Is A|N mature enough for a discussion about the meaning and expectations of manhood? What is meant by "a man"? Is a man just a male adult homo sapiens? Is a "man" just someone with a Y chromosome and a male appendage, who "subjugates" women? Are there positive traits that can be identified as "manly" without descending into discussions of rape and wolf whistles and "privilege"? Is a "man" just a hetero guy who watches football and chugs beer and hunts deer? Can a masculine ideal be defined in such a way that there is something for men to identify with, and emulate, as men?

This is the essay that prompted me to wonder if A|N is ready for a true discussion of masculinity, or if all gender discussions must descend into rhetoric of "men abuse, women are victims". Linking to this essay is meant to inspire thought, and maybe discussion. My intent on posting this discussion in the general forum is not to bait, or incite endless arguments, but to ask what people think of when they think of "men"? Especially, "ideal men".

A correlary of "Manhood" is "Womanhood". That should be a separate thread.

Two weeks ago I would not have posted this topic, but there have been some changes that make me ask if we are ready for the discussion.

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Thoughtful post. If I can add some comments -

Over the past approx 6 months, there has been an extended series of front page discussions regarding the topics of male privilege, rape, gender inequality, victimization of women. Some of those discussions continue. So while there has been a very large amount of text (possibly hundreds of screen pages) written on A|N about negative attributes or negative behaviors of men, subjugation and victimization of women, there hasn't been nearly as much written about positive attributes or expectations. Actually, of either sex. To a significant degree, there has been defensiveness, division, members leaving A|N, and other members giving up on the discussions.

My hope in bringing up this topic is to focus, not just on what isn't working, or what is bad (there is plenty of that), but to find a focus on the positive attributes of men. Not as opposed to women, or in defense against bad behaviors, but positive attributes to aspire to and acknowledge, in and of themselves.

This is why I'm wanting to keep this discussion positive, and focused on positive characteristics and behavior patterns. Again, it's not in any way meant to minimize the challenges and pain of women, but to give a perspective that can build bridges rather than moats.
This is why I'm wanting to keep this discussion positive, and focused on positive characteristics and behavior patterns. Again, it's not in any way meant to minimize the challenges and pain of women, but to give a perspective that can build bridges rather than moats.

Dan, thanks for bringing a sort of "neutraliser" to the discussions. If we could continue threads like this, it may be easier to work on breaking down the issues afflicting both men and women.
Hi Larry,

I'll point out that "men" and "women" are not equal; they are, however, equally human.

If you changed this statement to read:

I'll point out that "men" and "women" are not the same; they are, however, equal and equally human.

I'd agree with it.

Was that your intent or were making a different point?
For myself, I demand everyone take account of their actions and be free from the desire to place whatever burden they encounter on others as the easy way out.

Well said
Daniel, if your post is truly indicative of your intentions, then I'd say you've succeeded.

goodthink made interesting points, the most significant of which is:
"For myself, I demand everyone take account of their actions and be free from the desire to place whatever burden they encounter on others as the easy way out. I have told my daughters that to be truly equal is to accept your own limitations, to know yourself, and to accept the outcomes of your actions at all times.

For the most part, defining actual characteristics is futile since male behavior and female behavior exists on a spectrum where much of it overlaps."

Perhaps you're all attritive now of my scorn for ideology (if you've read any of my posts at all), but this quote ties in with that issue well. But the thing about ideology and Johnny's "group think," Daniel, is that its manifestations can be just as furtive as they are insidious. Take a look at the article you cited. Like all ideologues, Paul Elam (the author of the article) begins sounding very reasonable indeed, but inevitably, he descends into the same ideological tunnel vision of which he accuses his opposition. He whines about misandry and the role the media has played in emasculating men, and you can almost picture him sitting there dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief. He champions the subject of the article, the Dockers ad, as "a step in the right direction." Since when is fighting extremism (in this case, rabid Femi-nazism) with opposing extremism (in this case, self-congratulatory, weeping cock-stroking) ever a step in the right direction? If anything, it's the opposite. Also, look at Elam's other entries, as well as the other contributors to the site. Most are of the same breed. They tackle an issue that does indeed need to be tackled, but instead of an intelligent play, they run the ball right off the field. Surreptitious and deadly, this is reactionary collectivism (aka religion) at its peak.

I gleaned this from goothink's response: stick to the facts and derive your moral and/or social course from there. Psychologists, archeologists and anthropologists--like Dr Debra Tannen--give us the best advice, which is that the inherent gender differences (such as communication) compliment each other, and therefore should be celebrated.

The only thing that vexes me more than rabid feminism is the extreme opposite reaction. Yeah sure, men have it REAL bad, don't they? For goodness sake, let's not sit on our asses and stick our bottom lips out because ideologues say mean things to us. Let's man up, and fight irrationality with reason.

