The New Macho

What does it mean to be ‘assertively, self-consciously male’ now?

Men are certainly under attack from all sides at the moment—whether it’s the endless list of celebrity bad boys or the sociologists who have come to fame by pointing out the statistical impotence of men at-large. Apparently males these days watch porn 50 times a week, on average, play endless video games, fail out of school, and are increasingly anti-social.

Those of us with testosterone and a well-meaning heart, we don’t have much room to maneuver. For a good number of guys in my cohort (40s, white, from supposedly forward-looking backgrounds), the double bind of manhood predates the most recent attacks. Our feminist moms told us to be just like them to be loved. For our dads, the idea of macho got lost in some encounter group somewhere (except for Burt Reynolds in Semi-Tough, when he is supposed to piss himself during a EST conference but sneaks in a catheder flask taped to his leg as back-up, which, ironically, I have a clear memory of going to see with my dad). So we just gave up on being macho.

If there is a gender war, men have just decided to gather up their marbles and go home. Virtual sex is better than real sex with a complex woman. Hanging with the boys over a beer and watching a game is better than getting your manhood wrapped around your eardrums. “Pass me the remote,” is the mantra in response to getting kicked in the nuts.

So, The Good Men Project is about encouraging men to get their mojo back, to be proud of their manliness, to see good where we have been conditioned to be ashamed of our instincts, to ultimately define a new macho that does good in the world.


I am not debating the statistics about manhood. I realize that we are, in the majority, a group of Internet-obsessed masturbators with deep-seated emotional issues. I’m proud to be a member of that group.

No, my issue is that we collectively, male and female, are obsessed with the worst of the worst when it comes to men rather than the best of the best. An 18-year-old kid gets drunk and does something stupid and disgusting, but frankly no more stupid or disgusting than I did drunk when I was 18—and dare I say most guys and a lot of women, too? Yet because this kid has even the hint of celebrity—he was one of 75 hopefuls on the U.S. Ski development team—it leads the national news and blows up into an international story.

Image from A Conversation with Tim Hetherington

Meanwhile 18-year-old boys we all sent to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight our wars—wars that, arguably, we will never win—lay down their lives in silence. Those guys are macho in my book, for sure. We just choose not to focus on them.


“A real man doesn’t lie or cheat or beat his chest, but stares down things that seem impossible—like flying at the speed of sound or walking on the moon—and doing them anyways,” I recently wrote in a piece about astronauts, but I might as well have been referring to all men.

“The New Macho” is a guy who has an aggressive moral compass that prioritizes the things that he finds important—family, being honest, making a difference in the world. He goes all out to figure that out, yet he is also more apt to take risks “and stare down things that seem impossible.”

“The New Macho” is a guy who has an aggressive moral compass that prioritizes the things that he finds important—family, being honest, making a difference in the world. He goes all out to figure that out, yet he is also more apt to take risks “and stare down things that seem impossible.”


Let’s take an easy category first: entrepreneurs.

Our economy is in a heap of trouble: untenable national debt, historical high rates of unemployment, stagnant growth. The one thing we still do best in the world is figure out new ideas and build huge, revolutionary businesses around them. We are still the world’s best innovators.

If we are going to save ourselves economically, it’s because of companies like Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

These companies were all founded by men who believed in the power of their own ideas to transform the world in ways that no one else really thought possible. And it’s their ideas that are most important. While Steve Jobs and Marc Zuckerberg are certainly huge personalities, their genius is in their innovation, not in their haircut or their editorials. One could even argue that the personalities of the male founders of huge companies tend to be neutral to negative. But the power of their product innovation is so great that they succeed despite themselves. They risk it all and stare down the impossible, proving themselves macho for sure. In the end, the personalities are not an intrinsic part of the business. The founder’s fundamental insight into the market is.

Take Jobs, who suddenly-but-inevitably stepped down from his position as C.E.O of Apple and then tragically died after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. In his New York Times piece, David Streitfeld quoted Jobs biographer, Alan Deutschman, as saying:

The big thing about Steve Jobs is not his genius or his charisma but his extraordinary risk-taking. Apple has been so innovative because Jobs takes major risks, which is rare in corporate America. He doesn’t market-test anything. It’s all his own judgment and perfectionism and gut.

Steve Jobs is the new macho.

Then think about the most well-known companies founded by female entrepreneurs: Martha, Oprah, Kate Spade, Gaga, Huffington Post, Mrs. Fields, Mary Kay. These are businesses built around a personality, even named after the founder. They aren’t product innovations—magazines, handbags, cookies, cosmetics—as much as women who have successfully marketed an image of themselves. As such, they aren’t as risky nor as significant in terms of changing the fundamentals of the marketplace.

Certainly one could argue that the workplace, venture capital, and particularly technology are all bastions of male sexism. Despite that, women like Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Sheryl Sandberg have played key roles in managing technology companies once they became huge. But not in starting them from scratch, when you have to believe you can walk on the moon because the whole world is telling you that you’re insane.

