It can be hard to find your place in a world that has so much for men and not enough for everyone else. Men are seen as the strong, powerful ones who don’t need anything from anyone but themselves! But we’re more than just testosterone-dripping beasts with an overinflated ego. Here’s how to live like one of the guys without becoming a monster (or at least one you want).
“How to be a Man for a Woman” is the first book written by Steve Harvey. It contains life advice and how-to’s that would help men in their relationships with women. Read more in detail here: how to be a man for a woman.
Note that what follows is more of a short ebook than a lengthy blog post; treat it as such. It will probably take an hour or two to read, and much longer to comprehend, with over 20k words. Our little book actually describes the concept(s) that we’ve been thinking about and working on since we launched AoM back in 2008, and it’s the climax and completion of this lengthy series on masculinity.
Contents Table of Contents
Introduction The first chapter is titled “Manliness is a Choice.” Make the difficult decision. The Manhood Reserve Training Program and Exercises (Chapter 2) The Importance of Our Social Ties (Chapter 3) Chapter 4: The Capstones of Manhood: Virtue Conclusion
We’ve been working on an epic series on the nature of masculinity — its origins, historical imperatives, and place in the modern world – for the last several months. Here’s a quick rundown of where we’ve been:
- Part 1: Defend
- Procreate is the second part of the story.
- Part III – Make available
- Part IV: A Review of the Three P’s of Manhood
- Part V: What Is Masculinity’s Heart?
- Where Does Manhood Come From in Part VI?
- Why Are We So Divided About Manhood in the 21st Century?
We’ve arrived to the most crucial issue of all: where do we proceed from here?
In my last piece, I discussed three prominent viewpoints on the road contemporary men should pursue, all of which I consider to be dead ends in the end.
Today, I’ll put out my own recommendations on how to live as a guy in the twenty-first century.
With the greatest humility, I provide this instruction to you. There is no such thing as a manliness “expert,” and I offer no guarantees about the accuracy of anything you’ll see here. Manhood is a broad, surprisingly profound topic, and my perspectives will undoubtedly evolve as I acquire more knowledge and wisdom in the years ahead.
It isn’t taken out of my behind at the same moment. What you’ll find below is my genuine and best faith attempt to synthesize what I’ve learned over the course of six years of researching and reading about masculinity and connecting with thousands of guys throughout the globe, as well as from my own personal religion, philosophy, and experience. I am certain that the concepts and procedures outlined here may help a guy live his best life.
Manliness Is A Choice, Chapter 1 Select the Difficult Option
You had no say in whether or whether you were born masculine. It is, however, a decision to become a man by following the traditional rule of masculinity. That has always been the case.
The option to pursue the path of men was practically chosen for you in ancient times. Tribes and clans relied on all males seeking to attain the “Big Impossible” of becoming a “true man” by satisfying the imperatives of protection, procreation, and provision. All males were required to hunt and battle, and young boys had no option in whether or not they participated in their tribe’s violent and difficult rites of passage. A guy may theoretically opt out of such undertakings, but doing so would bring him enormous disgrace. A guy could not exist alone in a tough environment, and so could not afford to become an outcast. A man’s identity was so intertwined with his tribe that losing his position was emotionally damaging — a blow to his pride that had to be avoided at all costs. As a result, our forefathers were extremely driven to do their part and live up to their community’s ideals of honor.
As the border of danger faded and life became less harsh and hazardous, the need for every man to give his all faded, and men’s discretion in choosing to follow the code of masculinity grew.
You could believe that the choice of whether or not to strive for conventional masculine norms is a recent one. However, it is a problem that mankind have been grappling with since the birth of civilisation. As life got more pleasant, men had to decide how much of the old, primeval ways to keep and how much to give up in order to embrace the new comforts and pleasures of established civilization.
The ancient Greek and Roman philosophers, who pondered and disputed what constituted the happy life, were among the first to grapple with how to live as men in a more domesticated setting. The Stoics claimed that it might be found by actively combating their society’s growing softness and decadence and fostering one’s roughness and morality.
Seneca was the teacher and counselor to Emperor Nero, and Marcus Aurelius was the emperor himself, therefore many of the great Stoic thinkers were wealthy and powerful individuals. They might have indulged in all the pleasures that their culture had to offer. Despite the allure of being surrounded by riches and luxury, these guys purposefully picked a route that was not followed by their contemporaries. They chose the difficult path of mental and physical fortitude.
The Stoics spent a lot of time and effort acquiring the capacity to be cool and collected in the face of hardship, as well as fostering apathy toward pain, fear, greed, and social approbation. They went out of their way to seek out the kind of problems that their contemporaries shunned. Stoic thinkers practiced and encouraged other men to take cold baths, vigorous exercise, wearing basic and even harsh clothes, eating simple cuisine, and even purposefully seeking scorn. They felt that this was the most gratifying way to life, and that it was the only way to advance and evolve.
Now fast forward to the present day. The quantity and availability of luxury have multiplied several times. Despite the passage of 2,000 years, contemporary men confront the same dilemma as their forefathers: how much should you indulge in the ease and comfort surrounding you, and how much should you preserve your independence, mental sharpness, and physical toughness? Is it better to choose the easy route or the difficult way?
There is nothing in our contemporary epoch of civilization that will require men to follow the old and universal code of masculinity, barring catastrophic social collapse or another World War. If you want to live the way of men, you’ll have to choose to go against the stream of our society, exercise your agency, and decide to live it yourself, just as the Stoics did.
Most contemporary men will choose the road of least resistance and not even attempt to live the code until they are forced to. Naturally, this has resulted in and continues to result in societal difficulties for males, which governments and commentators lament.
A few guys, though, will hear the old cries and decide to respond. Self-will and inner-discipline are required to do so in our comfortable and rich environment. It will need your initiative. Rather of whining that today’s society does not appreciate or foster manliness, you should put your energy towards swimming against the current, becoming a Nietzschean Superman, forming a family tribe, and surrounding yourself with honorable men. Though the work is difficult, I would argue that the route has never been more rewarding and fulfilling since a man who follows the code today does so of his own free choice and consent, rather than because he is driven by an outside power.
Join the Reserve of Manhood
How do we reconcile our cultural differences when it comes to manhood? Sure, given our present secure and comfortable environment, we don’t actually need all 21st century guys to be competent at being men. What happens, though, when things become tough and macho men are required once more? Will we have men who can guard us and undertake the hard, filthy job that is required to keep things running? Can following a code of manliness genuinely improve our lives and give us a greater feeling of pleasure and contentment than we would otherwise have?
Throughout my research and writing for this series, an undeniable parallel to how to resolve and explain the struggle we have in contemporary culture when it comes to masculinity kept jumping into my head: the military reserves.
A reserve force is used by several military across the globe. It’s a group of military individuals who aren’t full-time soldiers but have completed basic training and pledge to continue improving and maintaining their military abilities so that they may deploy if their nation need it.
This form of service is similar to my suggested solution to the contemporary masculine issue. It’ll be known as the Manhood Reserve. While following the ancient code of masculinity isn’t critical in our present environment, it may be in the future, and we’ll need men to be ready. Even if our society does not experience a crisis or disaster, our training in the Manhood Reserve will be beneficial. We shall all face difficult periods in our life that will demand the fortitude and courage that comes with following the ancient code of masculinity. Furthermore, following the code will help males to satisfy their basic masculinity while also achieving eudemonia, the ancient Greek ideal of complete flourishing and greatness.
The framework that follows sets out the general concepts and particular training course that must be completed as part of an enrollment in the Manhood Reserve. It aims to marry heritage with current reality in order to provide a path that simultaneously looks back and propels men ahead. It’s upbeat and proactive. Joining the army is entirely optional, and any man, under any condition, at any moment may do so. It does not need a shift in the society around you, nor does it necessitate a change in women. It everything depends on you and your willingness to live semper virilis – always masculine – at all times.
Theodore Roosevelt is the first manhood reserve case study.
Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City to an affluent family. In their 19th century brownstone, the Roosevelts enjoyed luxuries and amenities that other Americans would not experience for decades. When America was torn apart by the Civil War, Teddy’s father had more than enough money to hire a replacement and escape being drafted into the Union Army.
If you were to predict TR’s life path based on the first 10 years of his existence, you’d probably predict that he’d end up as a brilliant and talented natural history professor at an Ivy League institution. Roosevelt might have readily adapted to a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
Teddy, however, after a hard chat from his father, selected a different course for himself.
He picked the difficult path. He referred to it as “the difficult existence.”
In Teddy’s day, male honor was mostly defined by traits like as honesty and industry — being a decent man. And Roosevelt followed the code to the letter. But he didn’t simply want to be a decent guy; he also wanted to be a good man at being a man.
It was a goal he worked hard to achieve.
His youth was spent working out and strengthening his formerly fragile physique. In college, he took up boxing and became a competitive fighter. During his school holidays, he’d go to Maine to hunt with Bill Sewell, a well-known guide and timberman. Rather to dwell in sadness and misery when his wife and mother died on the same night, Roosevelt moved to the Dakota badlands to start a cattle ranch. Roosevelt quickly earned the respect of rough and hard cowboys by demonstrating that he could pull his own weight and wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty: he cleared out stables without complaint; he captured a posse of horse thieves after tailing them for three days in subzero weather; and he knocked out a gun-wielding loudmouth with three dynamite punches.
Roosevelt equipped himself with the fire and struggle he required to succeed in the political, social, and intellectual difficulties of his adult life by endeavoring to live the hard way in his youth. Roosevelt continued to challenge himself and live a hard life even as a middle-aged US president, participating in judo and boxing contests at the White House and punctuating his schedule with hunting, skinny swims in the Potomac, and brisk treks. He was always prepared for whatever adventures and exploits were ahead of him.
And what daring deeds they were. Roosevelt held the positions of police commissioner, governor, assistant secretary of the navy, and president throughout his lifetime (the youngest ever to assume the office). When the war with Spain broke out in Cuba, Roosevelt formed his own volunteer battalion and led them up San Juan Hill. He was a loving father and husband to his six children. He read tens of thousands of books and self-published 35. He embarked on an expedition to investigate an undiscovered portion of the Amazon River when his term as President came to an end, and almost perished in the process.
Roosevelt had the option to reject the male code throughout his life, but he never did. He wanted to constantly “carry his own bag” and test himself “in the arena.”
Some historians believe Roosevelt’s fixation with hard work was a sign of the “male angst” that plagued many 19th century urban males in America. It was the era of steam and machines, and a man’s role in society was being called into question: what use was manly strength when modern machines could perform the job of twenty men? What utility did the ancient pioneer virtues of roughness and self-reliance have now that the frontier was closed?
Does this ring a bell?
Roosevelt and other men of his period rejected the hand-wringing and opted to live by the code of men despite the fact that it was not required of them.
That, I believe, is why I, and many other contemporary men, adore Teddy Roosevelt. He demonstrated that it is possible to live in our contemporary world of wealth and comfort without remaining unaffected. He demonstrated that you can consciously choose to be a decent guy even if your environment or society don’t allow you to express your natural masculinity.
In a nutshell, TR demonstrated that it is possible to exist in civilization without becoming a part of it.
Why should a man join the Manhood Reserve?
Many of you are undoubtedly wondering, “Why?” when you read this.
Why should you live your life according to a concept of masculinity that was developed in a different era and is no longer relevant in our contemporary, luxurious, techno-industrial world?
Why live like a guy if you’re not going to be rewarded for it? When failing to do so will not result in embarrassment? When it isn’t essential for women’s access?
Some believe that only a sucker would do his hardest when it isn’t necessary, when going ahead is as simple as getting by. That attempting to be a guy these days would merely result in you being used by a system that no longer values your efforts.
I couldn’t agree with you more.
While living the code of man used to be partially, if not entirely, about what you received in return, it is now something you simply had to do for yourself.
Turn around now if you’re seeking for a pat on the back.
Even if they don’t realize it, living the code will greatly benefit your family, community, and country. It will lead to friendships with other wonderful guys and, without a doubt, increase your attractiveness to females.
But, regardless of whether or not anybody else notices or cares, it is just the finest way to live your own life. What do you mean by that? I present the following arguments for your consideration:
You Were Born to Do It
It’s believed that only around 30% of males ever reproduced due to the predominance of polygamy in early human history.
Who made up this fortunate third?
Men who tried to prove themselves, who dared to take risks, who ventured out and explored, who had the intelligence, strength, and courage to become successful were the men who tried to prove themselves, who dared to take risks, who ventured out and explored, who had the intelligence, strength, and courage to become successful. Men who refused to take the risk, or who lacked the skills to succeed when they did, died childless.
This suggests that we are all derived from history’s alpha males: the strongest, quickest, brightest, and bravest men. Isn’t it intriguing? It’s not a leap to believe that greatness’ blood flows through our veins.
What should we do with this illustrious and strong legacy?
Some guys waste their time on pornography, video games, and corporate dronism. Their ferocious thumos is neglected and misused, as if a superb racehorse were being exploited for pony rides at children’s parties. He plods in endless loops, his muscles atrophied and his gaze downcast, tethered to a pole.
Feelings of restlessness and sickness occur from failing to develop your primordial potential.
All of your existence comes online when you turn on the switches of your entrenched male wiring and programming, even in modest ways. Keep your thumos blazing, harness the energy, and ride it hard down the road to greatness.
You’re a guy, after all. This is exactly what you were designed to accomplish. Accept it.
