same and demand unconditional equality at the expense of an effective methodology is flawed. A methodology that has been passed down through the sands of time as a proven recipe for success through the most extreme tests. Masculinity still has a very prominent role to play in a world of unknowns and where dangers still lurk. The subjugation of masculinity from external sources is reckless and typically comes from those who lack it or fail to understand it. True masculinity is not a threat for legitimate social progress and the genuine pursuit of a fair and equal society and I encourage any of those reading, who feel naturally inclined to reconnect to their masculinity to do so, and embrace the unrivalled benefits of harnessing your inner beast.