Is it sexism that causes men to go where women have not yet? I don’t think so. The Internet is a great equalizer. No one cares who the founder of a particular web company is. What they care about is whether or not the product works and solves a fundamental need. Again, people use Facebook despite hating Mark Zuckerberg, for the most part. And frankly, the really great companies are so great from the get-go that venture capital is hardly a roadblock. Google, Facebook, and the like took money only after they were massively successful.

If Mark Zuckerberg had been a woman, the world wouldn’t have boycotted Facebook. If the product worked, we all would have used it—probably more than if an unlikeable guy was the founder. But no woman has stepped forward with a revolutionary idea that has turned into a multi-billion dollar transformative company. And my suspicion has to do with the risk-taking aspect of what it means to be male and macho in 2011.

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Photo Cuito Cuanavale/Flickr

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About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. I believe in equal pay for equal work and that women and men should be able to make a good living, but If I were a woman I would be sorta proud that so few women are billionaires. Billionaires are basically criminals, no one needs or truly earns that much money. I do think that men more often tend to be risk takers, and that has both goods and bads to it and is a pretty big part of what makes males distinct. I think that guys these days are getting too stuck in their comfort zone in westerm countries with all the internet and yes the porn, all the technology that both makes some things too easy and some things impossible to do on their own. What ordinary guy can fix a car these days

  2. Quinn Hamilton says:

    I wanted to like this article, but the author rubbed me the wrong way very soon into it. To say “think about the most well-known companies founded by female entrepreneurs” and that they “aren’t product innovations…as much as women who have successfully marketed an image of themselves” then essentially go on to dismiss their work as less important is unfair. I understand that, to men, the work of the women you’ve mentioned may not have changed the life of the average man, but the average woman would beg to differ. You said: “These companies [Google, Facebook, Apple] were all founded by men who believed in the power of their own ideas to transform the world in ways that no one else really thought possible.” How many people in the 1950s thought a black woman who grew up poor in rural Mississippi could build a multi-media empire and be worth $2.5 billion? Oprah has a big personality but it was her genius that made her a media mogul and not just talk show host-puppet controlled by her advertisers. And it is her genius and innovation that inspires more women to believe in themselves and their own world-changing ideas.

    I could give more examples but I won’t. I’d recommend you open your eyes to the different, but equally awesome, ways that women’s genius and innovation manifest. I would then encourage you to get hip to the lesser known women innovators in the sectors in which you’re familiar. They exist but they are HIGHLY underrepresented and under-praised for a myriad of reasons. I would also encourage you to support the programs that are helping to increase the numbers of women in areas that we tend to be underrepresented such as the technology sector you so lovingly talk about. There’s a great group called Black Girls Code that could use donations.

  3. The difference between brave and reckless, like the difference between nurturing and coddling, is a great question masculine and feminine men and women have to battle with every day.

    Unfortunately the battle between the sexes is still selling well but, more unfortunately, those who have won that battle by not playing it lose sight of the mindset the rest of the world is still stuck in. They get smug, and cynical, and coddling and reckless.

  4. this message is old news in a new light. for me it helps bring to light things i once forgot. men are only seen as superior because thats the way the media portrays us. the biological role f a male is to protect his mate also protect his offspring. these men you mentioned where doing just that. successful people are the ones who appear to be extremely unsuccessful but still have the integrity to keep pushing even though they fail on a consistent basis. these men include guys like Goeorge Washington. as a general he lead an army that was out gunned and out maned to free a country for a tyrant. the issue with todays man is they were told they were special and different giving them a sense of entitlement. this entitlement has lead to the down fall of the planet. human nature was never to destroy another human but to help that human survive. this is the mentality of macho men they dont want to harm another person. they want to help that person survive and help that person reach there full potential. this brings them joy in a life full of questioning yourself

  5. I think Macho is a person who realizes that their own journey to manhood is not complete without mentoring and guiding the emerging generation. When a person accepts responsibility to help others through the challenges of maturation, they themselves discover true manhood. A macho man is nothing more than a man who recognizes his place in the cycle of life and give selflessly.

  6. Tom, thank you for creating a new definition for macho. I believe all men want to fulfill your ideal. We lack the role models and the tools. Your post lays the ground work.

    I watch your Sing Sing video – you had me in tears. Not from pity, but from feeling your and the men you visited greatness. It’s sad as men we have to experience extreme events to touch launch greatness.

    I’ve come to feel that as men we are meant to struggle and over come. Steve Jobs did and so did Julio Medina. Let’s create a world where more men get to be Steve Jobs.

  7. Heriberto Vizcarra says:

    Thank God we live in a country with so many different lifestyles, because I haven’t been living in the same society as you portray it in this article and comments.

  8. Ewell Smith says:

    I really like the direction the Onion News Network is taking, keep up the awesome work guys!