In our contemporary society, males, genuine men who are skilled at being men, are no longer required… until they are.
Who knows when the world may need men who have been formed and sculpted by the traditional ideal of manhood? Sure, life is mostly nice and pleasant today, and we don’t require every guy to be a true gentleman, but it’s arrogant and naïve to expect that this will always be the case. Perhaps the doomsayers and zombie apocalypse aficionados are correct, and some natural or human upheaval will upset civilization so severely that we are forced to retreat to a Hobbesian state of nature, with marauding bands roaming the dreary countryside like in The Road. I don’t know about you, but I’d want to know whether I could handle myself in that case. I want to be able to look my wife and kids in the eyes and really mean it when I say, “I’ll protect you and take care of you.” I’d also want to be surrounded by other decent guys who were also excellent at being men — brothers with whom I could “carry the fire” as we set out to re-build the world together, as Cormac McCarthy puts it.
Isn’t it, however, absurd to spend one’s life planning for a scenario that may or may not occur?
If this style of life wasn’t also the most gratifying, it would be.
Even if society never unravels or explodes, the guy who spends a lifetime nurturing the code’s attributes will have the confidence, ingenuity, and mental fortitude to face whatever comes his way. If he never has to deal with a major catastrophe, he’ll be able to deal with little setbacks in his daily life, such as a family member’s untimely death or a storm destroying his home.
He’ll also have the joy of maintaining his body in top shape and acquiring new abilities that will help him deal with any scenario. There’s no need to overthink it: mastering survival and tactical abilities is just awesome, and few things feel better than being physically fit and powerful.
“Field equipment is a fantastic way to pass the time during the winter months when you’re stuck indoors.” Nothing replaces the buoyant optimism of youth like refurbishing one’s gear and arranging travels for the following holiday, in my opinion. Solomon understood the human heart no better than the wonderful old sportsman who told me, “It’s not the guy who’s catching a lot of fish and shooting a lot of game who’s having a nice time; it’s the one who’s getting ready to do it.” –From Horace Kephart’s Camping and Woodcraft, published in 1918.
Finally, there’s a lot of pleasure to be had just anticipating and preparing for something. How many of us have discovered that the anticipation of a holiday or vacation is more pleasurable than the actual event? Learning new abilities, training for various settings, and experimenting with various equipment are all fun experiences. This kind of preparation also maintains your body and mind in good shape.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Manhood Reserve Case Study #2
Dwight D. Eisenhower wanted to serve his nation and lead soldiers into combat when he entered the military. However, upon his graduation from West Point in 1915, he was assigned to training soldiers and coaching the Army football team.
When World War I broke out, Ike saw his chance to experience combat and was anxious to get straight into it. He applied for foreign deployment multiple times but was refused each time. Instead, his organizational skills were put to good use in preparing units for deployment “over there.”
Ike became depressed in general. Despite his feelings that his gift was being squandered, he continued to give as much as he could to the war effort in any way he could.
Eisenhower’s commitment seemed to finally pay off in 1918. When he was granted the chance to lead a regiment in Europe, he started prepared for every eventuality… save one: the German capitulation.
Eisenhower was shocked. He remarked, “I was enraged, dissatisfied, and resentful that the conflict had passed me by.” It was believed that this was the “war to end all wars,” and Ike thought he had “missed the boat” and would never have the opportunity to put his military skills to the test. He contemplated quitting the military and returning to civilian life, but ultimately chose to remain. While he never saw combat, his military career did provide him with some consolation, as it brought him into touch with “men of skill, honor, and a feeling of great devotion to their nation.”
As a result, Eisenhower stayed in the military, giving his best and honorably serving in every job he was assigned. Even when he was assigned to administrative desk work, he performed well. He continued to study military tactics and strategy even though his profession didn’t need it and he didn’t think he’d ever need it, since it kept him physically and intellectually fit and he just loved it.
Then, 30 years – 30 years! – after beginning his military career, Eisenhower had his rendezvous with fate.
Ike became a major general and the commander of the European Theater of Operations in WWII in 1942. He’d go on to spearhead the world’s greatest amphibious assault in history. Eisenhower was prepared to rise to the task and performed admirably because he always sought to do his best and was always ready to serve in a crisis.
Many contemporary men, like Eisenhower, believe that they will never have the opportunity to put their mettle to the test, to show that they are indeed men. Instead of giving up, we should follow Ike’s example and always be ready to respond to the appeal, “Give us men!”
The Road to Equality
There’s something energizing, thrilling, and — dare I say? — romantic about living by the conventional code of masculinity, apart from preparing oneself for that unforeseeable moment when men who are skilled at being men are once again required. At least for me, striving to live by the code of man and adopting the difficult path makes life more meaningful.
Traveling the hard way entails deferred gratification and earning one’s prizes, which makes them all the sweeter when we finally get our hands on them. And the only way to provide worth to the world and leave a legacy – the only way to real pleasure – is through sacrifice and discipline.
These fundamental truths are effectively shown by the ancient Greek myth “The Choice of Hercules.” Socrates used this story to argue against indolence and in favor of the hard road, according to Xenophon, an ancient Greek historian. The narrative was famous throughout the eighteenth century, and John Adams used it to guide his life. He even wanted an artwork of the story to be used as the design for the new nation’s Great Seal.
A young Hercules is puzzled in the narrative about “what sort of life he ought to follow.” He walks out into the forest to think about it, and there he is accosted by two goddesses, one of whom represents Pleasure and the other Virtue. Each tries to persuade the young guy of the benefits of following their own courses.
The goddess of Pleasure is the first to speak, promising Hercules bliss in a carefree life of luxury and ease, where he may fulfill all of his wants whenever he pleases.
The goddess of Virtue then takes the stage and makes her case:
“Hercules, I present myself to you because I know you are derived from the gods, and that your love of virtue and commitment to the studies appropriate for your age are signs of that ancestry.” This gives me hope that you will achieve immortality, both for yourself and for me. But, before I welcome you into my company and friendship, I must be forthright and honest with you, and must state unequivocally that there is nothing genuinely precious that can be obtained without suffering and work. Every genuine and noble pleasure has a cost determined by the gods. If you want the Deity’s favor, you must take efforts to adore him; if you want decent men’s friendship, you must learn to please them; if you want your nation to respect you, you must take care to serve it. In summary, if you want to be a leader in war or peace, you must master all of the characteristics that may help you achieve that goal. These are the only terms and circumstances under which I am willing to provide happiness.”
“You see,” she replied, “Hercules, by her own admission, the route to her joys is lengthy and difficult; nevertheless, that which I offer is fast and simple.”
“Alas!” said the other woman, whose expression was a mix of derision and sympathy, “what joys do you propose?” Eat before you’re hungry, drink before you’re thirsty, and sleep before you’re exhausted; satiate your cravings before they’re aroused. You’ve never heard the most delectable music, which is one’s own praise; nor have you ever seen the most lovely item, which is one’s own handiwork. Your devotees waste their youth in a fantasy of erroneous pleasures, while saving agony, misery, and regret for old age.”
“As for me, I am a god’s and good man’s friend, a pleasant companion to the craftsman, a domestic guardian to the fathers of families, a patron and defender of servants, and a comrade in all real and kind friendships.” My votaries’ dinners are seldom expensive, but always wonderful, since no one is invited to them unless they are hungry or thirsty. Their sleeps are restful, and their awakenings are joyful. My young men like hearing themselves complimented by the older generation, and the older generation enjoys being recognized by the younger generation. In a nutshell, my disciples are favored by the gods, cherished by their friends, respected by their nation, and honored by posterity at the end of their labors.”
Of course, Hercules picks the route of virtue — the difficult path – which leads to genuine joy, true happiness, and immortality.
It’s also crucial to remember that the code of masculinity isn’t only about what we sacrifice and take away from our life in order to achieve greatness. It’s also about enhancing the positive aspects of life, such as creative work, strong, intimate relationships, and knowledge and skill mastery. All of these characteristics, according to current studies, are the keys to a fulfilling and happy existence.
In summary, living the human code challenges us to be our best selves, to maximize our abilities, and to reach eudemonia – complete thriving.
The Manhood Reserve’s Overarching Principles
So you’ve made the decision to join the Manhood Reserve. Congratulations! You have opted to join the ranks of the top of men by taking the difficult path.
You will need to endeavor to adopt particular components of the code of masculinity into your life as you follow this path. You should use a set of broad principles to guide your activities and choices. Let’s talk about the latter now, and we’ll talk about the former in the following chapter.
Strike a Balance Between the Three P’s
Keep the Three P’s of Manhood in mind as you consider your own 21st-century path to manhood: Protect, Procreate, and Provide. Remember that each pillar is vital, and they all interact and connect to one another. It may be tempting to concentrate on the pillar of masculinity that appeals to you the most or is the most straightforward to attain, but you do so at your risk. As we’ve seen throughout the series, when one or two of the P’s of Manhood are weakened or absent, the remaining pillar(s) are put under more stress, twisting and contorting.
To become a “Complete Man,” as the ancients termed it, you must develop each pillar to its full potential and in harmony with the others. Building the three pillars of your manhood awakens all aspects of primordial masculinity, guarantees that all of your human potentialities are realized, and leads to eudemonia.
The Protector Pillar should not be overlooked.
You must make a particular effort not to overlook the Protector pillar as you strive to balance the three P’s in your life.
Much of this road map is applicable to females who want to live a happy life, and there are undoubtedly women who are attracted to taking the difficult path. There is a lot of overlap here, especially in the Provide and Procreate pillars, which both men and women should strive towards.
As previously stated, the Protector function is the most clearly male of the three P’s and reflects the essence of masculinity. It is for this reason that men’s biological and psychological characteristics are so important. Men are (usually) stronger, more disposable, and more prone to risk-taking, exploration, and domination than women. Even a man’s need for male companionship and prestige may be linked back to our evolutionary function as fighters. Our manner of thinking is oriented toward systemizing and planning, which is critical for success in violent confrontations.
As a result, the Protector function serves as a cornerstone in the construction of masculinity. The above-mentioned pillars’ twisting and contorting is more likely to occur when they are weaker or absent in men’s lives.
That is what we are seeing in the United States now. For most males, performing the Protector duty is more idea than actuality, with only.5% of citizens serving in the military. For many young men, sex has become the major source of a masculine identity, and much too much of the weight of masculinity has moved to the Procreation pillar. We have a culture of young guys who spend all of their time and energy to being expert pick-up artists or who gaze dead-eyed at internet porn instead of participating in a healthy, well-rounded life.
Our enlightened forefathers anticipated this outcome and attempted to strengthen the Protector pillar in order to enhance masculinity and society as a whole. As I’ve studied the writings of history’s finest brains on what it means to be a man, I’ve seen a consistent focus on the warrior’s traits. These statesmen and philosophers recognized that martial qualities carry over and enable other aspects of manhood (you can’t procreate or provide if you’re dead), as well as warding off cultural decadence; the adoption of hard, tactical virtues not only prepares men for war, but also counteracts the emasculating pull of luxury and comfort during times of peace.
Socrates and Aristotle, for example, maintained that a strong body created a strong mind, and that bravery on the battlefield or in the wrestling ring transferred to intellectual and moral courage. Men should avoid effeminate-inducing luxury by engaging in strenuous physical activity, living Spartanly, and being well-versed in martial abilities, according to Renaissance and Enlightenment intellectuals such as Montaigne, Rousseau, and the Founding Fathers.
All of this is to imply that in our contemporary environment, a focus on the Protector or warrior role is essential to really follow the code of man.
I’ll confess that even I was astonished by this finding. I’ve never associated masculinity with physical strength or martial bravery, but after years of reading, writing, and reflecting on the matter, it’s difficult for me to reject the Protector pillar’s significance in a strong and comprehensive concept of manliness. This aspect of masculinity, I feel, is what contemporary men most desperately need in their lives. At the very least, I know it’s missing in mine, and concentrating on cultivating the characteristics of the Protector job has made me a better and more effective man in my other duties. It’s also given me a fresh lease on life, as well as renewed intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual vitality. The Protector pillar’s fire and struggle transfers over to the soul’s pursuits and fights. In our calm world (unless you’re a military, fireman, or anything similar), activating the energy of the Protector pillar is difficult. But it is possible: as you’ll see in my detailed steps for following the code of man, the majority of them highlight characteristics associated with the warrior’s way of life.
Place a greater emphasis on the concrete than on the abstract.
“Man’s relationship with the gods has come to an end. Our Promethean time was fleeting, and amid the ruins of its devastation, a world much more modest, far less majestic and self-assured emerges. Civilization will either kill itself and us with it, or it will change its current operating mode. Culture, on the other hand, will continue to evolve. The world of ideas and symbols will have to be experienced more closely.” Terrence Des Pres (Terrance Des Pres) (Terrance Des Pres) (
Another thing to bear in mind as you craft your own path to manhood in the twenty-first century is that most components of the old code of masculinity have become abstractions in our contemporary society, especially when it comes to the Protector position.
Hunting and battling are at the heart of the traditional ethic of masculinity. These were/are the most clearly male imperatives, and they were/are the primary channels through which men strove for supremacy and attempted to establish their power and position. They are, however, no longer activities that most men engage in on a daily basis.
Instead, guys spend their time doing abstract versions of these traditionally male activities. Men “fight” for power in sports, politics, and business in the first layer out from the center. Even though they don’t demand the same degree of fire and combat as an actual battle, such tournaments may be highly rewarding. Hands-on activities that challenge our thoughts and body and lead to mastery might do the same.
