Poll: Why is Our Society Obsessed with Modern Men and Manliness?

Clearly, our society is currently obsessed with modern men and manliness, why?

By now, most of you have read or heard about The New York Times “Room for Debate” opinion page section that debated this question: Are Modern Men Manly Enough?  The synopsis for their debate reads: “Are men spending too much time at the spa and the gym in lieu of grittier, manlier pursuits? And if so, is this making them less masculine?”

Writer Natasha Scripture weighs in with her piece: “Where are the Meat and Potato Men?” and Joel Stein has his say in his article, “Rediscover the Don Draper Within”. Natasha says she hasn’t met a manly man in some time, while Joel feels most modern men couldn’t fix a kitchen sink. There are six other writers who opine on the subject of 21st century manliness; in my opinion, author Shawn Taylor won the debate. Brilliant piece, Shawn!

To The New York Times writers and any other person who thinks modern men are not manly, I offer you this distinguished group of bona fide manly men:  Aron Ralston, Pat Tillman (and every other man who has served – or is currently serving – in the United States Armed Forces), Man vs. Wild’s Bear Grylls, The cast of Deadliest Catch, the cast of Ice Road Truckers, every healthcare worker affiliated with Doctors Without Boarders, etc.

I could continue giving more examples of men who work in the trades or agriculture, but I’d also like to pay tribute to every chivalrous man who lives his life with integrity and humility. These men can be found everywhere – all over the world. They could be engineers, hairstylists, chefs, school teachers, musicians, nurses, etc. I don’t believe an occupation or a geographic location makes a man manly. Manliness does not have to connote power, strength, boldness, courage, fierceness or ruggedness. Every man is his own man and possesses his own brand of masculinity. I believe manliness comes from a man’s grace and his character; it’s in his soul.

Yes, there has been a superfluous amount of attention placed on 21st century men being “metrosexual” and overly feminized. And yes, companies in the fashion and beauty industries are marketing products for men – so what! I love seeing my husband look dapper and coiffed, the same way he enjoys seeing me styled with purpose. Being “mansome” does not make a man less of a man. All men take pleasure in being groomed and pampered – within their comfort zone.

We can thank the industrial revolution and advances in science and technology for soothing our primitive pursuits. Joel Stein, here’s a question for you: why would a man hunt for meat when he can go to the grocery store and buy a nice Delmonico steak? Furthermore, when was the last time you’ve been hunting? To be fair, Joel, I doubt you’d leave your journalism career to pursue cattle ranching. And here’s a fact for you, Natasha Scripture: men cry; yes, they actually shed tears. Deal with it, Natasha. It’s a beautiful thing.

Are modern men manly enough? I think that’s a ridiculous question. Interestingly enough, The New York Times would never debate this question on their opinion page: Are modern women womanly enough? Wow, can you imagine that! Feminists would crash The New York Times website. I hate to iron and I don’t know how to sew or bake apple pies. Does that make me less womanly? I don’t think so. Moreover, I know plenty of men who enjoy ironing and cooking. Does that make them less manly? Absolutely not!

Clearly, our society is currently obsessed with modern men and manliness, why? What do you think accounts for this scrutiny? Why is the evolution of a man’s gender identity being placed under a microscope?


Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

About Nicole Johnson

Marketing Maven » Sales Consultant » Brand Builder » Energetic Entrepreneur » Networking Enthusiast » Writer » Wife » Good Men Advocate


  1. For some reason society (the western liberal democracy) is obsessed with putting things into little, clearly-defines boxes: gay/straight, black/white, man/woman… Suddenly when women break out of the traditional gender-role, men can’t define themselves in opposition to women and femininity. So now we’re afraid that men aren’t real men, which apparently makes them feminine. And as everybody knows, femininity is the root to all evil. Our society still prefers “masculine” traits (boldness, bravery, aggressiveness, growth, domination etc) over “feminine” traits (caring, stability, empathy, conversation etc), which for some reason connotes bureaucracy and socialism (why are americans so afraid of socialism??).

  2. Jacqueline says:

    I may get French-bashed for this but I do think that French men have a better grasp of what it means to be a man because, in fact, they are not afraid to indulge their “feminine” sides. Gay AND Straight men wear bright colours and sip champagne and join choirs and buy lingerie for their ladies without blushing. And do the dishes and stride proudly down the street with a Baby Bjorn. And discuss opera and read 19th century novels on the metro on the way to work. And, at the same time, go to the gym and play soccer and get drunk. And sulk quietly while we rant or and get irrationally jealous or become enraged on the road for no real reason. In other words, embody every stereotype we know but still reveal a softer side.

    • I’ve heard American talk about their vacation in Italy or Brazil. They talk about how the men there were so flirtatious and charming They talk about how loved the aggressively Italian/Brazilian men court women that make them feel oh so desired. Strange men on the street wouldnt shy away from giving compliments that made her blush, along the lines of “Ciao Bella, nice legs” etc. Then they bemoan how American men arent like that and dont know how to charm women.

      Funnily, these same women wouldn’t take any of that from an American man in an American setting. They would be either disgusted or scream sexual harassment. Its a strange form of racism.

      So please dont tell us what French men do

    • I’ve heard American talk about their vacation in Italy or Brazil. They talk about how the men there were so flirtatious and charming They talk about how aggressively Italian/Brazilian men court women that make them feel so desired. Strange men on the street wouldnt shy away from giving compliments that made them blush, along the lines of “Ciao Bella, nice legs” etc.

      Then they bemoan how American men arent like that, are boring and dont know how to charm women.

      Funnily, these same women wouldn’t take any of that behavior from an American man in an American setting. They would be either disgusted or scream sexual harassment

      So please dont tell us what French men do.

      • Being a Brazilian, it is NOT that well received when random men on the streets just give out compliments like that.
        Of course, that is also an extremely different setting. Most Brazilian men know they should not go after women too hotter than themselves; Brazilian women are not blind and want someone that puts as much effort as them into their looks; Brazilian men are not entitled in that aspect. No older or ugly guy will feel entitled to just go and try something with the hot girl – and after that still COMPLAIN about the inevitable rejection. Most BR men have a lot more charm and expression than the average American male. They are straightforward but not aggressive – in fact, most are good looking themselves and compliment you, after knowing you, in a playful way. That is difficult to explain, but they seem harmless while doing it… I guess that once again has a lot to do with the emotional inteligence and expression.

    • Love it, Jacqueline.

      A lot of macho Americans go for cheap laffs by dissing the French. Never mind that the French “saved our asses” at Yorktown and valiantly resisted the Germans in the bloodbath at Verdun while the US bided its time, disarmed and safe behind two oceans.

      If you like freedom, I always say thank a Frenchman, and a Russian, too.

  3. I think that we saw the metrosexual craze of the last several years (along with the idea that if you where a more ‘rugged” type you where in the wrong or there wasn’t a place for you at the table) and now the pendulum has swung back the other way. There is just the natural blowback after all the articles about metro sexuality. Rugged, tough guys have come back into fashion (I also think the uncertainty of the current world events [econemy crash, ect] has something to do with it, so now the “manly man” is popular)

  4. It’s not.

    In fact, less developed countries are often more obsessed with masculinity. You’ve just taken things out of a worldly context.

  5. A real man is one who has the courage to be himself and stand up for what he believes in: even if that happens to be something that isn’t considered traditionally “manly”.

  6. Really at the end of the day men don’t care about what this vain, vapid, nihilistic culture has to say about them, it’s what the messages this culture transmits and imprints on us while we’re young and developing that’s the problem.

    • Chris Anthony says:

      Some of us are more subject to caring about this than others. But yeah most guys I know ran out of fawks to give a long time ago. They just keep being the men the other half of the world needs, instead of the ones the other half of the world wants. And the world keeps turning.