  9. Thanks for this article. I’m a woman and I adore men. I’ve never believed in bashing men, I love them! I do wonder, though, why it’s necessary to compare men to women in the way you’ve done in this article. I love what you say about men, but then why do you have to subtly denigrate women to make your point? If the point of your article is that the modern man is changing the world through risk-taking, developing a strong moral compass, facing difficult situations with bravery (including emotional ones) and innovation (as opposed to brute strength and stoicism, the male myth), why not just say that? Is it really necessary to say that women aren’t doing these things in the same way? no kidding. Men and women are different. Both wonderful and valuable in their own right. The article would have been much stronger if you hadn’t felt the need to undermine women’s contributions in order to celebrate men’s.

    • I agree with this comment entirely. I heartily applaud bringing to the fore the wonderful achievements and attributes of the manly man. My son has a very ‘traditional’ marriage which is not one in which I would be fulfilled, but I am so proud the way he takes care of his wife and serves his country. I always knew he would be a manly man type and never desired to take this away. I did, however, encourage him to build up others rather than tear them down to make himself feel big and powerful. And the amount of negative comparisons to women is disheartening. Rather than being able to stand back and feel ‘Wow, men are great! I want to go home and tell my man just how great he really is!’, instead I have a feeling of ‘hey, wait a minute, just because women weren’t historically able to get credit for much of their work doesn’t mean they didn’t do tremendous acts based on risk, too.’

      • women have taking more risks then men but are under credited. you look at these succseful men i bet the had a strong women helping them when the would get discouraged.

    • I think that we have to look at the strengths of each sex independently of the other. The sexes cannot be compared because the sexes are created different but equal. To compare men to women in areas such as parenting, work, sex and relationships is comparing apples to oranges.

      The weaknesses of each sex in each of these areas will be counterbalanced by the opposite sexes strength,

      Let us stop comparing and be great in our own light.

  10. The problem with male machismo is that it, unfortunately, assumes that HIS story is in fact history. To suggest that women are not as creative, entrepreneurial or inventive as men simply due to a lack of strong moral compass or a refusal to take risks is to discount (yet again) the many contributions that women have and continue to make in the marketplace. I have included a short list of female inventors below, many of whose research and inventions made possible the achievements and innovations, and in fact may have saved the lives, of the men mentioned in the article.

    Furthermore, I would suggest that if the success of some women today, as mentioned in the article, is due to “force of personality,” then perhaps it is because they are the ones who reach “top of mind” greatness because they have entered fields that traditionally have lower barries to success for women and have also refused to allow their creative talents and ingenuity to be overlooked.

    Could it be possible that men have historically achieved greater successes as inventors in the marketplace because they have traditionally been provided access and opportunity not typically available to women? Or that they have not been subject to the “good girls don’t make waves; good girls are polite and smile,” form of socialization? Or that men have historically been encouraged to pursue academic coursework in the STEM (science, technology, education, math) disciplines, while women were often expected (and directed by traditional fathers paying for their educations) to pursue “soft skills” degrees in teaching, nursing, marketing, communications, home economics, and so on.

    The accumulation of soft skills allows women to engage in entrepreneurial pursuits in traditionally female oriented fields (i.e. Oprah: Communications & Marketing; Mrs. Fields: Home Economics), but is unlikely to be enough to lead to actual innovation in the form of new product creation, much of which has historically occurred in male dominated arenas such as manufacturing and IT. Successful people have a tendency to “grow where they are planted.” How many women or African Americans, do you think, would have been welcome to attend the Homebrew Computer Club in 1974? Or would have had enough familiarity with the business operations of a company such as IBM in 1976, the year that Steve Jobs introduced the Apple computer, so that they could even begin to understand how to challenge such a dominant industry force?

    As one’s education is primarlly intended to prepare one for a vocation, the natural extension of these early academic choices is that men historically have been more likely to pursue jobs in manufacturing and technology-driven industries. As a result, they accumulate skill sets, academic knowledge and personal networks that support entrepreneurial AND innovative ventures, as well as are provided particular insight or “opportunity recognition” skills that allow them to identify weaknesses within their industries that are ripe for disruptive innovation.

    I would suggest that as more women accumulate a broader set of STEM-based academic and vocational experiences and a broader network of resources, we will in fact begin to see more female entrepreneurs developing innovative products and technologies, and they will get credit for doing so. As young women are provided opportunities to join the ranks of male entrepreneurs through publicly offered events such as, they too will begin to shine in the world of true innovation.

    In the meantime, however, please do not continue to disregard those women whose achievements enabled the greats such as Steve Jobs and Mark Z. to become the successful men they are (and were).

    For starters…
    1843 Ada Augusta Lovelace laid some of the early conceptual and technical groundwork for high technology by helping develop an early computer. Ada Lovelace is best known as the first computer programmer. She wrote about Charles Babbage’s “Analytical Engine” with such clarity and insight that her work became the premier text explaining the process now known as computer programming. Her work produced what she called “the plan”. In hindsight what Ada had proposed was a program stored on punch cards for use on an early computer.

    1952 Grace Hopper was credited with devising the first compiler, a program that translates instructions for a computer from English to machine language.

    1965 Stephanie Kwolek invented one of the modern world’s most readily recognized and widely used materials: Kevlar. Her name appears on 16 patents; she is sole patent holder on seven.