“Of course, the machine era has already provided an unrivaled affluence of leisure, and what happens now?” Because it is the simplest thing to do, the normal guy with spare time becomes a spectator, a bystander, a bystander of someone else. He succumbs to spectatoritis, a catch-all term for all forms of passive entertainment, the act of engaging in the most inconvenient activity only to avoid boredom. Rather of expressing himself, he is content to sit back and have his leisure activities slapped on him like mustard plasters—external, transient, and ultimately “dust in the mouth.”
When given the opportunity to be free, many men fall asleep—physically and cognitively, naturally and cortically. They gravitate to pre-digested diversions, packed in little packets for a dollar each, since they lack the urge for creative arts. This has put us into the gladiatorial stage of Rome, when the number of combatants is dwindling and the grandstands are growing in size. Spectatoritism has virtually become synonymous with Americanism, and it is far from over. The stages will shrink in size, and the rows of seats will rise in height.” Spectatoritis, Jay B. Nash, 1938
As a man gets away from the essence of masculinity and begins to deal with abstractions of abstractions, his contentment falls. Guys would rather watch other men play sports on TV or play the sport on a video game than participate in it. Rather of embarking on their own excursions, they scroll through their Instagram feed to see what others are up to.
The abstractions of masculinity aren’t limited to the Protector position. It may be seen in the Procreator role, when guys watch other men have sex with women on their computer rather of having actual intercourse with real, live women. In terms of the Provider role, some men study endlessly about how to build profitable enterprises but never take the plunge and do so.
In short, contemporary men are all too frequently victims of spectatoritis.
This isn’t to suggest you shouldn’t dabble with masculine abstractions. Men’s life have always included abstractions of hunting and fighting – even when they spent their time really hunting and fighting! Even prehistoric tribes enjoyed sports and friendly brawls, and gathered around the fire listening to storytellers relate stories of their forefathers’ masculine exploits.
Sports, hobbies, and creative work are all pleasurable activities that help you grow into a well-rounded guy. Pondering, learning, and simply observing other guys perform masculine things may provide direction, guidance, and inspiration in our life. It’s all about striking a balance, which means spending more time in the arena and less time in the cold and gloom of the grandstands. Hunt, battle, and breed if you really want to feel the old rule of masculinity at its most tangible, primitive core. If you are unable to do so, engage in activities that are near substitutes. Get a bunch of guys together for a pick-up game instead of spending your Saturday watching other men play hoops. Join an MMA gym instead of watching UFC. Have sex with your wife instead of watching porn. You get my drift.
Simply flip the switch.
Manliness is sometimes offered as an all-or-nothing proposition: either we must abandon the code of manhood entirely or revert to a period when “men were men.” True manly satisfaction isn’t attainable for individuals in the latter group unless we’re living right at the center of things – hunting and battling for our life. Anything else is only hollow pretend play that will not satisfy in the end.
For most guys, neither notion is desirable (or realistic), and they are therefore caught between a rock and a hard place: they can’t fully access the old methods, and they can’t fully embrace the new ways, so they decide to do nothing. They end up floating around, suffering from a profound sense of gloom that is impossible to escape.
This all-or-nothing idea is firmly rejected by me. You don’t have to turn into a Neanderthal or a sensitive ponytail guy.
It is feasible to combine the finest of tradition with contemporary.
As we discussed in our series on the 5 Switches of Manliness, experiencing full masculine and human satisfaction does not require abandoning all the conveniences and advancements of the modern era and returning to a perfect state of nature. Consider your primal masculine attributes to be power switches that can be turned on or off.
While we typically assume that flipping such switches necessitates difficult, fully “genuine” acts, they may really be triggered by very tiny and easy methods. You can’t live precisely like your macho forefathers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.
Take the aspects of masculinity that have been a part of manliness for hundreds of years and strive to incorporate them into your life in some way. They are still there, albeit not to the level that they were in ancient times. So you can’t live in a cave, but you can go camping on a regular basis. Lift weights if you aren’t hauling large boulders on a regular basis. So you’re not racing down a Mastodon with your boys, but you do hang out with an all-male group of pals on a regular basis. You’ll be astonished at how “simple” lifestyle adjustments may boost your virility and feelings of contentment.
If you’re acquainted with the paleo or ancestral health movement, you’ll recognize this approach to masculinity. Paleo advocates do not advise living like cavemen, contrary to common assumption. Rather, they claim that we should consume a diet and engage in activities similar to those of our forefathers and mothers in order to grow the strongest and healthiest bodies possible since it is what our genes were designed for. Paleo practitioners, instead of eating a contemporary “balanced” diet, consume less processed carbohydrates and more protein and fat – a diet comparable to our tribal forefathers. This isn’t to say that paleo people go out and spear bison; most of them just purchase steak from their local organic grocery shop. Paleoists seek the spirit of the law rather than the word of the law in the past. Manliness should be treated in the same way.
So don’t get caught up in the notion that living the code of men requires you to go out into the wilderness and construct your own lodge – though you definitely may. Simply turn the switch and use the old code of masculinity as a foundation, modifying it to meet our current world.
The Manhood Reserve Training Program and Exercises (Chapter 2)
Men’s masculinity is to fault when they damage the economy, impede political compromise, or conduct violent crime in today’s society.
When men do amazing things – such as making technical and scientific discoveries, jumping into space, or killing terrorists – their masculinity is sometimes overlooked.
Both are, in reality, two sides of the same coin: masculinity is just raw energy. Energy cannot be generated or destroyed, and it may be utilized for good or bad purposes.
For thousands of years, societies all over the globe have recognized this reality and intelligently created channels for male energy to be exercised and channeled for the greater benefit.
Built-in outlets have all but gone from the scene today. Competition, recess, and physical education have all been taken away from schools; military duty is no longer required; strength-demanding labor, both in the workplace and at home, is no longer required; and fighting for honor outside of a gym or ring will result in you being brought into court.
If you want to develop your intrinsic male energy, you’ll have to consciously and aggressively discover methods to do so, just as you would with any other component of the conventional code of masculinity.
I’ve outlined the items that should be included in every recruit’s training program for the Manhood Reserve below. Each one is necessary for turning on your inner male energy. We’ve discussed in broad terms thus far; now I’d want to become more particular. I’ve offered some real strategies to integrate each aspect into your life for each one. However, you have complete control over how you activate the components. The most essential thing is to read it and then do something about it.
Note that what I’m presenting here is only a framework. While writing this chapter, I immediately realized that treating each issue in detail would transform this little book into a massive tome. So I’ve summarized the most important aspects of each part and then linked to more publications on the topic for those who want to learn more.
1. Boost Your Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is the engine that will propel you forward on your journey to manhood. It’s what makes males brave, aggressive, and powerful. If you want to get the most out of the advice below, make sure your testosterone tank is full before you begin.
Steps to Take:
- Read our comprehensive Testosterone Series and use the steps provided in the article to naturally boost your T.
- The Importance of T in Men’s Declining Virility
- The Advantages of Having a Healthy Testosterone Level
- A Quick Overview of the Production of T
- How to Measure Your T and What Is a “Normal” Testosterone Level
- How I Naturally Doubled My Testosterone Levels and How You Can Too
2. Strengthen Your Physical Body
It’s easy to dismiss strength-training as something that only “bros” care about, but not “real guys.”
When I initially began studying the Art of Manliness, I didn’t place a high value on physical strength as a necessary component of masculinity. Character strength was important, but physical strength was a distant second. Perhaps it’s because I established AoM partially to break away from the over-fetishization of being ripped that was (and still is) pushed by other men’s publications. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t in good condition at the time. (As I’ve noted before in this series, we typically develop our definitions of masculinity in line with what best characterizes ourselves, and I’m no exception!)
However, as I’ve learned more about masculinity and begun to grow my own physique, my perspective on the necessity of physical strength has shifted. It’s become a defining trait of masculinity for me.
One of the few and most important distinctions between men and women is physical strength. If the Protector position is the center of masculinity, then physical strength is the nucleus of masculinity. It’s the most important criterion in determining whether or not a guy can hold his own in a fight — whether or not he can push back when pushed. As a result, it plays a crucial role in how others assess a man’s manliness viscerally. You might call it foolish, ridiculous, or medieval, but it all boils down to how we assess men in a crisis: can they keep the perimeter secure? Even if we now live in a peaceful period, men and women (even the most progressive among them) perceive men who seem physically strong and healthy to be more respected, authoritative, and attractive than those who do not. As a result, if you want to feel more like a man (and be regarded as one), work on your physique.
Granted, in today’s environment, when men sit at computers all day, strength isn’t required. Being powerful, on the other hand, is never a disadvantage. Strength is still useful even in our protected surroundings. I want to know that I’m strong enough to save my own or others’ lives; I want the strength to carry huge sacks of cement or mulch while I’m working around the home; and I want to be able to take down an assailant.
Manhood requires strength of character and morality, as I’ll explain later. But are you willing to battle for your beliefs? Can you genuinely call yourself a “good family man” if you’re easily outmuscled by a bad person attempting to kidnap your wife and children? Virtue and strength are not mutually incompatible pursuits; strength is what anchors our virtue to us.
Beyond the concept of gaining strength for its own sake and for its practical rewards, I believe there is a case to be made for doing so to strengthen your mental, moral, and spiritual parts of your life. We frequently depict intellect and brawn as mutually incompatible, just as we often create a false dichotomy between morality and power. Many great individuals throughout history, particularly philosophers and those who earned a career with their wits, rejected this false distinction and highlighted the need of developing both physical and mental power. Physical fortitude improves mental fortitude, and mental fortitude enhances physical fortitude. We should strive towards mens sana in corpore sano, or a sound mind in a healthy body, as the ancients did.
Finally, apart from the practical and spiritual advantages that come with being physically strong, it feels great to be able to lift a lot of weight off the ground. I felt like a beast the first time I deadlifted 450 pounds and watched the bar flex in the mirror. I let out a primal scream of triumph, and that sensation stayed with me for the rest of the week.
Not every guy is biologically equipped to become large and ripped. However, every guy has the potential to become stronger than he is today. If you want to feel your most virile, regardless of your other hobbies or physique, get to know the iron.
Steps to Take:
- Begin a strength-training regimen. StrongLifts 5X5 is a routine I’ve long advocated to beginners and have used myself. I’ve lately had a lot of success with the Critical Bench Program in terms of achieving improvements.
- Include more physical exercise in your daily routine — use a reel mower instead of a gas-powered mower, cut your own wood, and so on.
- The Fitness Section of AoM
- Physicality is one of the five switches of manliness.
- How to Create a Workout Routine
- Why Is It Important For Every Man To Be Strong?
3. Strengthen your physical stamina
“Soft fields make soft men,” says the proverb. — Cyrus the Great, King of Persia
If you’re already powerful, the next question is whether or not you’re tough.
Despite the fact that these characteristics are often confused, they are two distinct entities.
Toughness, according to Khaled Allen, is defined as “the capacity to perform effectively regardless of the conditions.” It’s the ability to persevere in the face of hardship rather than giving up and turning back. It’s about having an unbreakable will, about being a guy who can take a beating and keep going — about being a scrapper who’s “game” no matter what. You have to be tough if you want to go the hard way!
Women’s tenacity is something we appreciate (as did primitive cultures around the world). Men, on the other hand, are supposed to have stronger mental and physical toughness. Even if it isn’t required of them anymore.
We live in a world where you don’t have to be uncomfortable for more than a few minutes of your life. We spend our days commuting from a climate-controlled home to a climate-controlled automobile, to a climate-controlled workplace, and back. Food that is plentiful and calorically rich is never more than a few feet away. A section of our shod and dressed flesh can spend an entire week without contacting a spot of soil or brushing against a plant. As a result, you’ll have to go out of your way to create opportunities for yourself to improve your toughness. (Are you seeing a pattern here?)
Toughness is a talent that can be trained just like any other, and it has two components: physical and mental. Although the two are connected and mutually beneficial, let’s take each one in turn, starting with physical toughness.
“Physically tough” is not the same as “strong, swift, or powerful,” according to Allen. Physical toughness is defined as “the capacity to withstand adversity and continue to operate, to recover rapidly, to adapt to challenging terrain and situations, and to accept unfavorable circumstances without showing signs of fatigue.”
It’s great to be able to deadlift three times your own weight, but can you lift a massive, uneven boulder? Lift-ups on a bar are fantastic, but could you pull yourself onto a tree branch? You can run on a treadmill without difficulty. How would you fare if you were to sprint up a steep, root-strewn hill? Can you take a hot shower and not scream like a young girl if you move the knob all the way to cold? How far could you backpack in one day before Uncle started crying?
Increase your physical toughness by growing your strength in a range of conditions and raising your pain and discomfort tolerance.
Steps to Take:
- Get out of the gym and get some exercise in a variety of settings.
- Increase your temperature tolerance by working out on a hot day or going out in your underwear on a chilly one (always use caution when determining your limits — you want to challenge yourself, not damage yourself).
- Shower with chilly water.
- Boost your mobility and adaptability.
- By jogging barefoot, you may thicken the skin on your feet.
- Exercising with your nasal airways closed is a good idea.
- Improve your endurance and “rucking” skills over extended distances.
- Participate in a GoRuck challenge.
- Are You Tough? You Might Be Strong, But Are You Tough?