  7. Pallus Pallafox says:

    Men are now being subjected to the same scrutiny and control that has characterized women’s lives, and I take it this is not a pleasant experience for a lot of people. The pot is being stirred in our era, and change is difficult. We are in the middle of figuring out which characteristics to keep, which characteristics to drop, and which ones to adopt. Society has a habit of trying to establish singular definitions of what demographic groups ought to be, but those of us who browse this website know better. There is no singular definition of what a man or a woman should be, and individuals will determine which characteristics to embrace as they learn about themselves, the world, and grow into their own.

    • Mark Neil says:

      “Men are now being subjected to the same scrutiny and control that has characterized women’s lives, and I take it this is not a pleasant experience for a lot of people.”

      I was under the impression that the goal was to end that alleged scrutiny of women, not to inflict it upon men. The whole “women have had to endure it for XXX length of time” response does’t really work, unless your willing to admit that payback, rather than equality, is the end goal.

      • Pallus Pallafox says:

        I don’t think you read past the first line.

        • Mark Neil says:

          Why? Because I didn’t come to a conclusion or interpretation you wanted me to, it must be a failing on my part? I notice you haven’t tried to correct anything, instead simply dismissing my interpretation out of hand. Is payback the solution your aiming for, or is subjecting men to these issues a bad direction to take?

    • Chris Anthony says:

      Men are now being subjected to the same scrutiny and control that has characterized women’s lives. Are we talking about Western Women in free societies? If so I’d like to pull up a chair eat some popcorn and talk about what exactly that is. Maybe it’s just all the women that I’ve known that do whatever it is they want to do. Now when we want a partner we can’t EVER do exactly what it is we want to do and expect all to be okay. Men want certain things in their partners and so do women. The ones who don’t bend don’t end up successful in relationships.
      Here in the US (where I live) women do what they want and complain about not finding what they want because they do whatever they want. That is an empty concern. You wanna be happy and do what you want or you wanna be in a relationship and compromise like you should have to? Cause I swear half the stuff I do because I want to be with my girl is not stuff I really WANT to do. It’s stuff I need to do to keep her happy and interested in our relationship. I also don’t have to be in that relationship and I’m not entitled to it, so I do it and don’t complain.

  8. I also get the feeling that many of the male writers on GMP are trying to protect women from the so called ‘chauvinist douche bags’. I find this very belittling as if women cannot make their own decisions regarding sex and cant own up their preferences.

    • Hank Vandenburgh says:

      Part of a man’s role can be to protect women. If as feminists claim, there’s a rape culture (I think this is too strong,) then they may need protection sometimes. I think men can be involved in intervening with abusive men, sometimes as protection.

  9. Chris Anthony says:

    What defines a good man is only for MEN to decide. Nowhere else does one group define its opposite or even another group. So as men we define who we are. Always have and always should. If we don’t then we will soon seek to take on behaviors native to those who produce more estrogen than us. This is not how we are designed, and it may be of profit to a subsection of the feminist mission but detrimental to a humanity who will always want men who strive to be leaders, warriors, explorers, pioneers, adventurers (etc.) ( i know women can be these things as well) As for being “good men”. Be such a person and live such a life that if every person lived a life such as yours, this earth would be God’s summer.

  10. Being a child of the 50s and 60s I have seen the construction of masculine ideals change over the decades and I would say that even the media image of ‘manliness’ is so less restrictive than the WASP inspired ideals we had to live up to in the 50s. The most masculine men cry unembarrassedly now and admit to having ‘feelings.’

    Only those who grew up under the 1950s hegemony of what was right and ‘normal’ can truly see the progrses that has been achieved. Just ignore the 2 bi-annual NY Times articles that appear – either “Why today’s man is less macho” or “Why Today’s man is more macho” – it is amazing how often one of the two have run!

  11. it’s about gettin’ good head, with their hands holding your weights.

  12. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    I actually learned, I think, not to have sex with women I didn’t respect, or like, or trust, or whatever. Borderline personalities can be very sexy, but it’s not a good idea. My advice to women is not to go too alpha, particular if the man is stupid. Two of my students were severely beaten by guys like that.

    • Hank Vandenburgh

      You must be a male feminist feeling ‘deserted’ by Raquel’s comment.

      At least it shatters the myth being propagated by feminists that men need to become feminists in order to be sexually desirable to women, and the reason men fail to get sex is that they look at them as sex objects rather than as human beings

      • Hank Vandenburgh says:

        Actually, I’m a vet, weigh about 200, and have a number of martial arts belts. I’ve had probably an embarrassing number of sex partners. I’m certainly not a knee-jerk feminist, but I do favor economic and legal equality for women. I’m against PC and most feminist attempts to change culture.

        So, I’m pretty hunky, but not a flaming asshole, like some, maybe even you.

        I think the fact that some women often prefer assholes is similar to men sometimes preferring women who’r borderline (and quite dangerous – you can get stalked, or worse.) Or liking women with grotesque boob jobs, etc.

      • Hank Vandenburgh says:

        How about posting my riposte to silly-boy here?

  13. Richard Aubrey says:

    GMP certainly is. I don’t know about the rest of the culture. Haven’t heard it discussed recently, even on the night us guys go out to dinner when our wives are at the book club.
    Not my kids and their spouses, or their friends….
    Maybe a real man is one for whom the question does not arise.

  14. I think women’s sexual preferences don’t have to align with their gender politics.

    I can be a feminist and still prefer to have sexual relationships with men who can be described as highly masculine…both in appearance and personality wise. We cannot help what we are attracted to and I dont think anyone should shame us.

  15. I think women’s sexual preferences don’t have to align with their gender politics.

    I can be a feminist and still prefer to have sexual relationships with men who can be described as highly masculine…both in appearance and personality wise. We cannot help what we are attracted to and I dont think anyone should shame us.

    As a feminist, I encourage men to get in touch with their feminine side, lose their masculine ideals, encourage men to become feminists, engage with women on an equal level as humans rather than as potential sex partners, practice good consent and not to aggressively pursue sex etc. But at the same time I can myself have a sexual preference for the square jawed, tall, broad, typical ‘Alpha male’ , who might not be concerned about feminism, might be a bit chauvinistic and derives his power from a patriarchal capitalistic system that I oppose, but my sexual preferences and politics are different realms.

    • @Raquel

      You’re have every right to your preferences and no, they don’t have to align with your politics. I don’t think you should be shamed for that, either. Unless I’m missing something, you respect men you won’t be sexual with and you’ll be sexual with men you don’t respect. Same contrasting feelings men sometimes face.

      There’s a pithy name for that which has some pop culture referent. What is it now?

      • Peter von Maidenberg says:

        Sounds to me like she can’t respect a man and still be sexual with him. Maybe she’s got the modern-day feminine version of the madonna whore complex. Turnabout is fair play, I suppose.