    And other women inventors of note:

  11. The misogyny in this essay is frightening. To say that women have built their empires — Oprah, Huffington Post, Mrs. Fields — “around a personality, even named after the founder” only serves in this context to bash the women (and too few of them) who have become wildly successful. Was Steve Jobs not building Apple off of his “assoholic” personality? Wasn’t Mark Zuckerburg just trying to score some nookie when he started Facebook in his Harvard dorm?

    • That bothered me, too. Tom dismisses women-formed companies with one fell swoop. It sort of put me off the rest of the piece which had some very good points. I think we need to be careful….. And Zuckerberg and Jobs were both geniuses but they were rather awful to the women, at least some of the women in their lives. Although it seems both of them cleaned up their acts eventually.

  12. Peter Houlihan says:

    Fantastically well said, makes one feel damned proud to be a man.

    But there is something a little troubling about it, it bothers me that women and men are still brought up to play these roles differently. It tramples on the ideal of individual choice and determination a little. I’d feel more comfortable if these values were as impressed on young women as they are on young men.

  13. CajunMick says:

    Great article!
    To be brief, was abused a child, and had no role model. I found that following my own moral compass, and damn the consequences, gave me my macho, my own strength.

  14. I think the term New Macho has been around for a little while:

  15. Tom Matlack, sometimes I think you must be bi-polar or something. I no sooner finish reading your piece (junks Hot-I.D.) . And here I am thinking to myself “another ‘recovering person’ doing his ‘penance’ by becoming a ‘Mangina’ worshiping at the alter of ‘Femdom’ (like your fellow recovering blogger, Dan Griffen). Then I read this article and couldn’t agree more with you. You hit it dead center on the head. Although Jon Pietz does have a point. Most of this has alway been “macho”. What has changed is that it’s no longer considered “unmacho” to be hands on as a father (even changing dirty diapers). Just do what you know in your heart to be the right thing and you’ll usually be right.

    • Christina says:

      Please don’t call any male a “Mangina”. Why do we have to ascribe weakness to a female organ that gives life to both courageous men and women?

    • Ditto on the “mangina” comment. I saw my wife push and struggle and agonize for hours (even with drugs) to pump out our two babies. She cried, she groaned, she shit herself. Then she fainted when it was all through. It was the toughest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do–ever–and I was in fucking awe of her.

  16. I want to raise one objection here regarding Steve Jobs. Anyone who attempts to deny paternity by claiming to be infertile, and compounds it by perjuring himself, is not a man. That behavior is evident of a failed human being. Then again, history is rife with utter douchebags accomplishing great things, so I don’t think that this means we can just disregard his sizable achievements. I just would like to put forth the notion that if we’re going to offer him up as a masculine construct, we need to be more careful.

  17. Jon Pietz says:

    Tom, what you describe as “The New Macho” is not the new macho. It’s what macho has always been and always will be: A person willing to stand up for what they believe in, no matter what the consequences. My hero growing up was Pablo Picasso—a man who once (according to legend) had to burn nearly 2 years worth of his artwork in a fireplace in order to stay warm enough to stay alive. Now that is macho.

  18. The “Girl Power!” movements that began in the 90’s morphed from empowering young girls into BASHING all things male. The endless girl-power­/girls rule/men suck narrative has convinced us that, yeah, everything we do does suck. In any TV commercial wherein a couple tries to figure something out, its the man that must always be portrayed as clueless and the women must always be the one who figures it out. To reverse the roles would be sexist and demeaning to women, but to always portray the man as a fumbling incompeten­t idiot is right and proper in Girl Power! America 2011. With male role models like that (as opposed to Steve McQueen) is it any wonder masculinit­y is dead? In an effort to “correct” the precieved sexism in media we saw in the 1970’s we have gone too far in portraying all women as flawless superheros and all men as fat, impotent befuddled losers who need a woman’s help just to survive the day!

    • Please don’t equate the “girl power” movement with feminism. Any remotely informed feminist scoffs at at it. “Girl power” is about people (often men) making money off of them by dressing them up in scantily clad outfits (while having them claim to be ‘pure’!) and having them sing crappy songs, which usually end up being about boys boys boys anyways.

      As for the commercial thing, it is pretty annoying, but I’m happy that I’m starting to see more commercials with kids products focus on dads instead of just moms (I just saw a Gogurt commercial do it). I actually used to get really pissed off that all of the commercials with two siblings always represented the younger sibling as the smart one who solves the problems or has a better idea than the bumbling older sibling.

    • “we have gone too far in portraying all women as flawless superheros and all men as fat, impotent befuddled losers who need a woman’s help just to survive the day!”


  19. Is anyone else out there tired of seeing only men without chest hair used to represent maculinity on this site? I’m not saying that having chest hair is more masculine than not. It’s not. But, chest hair does happen once in a while. Enough with the Abercrombie & Fitch aesthetic already.

  20. Aya

    Its not that that group are way too prominent, its that a minority are cherry picked and made prominent by a certain other group.