- Get in Shape for a Wild Man
- How Stress Can Be Beneficial to Your Health
4. Strengthen your mental and emotional fortitude
When everything in their lives – large and little – go wrong, mentally strong guys are able to remain calm, cool, and collected. When they are presented with a stressful situation, they do not lose their cool or break down. Instead, they’re able to keep a clear picture of the issue and focus on how to address it (or simply ignore it for the insignificant annoyance that it is). They follow the Stoics’ sensible path.
Feminists and cultural critics have long argued that limiting free expressing of sentiments damages men’s emotional health and leads to psychological and societal difficulties.
This notion, in my opinion, is well-intentioned but ultimately incorrect. What these social critics and commentators don’t see is that the issue isn’t “manhood,” but rather an inadequate, absolutely impoverished contemporary concept of manhood. The only thing today’s young men understand about the commandment “Be a man!” is that it refers to some vague norm of tough guy bravado. We haven’t taught them the subtleties of the code that have existed for thousands of years. Our forefathers knew that being stoic and cultivating a full emotional life are not mutually incompatible. Even Victorian males, known for their “stiff upper lip,” weren’t afraid to weep over tragic poetry, write deeply romantic letters to friends and lovers, and show their male mates a degree of physical tenderness that would make us uncomfortable today. True masculine Stoicism isn’t about completely concealing one’s emotions; rather, it’s about understanding when to be stern and when to be soft. You don’t have to live like a rock every day; all you have to do is have access to that solid, hard energy when you need it.
As a result, the remedy to men’s alleged emotional difficulties is to double down on the code of masculinity! To be able to teach it in its entirety.
People adore the notion of a very sensitive guy in the abstract, but they shudder when they see one in person. People want to know they can rely on males when things go tough, whether they confess it or not; even in our “educated” society, they squirm internally at a guy who crumbles in the face of frustration or difficulty. In the face of a family crisis, women want their dads and husbands to be strong and capable of acting. While we no longer confront many physical threats, when they do arise, they are nearly always dealt with by males.
While some social critics believe that deep down, guys want to weep, I haven’t discovered that the majority of men ardently want the freedom to express their emotions at any time. On the contrary, I believe that most men like feeling emotionally strong because it gives them a sense of pride and confidence that is similar to, if not superior to, the gratification of being able to cry without shame watching a Grey’s Anatomy episode.
Other personal benefits come from developing mental and emotional resilience. Big dreams and wonderful things in life need a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and determination. Mental resilience allows us to cope with little setbacks and annoyances that might otherwise grate on our nerves and derail our enjoyment and success.
Taking the stages to physical toughness listed above may help you improve your mental and emotional toughness. Small hassles, inconveniences, and tests of willpower that you purposefully create for yourself can build it as well. Anything that improves your ability to control yourself and defer pleasure is beneficial to your overall toughness. Learn and practice techniques for reducing your physiological reaction to stress and hazards.
Steps to Take:
- Fast for 24 hours at least once a month.
- Make an effort to write with your non-dominant hand.
- When a book is becoming intriguing and you want to keep reading, close it and put it down.
- Learn how to deal with stress on a daily basis.
- Learn how to handle stress from more significant challenges by familiarizing yourself with the warrior color code.
- Learn how to employ tactical breathing to relax.
- Every day, meditate.
- To increase your resilience and gain control over your physiological reaction to stress, use biofeedback applications.
- Strengthen your willpower by doing activities.
- Increase your attention span by doing workouts.
- Read a big book or article from beginning to end without pausing to look at other things.
- 6 days a week, stick to a rigorous diet. Make the seventh day a free day, during which you may eat anything you want.
- Know your life’s purpose and strategy – as Nietzsche said, “If you know why, you can live any way.”
- Understand how your brain and body deceive you about how much strength you have left when you believe you can’t go on physically or emotionally – tell yourself this when you’re ready to give up.
- Being a Rock Star
- Series on Increasing Your Resilience
- Don’t Choke, Be Clutch: How to Survive in High-Pressure Situations
- Delayed Gratification’s Power and Pleasure
- Discipline is a tool for achieving a goal.
- Willpower is a powerful force.
- The Self-Control Kingship
- The Calmness’ Majesty
5. Understand How to Fight
“Masculinity in our society is determined by a specific sort of strength–matched, of course, with intellect and rigorously acquired abilities. A man’s masculinity is defined by his use of his body, just as a boxer’s is defined by his physique. But it’s also his victory over someone else’s use of his body. The opponent is always male, and the opponent is the most completely and combatively realized version of one’s own masculinity…. Men battling men to define value (i.e., masculinity) entirely excludes women, just as delivery fully excludes men.” Joyce Carol Oates (Joyce Carol Oates)
Fighting and violence are at the very heart of what it means to be a man. Researchers believe that practically every aspect of distinctly male physiology, including our shoulders, height, faces, and hands, developed specifically for man-to-man battle. Few masculine proclivities, however, have been more vilified.
We say, “We don’t want anybody to be wounded.” “Male aggression oppresses women and children.” “Violence is for the weak alone.”
Violence is perceived to be the issue, rather than how violence is employed, much like masculinity as a whole.
Rape and domestic battering come to mind when we think about male aggression. We don’t think about the violence perpetrated on our behalf so that we may live our secure, comfortable lives without ever having to see two guys fighting for their lives. The outsourcing of violence and our distance from it has led to the mistaken notion that it is feasible and desirable to breed this tendency out of men entirely.
Rather of educating young guys, “You have a tremendous strength and energy inside of you – a force that propelled the Vikings, Spartans, Minutemen, and GIs,” we educate them, “You have something wrong with you, a dark, terrible drive that harms others.” It’s a lie. Suffocate it. Declare that you are not like other guys and refuse to accept it!”
Nobody enjoys violence unless they’re on an aircraft that’s been hijacked by terrorists and the guys in charge devise a plan to reclaim it and murder the passengers. Nobody enjoys violence until their home is broken into and a guy rises to fight the invader. Nobody enjoys violence until it threatens their freedom and they need warriors to assault the beaches of Normandy and stab the enemy in the kidneys.
We have this intentionally self-deluded hope as a culture that we can completely suffocate men’s violent instincts because we don’t need guys who can physically fight in our present society; and if we ever need, we’ll simply cross our fingers that they’ll be able to switch it back on again.
It would be far better if we recognized men’s inherent energy for violence and both revered and cautioned against its misuse, encouraging its principled cultivation and teaching that it should be channeled towards good, moral ends – to protect the weaker, uphold our principles, and safeguard our way of life.
While it is often assumed that encouraging males to engage in organized, controlled violence would result in a more violent society, evidence suggests that this is not the case. When police officers are trained in a martial art, for example, they are less likely to use guns and other weapons. “Men who do not feel readily frightened are often less intimidating,” says philosopher Gordon Marino.
Those who have firsthand experience with violence – even if it is just in the confined confines of a boxing ring – are more inclined to suggest it should only be used when absolutely necessary, in my experience. They are well-acquainted with the unromanticized realities of violence. They’ve been humbled as a result of it. Men who have only seen violence via stylized video games and movies are more likely to use it in damaging and egotistical ways.
You don’t have to wait for society to see the wisdom of this (although I wouldn’t hold my breath). Individual men have several reasons to develop their fighting spirit on their own.
Physical combat may help you endure the mental and emotional blows that every man will face in his life, in addition to being a need in being able to defend others.
Tyler Durden, the protagonist of Fight Club, wonders, “How much can you know about yourself if you’ve never been in a fight?” When you’re in a physical battle and receive that initial punch to the nose and land on the mat, you’ll find out whether you’re the kind of guy who gets back up after being knocked down. You learn that pain is transient and physical wounds heal through delivering and receiving physical kicks and punches. This understanding boosts your confidence both inside and outside the ring, giving you mental and emotional toughness as well as moral fortitude.
We moderns find it difficult to embrace this concept and reconcile martial and moral values. We prefer to divide the two in our minds or behave as though they’re fundamentally distinct. The ancients didn’t see it that way; they knew that moral courage and physical courage were synonymous, and that putting one’s physical courage to the test on the battlefield or in the sporting arena would strengthen one’s moral courage more quickly than making a hundred “risky” intellectual or philosophical decisions. It’s revealing that Aristotle linked the development of the philosophical mind to that of a boxer’s body, and that the Stoics often referred to warriors and wrestlers as role models to emulate.
At the start of the twentieth century, Christian churches recognized the link between physical and moral bravery. This was another period in history when men’s roles and masculinity were questioned. Many churches started their own boxing gyms and leagues, believing that increasing their young men’s virility in the ring would help them become better men in general, allowing them to live their religion more muscularly.
I also find it fascinating that many of our greatest authors and thinkers were also fighters who ascribed their success to their training of martial arts. The legendary Lyceum of Aristotle contained a wrestling school, where pupils wrestled not only with ideas, but also with one another. Ernest Hemingway, like Jack London, was a devoted boxer. Many contemporary philosophers, including Marion, are also students of the sweet science.
To live a military life is to battle.
Are you ready to face death?
Steps to Take:
- Acquire the ability to fight. Most cities have boxing and mixed martial arts gyms, as well as jiu-jitsu and karate dojos. Sign up, enter the ring, and learn to throw (and receive) a punch.
- Krav Maga is a martial art that can be learned.
- Learn how to deliver a powerful straight blow.
- Take part in amateur boxing competitions.
- Start a Fight Club of your own.
6. Go on a Hunt
Hunting, according to David D. Gilmore, author of Manhood in the Making, is the “provisioning role par excellence” for males since it entails mastery, skill, risk-taking, and even sexuality.
Hunting and fighting are what males have evolved for, yet now there are so few guys that hunt. As a result, we have a society full of men (and women!) who have no relationship to the food they consume and no tangible understanding of the life cycle.
I questioned a couple of my friends who didn’t start hunting until they were well into their forties about their experience. What were their emotions like throughout the hunt? What was it like when you finally got your hands on something to kill? While the majority of the hunt consisted of merely lengthy lengths of sitting in nature (a reward in and of itself! ), they all agreed that when they eventually shot anything and saw their prey, something in them clicked. They didn’t feel horrible, and they didn’t feel elated at murdering. It simply seemed strangely natural.
Steps to Take:
- Go on a hunt. It’s not just for fun. Whatever you murder, dress it up and devour it.
- Learn how to care for a squirrel in the outdoors.
- Learn how to prepare a rabbit for the field.
- Find out how to start a small game hunting business.
- Hunting is good for a man’s soul for three reasons.
- A Beginner’s Guide to Bow Hunting
- A Beginner’s Guide to Deer Hunting
- A Beginner’s Guide to Dog Hunting
7. Strive for independence, self-sufficiency, and autonomy.
The ancient, universal rule of masculinity has always emphasized independence and autonomy.
Dependency is a kind of servitude. A man is capable of standing on his own two feet and making decisions for himself. He is the master of his agency and the captain of his life’s ship.
Independence may take many forms.
First and foremost, there is economic independence. While there’s a case to be made that it takes a lot longer for a young person to move out on their own these days in our contemporary society, it’s still possible for a young guy with enough courage and desire.
If you’re in your teens or early twenties, do all you can to get yourself ready to be self-sufficient as soon as possible. Learn essential life skills so you don’t have to depend on your parents or others as much. Learn how to look after your vehicle and your clothes. Cooking and cleaning up after oneself are important skills to have. Learn how to save money and create a budget.
When you do go into debt, try to avoid it as much as possible and pay it off as fast as possible. Don’t overburden yourself with materialistic products that provide little or no value to your life and suffocate your mobility and possibilities. Avoid lifestyle inflation when you make more money. Make a point of being thrifty. Simplicity is the key to a happy existence.
Second, aim for system and government independence. Obviously, we all depend on roads, utilities, and consumer products supplied by the government and institutions. I’m not suggesting you go to a compound and live off the grid. Instead, make it a purpose to get the skills and information you’ll need to flourish even if these systems and conveniences fail. Nature is less forgiving than modern civilization, which permits men to be irresponsible and ignorant. Don’t be like the grasshopper in Aesop’s tale, who dances and fiddles throughout the abundant summer only to ask for assistance from the hardworking, foresighted ants when winter arrives. Take survival lessons, grow a garden, learn to hunt, stockpile food and water, and build a fire without matches, among other things.
Third, strive for work autonomy. This doesn’t imply you have to start your own business (though it is a terrific method to get independence). Look for employment that provide you more influence over your work, even if you work a conventional 9-5. As a result, you’ll feel more fulfilled and happy.
Finally, strive for mental and emotional independence. Avoid any addictions, as well as attachments that aren’t technically addictions but nevertheless take away your agency. Do you need drugs or booze to feel good or enjoy yourself? Can you spend a day without checking your phone for 10 minutes, an hour, or even a day? Is it possible to spend a week, a month, or a year without seeing porn? Do you live for women’s approval? Do you have a tendency to “should” on yourself? Do you study a blog post’s comments to figure out how you should feel about it? Do you obsess about the number of likes your Instagram photo receives? Make your own judgments, form your own viewpoints, and be your own man.
It’s crucial to remember that ultimate independence is neither achievable nor desired. It’s a delicate balancing act; no guy is an island. Manhood was never a solo effort, as we’ll see later. It’s pure nonsense to believe you can live or flourish on your own. It’s about gaining independence and autonomy where you can, rather than hunkering down on your own.
Steps to Take:
- Get yourself out of debt.
- Become a self-taught learner.