    • I think it is a contradiction, one you articulated quite well. If men do what you encourage them to do politically: get in touch with their feminine side, lose their masculine ideals, become feminists, engage with women on an equal level as humans rather than as potential sex partners, practice good consent and not to aggressively purse sex, it basically equals never getting laid, being alone being rejected by women. Maybe not all women but a lot of women, women who feel the same way you do. A man that likes you at least should not listen to your political ideals if he ever wants to have a chance with you. And thats sad to me, that a man has to basically ignore you to be with you. I’ve tried to be that guy you described in your political ideals basically my whole life, even before I was at all political. Where has it gotten me? Its gotten me ridiculed and shunned by both guys and girls called a fag beat up left out etc.. It got me a lot of close friendships with women, where we would talk about anything, but especially deep serious things, do things together just as equals not some ritualized date, and I would treat them as a complete human being and not a sex object etc. At the end of the day they were not at all attracted to me, they would say I see you only as a friend, I think you are very wise and interesting to talk to, even you’re like a brother to me. Oftentimes they would have some total chauvinist boyfriend, sometimes they would even want to cry on my shoulder about it. It seems treating women as people and intellectual equals first leads to them thinking of me as an asexual object, and believe it or not men do want to feel like “sex objects” sometimes, with their girlfriend or wife at least they want to feel desired. If I meet a woman that seems at all attractive to me I guess I better think of her as a sex object, a trophy to be conquered and try to break out some “game” flirt with her in a shallow way than ask her out on a date where I try to buy her affections and fulfill some male role rather than treat her with the respect I like other people to give me. I had one miserable girlfriend in my highschool early college years who manipulated me used me and cheated on me. About a month after we broke up she informed me she lost her virginity. The whole time we were together she told me she wasn’t ready, she knew I wanted to but I told her I would respect her wishes not push her wait till she was ready. I asked her so what changed so suddenly. She said well my new boyfriend sorta pressured me he pushed me into it. It didn’t exactly leave me feeling great about my principles, about respecting her and listening to her. As long as being chauvinist and “deriving power from a patriarchal capitalist system” and acting like an “Alpha Male” is sexy to women men will continue to do it. Just as sure as women will continue to wear clothes that emphasize their breasts and tight jeans and flip their hair and act kinda ditzy around guys they like as long as guys continue to find breasts attractive and butts attractive and find that hair flipping ditziness feels nonthreatening and attractive. I guess my political ideals and my sexual preference…for having a sex life at all are too different realms huh? I just don’t want to go down that road, I don’t really want to treat women bad because I like women, it makes no sense to me. I wish I was gay sometimes, but I’m not. I like women as friends, coworkers people in general oftentimes more so then I like other guys but when it comes to dating, I’m just tired of that crap. And if women expect that “real men” are never allowed to cry and/or express emotional vulnerability otherwise they are totally unattractive that is sexist, that is in fact a very oppressive notion. I don’t think real men are weepy crybabies, but men need to be able to express emotions other than violence and horniness to be complete human beings.

      • Berish

        All I can say is that you are not entitled to sex. But you must be a good human being and believe in true equality for women. This shouldnt be an option.

        • Neither are you, “entitled to sex”. I never said I was “entitled to sex”. I am critiquing our largely socially created ideals of what is attractive in America, its been heavily influenced by Hollywood and Capitalism in general. Not every culture values arrogant cocky and selfish in men as much as ours does. That’s a really long story for another time though. I said isn’t it odd the way you encourage men to be is the opposite of what you are attracted to in men and to not expect men to change just as long as women like men who act out male chauvinist ways of being and find men who treat them as equals to be boring and unattractive. Just like I don’t expect women to stop spending time on their appearance, as long as guys continue to care a lot about looks. It’s kind of human nature for people to want to be attractive to the opposite sex, unless they are gay then they want to be attractive to the same sex, either way we like to be attractive. So don’t expect men to particularly care what you “encourage them to be as a feminist”, they would be fools too, like I am, you don’t even like that kind of guy yourself.

          • Why do you need to be attractive to the ‘opposite sex’ ? Why dont you concern yourself with being attractive to one woman? Make some effort to win one woman’s heart, show that you care for her, and have a relationship with her. Seriously, that is all the ‘success with women’ you need. This is what feminism encourages men to do. Feminism discourages them from following ideals of masculinity and a standard of sexuality that most men can never attain. You want to have what only ought to be for a lucky few and then complain as if you’re being denied a basic right.

        • I think you miss the point Raquel which is that the message of modern women to men (and this one man in particular) is that they should be more sensitive, politically aware and treat them as equals. But the BEHAVIOR of women, is to treat these self-aware sensitive men as people they don’t want to date or have sex with. Or maybe you are just being a woman and shit-testing him here, seeing if he’s clever enough to see through the BS that you spout about all the success with women you need is to care for her, etc.

  16. I couldn’t pick from any of these answers, thought the closest that would come to my reasoning would be both men and women are confused. But my belief is that there is a war waging over who defines masculinity and how. There are attempts to control men through the definition of masculinity, to socially engineer them, such as with assertions that masculinity is homophobic and oppressive to women. These definitions serve to push an agenda of demasculinizing men, making them less assertive, more malleable (by leaving them confused of their identify). The problem is, these efforts go against the realities of what masculinity actually is, and what both men and women appreciate and like about it. You’ll find the vast majority of mainstream media discussion on masculinity involves denigrating it, or attempting to rebuild it, redefine it, in a manner best serving others (women, government, whatever). On the rare occasion you see praise for traditional masculinity, it is promoting the utilitarian ideals of it http://goodmenproject.com/good-feed-blog/two-vets-die-in-accident-after-pushing-wives-to-safety/

  17. I think I am obessed with this question myself. I think it’s because I hunger for truly good, honorable men. While there are many men out there like that, sometimes they are hard to find and to see. And since so much media seems to play up the seeder aspects of male behavior, the hunger to define what makes up a manly man or good man, is even more apparent. For me personally at least.

    Nicole said: “Are modern men manly enough? I think that’s a ridiculous question. Interestingly enough, The New York Times would never debate this question on their opinion page: Are modern women womanly enough? Wow, can you imagine that! Feminists would crash The New York Times website. I hate to iron and I don’t know how to sew or bake apple pies. Does that make me less womanly? I don’t think so. Moreover, I know plenty of men who enjoy ironing and cooking. Does that make them less manly? Absolutely not!”

    I think society is obessed with modern men’s maniliness in regards to code of honor and ethics since that’s where a lot of the conversation centers. Not around a man being able to cook with pride. Although I do think of women’s feminity was outwardly questioned in a NYT piece, there would be an up roar. But regardless of that, women still struggle with the same hardship that men do in being defined by others about what makes them a woman. Women are expected to be super moms with wonderful careers and fit tight perfect bodies, if we go by media standards about what makes a woman a woman. More plain women are regularly ignored both in the media and in conversations regarding dating, love, sex and relationships.

    Unfortunetly, men are experiencing some of the stuff women had to deal with for awhile. But that doesn’t really help anyone.

    • Whats your definition of truly good and honorable men? And why you think they are hard to find and see? Do you think majority of men are not good and honorable?

      • Hot, successful guys who are good and honorable (read: willing to be monogamous with her)

        • Tim, I don’t think hot and successful are the definition of good person, at least for me.

          I’m a young guy, but I see good and honorable men everywhere. Actually every time I go out , I cannot count on my both hands how many good men I found, because its so many.

          Who are they? Many of my friends, who are good friend. Many of them who are shy and nice guys, and really nice guys. They are not feminist definition of nice guys, who according to them are men acting nice to get into women’s pants. They are truly nice guys, who act nice because they are really nice. They are good men.

          And my college professors and lecturers. Many of them are good men. I had a casual conversation with my professor yesterday, and he talked about his wife, his children, about how he love them. And I can tell you hes a good man.

          And many men in the street, random guy I met, either its a bus driver, police officer, or a bin man, or anyone. How they are smiling when my eyes meet theirs. Even though I don’t know them personally, I could tell they are all good men.

          And then my little brother, who is still in high school . Sometimes he could be very rebellious and temperament, and sometimes hes could be so cute and sweet I always want to hug , tease, and cuddle him. I love him very much and I could tell hes a good man.

          And then my father, the most amazing man I have ever met in my life. I love love him so much. Hes an amazing father and wife. Hes not very well spoken and communicative man, but I could tell how much he loves his wife and his children by the way he act. Hes a very good man.

          And I have a thing for elders. I always fond of elders, like I fond of my awesome grandpa ( and my grandma ) I find most of them are super awesome and super nice. I love old people! And most of them are good men too!