  21. We should remind the women and feminists on this site that when we get angry or call names, we’re no better than the bitter part of the men’s right’s movement that doesn’t really do anything but get angry at the sluts and whores that wronged them (it’s not the whole movement, just waaaay too prominent). A good way to look at these ideas is that we shouldn’t judge or write off ‘typical’ masculinity the same way that we don’t want men or other feminists to look at stereotypical female roles as inferior. As long as no one forces a role on you, who cares? The new ‘masculinity’ sounds great, and hopefully soon, more women will have the chance be a part of it and contribute ideas. Just as hopefully, men will not feel like failures when they’re not the breadwinner, but performing the just as important roles of raising children and providing moral support. Ideally, the role you chose is up the individual, regardless or sex, whether that refers to tech jobs, gaming, promiscuity, parenthood, caring about the way you look, etc…

    • Aya

      Its no that that group are way too prominent, its that that minority are cherry picked and made prominent by a certain other group.

  22. GirlGlad4theGMP says:

    What I don’t get is all the hate. Women, just because Tom believes we need to encourage men to be men, it doesn’t mean women are going back to tthe kitchen, or should expect to be treated like second-class citizens.

    What it boils down to is the fact that nobody has ever raised themselves by pushing others down.

    • Except feminists.

      • I find it interesting that when men outline their positions on gender issues, they are simply men defending men, however, when women outline their own contributions – not to discredit or take away from mens’ contributions, but to ensure that their own contributions as a gender are equally recognized- they are labeled “feminists.” Does a woman have to be a “feminist” (whatever that means) in order to simply want her gender’s contributions to be fairly and equally considered?

  23. Also, the only reason King even sold Carrie is because his wife fished it from the trashcan and encourage him to keep writing it. “Behind every great man is a great woman” is definitely true in this case. King HATED Carrie, but his wife saw the potential, and it takes a keen artistic eye to know talent. Don’t believe me? Read Stephen King’s “On Writing.” The whole story is in there.

  24. I seriously just want to add that a woman invented kevlar, the metal that protects the soldiers fighting our wars. Without that kevlar, A LOT more people would be dead, so to imply women haven’t contributed as much as men is laughable. Women have contributed A LOT more than history wants to let on. If you actually do your research, it’s rather eye opening all the important contributions women have made. Women have also invented farming, perhaps THE most important invention in history because it has allowed us to move from a nomadic society to a society that can stay in place and actually create.

    • Wow. Were you there when women invented farming? Did they come up with farming as a group? Or did one woman suddenly have an epiphany back in the stone age?

    • Women invented the windshield wiper too,

    • Anonymous Male says:

      I have no problem saying that women have contributed equally to everything good in society. As long as women are prepared to admit that they have contributed equally to everything bad as well. Kevlar is a great example. It has made going to war somewhat safer for those who wear it. It therefore also allows the wearer the opportunity to kill more people, whether the wearer is a soldier or a vigilante or both. The women who inspired the Rosie the Riveter icon made bombs that were then used to save American lives and also kill women and children. If you want credit for the good, you have to take credit for the bad as well.

  25. This whole article is based on the premise that men need to be defended against all the man-bashing that’s being done. And since that’s such a laughably inaccurate argument, it was kind of hard to finish because I realized what a waste of time it would be to finish. The backlash that is occuring against women in society is frightening, and in my opinion, a “good guy” is one who sees past his white male priviledge in order to acknowledge this backlash. Guys who can’t do so because they’re too busy whining and crying about how crappy it is when your priviledge is challenged, NEED to take their marbles and go. Really. Go. Because your choice of staying obviously means my ass going back to the kitchen. And I’d rather not, if it’s all the same to you.

    Wait–why are you still here? Please, please, GO!!!

    • Men will speak for men, feminists might presume to and define men but that’s imo more of a reflection of the neurosis the type of women that accumulate on feminism.

      Men speak for men.

  26. Aw… are men being demonized? Here, you just relax and I’ll make you a whaaaaburger and french cries.

    Now go make more money than an equally qualified woman and have sex with lots of different people without the burden of being considered a “slut”.

  27. “If there is a gender war, men have just decided to gather up their marbles and go home. ”

    Ah, and of course that’s the women’s fault. Take a few minutes to refer to the Aug 20th 2011 article in The Economist, “The flight from marriage.” Less women are playing the games that (misogynist) men want them to play. That too, is (of course!) the fault of women. How about using your “new macho” to take responsibility for the choices you make in life?

    “But no woman has stepped forward with a revolutionary idea that has turned into a multi-billion dollar transformative company.”

    Dorothy Hodgkin. Discovered penicillin, insulin, b12. Got a Nobel Prize for it, too. Maybe she never made it into a multi-billion dollar “transformative” company, but others stole her ideas and these days pharmaceutical companies make billions off her transformative discoveries. There’s more women out there like her, too, but don’t let your latent “men are superior to women” misogynist creed get in the way of your very undeserved self-congratulatory back-slapping.

    I can’t even bear to critique the rest of the article after that. How did this offensive bullshit make it onto this otherwise great website? Utter crap.