- Learn the fundamentals of life.
- Begin by planting a garden.
- Start your own company or work as a side hustler.
- Remove yourself from your parents’ home.
- Request greater job autonomy from your boss.
- Take an Input Deprivation Week and a weekly Tech Sabbath to preserve your distance from electronics.
- Create a bug-out bag.
- Make a food/water/essentials supply in case of an emergency.
- Learn how to survive and provide first aid.
- How to Develop Self-Sufficiency
- Owning Your Own Business
- In Praise of Minimalism, Go Small or Go Home
- Antifragility: Moving Beyond “Sissy” Resilience
- In an Other-Directed World, the Autonomous Man
- 80 Ways to Be Frugal and Save Money to Win the Debt War
8. Develop Capability and Competence
Manhood has always been about developing cultural competency in order to be productive across cultures and time. To be a man, one must be capable of doing as many duties as possible in order to advance in a given culture. Cultural competence refers to a man’s ability to acquire a broad range of information and skills so that he may be dexterous and adroit in any setting. This concept is encapsulated in the French term savoir faire (pronounced “sahv-wah fair”). James Bond is the epitome of dexterity. Teddy Roosevelt, like many of our grandfathers, had it in spades (I know mine did). A guy with savoir faire can repair a broken faucet, look dapper for a black tie event, speak with truck drivers and diplomats, and neutralize an armed assailant. It’s all about being a Renaissance man: suave, astute, practical, and resourceful.
Knowing how to do things helps a guy fulfill his job as Provider and Procreator since it makes him more appealing to both companies and women. Furthermore, being skilled and competent is a critical component of achieving independence and autonomy. Furthermore, knowing that you can confidently enter into any circumstance and know how to behave, dominate the room, and handle any issue that occurs feels fantastic.
Cultural competency for a guy living in a contemporary, Western, capitalist democracy means concentrating on “softer” abilities that will enable him to flourish in our modern business and sexual marketplace. A guy must know how to dress effectively, have an interesting discussion on a variety of themes, be charming, handle information, deliver a public address, and convince people, among other things. So put forth as much effort as you can into honing those talents. While they aren’t as useful, learning how to use tools, tie knots, shoot a pistol, replace a tire, and other “harder” skills is beneficial. You never know when such knowledge will be useful.
One of my favorite elements of masculinity is developing savoir faire (as you know, most of AoM is devoted to it!). It’s simply plain enjoyable, fulfilling, and powerful to spend time acquiring new talents.
Action Steps (these are just a few of our favorites; for more, browse our archives and become a subscriber!):
- Learn how to shake a person’s hand.
- Improve your charm by learning how to be more charismatic.
- Learn how to send an email that will be read and responded to.
- Learns the fundamentals of proper manners.
- Learn how to take control of a space.
- Learn how to converse in small groups.
- Studying a second language is a great way to broaden your horizons.
- Find out how to tie knots.
- Learn how to replace a tire on your own.
- How to Become a Lifelong Learner and Why
9. Acquire mastery
While having a broad knowledge base is beneficial, having depth in a few abilities is also beneficial. Don’t be a dilettante or a “hyphen.” These are people that bounce from one talent or discipline to the next without ever mastering any of them. They’re a master of none and a jack-of-all-trades. We need to be Mr. Ts in order to be genuinely effective.
“T-shaped” guys have a broad knowledge base as well as in-depth understanding in a specialized field. They’re a master of one (or two!) trades and a jack-of-all-trades.
If you’ve spent the most of your adult life bouncing from one hobby to the next without really immersing yourself in one, make the decision now to devote your time and energy to mastering anything. It will not only make you more helpful, interesting, and successful in your profession, but it will also make you more useful, interesting, and successful in your profession.
Steps to Take:
- I recommend mastering two areas: 1) a talent that is crucial in your professional life, and 2) a tactical skill that is connected to the essence of masculinity of fighting and hunting – marksmanship, a martial art, and so on.
- Finding Your Life’s Task is the First Step to Mastery.
- The Apprentice Phase of Mastery
- Great Men’s Secret: Deliberate Practice
- Listen to my interview with Robert Greene, author of Mastery, on my podcast.
10. Take chances and cultivate courage
Andreia is an ancient Greek word meaning manliness, whereas virtus is a Latin term for manliness. In both cases, manliness equals bravery. The Greeks and Romans weren’t the only ones who associated bravery with manhood. In his cross-cultural research of masculinity, Gilmore finds that bravery has always been the sine qua non of manhood in every time and location throughout human history.
Risk is required for bravery to exist. As a result, we must seek out a little risk in our life in order to grow our andreia.
Manhood has always been seen as an achieved position – an accomplishment, as we’ve seen in this series. It may be earned, but it can also be squandered. As a result, a masculinity that does not risk losing his property is no manhood at all.
Our forefathers’ primordial forebears had plenty of chances to test their masculine fortitude by taking risks. On all sides, danger lurked in the shape of hostile tribes or wild creatures. You didn’t have to hunt for trouble since it came to you.
In contrast, in today’s environment, safety and comfort are abundant, while risk and danger are few. If a contemporary man wants to feel a visceral sense of life or death, he must actively seek it out by joining the military or participating in extreme sports. However, even the more moderate sorts of risk that men were formerly supposed to embrace have shrunk. Instead of approaching a lady in person or over the phone to ask her out, men nowadays employ technology to reduce, if not eliminate, the danger of rejection. When a lady rejects your text message, it hurts less than when she tells you “no” face to face.
While we should all seek out opportunities to face some risk in our life, this does not imply we should take foolish or even excessive risks. Part of the difficulty in today’s society is that there are so few good, pro-social outlets for male risk-taking, especially among young men. As a result, we have young guys who do unnecessarily stupid things that help neither the man nor society. To make risk-taking profitable, we must “select problems for oneself in the direction of what one would want to become,” as psychologist Nicholas Hobbs puts it. Rather of putting fireworks up your buttocks and igniting them, establish a company, join the merchant marines, compete in an amateur boxing event, or ask out that attractive lady you’ve been eyeing for a long time.
Furthermore, keep in mind that the amount of risk you take will likely decrease as you go through life, due to naturally declining testosterone levels and simply having more to lose than gain. Risk-taking was promoted in most societies, according to Gilmore in Manhood in the Making, as a method for young men to learn the hardihood to confront the adult demands of later life. Excessive risk-taking was considered as juvenile and unmanly after a man had established himself and formed a family, since a guy’s goal at that point in his life was to retain what he had and obtain more.
All of this is to imply that when it comes to taking risks, we should aim for the Aristotelian mean.
Steps to Take:
Physical bravery is the ultimate type of courage because it challenges us to overcome our strongest biological drive: self-preservation. As previously said, one’s bravery gained in the ring or on the battlefield will carry over into one’s moral and intellectual endeavors. However, I’m not convinced the opposite is true. That is, although taking minor risks in moral, social, and intellectual domains can improve your capacity to take larger risks in these areas, I’m not convinced that refusing a drink to defend your anti-alcohol principles would convert into more bravery to run out in the face of danger. So, while you consider what risks to take in your life, don’t overlook any that need physical fortitude.
- Face-to-face is the best way to ask a lady out.
- Start your own company.
- If you don’t want to go to college, consider taking a different route.
- Riding a motorbike is a skill that should be learned.
- Even if you are mocked, be firm in your convictions.
- Participate in sports that are physically demanding (fighting, rock climbing, surfing, snowboarding, etc.).
- Deliver a speech in front of an audience.
- Participate in the masculine art of bartering.
- Do things that terrify you, and you’ll be able to overcome your fears.
- Courage is a Cardinal Virtue.
- Manly Courage Development
11. Be open to competition
“They pursue their rivalry with such zeal!” What a ferocious competition they have! What joy they feel when they win, and what guilt they feel when they lose! They despise being chastised! What a want for acclaim they have! What lengths would they go to in order to be the best among their peers?” -Cicero, about the young men of Rome
Each of the pillars of masculinity entails a public contest amongst men to see who is the best. Men have always battled for status, vying to be the best defender, procreator, and provider they can be. It’s how males established their self-worth and demonstrated it to their community, honor group, and potential partners.
Many social critics today, however, decry the male competitive urge, arguing that men and society as a whole would be better off if we abandoned “pissing contests” in favor of a more feminine ethos of collaboration.
I say, “Hogwash!” Hogwash!
To begin with, men, contrary to common assumption, do collaborate. In fact, as psychologist Roy Baumeister argues in his must-read book, Is There Anything Good About Men, guys are frequently better at forming extensive networks of weak relationships to achieve a cooperative aim than females (a recent study confirmed this theory). Men flourish in cooperative efforts such as hunting groups, troops, sports teams, governments, and companies. When opponents say that men should cooperate more like women, they usually imply that males should cooperate in a more dyadic and consensus-building manner, based on the strong bonds that women excel at forming. Both techniques have advantages and disadvantages, but to argue that males are incapable of cooperating is just incorrect.
Second, competition is a common way for males to connect, making it essential to masculine social satisfaction. Lionel Tiger, an anthropologist, created the term “male bonding” forty years ago. Many people associate the term with guys sitting in a circle in the middle of the woods, playing on drums, or bros expressing their bromance with a sentimental “I love you, dude!”
Tiger, on the other hand, was depicting something very else. Male bonding is intrinsically linked to violence and rivalry for him. Men often develop strong ties “in terms of either a pre-existing object of hostility, or a fabricated one,” he claims. When they have to compete against another group or attain a challenging objective, men band together. Even if there isn’t a real or imagined foe, men will devise a challenging chore to establish their dominance over and undertake jointly.
Consider the close camaraderie that develops between troops, particularly those who have experienced battle together. Soldiers sometimes remark that they went to battle to fight for their nation, but they remained to fight for their brothers. You can also observe how competition strengthens the male connection with sports teams.
Masculine bonding will be where the male thirst for dominance is. So, if you’re concerned about contemporary men’s lack of close male friends, we should encourage more (good) competition, not less.
Third, competition creates greatness — in ourselves as well as in the culture as a whole. Men’s desire for status (and risk) is what led to the discovery of new places and the creation of the world’s technology; it is the driving force behind social advancement. Sure, we should compete with ourselves and aspire to be greater men than we were the day before. However, competing with ourselves can only get us so far. Because ego and prestige aren’t on the line when you’re only attempting to beat the guy in the mirror, it’s easy to get complacent. To stay sharp, we require the friction that comes with competing forces. We push ourselves out of our comfort zone when there’s a chance of public loss or success. Other rivals might expose faults and vulnerabilities in ourselves that we were previously unaware of. We remain eager and modest as a result of competition.
Finally, competition is hazardous, and as we all know, manliness isn’t manliness without risk.
So enter the ring and compete to prove that you are a man. You could lose, but you’ll be a better person for it, and you’ll probably make some new friends as well. You’ll also know that “your position shall never be among those cold and timid spirits who have never known triumph or loss.”
There is no shame in trying and falling short under the old code of man; rather, as Gilmore points out, “the biggest sin” of manliness “is not honest failure but cowardly disengagement.”
Steps to Take:
Try competing as part of an all-male squad to tap into the most strong masculine energy. That chance might be difficult to come by these days, especially if you’ve graduated from college. While competing in things alone won’t satisfy the basic want to conquer as part of a gang, it’s still a worthwhile endeavor.
- Participate in a team sport.
- Get together with your mates for some pick-up games.
- Strive to be the best student in your class.
- Participate in a debate organization, a scientific fair, or an academic bowl.
- Look for strategies to get an advantage over your competitors if you’re a company owner.
- Participate in a running/obstacle race.
- CrossFit is something you should do. While I don’t believe CrossFit is the ideal approach to gain strength, it does have a healthy competitive spirit. Although CF is coed, I’ve found that all-dude courses emerge spontaneously and informally.
- Competition is the fuel that propels greatness.
12. Participate in a rite of passage
When young men came of age in various civilizations across the globe, they went through a rite of passage into manhood. The young men would often be separated from their mothers and the village, instructed by the tribe’s elders in the “secrets” of manhood, and required to complete arduous and painful challenges that demonstrated to the community that they had mastered the manly traits of skill, courage, and toughness. When the initiate was reintroduced to the community, he was regarded as a full-fledged man with new rights and obligations that came with it.
As adults, the young men would have to face difficult and perilous duties, and these rites of passage guaranteed that they were prepared for these challenges while also instilling confidence in themselves and their manhood.
While today’s young men are not required to prepare for a life of hunting and warfare (though, as we’ve shown throughout this piece, they should! ), there is another purpose for such rites of passage.
Some psychiatrists believe that young males have a tougher time embracing maturity than young women. We all begin our lives in our mothers’ wombs, and we all experience a regressive pull back to that primal oneness throughout our lives — a longing to return to a period when all of our needs were met and nothing was expected of us. Because girls have their moms as a model for adult femininity, this draw may be greater for boys, but males must break away more fiercely to create their own autonomous masculine identity. One of the goals of ancient rites of passage was to help young males acquire a sense of self and avoid being caught in a condition of developmental stagnation.
That concept is undoubtedly sound. Many contemporary young men who have not had a rite of passage into manhood struggle with the sense of still being a kid stuck in a man’s body. They want to feel like a guy, but they don’t, so they assume they’ll start behaving like one once they do. But this sensation never materializes, and the feeling of being in limbo persists.
It’s not very successful to think your way to a new status: “OK, now I’m a man.” A concrete ritual serves to make the transition to maturity more real and psychologically resonant by providing an outer expression of an interior change.