          I don’t know why its so hard for you Erin to find a good and honorable men. And its not only men, I could find many many good women out there. For every good man, I could found a good woman. I don’t know, I find its so easy. Almost every single man and woman I know are good person.

          • John/Tim,
            I spent years in military with good, honorable (and some not-so-honorable men). Guess what? Most of them were not ‘successful’ in terms of great wealth or ‘hot’ in terms of metrosexuality. But I trusted my life with them and they trusted their lives with me. We shared stories, laughter, grit, fear, tears, blood, piss, and more importantly we broke-bread together. I would have married them all, if that were legal.
            Beauty, attraction, good, and honorable is in the eye of the beholder.

      • I guess like you don’t understand why it’s so hard for me to find good and honorable men, I don’t really understand why it’s so easy for you to find good and honorable men. You gave some examples, but for me, some of your examples don’t neccesarily point to a person’s goodness. But they do for you and that’s what should matter to you. For me, I think good men are hard to come by.

        Tim, I think your comment was unfair and you’ve made persumptions about me without really knowing me. I’ve dated all income levels and different looks in men. My idea of what makes a good man is not hot and successful. To me, a good man is someone that lives his life with integrity and honor. That does the best he can by the people that love and count on him. He is a man that takes good care of himself too because he respects himself. And he treats all people, no matter their looks or status as equals. He is willing to admit when he might be wrong. He is willing apologize with grace. He will stand up for what he believes in and not turn his cheek the other way and pretend that something isn’t there. He respects both men and women and doesn’t treat them differently behind closed doors when no one is looking. That is a very base idea of what I consider “good” traits in a man.

        • And what is good woman for you Erin? Do you think its hard to find good woman as well as you find its hard to find a good man?

          And all your qualities you describe, I’m sure many of good men I found have those qualities. Some of them maybe lacking in one qualities, but have other qualities. But I still found them as a good man. For example is my father. My father is very generous man who live with integrity and honor. He don’t want to receive any money who is not his. And he treats all people, no matter their looks or status as equals. He is very generous and often give his money for charity, even if hes not really rich ( even sometimes my mother against it, hes very keen to charity ). And he is very loyal to my mother. My mother said hes never cheat for 26 years of their marriage, she said hes even never look at other women. But sometimes, its hard for him to admit when he might be wrong. Maybe because he is a very intelligent and smart person ( he is a professor ), its hard for him to admit if he is wrong. And he is maybe not a man who really take a good care of himself. Even if he do not drink or smoke, hes no very much an athletic guy and rarely do sports at all . And hes not a good dresser, I always tell him what to dress on special occasion because he do not care for his appearance at all ( typical professor lol ). I know hes lacking in some of good qualities you describe, but I still see him as a good man, my mother too. Hes not a perfect man, but really good man. I always love and admire my father because of that.

          Some men maybe not perfect. But for me, I could still see them as a good man. I know many men who are like that, that’s why for me its not that hard to find a good man. And its also my view about good woman I know many women are not perfect, but they are still good woman for me.

          • John – while I understand your desire to question my views on women in comparison to my views on men, I actually don’t think that really gets us anywhere. If I share my view of women, depending on what my view of women is, it will either validate or discredit for you my view on men. And I simply think that’s the wrong way to look at it. Often in these discussions, it seems that people don’t feel like you can’t talk about one gender without mentioning the other in relation to the same topic. Unfortunetly, for me, this clouds the original discussion. So I won’t share what my view of a good woman is because I don’t think you need to know that just so you can either “okay” or not okay my opinion on men.

            I also don’t expect men to be perfect. And I still stand by my orginal comments. I hope that’s okay for you.

            • Erin

              I think knowing your view of what a REAL WOMAN should be like, is important to assess whether or not you hold men and women to the same standards.
              Every man who reads your comments on this thread will get the feeling that you hold men to much harsher standards of ‘goodness’ than you do women.

              • I don’t think you are going to love what I have to say but it’s true to what I believe. In relation to this topic, it doesn’t much matter what ideas of “goodness” apply to women. Because women are not the subject of *this* discussion. There is most certainly a time and place to talk about the goodness of women, but it is not in relation to this article. If you and other men believe I am holding men to a harsher standard of “goodness” then women, that is because of what you have actualized in your own head based on your own experiences and is not proven by anything I’ve actually said. Actualizing ideas about what I believe about women in this case, would not be based on anything actually factual.

                I don’t agree that you need to know my opinion of women to validate my opinion on men. I also believe it works the other way around. You do not need to know my opinion of men, to validate my view on women if we were discussing something pertinent to women. You either agree with my view on men or you don’t. In John’s case, he doesn’t. And that’s fine. But he doesn’t need to know my views on women to substantiate my views. It plays into the gender wars we all can experience and feel when we feel our gender isn’t being treated with respect. And unfortunately, we get so wrapped up in ourselves ( I am totally guilty of this myself) and are hunger to be treated with respect we feel we are due, we worry way too much about how the other gender is treating us then possibly how we are treating others.

                I believe very strongly that always needing to measure men and women to each other is what largely contributes to a big chunk of the gender war. While men and women are intrinsically connected, there is also a time and place to talk about them and their positives and negatives separate from each other. I find that we are very capable of talking about men and women separate from one another when it comes to the positives. It is very easy to praise men and women as a group and sometimes their differing strengths independent of each other. There is nothing wrong with that. But when it comes to the more negative elements or harder discussions, we don’t appear to be as capable of keeping that conversation separate. Both sides can become defensive and worried or fearful of insinuations of disrespectful ideas toward the other. And unfortunately, while we should care about how we are getting treated by one another, sometimes it seems like this is all we really care about. How we are treated and not how we may be treating others.

                It’s not that I don’t understand John’s desire to know my view on women in comparison to my views on men. I sincerely do understand why he wants to know this information. I’ve been there myself. It’s completely normal on his end. But after having these discussions for so long, I believe that sometimes we get so wrapped up in how we are being treated, we forget how we treat others and in our good intentions to manage being respected by others, we forget to sometimes be as honest and raw about our weaknesses and admitting with ourselves what we need to fix in ourselves to be better to others.

          • John,
            I think a good woman is one who can bring the goodness out in others, and an honorable woman can bring the honor out in others. The same thing applies to men.

        • And sorry for many wrong grammar. Need to work on my english

          • She is referring to good men she finds attractive and who’d be willing to have relationships with her on terms she is ok with.

            I think women should realize that when they say “where have all the good/nice men gone” its a bit misleading to men.

            • Keith, I don’t only think of men in terms of who I am attracted to. Beside that, I can have some unique taste in men actually. For me it’s not always about social standards of physical appeal in men. Actually, someone I was very close and attracted to was very far from the stereotypical standard of what we call an attractive man in pop media.

              I have had men that wanted to use me for short term sex, they didn’t have the same relationships goal as me and they disrespected me in many cases and I didn’t really think they were good men. But that’s not to say that they haven’t changed or that they were good men to someone else. They weren’t good men to me though.

              • There’s a significant chance that women who experience an inability to find “good men” are terrified of finding them in places that feminist women loathe – like churches.

                Despite the prolifery of malignant statements about “religious fanatics” and their supposed misogyny, Christian churches are actually in the “business” of molding good people- men included.

  18. Chris Anthony says:

    Why is the evolution of a man’s gender identity being placed under a microscope?
    Because it is being tampered with and has been being tampered with for a number of decades. Now it is reaching all new heights.

    • @Chris Anthony … yes, the male species is a new play thing. That which modern society can try to shape and mold. I wish I knew one man, including myself, that fits one particular mold. A mold that modern society wants to somehow neatly package and say “This is a man.”

