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?

 


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Comments

  1. 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?

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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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”.

  9. It’s not.

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

  10. 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)

  11. 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.

  12. 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??).

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