Some spiritual groups, as well as the military and organizations like the Boy Scouts, still have rites of passage into manhood. They are, however, few and far between.
The “re-incorporation” part of the process – when a community acknowledges your new status and treats you differently as a result – is missing from rites of passage you design for yourself. This acknowledgment triggers a feedback cycle in which you behave differently as a man, and others demand more of you as a result, motivating you to keep living the code. However, a do-it-yourself rite of passage is preferable than none at all and may help you transition into a more adult perspective.
Steps to Take:
Participating in a rite of passage is the only action step here. This ritual may take several different forms:
- Ascend a mountain.
- Take a canoe journey in the woods.
- Backpack a long-distance trail (such as the Appalachian Trail) from start to finish.
- Obtain the rank of Eagle Scout.
- Join the armed forces.
- Volunteer with Americorps.
- Volunteer with the Peace Corps.
- Participate in a church mission.
- Spend a year teaching English in a foreign nation.
- Join a fraternal organization like the Freemasons or the Knights of Columbus that conducts a rite of passage ceremony.
- The Rocket Booster of Personal Change, Transformation, and Progress: The Power of Ritual
- How to Create a Rite of Passage of Your Own
13. Take part in adventures
Why are adventure tales so appealing to men and boys? Evolution is most likely to blame.
The male brain is hardwired to seek out new experiences. According to The Male Brain, our bodies were bombarded with a variety of hormones when we were in our mothers’ wombs. Anti-Mullerian chemicals and testosterone, in particular, primed the circuits of our little male fetal brains for activities like exploratory behavior and spatial abilities, which are necessary when venturing into unknown terrain.
Testosterone may stimulate a man’s desire to explore far into maturity. Studies have found that when male animals are given large doses of testosterone, their exploratory range increases. Male chimp groups who wander the furthest from their home base had greater testosterone levels than gangs that remain closer to home, according to primatologists. According to researchers, testosterone has a similar impact on male humans: the more testosterone you have, the more likely you are to be lured to new experiences.
Males in most species, including humans, have evolved to explore and orient to aid in patrolling and guarding their territorial boundaries as well as expanding their area to obtain access to new resources, according to evolutionary scientists. Furthermore, since men are sexually disposable, species can afford to lose a few guys on perilous expeditions into unfamiliar territory.
Men’s DNA still has the desire to explore tens of thousands of years after our hunter-gatherer forefathers departed Africa’s plains. During the Golden Age of Discovery, humanity explored the world, reached the Earth’s poles during the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration, and landed on the moon. Exploration had economic, political, cultural, and scientific rewards in all of these cases, but I’m very sure most guys went for the thrill of it.
Sir Wilfred Thesiger, an English adventurer, stated that’s why he went exploring:
“Exploration was a personal endeavor for me.” I didn’t travel to the Arabian Desert to gather flora or draw a map; both of these things happened by chance. I felt deep down that writing or even talking about my trips would taint the accomplishment. I went there to find tranquility in the arduousness of desert journey and the companionship of desert peoples… It is the trip, not the destination, that counts, and the more difficult the path, the more rewarding the journey.”
Adventure, in addition to our natural need to explore, requires many of the essential characteristics of masculinity, such as risk, competitiveness, resourcefulness, mastery, and domination. Adventure is a great way to put a man’s mettle to the test.
One of the things that made Jack London such a virile exemplar of masculinity, according to biographer Earle Labor, was his “sense of romance and adventure.” Adventure not only supplied London with limitless material for his writing, but it also filled his spirit with grit and passion, serving as both an outlet and a source of fuel for his fiery thumos.
Adventure is much harder to get by in today’s world than it previously was. Much of the globe has been visited, and the major adventure places have lost their romance and danger as a result of touristization. Visiting the Aztec pyramids in Mexico is now comparable to visiting Disney World.
For the guy who seeks adventure, it is still conceivable. It simply takes a little more effort to locate.
Steps to Take:
- To recreate the primal male group, go on one major trip (especially while you’re young) and attempt to accomplish it with a buddy or pals.
- Make it a point to go on frequent excursions throughout the year. They don’t have to be large to be effective. Simply visit a new location and explore without a plan.
- Make your travels a little more exciting. Rather of being a tourist, become a flaneur.
- A cross-country road excursion.
- Take a spontaneous weekend road excursion into the wilderness.
- Hitchhiking is a great way to get about.
- Scuba diving is a skill that can be learned.
- Take up cave exploration.
- Develop your skills as an urban adventurer.
- Reading adventure tales is fun. Although it is an abstraction, it might motivate you to become more tangible. Teddy Roosevelt attributed his urge to travel to his childhood adventure novels, while Jack London used Robert Louis Stevenson’s writings as inspiration for his numerous excursions.
- Adventure is necessary for every man.
- Jack London: A Life in Pictures is a documentary series on the life of Jack London.
- The Life That Lives, as told by Jack London
14. Get out into the wild and spend time with nature.
“Get out into nature, but not just any nature, wild nature,” Earle Labor said when I asked him what Jack London taught us about being a man.
Men are “wild at heart,” as author John Eldredge puts it. There’s no better way to find this wildness — or to have an adventure — than to go out into unspoiled wilderness. The primordial energy that flows through the deep forests and mountains will awaken your natural energy.
The lives of most contemporary men are regular and closely planned. Getting up, showering, commuting, going to work, getting home, and sleeping. You take the same road every day, work in the same cubicle, and sleep in the same bed. You’re bound by a slew of rules, expectations, and limitations. You must behave politely, respect traffic regulations, and abstain from strangling the jerk who keeps the business meeting going with countless inane questions while buttoned up and buried in paperwork. Your soul is encircled all the time. And everything you touch, live in, and use has been sanded, molded, and packed for consumption from its original state. Almost every sound you hear comes from an artificial source, from a vehicle engine to a ringing mobile phone. It’s enough to send any guy into a moderate state of madness.
As a result, mankind must take time away from civilization to connect with things in their natural condition. Touch genuine earth, sit by a real fire, sharpen real wood, and listen to the clean sounds of rushing streams and forests. Surround yourself with material that isn’t only intended for human consumption. Experiment with things that are just there.
It’s worth noting that many ancient rites of passage entailed the initiate venturing out into the wilderness alone with inadequate provisions. Many of history’s finest men earned the title of manhood by testing their mettle in the wild. TR spent his undergraduate winters in the wilds of Maine; Jack London traveled to the Klondike and discovered himself, launching a renowned literary career in the process.
In the wild, men may peel away everything that is fake and rediscover their true selves.
Steps to Take:
- Go for a hike in the woods. The type of wild that’s primal and dangerous. There are no well-kept state parks.
- Regularly go camping and trekking.
- Enroll in outdoor survival training.
- Take up activities that allow you to interact with nature, such as trail jogging, mountain biking, skiing, and surfing.
- In between your travels to the wild, just try to go out into nature on a regular basis, even if it’s only for a walk in the neighborhood park.
- Nature’s 5 Switches of Manliness
- When You’re Tired of Living in the City: Vacation Planning Advice from 1918
15. Produce More While Consuming Less
The essential threshold for full manhood, according to Gilmore, “represents the moment at which the boy creates more than he consumes” across cultures. Manhood entails the capacity to control nature, to convert chaos into order, and to transform life’s raw ingredients into something valuable. It requires “purposeful building” – “commanding and aggressive behavior that contributes to society’s store.”
Children are consumers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their parents plan their experiences for them while they’re young, and all they have to do is sit back and enjoy it. They live with their parents, consume their meals, and utilize their belongings. Their spare time is spent amusing themselves. They deplete their parents’ resources while being docile and well-cared for. They have little to no influence on the world and little control over their own life. They are reliant on one another.
Today’s dilemma for males is that our commercial society promotes puerile, passive consumption rather than virile producerism. It permits us to be boys forever. Even after a young man is no longer reliant on his parents for his masculine identity, his reliance on companies for things and services that are meant to help him “feel like a man” gradually evolves. Rather of creating masculinity, we consume it.
What makes materialism so pernicious is that it seduces men into reliance by appealing to their yearning for autonomy and providing a doppelganger. When we pick what kind of “manly” body wash to purchase, we assume we’re in charge of our life. However, this sense of independence is merely a figment of the imagination. It is just the selection of one option from a menu of options pre-selected by someone else.
Consumerism provides so many options that we miss the fact that they all fit into a set box. Consumption is like a gigantic game of Choose Your Own Adventure. Yes, you have the flexibility to make your own decisions as long as they fit into one of the predetermined storylines.
“Do you want to wear the green shirt or the blue shirt?” our mother asks as we return to our childhood bedroom.
If I may steal from Emerson, consumerism is “in conspiracy against the masculinity of every one of its members.” So, how are we going to defeat this plot?
The key to avoiding the consumption trap is to first recognize consumerism’s subtle dependency-inducing and autonomy-sapping impact in your life. Importantly, recognize that we are not just thoughtless consumers of tangible items, but also of knowledge and entertainment. Many people sneer down their minimalist noses at those who collect “things,” while consuming material made by others. They attend parties but never host them; they listen to music but never compose it; they leave comments on blogs but never create their own. They sit on their pseudo-consumer thrones as various diversions are laid at their feet, to be dismissed or shared with friends; their input to the world consists of giving things a thumbs up or thumbs down; they sit on their pseudo-consumer thrones as various diversions are laid at their feet, to be dismissed or shared with friends.
Of course, this isn’t true kingship since it provides you no actual authority over the world. Being a creator entails more than just abstaining from consumption; it also entails contributing something of genuine worth to society.
Being a creative doesn’t mean you have to stop purchasing things; I love buying books, music, and apparel from time to time. Just be sure to balance your consumption with your own creative endeavors. Spend time on items that will help you leave a legacy.
So, rather than choosing your own adventure, go out and make one. Create worlds rather than merely living in them. You will not only be a king, but a deity in this.
Steps to Take:
- Find a creative interest that is appropriate for a guy.
- Make a piece of furniture out of it.
- Write a book, a blog, or just a diary entry.
- Make a letter.
- Begin by planting a garden.
- Organize a gathering.
- Have a family.
- Form a group.
- Learn to prepare your own meals.
- Start your own company.
- Create a non-profit organization.
- Participate in voluntary work.
- Be a role model for others.
- Do good deeds for strangers and friends alike.
- Maturity in the Modern Era: Produce More, Consume Less
- Legacy: The 5 Switches of Manliness
The Importance of Our Social Ties (Chapter 3)
We examined the aspects of the code of masculinity in the last chapter, as well as the numerous measures you may take to activate those qualities in your life. They’re mostly activities you can do on your own – things you can accomplish as a single guy. As a result, I believe they’ll be very appealing.
The pursuit of conventional masculinity, on the other hand, was never (and still isn’t) a lonely quest for self-actualization. While we often associate masculinity with the archetypal “lone wolf,” this is a fairly recent notion. Manhood is both biological and cultural, as we’ve seen throughout this series. While we may do things on our own to tap into and feel our intrinsic, biological male energy, we cannot ignore the social components of masculinity if we want to live a full and complete life. Without the links that bind — without the individuals who support and accompany us on our journey — masculinity isn’t manhood.
This leads us to the subject of man and his society. And what a controversial and perplexing issue it is in today’s society. Some men believe that masculinity is no longer revered and is even stigmatized in today’s culture (which is sometimes true). Others argue that feminism is to responsible for all of men’s problems (which is rarely true). There are those males who want to go back in time and refuse to contribute to the system unless significant changes are done.
As for me, I’m not in favor of “putting women back in their place” and abolishing equal rights and opportunities for everyone. History teaches me and inspires me, but I don’t want to live in any other age than the one I’m in now.
You may either specify clearly defined duties and responsibilities based on general principles about who does what best in any system, cultural or otherwise, or you can let individuals do whatever they want, whatever they want, in line with their unique, individual interests and skills. The first approach is restrictive but effective: everyone understands their role and what they should strive towards. The second alternative is unwieldy, but just, since it enables everyone to reach their full potential. Stricter gender norms are an effective and essential survival strategy in harsh, hazardous circumstances when efficiency is a question of life and death. It makes the most sense to let everyone take their own path in tranquil, comfortable circumstances, where there is much more wiggle space for things to be foggy and a bit chaotic.
Making schools more boy-friendly by increasing competition and physical activity; curbing the widespread drugging of American boys with powerful mind-altering stimulants in order to “normalize” them; the return of shop class to schools and an effort to point some young men towards the trades as an alternative to 4-year college; more mentors
In general, it would be wonderful if men’s contributions to society were more widely acknowledged and appreciated, and if males were not so often dismissed. And I believe that everyone would live fuller lives if we gave men and women the opportunity to reach their full potential, whatever that potential may be, regardless of sex, while also admitting that while men and women are equal in their aptitude (with the exception of strength) for all pursuits, we generally differ in our level of motivation for specific ones. In my honest view, appreciating and enjoying such differences might be extremely fulfilling.
However, I’m perfectly OK if none of those changes occur (with the exception of the family courts issue and boyhood drugging, both of which must be handled). I know that finding an agreement on anything — gender-related or not! – in our vast, varied country has become practically impossible. And establishing extensive specific programs for young women and young men, while simultaneously creating place for people with interests and needs that don’t fit the general pattern, quickly becomes problematic.