    • It’s interesting to see how this article really brought the misogynists out from wherever it is they gather to feed off each others’ hatred on the internet. If blaming women for the shortcomings of individual men (while simultaneously and contradictorily crowing that men are superior to women), is what the “new macho” looks like, then count me as not a fan of old or new. Say hello to the “new macho,” the same as the “old macho.”

    • Dorothy Hodgkin did not discover penicillin, insulin or B12. Penicillin was discovered by Scottish scientist Sir Alexander Fleming. Insulin was co-discovered by John MacLead, a Scottish doctor, and Frederick Banting a Canadian doctor. Dorothy identified the chemical structure of B12 which is not the same thing as identifying it.

    • And to add to the list, if it weren’t for these two ladies, we wouldn’t have a Steve Jobs, Mark Z or a Bill Gates…

      1843 Ada Augusta Lovelace laid some of the early conceptual and technical groundwork for high technology by helping develop an early computer. Ada Lovelace is best known as the first computer programmer. She wrote about Charles Babbage’s “Analytical Engine” with such clarity and insight that her work became the premier text explaining the process now known as computer programming. Her work produced what she called “the plan”. In hindsight what Ada had proposed was a program stored on punch cards for use on an early computer.

      1952 Grace Hopper was credited with devising the first compiler, a program that translates instructions for a computer from English to machine language

  28. I totally understand your point and appreciate it. I’m surrounded by good men and a husband who I believe is one of your “new macho men” with the strong moral compass. We need to encourage them.

  29. Anonymous Male says:


    I generally like the drift of this article, about focusing on the good things that men do and not so much obsession on the bad things. And, pointing out that heroism (or at least admirable actions) can come in many forms. It’s not the end of the world that so many men like porn and video games, don’t do well in school, and seem more ‘antisocial’ (whatever that really means).

    Sure, let’s not forget about brave men who put their lives on the line overseas. I would hasten to point out that many of them are ALSO men who play video games, watch porn, and fail classes. Many of them play video games and watch porn as much as they can – if they had more access, more time, more privacy, more security, they would consume even more, I’m sure. The military is a reflection of the society that produces it. 18-year-olds in Afghanistan are much like their counterparts back home. When they get downtime, often they try to be as much like their peers back home as possible. It’s nice to imagine that “our boys” spend their all their downtime praying and reading sentimental letters from their loved ones. That makes a good photo op. They are young men, not inhuman legends. They are brave and scared, hard-working and desperate for fun. In short, there’s no reason you can’t be a masturbating couch potato and be a brave warrior.

    I’m a pretty pro-capitalist guy, but I think it’s stretching it a bit to suggest that meeting a market demand is an act of exceptional masculine achievement. Strange for a frequent blog contributor like me to say, but I am not sure Facebook and Twitter have unambiguously enriched our lives. It’s not Zuckerberg’s fault when someone updates Facebook while driving, but he didn’t exactly develop the polio vaccine either. I agree it’s good to appreciate the achievement of people who started with not much more than a strange idea and who made it into a powerhouse. But, if being an entrepreneur meeting market demand is all you need to be a good man, then there are a lot of amateur porn producers who are good men. (I’m not saying they aren’t, necessarily, but that seems to be a low bar to set.) There are some very hard-working, against-all-odds, imaginative men working for organized crime, meeting lots of consumer demand.

    Back to the point about failing at school, many of these great economic and technological pioneers dropped out of school. The same qualities that may have made schoolwork difficult helped them in business. Getting a college degree is not an absolute requirement for everyone to be successful. I say this as a teacher. It certainly increases your chances at higher salaries, better benefits, better jobs, but it is not the be-all and end-all. Consider the fact also that many of these great new ideas originally got little support from people with Economics and Finance majors, MBA’s, and all the proper business pedigrees.

  30. More of this Matlack, now that you have found your balls.

  31. Software is among the first post60s major industries. In the 80s geeks, nerds were the biggg butt of jokes. That didnt dissuade all those young boys from coding alone in their bedrooms. So the profound stigma shouldnt have dissuaded girls.

    But once software became a billion pound industry, suddenly the lack of women is mentioned

    Now admittedly coding language is abstract and perhaps that put off more girls. There are other ways to write data eg. Complex arabic algebra was written in poetic form

    • Ummmm…I don’t know how abstract coding language is. In fact, my experience of it is that it is oddly similar to any other human language. The primary difference being that instead of interacting with other humans you spend a lot of time interacting with machines.
      I happen to live in a part of the US known to be a hub of the tech industry. People around here joke about how many software developers have Asperger’s. Interestingly, most of them are men. That’s fine and good but what it means is that these men are often socially awkward and have difficulty dealing with normal human interaction. (Perhaps that is why so many of them love the bondage aspect of BDSM. They get to focus on the artistry of knots while doing something erotic.) Computer coding in their bedrooms just offered a convenient way for them make money because it played to their strengths rather than their weaknesses.
      My point is that I do not envy those men regardless of how much money they make…and I seriously doubt I would want to be in a relationship with one. Oh, and I don’t consider what they do to be part of any sort of machismo or masculinity, new or old.
      Lastly, I think it is too soon for any real assessment of women’s ability to innovate to be made. We’ve only been in the workforce in a major way for about 30 years. Give us 50-100 years of running the show before you decide that innovation and risk-taking is only a masculine endeavor.