      For the past 40 years, society appears to have settled on what or who a woman is or should be and now they want to mess with men in the same way. For example, it’s clear that modern society has pushed aside the so called “home maker” or “stay at home mom” and have now moved into men’s territory and are attempting to pigeon hole men the same way but kind of in reverse. Today there is overwhelming support for the stay at home dad who is also the one who maintains the home. But now the man who chooses a career, chooses a position where brawn is his attribute, he’s now questioned if he’s a real man in the mew millennium.

  19. Hello all, I haven’t posted in a while ….. Society is obsessed with men simply because modern society wants to either change who men are or pigeon hole them so that they can continue to box them into a corner. Damned if ya do and damned if ya don’t. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do. Sad thing is that in 2012, society is even questioning who men are. You’ll be hard pressed to meet a man who wears a $1200 suite using a chain saw. Then again you’ll be hard pressed to meet mechanic that owns a $1200 suite. Different men, different cultures. So why is society even questioning either? Men are simply who they are and similar to women, do what they do simply because it’s who they are …. But then again, it appears that the feminist movement did a little more then simply expand women and opportunities, they took it a step further and as they are attempting to do with men, neatly shape the idea of who a women is, and expect women to fill the role they formulated.

    Society is bothered by men simply because men are far more complex then thought. Men were and continue to be stereotyped. Now that men are showing that they are more than one dimensional, society struggles with the changes men have made. We no longer fit that comfortable thug like role that we’ve been viewed in years past.

    In the 60’s, feminism changed women and their roles in that they could cater to a population of so called subservient women. A package that they could unwrap and repackage. On the other hand, the package men were wrapped in was not that which they “thought” men were. Men have always been multidimensional but was never recognized as such.

    Society has to get used to the fact then men aren’t and never were the limited thinking population they thought or wished they were.

    • ” Society is bothered by men simply because men are far more complex then thought. Men were and continue to be stereotyped. Now that men are showing that they are more than one dimensional ”

      This, people especially women only seen men as simple minded creatures and one dimensional. So men who watch porn = pervert ( women who watch porn = open minded ) , men who goes to gym = brainless meat head ( women who goes to gym = sporty ) , men who shave their chest = insecure and effeminate .

      Men are complex. We can be a big jacked muscular while crying over romantic movies. We can be a successful businessman while we care for our appearance. We may like to watch porn while we don’t want to have sex with random women and only want to have sex with women we love. We may be handsome and attractive men while we do not use our “hotness” to get women in bed. We may like beautiful women while we seek potential partner because of their personality. Men are not simple and we are different, so we cannot have same ideas of manliness.

    • I see two reasons why its such an issue these days:

      Feminism & Post- Industrialism have denigrated traditional male roles & qualities.- I think many humans are hardwired as to what they enjoy & are attracted to, despite all the gender studies psychobabble. The 80’s and 90’s produced SNAG’s but the theory didn’t match reality, and they weren’t the ideal partner to the assertive corporate powerfrau feminist.

      Feminists (and now society) want the best of both worlds, and expect men to not be competitive, focused or confident, yet the expect them to talk and listen for hours on emotional & other feminine topics, while also controling their feelings in emergencies and dangerous situations, as well as magically remaining confident and secure while no-longer employed, respected or valued…but also magically be able bring home the bacon once its needed.

      The state of affairs for men has now got so uninspiring & unrewarding that many are opting out – and while women’s roles were pretty flexible & optional (apart from bearing & raising children) mens roles are far more rigid and compulsory in society – so as men opt out, or follow what interests/rewards them and not what society & women want them to do, society & women bring pressure to bear on men to “man up” and do what their told, although the reasons and reward for doing those things are long gone.
      Check out Girlwriteswhat on Youtube and her “men not marrying” video for a good indepth study.

      • My wife once said to me, “I can waste your time but you can’t waste my time.” At least that’s what I think she said; I wasn’t really listening. (LOL.) (The first and last time I will ever use that abbreviation.) My wife, who I knew I would marry the first time I saw her, says that I don’t listen to her every word. How can I not? She’s always screaming. Kidding. Hon’, I do listen to every word . . . and can recite large portions of it verbatim . . . it’s just that, after a particularly horrific day at work when I come home and say “I really need to lie down in total silence for a half hour at least,” I’m not joking. So give me that time, and I’ll come back into the living room and we can start where we left off. Also, she said many years ago, “You need to feel more, and I need to think more.” Prescient. We still deal with this dilemma. In short, I blame the Industrial Revolution. Doesn’t everybody?

    • (I know this is not a discussion about women, nor do I want to take away from men) The feminist ideal doesn’t apply to all women either. Women are complex too and many cannot live up to the gold-standard of super-mom, corporate exec, super model, marathon runner, or whatever idealistic perfect-type I’m supposed to be. (which I’m not).

      Women are opting out. Good women too. The ones that don’t want to get hurt or hurt anyone. The women who don’t want to be treated like a friend with benefits or some porn star, who haven’t slept with 700 men just get to attention. Who earn respect and show respect and have kept their nose to the grindstone to make a secure life. We know how hard it is to be man.
      Don’t fool yourself that women have it any easier.
      We are opting out too. I’m one of them.

  20. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Haven’t been to this thread in a while. I think being a man means having character. Not the character others want us to have, but the one that we derive. I read on another thread that women were too “other directed” (mine and David Riesman’s term.) They used another term. So, at best, we’re inner directed– a good thing, particularly if everything is going to hell.

    • Or being dependable.

    • Hank, women are ‘other directed’ or as my brother says ‘girls are too much on the outside’. It’s part of our nature, women are relationship or people-oriented. No matter how much we try to be inner-directed like men, we can’t. I gave up years ago trying to ‘act more like a man’. After 8 years in the military, combat and in a male-dominated field, I realized men and women have some fundamental differences, that no amount of spec ops training is going to change.

      • Hank Vandenburgh says:

        Hi Joanie,
        I usually argue for biological positions here, and I do think that there are some biological differences, although there’s a great deal of overlap. But I remember women from my young adulthood (after my six years in the Army 65-68 [we had very few WACs at that time]) as being pretty inner-directed too, at least the ones I was attracted to. My current wife never lets other people tell her what to do, and my first wife and most of my girlfriends were the same way. I don’t know if this is just an artifact of the late 60s – 70s counterculture, or what. I think we got a big return to traditional women’s culture (along with more nominal feminism) after the 1970s. Weddings became a big deal again. Everyone was suddenly back into football. Even when people were nominal feminists, they were sort of all celebrating all types of 1950s stuff. Managerialism-consumerism.

        • Hank, I remember the 1970s return to ‘traditional’ stuff…I was bit young, but I do remember. That was during the Mrs. Robinson Era. 🙂 Then 1980s everything took a different turn.

          I’ve pulled up my bootstraps on my own my entire life and am inner-directed for the most part. I certainly won’t let ‘just anyone’ tell me what to do. But I notice that other-directed quality has always been under the surface.
          As I age, I appreciate that quality now, because it serves to build relationships.

        • Hank – by the way. Happy Belated Veteran’s Day. Thank you for your service and my salute to you.

  21. Wow… the Times is really starting to show its social stagnation. This isn’t the first time they have published such myopic pieces about gender, especially masculinity, either. I’m glad we have this site to talk through some of these issues.

    Shall we counter with a little positivity? Give a relative or a guy friend a hug and let him know that he’s just right, like baby bear’s porridge.

  22. I always wonder why most women ( and some men ) consider men who likes to lift weights ( or going to gym ) as brainless meathead . Just because i like to lift weights , like being strong, like being jacked, doesn’t mean I’m stupid or I don’t have social life outside the gym. I’m smart, have a job, have circle of friends and activities outside the gym but i still like to lift heavy weights, squat and deadlifting 4 times a week .