Is that really so much to ask?
Why cant they just have a "why can't we all get along" blog? Well, maybe they do, my google alerts probably just dont catch it.
Grey,

Thanks for the comments. My post is indicative of my intentions.

I like what you said, "the inherent gender differences (such as communication) compliment each other, and therefore should be celebrated."

I'm not big on ideology as a whole (I think). The article that I linked came up in my google alerts, and when I read it, I thought it would be an interesting springboard for discussion. I agree with you that fighting extremism with extremism is self defeating. I agree with you completely, in your conclusion to "fight irrationality with reason".
There was a part of the article which talked about an ad with a woman putting buttons or something on a man, using a nailgun. This was described as an example of sexism against men. I think the writer missed the point: this is a commercial geared towards men, and it is more likely a statement of how they view women as castrating.

I've also seen beer commercials with women nagging and talking in psychobabble, and women on the first date breaking down about how they want to get married and have kids...the punchline was something about now being a good time for a beer. Men are portrayed as dopes on TV, but I think women are also portrayed in commercials, chick flicks and chick lit as airheads who mostly care about shoe shopping and diets.

In the past few decades, society has allowed women to have more options with what to do with their lives, and there has been more awareness of things like rape and violence against women. Maybe also less stigma for men to express their emotions. I don't see most of the changes since, say, the 1950s, as making masculinity unacceptable and I haven't known any men that have gone through masculinity crises.

Actually, one double standard that affects men (certainly not the only one) is that women are much freer to adapt "masculine" traits (short hair, men's clothes, even experimenting with the same sex) than men are to adapt "feminine" traits.

This ad may say masculinity is endangered and women are encouraged to walk all over men, and others still say men are forced into rigid masculine roles and women are subjugated. I say a lot of this is perception and it's very hard to objectively determine.

And, it's just an ad. People will say anything to sell stuff--and controversial advertising gets noticed the most.
"And, it's just an ad. People will say anything to sell stuff--and controversial advertising gets noticed the most."

Prog, that may be the best response to the post. Who knows what Dockers Levi Strauss truly intended as a side effect? But we all know that their main goal was to make money.

People want to blame a simple commercial ad (the media, actually) for social upheaval. The author of the article was just as guilty of the "literalistic reductionism" he admonished as those he accused. In the end, it comes down to blaming someone else for your inadequacies, as goodthink pointed out. The ad may very well have just been a joke.

One thing about us homo sapiens...we take ourselves WAY too seriously.
learn from your mistakes
live life without god
don't beat on women (if she hits you, run; if that don't work, headlock)

> : P

man, woman, child, Earth is polluted and needs help, hello.
I've been thinking about this one. I wonder if the current stereotype of the "male ideal" isn't pretty recent.

The modern mythology that pops out at me is the Clint Eastwood character from spaghetti westerns. The only emotion this character demonstrates is anger, with an occasional undercurrent of anguish . He is near perfect in his ability to exact vengeance. Any feelings of warmth or tenderness are always be camouflaged behind a cool exterior. He is the supreme, unkillable, unbeatable, alpha male. The character resembles a super hero from the comics much more closely than he does a human being.

Older myths about the male ideal feel much more realistic to me. The Greek heroes were strong and brave, but certainly not infallible. They cried, made stupid mistakes, got out foxed by villains, fell in love and demonstrated a full range of human emotion.

I wonder why modern mythology has made the male ideal so polarized and sterile?

PS… I’m getting a little long in the tooth. I could be completely off base with my understanding of the modern male ideal. I grew up with Clint Eastwood, but maybe there is a more recent icon that better symbolizes the male ideal?
You know a few days ago I wanted to cry because of all the negetivity on this subject and now I want to cry because this thread makes me believe in the brilliance of our community again.

Anyway, Sara Connor was the first character that came to mind when I read Rusty's point of the Clint Eastwood hero type, or the brooding avenger archtype. I think that it is interesting that this is probably one of the primary hero types used in cinema and that it is distinctly unisex. The old fashioned hero type seemed to have a greater focus on brute strength and a capacity for melee (Greek heroes are a perfect example)and quite frankly screw any girl that he sees. Well this type of hero is rarely the biggest and strongest, but are often the toughest, fastest, smartest, and best trained. Also, and think about this, they are often monogamous. I think it is awesome because it promotes the fact that heroism is in the will, not in the arm (nor in the sex).

As for newer male ideals in cinema, I think of the Tyler Durden character from Fight Club. First of all, clearly insane to pretty much everyone around him, yet is still a man that attracts followers. He exists on the dirty fringe of society (apparently by choice), is knowledgable and self taught, and of course is incredibly tough and intelligent.

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