That may come out as apathetic. However, in a massive, varied nation-state, developing a unified culture is impossible. And attempting to do so is both impractical and undesirable. While I am a proud American, I feel that humans are tribal at heart, as they have been for hundreds of years. Looking for support and validation of our views, as well as a feeling of complete identity, from a community of 300 million individuals who are so diverse is a fruitless endeavor. My family, honor group, and community form the foundation of my identity (more on that below). This is my people, my tribe, and we can respect whatever ideals we choose within it. I don’t need everyone in society to agree with those ideals, and it’s a truth that going against the grain is more fulfilling than sticking to the existing quo.
As a result, I believe that the greatest use of a man’s efforts is to contribute to the finest possible culture in his local community, rather than striving to get the whole national (or global) culture on the same page. To be a guy, you don’t have to wait for society’s discussion about males to change. In reality, if the national culture is to change at all, it must start in local communities – in homes where dads and mothers educate their boys to be honorable men, and their sons go on to become teachers, coaches, and fathers, raising and mentoring another generation of wonderful young men. If you want to alter the culture as a whole, start small and work your way up.
When Ties Fray: The Rise of “Toxic” Masculinity and Community Breakdown
Men were not designed to run in groups of millions or even hundreds, but rather in tiny tribes. Masculinity is warped when these close-knit social bonds dissolve.
I’m increasingly persuaded that the root cause of what many social critics refer to as “toxic masculinity” is that modernity’s wide social institutions set males up for constant and crushing “status failure.”
I want to go more into the psychology and sociology of male status in the future, but for now, let me highlight that, due to evolution, males are very sensitive to status. When males (chimps and humans alike) congregate in groups, hierarchies and pecking orders emerge quickly. Men’s reproductive success in prehistoric times (and even now) was contingent on gaining high rank within their tribe.
While we generally concentrate on the benefits of gaining high status, we usually neglect the psychological consequences of losing status. Several studies have shown significant disparities in how men and women react to a loss of status. One research found that although men’s cortisol (the stress hormone) levels increase in response to a loss of status, women’s cortisol levels stay unchanged. Imagine the psychological toll on a guy who was subjected to a relentless onslaught of perceived status losses on a daily basis.
But, in our contemporary society, this is precisely what is occurring to an increasing number of males.
Modern manhood’s difficulty is that males are pushed to fight for status in a group that is tenfold greater than what our mind developed for. Modern men compete for status against hundreds, if not millions, of nameless men from diverse origins and classes, rather than aiming to be the best within a small tribe or society of relatively homogeneous and equal males. Many young men now battle for status in high schools with 2,000 or 3,000 other students; in college, they compete against tens of thousands of other students; and when they join the employment, they compete against millions. And, due to the internet and mass media, keeping up with the Joneses next door is no longer enough; you also have to keep up with the Rich Kids of Instagram or some bro guy who has his own online fitness company that enables him to be “location independent” and tour the globe. When that’s what the ordinary guy compares himself to, he’ll always be on the losing end of the status game.
The recent mass shooting at Santa Barbara City College has sparked a heated debate over so-called masculinity issues. Several theories have been advanced as to why such a cruel and heartless act happened, ranging from sexism to mental illness to firearms. However, I find it intriguing that the topic of males and status hasn’t been discussed much. If you look at the spate of mass shootings that have occurred in America after Columbine, you’ll see that the killers were all young males who felt they had an unjustly low status. One of the Columbine shooters’ journal entries was full of self-pitying rants about how he didn’t receive the respect he believed he deserved from his peers (and women). We saw the same thing in both the Virginia Tech and Santa Barbara mass-shooters’ furious video manifestos.
Faced with an unwinnable status struggle, these young men thought that only dramatic methods would get them the attention and acclaim they desired.
It’s intriguing to compare how guys in criminal gangs function with these anonymous mass shootings. When gang members murder, they generally target one or two specific individuals rather than a large group of onlookers. Because a perpetrator of gang-related violence is a member of a tiny, close-knit group, his standing as a man is considerably more secure than that of a lonely young guy who is continuously belittled. To feel like a “alpha,” the gangland murderer doesn’t have to kill scores of random individuals.
To reduce the psychological impact of male status loss, a multi-pronged approach will be required, including addressing our commercial culture’s skewed focus on consumption and sex as men’s defining status markers. The most crucial prong, though, is to support the tiny, intimate social groupings for which we’ve evolved and where a man’s pursuit for the status of “Man” is more easily attainable.
Family, Honor Group, and Community are the three most important social circles. Let’s take a look at each of these components individually.
The Three Circles of Sociality: The Ties That Bind
While I recently spent a lot of ink on how a lack of social connections may lead to harmful behavior in certain guys, building our links with others shouldn’t be seen in a negative manner – as in, their only purpose is to protect us from going insane. Rather, it’s a very positive component of masculinity, and it’s the one thing that psychological study has repeatedly shown to be the key to living the fullest, happiest life conceivable. Without strong connections, there is no eudemonia in our world.
In the absence of connections, there is no masculinity. To the degree that you are able, try to develop the following social circles in your life for individuals who want to live by the old code.
Make family a priority.
I couldn’t be more certain that the nuclear family is not only the most essential unit of society, but also a critical component of the code of manhood’s vitality.
This principle is, admittedly, at conflict with human culture’s evolutionary past. The nuclear family was not a discrete entity in most prehistoric cultures, and familial connections and relationships extended to all blood relatives. When a man returned after a hunt, he shared the animal he had caught with the whole tribe, rather than just his family.
However, I believe it is most revealing that the world started with a man and a woman in the religious traditions of more than half of the world’s population — one pair not only experiencing the harsh world together, but also entrusted with constructing it side by side. One does not have to believe in the literality of the Adam and Eve account to believe that it includes an allegorical and prophetic truth – one that has probably never been more relevant than it is now.
People were continually surrounded by their extended family in primordial times and up to the twentieth century. There was less reliance on husband and wife since there were uncles and aunts, cousins, and grandparents to help. And it was usual to have lifetime friends since you may all grow up and die in the same little town.
Extended families are frequently dispersed throughout the nation nowadays, at least in America. You reside in Texas, your parents in California, and your sister in Ohio. Good friends jump in to fill the role of family…until they move away. Your spouse is the one continuous companion you can have on your life’s journey.
Some social observers have expressed concern that this has placed an undue amount of burden on one individual. But I honestly believe the relationship can handle it, particularly now that marriage has developed to the point where you marry your best friend rather than the person society or family expects you to marry. Actually, I believe that is what the tale of Adam and Eve prophesied. Marriages that are very close are the pinnacle of the institution – the ultimate spiritual truth and a tremendously strong force. You and she, in opposition to the world, are constructing the world. The inner male and feminine energies that we previously controlled and even rejected often naturally emerge inside the closeness of marriage. We’re often taken aback when we realize how much we appreciate these sensations.
On a more practical level, the married couple has evolved into the most adaptable unit for adventure and business. Because everyone is so mobile these days, the simplest and most successful strategy is to link up with someone you know will remain around for the long run.
All of this is to imply that while you design your course for life as a male in the twenty-first century, make marriage a priority. Marriage, in and of itself, isn’t as closely linked to the traditional code of masculinity as the other factors we’ve discussed, but it does lead to offspring.
One of the three foundations of the old, universal ethic of masculinity is procreation. However, in recent times, it is both the least popular and the most contentious!
But, despite the fact that it may earn me a lot of ire, I’ll say it again: the family is crucial to manhood’s vitality.
The most basic biological need of men is to reproduce and pass on their genes. Men’s strive for perfection in the other masculine imperatives was fueled by this ambition. Men wanted to impress their other men by being skilled hunters and fierce warriors, and so establish a reputation as a better provider and protector, which would lead to greater options for mates, sex, and offspring. Men were driven to feed and protect their wives and children after they had obtained them.
As a result, the nuclear family acts as a powerful barrier against the loss of manliness. A guy with a wife and children still has a little group — a smaller tribe — to guard and care for in a huge, complicated, and varied society where an honor culture can no longer operate. As previously said, the code of masculinity may be sought for its own reason, but having others rely on your devotion to it is very motivating. The code of masculinity emerged in part to integrate men into society and combat men’s predisposition to go their own way, which is precisely what some men are doing now that their families are failing.
I can speak to the driving influence of family on a man’s life as a spouse and father of two children. It’s no longer just about me. And I couldn’t be more pleased about it. Beyond satisfying one’s fundamental need to pass on one’s genes, bearing children is a facet of human existence that should not be overlooked if one is genuinely pursuing a life of full flourishing.
Become a member of an honor society
While I sometimes feel like all I need is my merry band of McKays, I know that’s not enough if I want to preserve the code of manhood, activate my inherent masculinity, and live my best life.
If the family is society’s fundamental social unit, the gang has traditionally been guys’ basic social unit. Our chimp forebears formed all-male groups to patrol the perimeter and raid the territory of opposing groups. Anthropologists have discovered that primitive people formed close-knit hunting and warfare gangs in a similar way.
The male gang, or platoon as I like to call it, is an honor society – an exclusive, close-knit, all-male society of equals. Every member is required to follow a set of rules: those who meet or exceed the basic criteria are praised; those who fail to meet the minimum requirements or exhibit scorn or indifference to them are humiliated and may be expelled.
Inter- and intra-competition amongst males is fostered through honor societies. A platoon’s talents and prowess will be put to the test in competitions with other platoons, while members strive for platoon status to determine who is the greatest in the group. The two types of competition feed off one other: by striving for prestige amongst themselves, the platoon develops stronger and better equipped to face an external opponent.
Respect is the foundation of honor organizations; you respect the code, and you respect your brothers, therefore you care what they think. While we frequently think of honor as adhering to one’s own set of values, this is really integrity — traditional honor meant establishing a reputation worthy of respect and admiration among one’s male peers.
The concept that we must depend on other people’s opinions to determine our standing as men contradicts modernity’s hyper-individualistic mentality. Men nowadays often say things like, “A true guy doesn’t give a damn what other people think about him!” “A true guy doesn’t need other men to teach him what’s macho,” or “Being a man means anything you want it to mean,” for example.
What these gentlemen don’t comprehend is that they’re expressing a view of masculinity that is diametrically opposed to the old code.
Manhood has always been a labor of love. And, just as receiving an Olympic gold medal for a race in which no one is present has no worth, receiving the status of man has no value. Others must acknowledge your masculinity in order for it to have any real meaning.
But what do you do when you don’t appreciate the views of males in your culture because they aren’t your equals, don’t share your values, and aren’t honorable men? When the Roman Empire started to fall and cultural degeneration crept in, the ancient Romans confronted this difficulty. The Stoics’ approach was to withdraw inside themselves, becoming resistant to others’ opinions. While there is wisdom in this answer, as we described above in the sections on mental toughness and autonomy, it is not a full solution and has severe flaws.
To begin with, making oneself the only judge of yourself breeds narcissism and mediocrity. Honor starts with an inner belief of self-worth, but it must subsequently be presented to your peers for approval. Other individuals act as a reflection of yourself and a check on your arrogance; they are there to call bullocks on an exaggerated or erroneous self-perception. Men become like Narcissus without this critical check, looking at themselves all day and liking what they see. An honor group allows you to provide and receive open and honest criticism so you can figure out where you need to improve. Being held responsible to other guys whose opinions you value and not wanting to disappoint them motivates you to improve. In a male group, the battle for status encourages you to be your best. Iron sharpens iron, as the phrase goes.
Second, social disengagement may lead to isolation, which can be mentally debilitating. We still have that natural want to run about in all-male groups, but because to greater mobility and an ever-increasing dog-eat-dog world of marketplace competitiveness, many contemporary men go through adulthood without having a close posse. According to research, men with few close friends die earlier and are more likely to report being unhappy than men with many close friends, and the loss of intimate male friendships has led to a variety of mental and physical diseases among men. Men who belong to tight-knit, all-male organizations are also more resilient to pain and stress. These types of important strong relationships are formed when people seek honor together.
As a result, I highly advise you to marry the eternal rule of masculinity with the Stoic knowledge. Join (or start) an honor group with guys who share your values to scratch that craving for male friendship. Respect the opinions of the guys in your squad. However, adopt a deliberate indifference to the ideas of individuals outside your group who are not your equals and do not share your values.
A contemporary man must live with both honesty and honor — men’s inner convictions and concerns about their reputation should function in tandem. When no one is looking, your conscience keeps you living the standards you believe in; when you’re back with your platoon of men, they reinforce your determination to live those values.
Joining a sports team, fraternal organization, college club, men’s group, or small group at church might provide an honor group for contemporary men. Start your own purposeful brotherhood if you can’t find a men’s organization that interests you.
I won’t go into great depth on the nature of honor or how to organize your own platoon since we’ve already talked a lot about it. Check out those blogs for additional information on this important topic.
Encourage genuine community participation.
Men nearly usually established organizations that serviced their tribe’s needs, rather than forming gangs that exist only for their own benefit, such as criminal or pirate gangs. Men organized bands to hunt and battle in order to feed and defend their people in prehistoric times. Men found their sense of purpose and identity not just in their families and honor societies, but also in the larger society.
As a result, a demand for a man to be “in the arena” – to have a presence on the communal stage – underpins each of the 3 P’s of Manhood. A man was not to seek the safety of being a recluse at home, where he could believe whatever he wanted about himself; rather, he was to take risks by proving his accomplishments publicly, showing his acts and deeds in visible, concrete ways, being willing to rub shoulders with and test himself against his fellow men, and contributing to the strengthening of his tribe by generously giving back from his fortunate gains.