  32. Tom ive noticed that ever since the unfair jezebel mauling, yr writing has taken on a more robust character that is less deferential to feminism.

    Strong article and it is good that it annoys the feminists on this thread, who also no doubt think it was paaaaatriarchy and not diallo’s continued lying during the dsk investigation that killed it.

    • It is amazing that an illegal immigrant with a history of lying and drug dealing was able to take down one of the world’s most powerful men based on her accusation alone. Without any evidence at all DSK’s reputation was instantly destroyed in the media – and without any examination of the accuser.

      If someone as powerful as DSK cannot protect himself from a patently false accusation, what chance do normal men have? Is it any surprise that the majority of men released by the ‘innocence project’ are the victims of false rape accusations?

      Of course, even in the face of such an obvious fraud, the feminists at NOW are defending Diallo. The only travesty of justice is that Diallo will never be prosecuted for callously destroying a man’s reputation for financial gain.

      • Both diallo and dsk are very unsympathetic characters. There are preexisting sexual assault allegations against dsk in france.

        Both reputations are deservedly in tatters

  33. Great article, but when you say that women should just go ahead and be macho and do the things that you know that they can do, you forget that not all of society tells us that when objectification is still a very real thing. I’m a very competitive, very intelligent woman who was always at the very top of of her class (yes, even in math) and was admitted to the best colleges in the country (and went to one). Yet, because I’m gorgeous, and was mostly praised for that, I went into modeling and acting because that was true ‘winning’ and where I felt I could be really successful and noticed. There’s still a lot that needs to change for women to be comfortable and motivated enough to come up with the great ideas. Let’s start paying them the same amount for the same jobs (I know, tired argument, but relevant), stop focusing on their looks instead of what the do (OMG Hillary wears ugly pantsuits…eww; Michelle Bachmann is HAWT), and stop looking at them as the submissive sex that either needs to be ‘saved’ or ‘scored.’ As Hugo Schwyzer talks about in his article, be weary of princess culture and praise young girls for things other than their looks.

    Oh, and about the women who kill their children not being demonized…ummm…Casey Anthony? She did get acquitted due to the current obsession with physical evidence, but she is THE most hated person in America. No one excuses her for anything. No one says she had a moment where she lacked mental clarity. Look at any blog/site/comment. Most of the people say that she is a cold blooded killer, who, like O.J., got away with first degree murder because of a faulty court system.

  34. The New Macho is just as misogynistic as The Old Macho. Machismo is a type of masculinity characterized by contempt for women. That’s what the dictionary also says.

    If The Good Men Project really has an aggressive moral compass, it will insist that all men take equal responsibility for patriarchy.

    • FYI: The terms “macho” and “machismo” are just as racist as they ever were.

      “In the United States, machismo was “discovered” by social scientists and feminists … when they noticed gender oppression in Mexico and the rest of Latin America and announced that it was a particular cultural trait among Spanish-speaking men.

      … Pegging extreme sexism to one or another culture is a dead-end at best, and a racist subterfuge at worst. In the contemporary United States the machismo mystique is regularly employed to imply that somehow Spanish-speaking men are more prone than men from other cultural backgrounds to sexist language, actions, and relationships.”

      You probably a white woman who lives in a world of latin maids and gardeners. Your white privilege makes completely unaware of the latent racism of the words you use.

      • Thank you…

      • Erm, I guess you didn’t notice that Tom used the term in his article? Just a guess, but maybe MAB was echoing HIS use of the word. So I think you meant to direct this criticism at Tom, who I’d agree is as oblivious to his male priviledge as he is to his white priviledge.

        • “Machismo” is simply a word for “masculinity” in Spanish.

          Tom is using the word in a positive way – so it is in no way an anti-Hispanic epithet. To a certain extent he is reclaiming it – helping to simultaneously fight both misandry and racism.

          MAB on the other hand “defines” it for us – claiming that the Hispanic concept of masculinity is “misogynistic” and “characterized by contempt for women”. She should make more Hispanic friends.

  35. Thanks for such an inspirational article, Tom. I think it generates a much-needed shift in focus away from only what’s wrong, to what’s right, vis a vis looking at our role models today.

    And…what chafed a bit was what I perceived to be the need to compare men’s achievements to women’s. It’s also the reason I really admired Hugo’s article

    He took the emphasis off of definitions of masculinity as being intrinsically whatever’s opposite being feminine.
    To me, THAT is the cultural shift that’s necessary now.

    As long as we’re playing the boys against the girls, using the opposite sex’s achievements (or lack of them) as leverage points to ratchet ourselves into one-up positions, we lose. The opposite sex loses. Men can be heroes because they rise to their own innate greatness, whether there’s a woman alive on earth or not. Women can, and should do the same.