    And we lift weights not because we thought girls like muscle. LOL, its the most misconception most women ( and men who dont lift weights ) have. We don’t f*ck*ng care girls like muscle or not, we lift weights just because we love it. And we love being strong and jacked.

    • Right on, brother. Lifting weights is one of the most honest things in the world you can do. A barbell with four 45-lb. plates on it never lies. There’s nothing wrong with having more than “mouse-clicking” strength; but then again, the only time I really need strength is . . . in the gym. Remember the days when being a “97-lb. weakling” was frowned upon or something like that? as being non-desirable? Nowadays those are the guys making six figures in computer-related jobs. My friend–as old as me, 52–jokes that we’re the last of the poet-warriors in the Western world. I’m going to die with my workout shoes on (with “Finnegans Wake” in one hand and a dumbbell in t’other!). Wait . . . girls DON’T like muscle?!?

  23. I just want to point out that whatever else a “real man” may or may not do, he definitely does not apologize for being himself or worry about adhering to others’ standards.

  24. Carl Menger says:

    I think a big part of the problem is that after the women’s movement that changed so much of what women were able, or expected to do, there was not a corresponding “Men’s Movement”. The one attempt at a movement changing how men were defined in society, coming out of Robert Bly’s “Iron John” ended up being a laughable mix of Joseph Campbell, L. Ron Hubbard and Leo Buscaglia. The women’s movement was concrete, with real goals, and real grievances. Yes there was some spiritual exploration, and some mumbo jumbo, but the base was grounded in real life. The short fad of men hugging each other naked and covered in mud in the woods, had no practical end. Men never learned to adjust to the way women have changed. We’re trying to define masculinity based on an action movie template, which is cartoonish at best, and homicidaly insane at worst.

  25. “Are modern men manly enough? I think that’s a ridiculous question. Interestingly enough, The New York Times would never debate this question on their opinion page: Are modern women womanly enough?”

    Well…let’s say that someone like TIME magazine ran a feature story asking if the new CEO of Yahoo was “good for working moms” for taking the job when she was six months pregnant…yeah, that happened just last week and from what I can tell, the public outcry was more against her actually working and being pregnant than it was for her.

    I don’t think anyone should start talking about “manliness” or “masculinity” unless and until they can give a good working definition of those terms. Generally speaking, I think it would be something like “the perceived degree to which a male lives up to the stereotypical gender expectations of his culture.” Since I generally think American culture is pretty shitty, then I think the guy who measures up as “manly” or “masculine” in our culture is probably pretty shitty, too. The existence of this website tells me I’m not alone in thinking that. I further think that anyone aspiring to be a “manly man” or “masculine” in this culture probably isn’t worthy of judging me at all.

  26. wellokaythen says:

    What short memories a society has.

    What is the evidence that our society today really IS *especially* obsessed with masculinity? I’d like to see a persuasive argument that this is, in fact, a recent development. I’m not so sure that the early twenty-first century is particularly anxious about what masculinity means. The 1920’s and 30’s and 40’s and 50’s and…. were pretty obsessed with it, too.

    I’d also need to see a definition of obsession that I can use to test today’s media coverage. An few articles across the web and across some big-name magazines does not make an obsession.

    • wellokaythen says:

      P.S. Let’s say for the sake of argument that we men today are NOT “manly enough.” Tough sh*t. I’d be happy to pay a woman to re-shingle my house. I got better things to do with my time.

    • Peter von Maidenberg says:

      The 1930s, because of the Great Depression, was actually somewhat subversive in its view of masculinity. With a lot of men’s worth and power taken from them, we began to nurture subversive role models – elegant men-of-the-world like Cary Grant and Fred Astaire, decent small town types like Jimmy Stewart, tough guys who were little like Bogart and Cagney. All stood for some manly qualities we would recognize today – and all had things about them we no longer accept as manly. And of course the man-machine got reset to Traditional after, and becaue of, WW2.

  27. A good man says:

    “Every man is his own man and possesses his own brand of masculinity.” Bingo!

  28. CosmicDestroyer says:

    The fact that it’s novel enough to be in an article pretty much belies that it’ no longer the standard. It’s become a gimmick. A few episodes of “The Deadliest Catch” and an ironic handlebar mustache do not a movement make.

    Obsession with Don Draper? Ask the squeeing fan girls over at Jezebel and Bitch magazine, they’re the ones with the weekly recaps.

  29. “Because men like to feel like men.”
    Bingo. And a lot of women like for the to be the MAN.

    There has probably always been a fascination with machismo/manliness. The Soviet Union couldn’t get rid of it even with their social programs.

    Maybe off topic, but the pic made me think of this. I read somewhere that in the olden days killing a man was the easiest way for a man to gain cred with women…i guess things like mma are the kinder gentler version of this.

  30. “Clearly, our society is currently obsessed with modern men and manliness, why?” IMO, clearly society isn’t obsessed with modern men and manliness. For one thing, most men that you pass on the street are not obsessed with society’s view of “manliness.” Perhaps because TGMP focusses on men, it appears that society is interested but in the big picture it’s not.

    If “society” was obsessed about modern men and manliness, men wouldn’t be in the situation we’re in. Society has been obsessed with women for the past 30 years and that obsession has brought women to where they are today. Society continues to be obsessed with women and continue to expand and identify their roles in society so as to enhance, enrich and nurture their lives.

    Is society obsessed with modern men and manliness or are they obsessed with talking about it when particular issues arise? As I’m typing this, I’m listening to the news on the Aurora massacre. Society will be obsessed with talking about this “guy” … who he is, why he did what he did. Just as society became “obsessed” with the Columbine shootings. But as a whole, not obsessed with men and manliness.

    Then again there are areas of society that may be obsessed with men and manliness. Some of these areas include the degradation of men, minimization of men or simply wanting to define men as “they” want to define them. And I should add the redefinition of men in this context is not for the benefit or positive progress of men.

  31. Just took a gander through Shawn Taylor’s piece. Cringe worthy. If you think his was the best response… HO BOY! Then I know serious discussions of masculinity simply cannot be had in mainstream culture. Yet.

    I agree that being there as a father is probably pretty dang important. That said…. Shawn’s an idiot. Not every man who has sex is automatically consenting to fatherhood. Sorry Shawn, but that’s why we have birth control. Unless you’d like to extend the same effing courtesy and tell women that every time THEY have sex, they’re obligated to motherhood? Oh, but that’d open up all kinds of icky problems, like anti-abortion, anti-birth control, and anti-choice.

    No doubt, one day I want to be a father and a damned good one at that. Certainly if I got a woman pregnant, even/especially when it was unintended, I’d feel serious responsibility for the situation and act accordingly. BUT, I am NOT obligated to be a parent. No one should ever be forced to be a parent because of some nostalgic “code” based upon one individual’s personal needs and some vague whining for bygone halcyon days. This isn’t the 1950’s.

    Men have a difficult enough time asserting their rights to be or not to be (and ain’t that the question) a father. Let’s not make it worse for men who don’t want to be parents by shaming them for making that completely personal choice. Unless, of course, Shawn Taylor thinks shaming men into being fathers when they don’t want to be/aren’t ready to be/can’t actually be a father is somehow beneficial to ANYONE, especially the child.

    But I digress, just because the New York Times has an op-ed piece with random talking-heads chiming in, does not prove that society is “obsessed with modern men and manliness.” There is far more to culture than the NYT, especially when it comes to Middle America. Indeed, quite the argument exists for the opposite; society frequently DOESN’T care about modern men or manliness other than to mock it, demonize it, or try to bottle and sell a horrible stereotype of it.

    Anyhoo, those are my two cents. Spend ’em how you will.

    • JustAMan says:

      Zek, you are awesome. Bingo!