In true societies, a guy’s standing as a male is significantly more secure. We are all social creatures, despite our best efforts to deny it. While much of our identity is formed inside, it is also shaped by how others see us. We feel like a guy when others treat us like a man. Because everyone in a tiny community knows who the guy is and whether or not he has achieved manhood, they know how to treat him and what to expect from him. A guy does not need to perform extraordinary things to be recognized and appreciated, and he is regarded for the modest things he does to add to and maintain the code. Status anxiety is relieved, and confidence grows, when everyone around you acknowledges the masculinity inside you.
Genuine communities are unfortunately hard to come by in today’s world. Real communities are personal, like family extensions. In today’s society, most of us spend our time in what education reformer John Taylor Gatto refers to as “networks.” Gatto defines networks as “ad hoc social formations made up solely of weak tie links.” Unlike communities, which need the whole person, networks simply require the portion of a person that is relevant to the network’s specific and restricted goal. They’re designed to effectively organize and manage huge groups of individuals. Networks include include organizations, institutions, and online forums, to name a few.
There’s nothing wrong with networks on their own. The contemporary world runs on networks. When your whole social life is based up by networks, you have a problem. As I said at the outset of this chapter, one of the major issues confronting contemporary males today is that obtaining status is becoming more difficult. Increased network living and diminished personal communal life, in my opinion, is a major contributor to this. In a networked world, achieving and sustaining status — the status that all men inherently crave — is just more difficult. We often only see the hyper-successful profiles of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Tim Ferriss, and others in our connected world, rather than Average Joe, who is a fantastic family guy and excellent at being a man. Men nowadays believe that in order to be recognized, they must do great, and often terrible, things.
“Tough beans,” as some may say. If you want to survive in this world, you have to adapt or perish.” To which I agree… to some degree. I’d simply suggest that, while we’re aiming for success and prestige in the flurry of network life, we need to build an intimate community life in which a man’s tiny, daily contributions are acknowledged and respected. A strong family and a close-knit honor group, together with a robust communal life, provide as a psychological barrier against the numerous status losses a man would unavoidably suffer in his networks.
I’ll confess that in today’s society, forming a true community is a challenging undertaking, but it is surely achievable. The simplest solution is to relocate to a small town where communal life is a natural aspect of existence. However, not everyone is capable of doing so. As a result, you’ll need to establish a sense of community among your networks. A church, a neighborhood, a gym, or a college society might all be examples. In a later article this month, I’ll go into further detail on this topic.
What about me, though?
I’m sure some people have exclaimed, “I’m sterile/gay/disabled,” while they’ve been reading along and evaluating the different aspects of the code of masculinity. Is this to say that I’ll never be a man because I’m incapable of protecting, providing for, or procreating? “How about myself?”
So, how about you?
“What about me?” is, however, a query that goes against the old rule of masculinity. A member of a hunter-gatherer tribe would never pose such a question. Instead, he’d ask himself, “So I’m not able to complete X section of the code.” What pieces am I allowed to keep?
Looking to pull your own weight, in whatever manner you could, was a basic component of the code of manliness. So, if there was an aspect you couldn’t precisely fulfill, you did the best you could with what you had, and you sought to be better than average in the elements you could handle.
Gay? Make a masculine warrior out of yourself. Sterile? Adopt. Are you physically handicapped? Develop your mental faculties. I’m afraid I won’t be able to plan for every probable contingency. Simply improve where you can and make more. Make every effort to stand out among guys and contribute to your community. A guy who chooses not to have children in order to pursue his dreams of becoming a priest or dedicating his life to discovering a cure for cancer retains his masculinity. Does not include a guy who does not want to have children in order to save money for vacations to Applebee’s and parasailing in Belize.
When we fall short of some of the code’s ideals, the temptation is to either declare, “Well, the entire notion of masculinity is stupid anyhow,” or to broaden the definition of manhood so that no one is left out. We live under the “tyranny of the exception,” which means that you can’t argue for any norm that not everyone can satisfy 100 percent of the time. We don’t want anybody to feel guilty, so we either don’t have any standards at all, or we dilute them down to the point where they’re useless. However, in order for anything to have meaning, it must have boundaries and restrictions. That’s not a negative thing if we don’t think about it that way and create place for exceptions who follow the rules and try their best. Even if we all live by the code poorly (and every man does), it gives us something to aim for, and in the end, it makes every man better, regardless of their unique circumstances.
Chapter 4: The Capstones of Manhood: Virtue
The emphasis of this book so far has been on learning to be decent men by following the three universal masculine imperatives of guarding, procreating, and supplying. Men and boys are distinguished by their ability to do these chores in civilizations all across the globe.
But what about morality and character, philosophy and religion? What part do they play in the manly structure we’ve been constructing thus far?
We’ve defined manliness on AoM as a man who lives a life of excellence and integrity throughout the years. Rather than contrasting masculinity with women, this concept compares manhood with boyhood. As a result, it’s a fantastic description of maturity for both men and women. While we both strive for the same values, we typically exhibit them in different ways and travel different paths to the same heights. It’s like if two musical instruments are playing the same notes but producing two different yet equally beautiful sounds.
What distinguishes masculine virtue from womanly virtue, though? Why are the same values exhibited and reached in men and women in such diverse ways?
I’d argue that living the old man’s code determines the shape of your “instrument” (body and mind) and consequently the “music” (virtue) it produces. The melody of your life will sound more like a tuba than a flute if you embody the code of masculinity.
A Greek temple is another metaphor for understanding the significance of virtue in manliness. If the three P’s serve as pillars for the construction of the temple of manhood, virtue serves as the finishing touch. Virtue, like the metopes in ancient Greek temples, adds beauty, elegance, and refinement to our lives. Virtue is what steers and channels the raw male energy that we’ve generated by living the code of masculinity towards honorable purposes.
This isn’t to argue that you should only pursue morality once you’ve built your masculine pillars. I’m sure ancient artists didn’t wait until after the pillars were constructed to carve reliefs into the metopes that would sit atop the temple’s pillars. Virtue is something we should strive for at all times, even as we develop into men.
Good at Being a Man Plus Being a Good Man = The Complete Man
Many men in current culture are merely interested in acquiring virtue because they lack the will to follow the code of masculinity. They want to be decent people who happen to be males, rather than excellent guys. That’s OK. That, to me, is preferable to pursuing some twisted idea of masculinity, such as basing your only identity as a man on the number of women you sleep with or the amount of money you make. While feminism and gender are convenient scapegoats for society’s ills these days, I believe the most of our cultural ills can be related to the fact that we don’t value plain old virtue in either sexe. If everyone — men and women equally — tried to be persons of true character, society would be a hundred times better.
However, pursuing the goal of being a good man while disregarding the goal of becoming a decent man creates a couple of issues. First, as previously said, increasing your physical strength and fighting power aids in the development of higher and more spiritual values. You paradoxically stymie your quest of virtue by ignoring being competent at being a man in favor of becoming a nice guy. We should strive to utilize our inherent traits while simultaneously extending our higher spirit in order to reach full eudemonia.
Second, a man’s claim to virtue is flimsy if he has the virility and power to back it up when confronted. When draped on a building that lacks strength and solidity, the mantle of virtue hangs awkwardly on a man who lacks fire and struggle. We’ve all seen nice guys who are either dangerously thin or enormously overweight, who seem like they’d cry if a bully broke their walking stick and got out of breath climbing a flight of stairs. These mealy-mouthed gentlemen claim to be lovely people and perfect gentlemen, but we don’t regard them as men or gentlemen. “You have to be a man before you can be a gentleman,” says John Wayne’s character in the film McClintock. Men who get this math backwards always make us laugh and grimace.
Throughout his life, Theodore Roosevelt taught this lesson to young men. TR represented the Complete Guy – a man who is adept at both being a man and being a decent man. Roosevelt’s father served as an example, a man who “really did blend the power, bravery, determination, and activity of the strongest man with the tenderness, cleanliness, and purity of woman.” “I was always to be both nice and macho,” he instructed TR, “and that if I was manly, nobody would laugh at my being decent.”
TR articulated the ideal of masculinity – strength combined with morality, roughness married to sensitivity – in a speech to a graduating class of boys:
“When I talk about the American boy, what I say applies to adults almost as much as it does to boys… I’d want to watch you play, guys; I’d like to see you courageous and masculine, as well as soft and sensitive. In other words, you should make it your goal to be the proper sort of guys at home, so that when you leave, your family feels true sadness rather than relief; and you must also be able to hold your own in the outside world. You won’t be able to achieve it unless you possess manliness and bravery. It doesn’t matter whether you have one of those two sets of attributes if you don’t have the other. I don’t care how good a little boy you are at home if you are terrified of other young boys being rude to you when you are out; you will not be a very happy child or grow up to be a very helpful man if you are afraid of other little boys being unpleasant to you. When a kid grows up, I want him to be of the sort that, when he is mistreated, he feels a good, healthy desire to show the wrongdoers that they cannot wrong him without consequences. When a wrong is done to the community by anyone, when there is an exhibition of corruption or betrayal of trust, or demagogy or violence, or brutality, I want the citizen to feel the determination to put the wrongdoer down, to make the man who does wrong aware that the decent man is not only his superior in decency, but his superior in strength.”
Seek both virtue and virility if you want to become the Complete Man.
“As I get older, everything seems to revolve around manliness.” “This is the new gospel for me.” –Vivekananda
Is there a purpose to follow the code of masculinity at a time when it isn’t always respected or required?
Is it feasible to live a manly life without destroying civilisation or relocating to a cave?
In sketching out this road map to masculinity in the twenty-first century, I’ve endeavored to provide positive answers to these issues. In the shape of the Manhood Reserve, I’ve proposed a constructive, proactive method to explaining and resolving the difficulties of contemporary manliness. In our techno-industrial era, I’ve argued that not only is it feasible to unleash your inner male energy, but it’s also the most desired path to take. You scratch the innate manly itch inside you and reach eudemonia — a life of excellence and complete flourishing — by choosing the hard road and preparing for every conceivable circumstance.
Maybe you’re still on the fence about joining the Manhood Reserve. That’s very understandable. Choosing how to spend your life is a huge choice that you’ll think about and reconsider over time.
Manhood was frequently considered to as a form of “faith” in civilizations all across the globe. The comparison is a good one. The “cult of masculinity” contains doctrines and standards of conduct to follow, much like a religion, and offers benefits and advantages to those who follow them. The male force inside is invisible, and although some will summon it nevertheless, others will reject its existence. Some will applaud the code, while others will despise it.
You can and should collect as much evidence to support the truth of any faith’s claims, just as you can and should gather as much evidence to support the truth of any faith’s claims. However, there comes a time when you must just plunge.
This does not imply that you should go all-in. Experiment with it; start living the code of masculinity in little ways. Even if you don’t believe it’s “you,” give it a go. Often, what we believe to be our genuine “selves” turns out to be a mix of our upbringing, pop culture, and exposure to tens of thousands of advertising, TV shows, and movies. You may be surprised at how pleasant it is to try new things.
After you’ve planted that experimental seed inside yourself, keep an eye on it. What kind of fruit does it bear? Is it bringing you happiness? Has it given you more self-assurance, a feeling of purpose, and a sense of direction? If that’s the case (and I’m convinced it is), keep going on your quest to become the Complete Man.
I hope I’ll be able to count the guys reading this as my Manhood Reserve brothers. And I hope we’ll be there for each other as we take the difficult road to semper virilis.
I hope I’ll be able to count the guys reading this as my Manhood Reserve brothers. And I hope we’ll be there for each other as we take the difficult road to semper virilis.
I assumed this would be a single article when I first began the 3 P’s of Manhood series back in February(!). “What are the three P’s of Manhood?” That’s a great idea! I’ll scribble a brief ditty about it!” (Insert rueful chuckle at this point.) I had no idea I had stumbled into a deep rabbit hole. This series has probably been the most intellectually demanding thing I’ve ever written, and I couldn’t have done it alone.
First and foremost, I’d want to express my gratitude to Kate McKay, my wife and Mate Woman, for all of her assistance during this series. I gave her some turds, and she was always able to polish them into lovely, gleaming pearls. (And no, my dear conspiracy theorists, she never sought to feminize or soften my speech; on the contrary, she encouraged me to employ a more direct and less conciliatory tone throughout.) Her research support was excellent, as always, and she contributed some quite valuable ideas to the project. I consider myself fortunate to be in the ranks of male authors like as Hemingway, Steinbeck, and London, who cheerfully entrusted their works to their women to edit and polish.
In addition to his normal labor on the site, I’d like to thank Jeremy Anderberg for editing these massive postings. And, more often than not, on a tight timeline!
For this final piece, I’d like to thank Ted Slampyak and Derek Hart for their fantastic artwork and graphics. They’ve definitely gained some panache as a result of it.
Also, thanks to David Gilmore for writing the book that sparked this whole series, as well as Jack Donovan for publishing the book on masculinity’s core that challenged my notions about manhood.
Finally, I’d want to express my gratitude to all of the readers who took the time to read the whole series and offered support and nice words of appreciation along the way. This was a difficult nut to crack, and your support was vital in keeping us going.
Maintain your manliness.
“How to Be a Man” is a book that teaches you how to be the man you want to be. The author, David Deida, offers detailed and practical advice on how to improve your masculinity. Reference: how to be a man book.
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