    Perhaps we can shift the focus more on how the sexes help each other rise to our own greatness? Stephen King only really rose to his genius when his wife called in an interventionist on his severe drug and alcohol addictions. If you know much about interventions, they are among the most hair-raising events that a loved one can undertake on behalf of an addict. The one calling the intervention literally rolls the dice with high odds that they’ll lose everything. Without Mrs. King’s damning the torpedoes in that moment in time, Stephen King would likely still be drunk and stoned in his little trailer. So…how about more stories about the way we interactively assist one another to rise up?

    I also bristled reading that Oprah isn’t an innovator. Really?

    “They aren’t product innovations—magazines, handbags, cookies, cosmetics—as much as women who have successfully marketed an image of themselves. As such, they aren’t as risky nor as significant in terms of changing the fundamentals of the marketplace.”

    Seems to me that before Oprah was a household name, she took plenty of risks in her innovations when she:

    1-went against the popular formula for talk-shows then by all but refusing to pander to lowest-common-denominator topics like Jerry Springer and Montel Williams were using in their successful shows.

    2- told the stories of people who beat incredible odds and then went on to help others – that was generally considered too much of a downer back then. She was advised against it, but she rolled with her intuition and hit a home run, galvanizing societal interest in the reconceptualization of perceived weaknesses as challenges. As something to take pride in overcoming, and then using that to help others similarly afflicted.

    3-championed the LGBT community towards greater visibility and rights

    4-decided to out herself as a sexually abused woman, effectively opening the door for millions of others world-wide to come out of their shame and start getting help

    5-donating colossal amounts of money to charities that promoted the well-being (and a fighting chance) to those at-risk communities who needed help.

    And the list goes on…..please help me if I’ve misunderstood something in your definition of “innovator.” But to me, Oprah comes to mind as a strong, female role model for just such an achievement/ title. It seems like women use their relational strengths in achieving, where men use their strengths in logical (thinking) aptitudes to succeed, but the results are stunning and inspiring in both cases. Semantical differences, perhaps….but I think you’re onto something important either way. Thank you.

    • There’s nothing inspirational about an article that implies that men are superior to women.

      • GirlGlad4theGMP says:

        MAB, I think you are interpreting that…check your lens, friend. I don’t think Tom implies that men are superior to women, if you read his body of works on the GMP you would know he’s not the kind to write something like that.

        Men and women are created equal, but equally different. Why not celebrate the differences and treat each other with respect?

  36. Finally an unapologetic defense of robust masculinity on GMP. And for once an article that leads with imagery that doesn’t involve men crying or falling into a hole.

    The “end of men’ triumphalism that has been going around is overplayed. Men still achieve that the very top of most fields and as you point out are the engines of the great majority of technological and scientific innovation.

    We do have a problem in America for men who are not at the very top – but this is more a reflection of our increasing economic weakness than from an decline in masculinity. As we hit bottom the male virtues of hard work and resilience will be in greater demand again.

    I’m also in my 40’s and completely identify with the memory of feminist mothers undercutting traditional masculinity to us when we were boys.

    • Hard work and resilience are also female virtues.

    • Men are the engines of technological progress because our culture is still patriarchal. If a woman had created Facebook, she would have gotten more pushback.

      On another note, when are people going to admit that Facebook is just an advertising medium? I don’t think it has improved the human condition.

      • Every time a protected group fails to achieve – whether it be women, or minorities – out comes the charge that they just didn’t get enough encouragement, or that they got more ‘pushback’ or that those who succeeded got there because of some conspiracy to help them out in subtle ways.

        The world is very competitive. Nobody gets invited to the top – you fight tooth and nail to get there – facing the worst kind of aggressive competitors trying to tear you down. Facebook succeeded in the face of competitors like MySpace and Orkut funded by the some of the worlds largest companies – Google and News Corp.

        The founders of Google started out fighting against entrenched competitors like Yahoo.

        Apple worked itself out of near bankruptcy taking on Microsoft, the entire music and telecom industries. Microsoft in turn built their company competing against IBM who was then the worlds most powerful technology company.

        Any one of the great people Tom mentioned got there in the face of overwhelming odds. Subtle ‘pushback’ would not have been a material problem for any of them.

        And none of them waited for an ‘invitation’ or a government funded gender quota grant program to give them permission to innovate.

        • Oh please. MAB wasn’t denying anyone’s incredible accomplishment against overwhelming odds. She was just saying — rightly — that if the ‘anyone’ had been a woman, it would have been an even more incredible accomplishment against even more overwhelming odds. A real man isn’t too bitter or bothered to admit that.

          • might have been inclined to agree with you… until your last line. “If you were a REAL man, you’d be able to see that I was right.” Is a stupid way to make a point. It’s sorta like if I were to now say “anybody who isn’t a total bitch would be able to see that.”


  37. Hey Tom – I resonate with much of what you say here. I published a piece called ‘the New Macho’ that I wrote a year ago with a list of descriptions for this kind of man – I think you’ll dig it.

  38. Marc Curtis Little says:

    What a great essay!


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