The 3 P’s of Manhood: A Review of Protection, Procreation, and Provision

The three P’s of Manhood are Protection, Procreation and Provision. In this article we’ll be discussing the traits that make up a man as well as give examples of how each one is achieved in today’s society while reading what it was like to live as our ancestors did.

The “a man is a provider, protector and” is the three P’s of Manhood. This article discusses how to be these things in society today.

White tees vintage men sitting around and cutting something with a knife's.

Is there a universal concern (and desire) among guys to be manly?

Is manliness a worthless term that is just culturally relative?

We’ve spent the past several weeks delving into the answers to these concerns by delving into the findings of Dr. David D. Gilmore’s Manhood in the Making.

Gilmore set out twenty years ago to undertake a comprehensive cross-cultural study of how masculinity is seen and experienced throughout the globe.

What he uncovered was that, far from being unusual and vastly varied, ideas about what it takes to be a “genuine guy” have remained universal and constant throughout history and throughout the globe. Not only has a different code of masculinity existed in practically every community on the planet — whether rural or urban, premodern or sophisticated, patriarchal or relatively egalitarian — but these codes consistently include the same three imperatives: a man must defend, breed, and provide.

We’ve given each of these “3 P’s of Manhood” a detailed study since the topic is both intriguing and important. It was certainly a lot to take in; it’s almost become a Manhood 101 course! So now, for those who didn’t make it through the monstrous blogs, and for those that did but may need a fast refresher, we’re giving a crib sheet that distills everything we’ve covered so far down to the essentials.

Review on the Three P’s of Manhood


Vintage men military soldiers crouching trail on mountain with there guns.

The “urge to create and defend limits” is at the heart of protection. Boundaries provide people a feeling of self-identity and trustworthiness. Men will jump into action if that line is crossed. Men are relied upon to safeguard the tribe and family against predators, human foes, and natural calamities by guarding the border between danger and safety.

A man’s own honor is enhanced by acquiring and exhibiting ability in the position of guardian. Simultaneously, he enhances his community’s reputation for strength, since the tribe’s total reputation acts as a type of defense in and of itself, acting as a deterrent to assault.

The duty of guardian necessitates:

  • Physical endurance and strength.
  • Weapons and strategic skills are required.
  • Courage is the capacity to stay firm in the face of adversity, especially when one is terrified.
  • Stoicism, both physical and emotional, is characterized by a lack of sensitivity to bodily pain and a calm demeanor under duress.
  • Acceptance of one’s expendability voluntarily and gracefully — a man takes pride in the idea that he may have to lay down his life for his country.
  • Physical competitions are used to demonstrate one’s ability to play the guardian role in public (wrestling, sparring, competitive sports). In these competitions, it’s crucial to show not just power and talent, but also gameness — that you’re a scrapper who’ll keep coming back for more even if you’re pounded.

Why were males traditionally assigned to this role:

  • On average, males have more physical strength than women.
  • Sperm is more precious than wombs.


Vintage couple kissing passionately outside.

Procreation requires a man to operate as a pursuer of a woman, successfully impregnate her, and therefore produce a “big and strong family” that increases his lineage as much as possible.


The procreator function necessitates the following:

  • Acting as the originator of a woman’s seduction or romance.
  • The capacity to “get it up” – virility and potency.
  • The capacity to please a lady sexually.
  • Fecundity, or the desire to have as many children as possible.

Why were males traditionally assigned to this role:

  • Increased testosterone and, as a result, sexual desire.
  • Possibility of having a large number of offspring and a greater urge to disperse seed.


Three vintage men hunters standing outside tent with dead deer hanging branch in a forest.

The power to control nature, to convert chaos into order, to take the raw elements of existence and change them into something valuable is the essence of providing. It entails “purposive building,” as Gilmore puts it: “commanding and aggressive activity that adds something quantifiable to society’s stock.”

Hunting is the “provisioning function par excellence” since it entails all of the male qualities (physical strength, tool mastery, discipline and resolve, initiative, and so on) and is a creative act that combines conflict, sport, and sex.