    • Shawn Taylor says:

      @zek. An idiot? Really? A personal attack? Wouldn’t expect any less. Sorry, but if you cannot handle the responsibility of parenting, don’t have sex without a condom. Unless biology has changed when I was not looking, you have sex, there is a possibility of having a child. Your contraception is your responsibility. There was no mention of the halcyon 50’s, and you should probably try and lend your awareness to things other than your Western interpretations. Men have zero difficulties asserting their rights, and as a person who looks quite white, I’m sure that you never personally have had this problem. What is happening now is a balancing out of so many years of patriarchal privilege, that it may seem as if there is an all out attack on men. I work with men, young fathers, most days of the week. I am trying to get them to understand: you may not (or should not) be in the child’s life, but you are a conduit for that child to access that other half of their ancestral narrative. And there is nothing nostalgic about living with integrity. We’ve moved away from that and many of us have the social-sexual mores of a horde of marauding vikings. There are many current (Non-Western) cultures that live by sets of rules, codes, what have you, and their children (and others in their lives) are better off for it.

      • Shawn,

        When someone engages in meanness, ignorance, and/or cruelty, I call it out. If I see someone promulgating idiocy, I will name it.

        But feel free to dismiss the substantive portions of my comment as a personal attack. If that makes you feel better.

        Meanwhile, I think it is irresponsible to impose your individual values upon another person and shame them for it because they don’t share your privilege or your opinions. Telling an impoverished 16 year old who hasn’t even known his own father or had a adult conversation about contraception that because he had sex is has agreed to be a father.

        Let me repeat: consent to sex IS NOT consent to parenthood.

        Our society, by and large, believes that women should not be forced to become mothers. Abortion, while controversial by a minority, is generally allowed. Birth control even more so. I make the reasonable assumption that you believe a woman has the right to have an abortion. If you believe that women have the right to choose whether or not they can become mothers, then not extending this same effing courtesy to men is simple hypocrisy. At this point, you have no moral leg to stand on.

        But instead of talking about the difficulties in men obtaining good contraception, in knowing how to use it, in understanding the consequences of sex, what parenthood entails, and how these problems disproportionately affect poor men and men of color, you’d rather talk about MY privilege?

        Or would you rather use your privilege to shame men, essentially telling them to “man-up”? Because that’s not helpful. In fact, it’s harmful. Shaming people for making the choice whether or not they become a parent is about as harmful as it gets. It is comparable to pro-lifers standing outside an abortion clinic heckling young women who are entering to make one of the most difficult choices they will face in their life. It is disgusting and I will not shirk from calling it such.

        Does that offend you? Too bad. But you don’t care, I believe. You made your article an attack and so I don’t believe you really care if anyone’s upset. So don’t pretend to be bothered at my “personal attack” when you really don’t care.

        I fact, I daresay you hold rather messed-up views in general. Men are not “marauding vikings” and to play into that demonization is about as internalized misandry as it gets. And I find it laughable that you then end your comment with an Arab slave trader argument. Hint: just because other cultures do X does not make X okay. Moreover, just because X works for one culture doesn’t make X good for everyone else. Plenty of cultures, both Western and non-Western believe that the sexes should be segregated. Is that something you support? Plenty of cultures support female genital mutilation. Is that something you support? Plenty of cultures think technology is evil and that pictures steal your soul. Do you want to dismantle the internet and ban photography? Reducto ad absurdum. Your argument is horribly wrong by reason of absurdity.

        But honestly, I could go on. The problem with your article (and your comment) is not the logic, which anyone can see is flawed. The problem is the attitude, the belief that masculinity is something which one person can define and that telling someone to man-up, essentially emasculating them through shame, is completely okay. The problem is this attitude that if men don’t make the choices YOU think are right, then they’re all wrong and need to be talked to harshly. I’m glad you do work among young fathers to try to help them, but I can’t help wondering how they’d feel knowing that you’d impose your personal judgments onto the unique circumstances of their lives. I wonder if they’d be happy to know you advocated that if they decide they’re not ready to be fathers then they deserve to be castigated by you.

        And this isn’t unique to just you Shawn. It’s a problem so many men fall into. It’s a problem that so many men think is okay, as if internalized misandry is somehow not harmful to yourself or others. But let’s be real: it isn’t good for the mother, for the father, or for the child, to force anyone to do anything. People should not be made to be parents if they’re not ready to or they don’t want to. Until you can understand that, you’ll always be writing angry articles Shawn.

        • Note, should read as:

          ” Telling an impoverished 16 year old who hasn’t even known his own father or had a adult conversation about contraception that because he had sex he has agreed to be a father and must be a father is wrong.”

        • Shawn Taylor says:

          As usuals you retreat into the cool distance of “but feel free to dismiss the substantive portions of my comment as a personal attack. If that makes you feel better.” You are the one who feels as if people who are not agreeing with you are wrong. The article was not angry (nor did I title it), but you seem to be contextually ignorant. It was a question about men, so I put the answer there. Once again, you may not agree, but you have sex you ARE consenting to possibly creating a child, unless you are using contraception. Nothing moral about this. It is a biological fact. You missed the point were I DON’T SAY you have to be an active, present, and involved parent. What I do say is that your are responsible for and to that child. A glaring difference. Whether it is through child support, or introducing other family members to that child.

          “You hold pretty messed up views in general.” That’s that arrogance again. I’ve read much of your other work, you little academic saboteur you, and if anyone crosses Zek’s limited worldview line, they are outcast from the ‘I have three college degrees’ pseudo-intellectual fiefdom of the troubadour, instrumentalist. Your privilege and hypocrisy knows no boundaries. You stated in another post (and I’m paraphrasing) that you wanted a space for men to be able to talk about being good people, but you are the type of personality that impedes these types of spaces from happening in an effective manner. You could have sought me out and asked questions, but instead you had a little tantrum and insulted me. It’s great to see folks take a stand, but you need to be a little more adult in your approach. I’m no longer going to feed your ego and go back and forth, but if you want to have a real conversation about this, you can come to one of our weekly meetings (five years strong). We are a group of men who are supporting each other and doing real and tangible things in the world, and not just creating jolly web-based pirate identities and carrying false flags of indignation.

  32. J.J from Good Times says:

    Manliness does not have to connote power, strength, boldness, courage, fierceness or ruggedness
    It doesn’t have to be all of that but it should be most of it. The sissification of dudes nowadays is amazing. What kind of person ( not just man) should be powerless, weak and cowardly. Articles like this make tender guys feel manly which is horrible. Shame them into going for what they actually want; to be strong powerful and courageous ( I can’t picture a single human being that doen’t want these traits). If they fall short pat them on the back for trying and tell them go at it again but don’t rationalize this softness.

    • Well said, I really agree. We should be striving for these positive qualities that we used to strive for and keep trying to get them, not accepting mediocrity or worse and patting ourselves on the back for it. In our culture now, it’s not good enough for women to accept mediocrity and they are encouraged to strive for power and strength and boldness; men, meanwhile, are told to shy away from these things. Rubbish. We should all be trying to achieve these great things. Manliness should indeed be most of those qualities and men should do their best to achieve them.

  33. What accounts for this scrutiny? Most people love boxes. It gives them a sense of control, of safety, of security. To divide , to separate. How can we work through it? Transcend it. If more people were willing and did the “work” (self-reflection, self-growth, questioning their beliefs, their conditioning , their memory) labels would not be “needed.” No labels, no limitations. If people realized how they “saw” themselves (working to make the unconscious, conscious) and understood how that shapes how they see the world, maybe things would change.

  34. “Are modern men manly enough?”

    My karate sensei spends a lot of time at the gym but he can also fix a sink, a boat, and do construction work around the house…To me, he seems like the uber-macho male model…and yet, he also enjoyed that whole “Mad Men” work scenario of vodka and water lunches with clients and bragging about the next big account until it all crashed down a year ago….To him, I think it is important not just to be swimming with the rest of the crowd but to be way ahead of it in the lead which led him to do something really risky…Now he is slogging away at his job trying to keep up with impossible sales goals while anticipating first time fatherhood and his own health worries….Meanwhile, he watches his friends hanging out at their nice beach homes and enjoying their seemingly cushier lives, while he contemplates whether or not to sell his boat just to balance his household budget….There is so much pressure to succeed and to attain those bragging rights, and yet, the reality is just having enough to pay off your bills is pressure enough….We don’t talk about it but I can feel his fear of failure is overwhelming him right now….

  35. Hank Vandenburgh says:

    Men aren’t tabulae rasae. They’re more linear and aggressive than women, by and large. Overmuch metrosexuality might be a problem. Maybe not, though. Some of the biggest fops in the Rennaissance were deadly with the rapier, after all. I see two dangers, however. Reaction formation men who are hysterically macho. (See Wilhelm Reich for why this is a reaction to powerlessness under capitalism.) Or passive-aggressive men who are overtly “feminist,” but use this position to push both men and women around through guilt.

  36. Most guys, if you tally up their useful skills (which can include some cubicle-farmy stuff) are manlier than you’d think. I’ll use myself as a convenient example:

    Can do minor stuff on car – do a jump, diagnose and replace a bad battery, lights, etc as well as keep a bike running
    Can follow a diagram and solder up a piece of equipment as well as act as family sysadmin
    Can grow a good amount of food in my backyard, identify the wild birds in my neighborhood, and identify a good many constellations, prominent stars, and planets
    Can deal with all routine housekeeping chores, painting, and minor electric/plumbing
    Can drive a big truck, climb on big ladders, and deal with complicated equipment for my job
    Can play three musical instruments
    Know how to shave and clear out those nose hairs
    Can earn a living any number of ways
    Have a nice inside offensive game with good rebounding skills
    Have been making the same woman deliriously happy for over twenty years
    Have been a dad to two outstanding boys

    Some of that is my inclinations and some of it is our times, but it ain’t bad. We don’t always know the full story on that guy who built log cabins and stormed Nazi pillboxes in his spare time. Maybe he was into bonsai or playing the viola – that stuff can be manly too.

  37. I vote “Our society is uncomfortable with the evolution of men’s gender identity in the 21st century.”

    I don’t think we’ve reached a place where everyone can love embrace all types of masculinities. We need to stop these “Men HAVE to evolve past these traditional identities” and “Men HAVE to return to these traditional identities” retorts. The fact of the matter is that culture, one’s childhood, and so many other variables contribute to one’s masculine identity. So men are going to be different, but they’re still men. That’s it. Nothing more to say.

  38. Peter Houlihan says:

    I think that poll is a bit leading. Not that those aren’t possible answers, but they’re quite restrictive.

    Personally I suspect that while the ground for women’s lib was prepared by the first wave feminists, no similar movement has prepared men (or the women in their lives) to for the shifting of gender roles and to interpret new opportunities as empowerment. Men are still addicted to masculinity because the benefits have never really been questioned in the same way that femininity has.

    Why this is the case is anyone’s guess, but I think the archetype of the strong/silent white knight has alot to do with it.

  39. @ Jock – Nicole didn’t miss the point. You missed her point.

    If NYT ran a story about why modern women are not womanly enough, there would be riots in the streets

    • Exactly. As usual it’s a simple matter of reversing the genders and you can easily imagine the reaction! Projection is the fundamental nature of this behaviour. What I mean is that men can never be considered “manly” enough. It’s like a carrot dangling in front of our noses, we keep striving to meet an impossible standard and the goal posts keep being shifted back. Whether men actually are “manly” enough in reality has nothing to do with it whatsoever.
      It’s just so patently obvious that endlessly complaining that men don’t live up to an ideal maintains the pressure to keep striving harder and harder to live up to it, like a hampster in a perpetual wheel of insecurity. Will we ever be considered adequate as we are? I doubt it, society has always benefitted from this mind game.

  40. The issue isn’t that manly men don’t exist, it is simply that people do not know them when they see them.
    Believe it or not, many manly men, are also fairly intelligent. Which runs right in the face of the classical manly man. Which is typically seen as a physically strong but ultimately simple minded.
    So while a manly man who can replace a sink, and replace the oil in their or your car, and even build you a website. They aren’t spending a lot of time bodybuilding. They also gather in groups and hang out in places that are, *gasp*, not bars.
    I know, because I am a part of such a group, they are often referred to as “makers” and their hang outs are makerspaces or hackerspaces
    So because they aren’t strapping young lads, or hanging out in bars, people assume they do not exist. So the whole thing is just observational bias. Seen through the filter of a j-crew catalog.

    • Peter von Maidenberg says:

      Hackerspaces also appear to be broadly communalist – which goes against the individualism we expect of men – and not necessarily dedicated to traditionally masculine endeavors. In such a space you might be doing creative or craft work when you “should” be doing trade work or jobs that pay off near term.

      We don’t pay much attention to craft over trade, partly because drawing a line between them is not a very American thing to do (compared to, say, the British). But there is a manly gloss and approach to artisanal skills that mixes traditional and not so traditional masculinity in interesting ways. There’s also a lingering male bias in certain crafts, especially those that make things for men to use.

  41. Poll Option #5: Because men like to feel like men.

    Sounds basic but it’s basically the reason.

    Also, I think you missed the point, Nicole. Yes, there are still loads of manly men out there, but as a cohort, particularly in the Western world, we as men have lost a hell of a lot of our manly ways, particularly our skills. It’s true that most men now have no idea how to fix a kitchen sink or do an oil change on their car. Hell, I’d bet there are now blokes out there who don’t know how to change a tyre, even. I think this absolutely sucks for my generation of men. I want to reclaim all these skills so I can pass them on to my kids when I have them. I’d rather go out and learn a trade, learn how to fight, and hunt, and fix things – useful, practical, manly stuff, than just nine-to-five in a cubicle farm and redefine that as manly just because it makes me feel good. No way. I want to have some real skills and knowledge to pass on to my kids.

    • @Jock

      I totally agree with your Poll Option #5, in fact, I was just writing about it (hopefully it’ll be on here soon). All me want to feel like men. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. But what does that look like.

      The problem that I had with the Don Draper peice in the NYT article, and with the reclaimation of outdated concepts of masculinity (we need to hunt, fix cars, etc.) is that men don’t HAVE to be those things anymore. And while it’s totally fine to personally identify with a more traditional archetype of masculinity, it’s no man’s business to push that on all other men. I’m sitting in a 9-to-5 cubicle right now…it blows, but that’s just the life of young Americans today. It doesn’t shape my masculinity, nor does my lack of wanting to hunt or fix things.

      If men want to teach their kids survival traits–hunting, fighting, fixing–that’s fine, there’s use in that. But don’t specifically teach these things only to boys under the conviction that this is what MAKES men. And people need to lay off the guys in cubicles, we could be developing the next product that will launch America out of this economic hell. Modern men are nuanced, they adapt to what it takes to be successful. Unfortunately, that’s not always hunting and gathering.

  42. Good stuff. Looking forward to the poll results Nicole.


  1. […] Why Is Our Society Obsessed with Modern Men and Maniliness? Nicole Johnson, The Good Men Project Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Tags: boxing, ennui, fighting, friends, friendship, life, love, maleness, masculinity, rain, relationships, strength, tears, vulnerability, weakness. Bookmark the permalink. […]

  2. […] features: chips, beef jerky, steak sauce, condoms, beer, deodorant, razors and other so-called manly […]

  3. […] This is a comment by BP and Keevo on the post “Poll: Why is Our Society Obsessed with Modern Men and Manliness?“ […]

Speak Your Mind