The job of supplier necessitates:

  • Providing the lion’s share of one’s tribe’s/nutrition family’s (about a 70/30 distribution between husband and wife throughout time and cultures).
  • Cleverness, the capacity to navigate past hurdles, come up with inventive solutions to challenges, and transform scant resources into something valuable are all examples of resourcefulness.
  • Self-sufficiency — a man’s reliance on his childhood family is considered as disgraceful since he cannot be truly independent and provide for others if he is still dependant on them for care. It is very vital to gain independence from one’s mother.
  • Being generous with your community – a successful guy is expected to return the favor.

Why have males traditionally been assigned to this role:

  • Women have more physical strength than males (hunting could be strenuous).
  • Women are more disposable than men (hunting could be fatal).
  • Traveling far from home was required (long, exhausting excursions would have been difficult for pregnant/nursing mothers and mothers with little children).

The 3 P’s and the Elements that Support Them

All three P’s of Manhood have a set of similar requirements and qualifications in common:

  • It’s a well-earned position. Manhood is distinct from biological maleness, and it does not come naturally to a man as he matures. Rather, it is a position of honor that must be gained on the basis of merit – by proving superior performance in the masculine imperatives.
  • Autonomy. Autonomy entails “total freedom of movement” — “action mobility.” It entails the ability to make your own judgments, call your own shots, establish your own objectives, pace yourself, and pave your own path. If man’s capacity to strive for greatness in the 3 P’s is limited, the possibility of achieving manhood and the presence of a real culture of masculinity vanishes.
  • Energy. A man is supposed to rise above inactivity, to be up and about all the time, and to work tirelessly to attain his goals. In every venture, whether it is love or business, a guy is expected to take the lead.
  • Danger and danger are both present. The imperatives are all set up as win-or-lose situations. Risk may take the shape of physical injury or a hit to one’s macho reputation as a result of failing to exhibit proficiency in masculinity norms. In the worst-case scenario, “losing” may mean losing one’s life. Winning entails obtaining more access to resources as well as the esteem and honor of one’s peers and tribe. Men’s higher testosterone levels stimulate their willingness to take these risks.
  • Competition. In the provider role, men compete to bag the most game, accumulate the most wealth, and give away the most wealth; in the procreator role, men compete to marry the most wives, have the most children, and seduce the most women; and in the protector role, men compete to demonstrate the greatest strength, courage, and mastery. Men want to be better than their peers, to advance to the top, and to be rewarded with distinction. Men’s elevated testosterone levels feed this desire to compete once more.
  • A public declaration. When it comes to excellence in the three P’s, talk isn’t as important as outcomes. You have to put your money where your mouth is, therefore mastery of all male interests must be proved in public and confirmed by others. You must be willing to enter the fight, compete with other guys, and demonstrate how you compare to them. In order to be “in the arena,” a guy must be present. As a result, a guy who prefers to stay at home, shun public competitions, and spend most of his time with his wife and children is deemed effeminate. “One wins or loses, but…one must play the game,” Gilmore says. The biggest sin is cowardly retreat, not honest failure.”
  • Produce more and consume less. Create more and consume less is the ultimate criterion for each of the imperatives, as well as for the mantle of masculinity itself. To be a man, one must show competency in the male role — to carry one’s own weight, to contribute rather than sponge, to be a blessing rather than a burden to one’s others. This involves enhancing your tribe’s reputation for strength rather than diminishing it via physical infirmity and cowardice, preferring fertility over sterility, and contributing to society’s pot rather than stealing from it.

The 3 P’s and Their Nature

The 3 P’s of Manhood accentuate and underline men’s unique biological potentialities, urging them to use that potential for the greater benefit.


The masculine imperatives have a dual nature and purpose: they are both civic responsibilities and personal growth paths that benefit both a man’s community and himself (provided the conditions above are satisfied).

In the next two pieces in this series, we’ll look at this dynamic and its ramifications in a contemporary society where manhood isn’t respected or cherished.

A Three-Fold Path to Manhood

The route to masculinity has been seen as a three-fold process throughout cultures and time. Manhood may be considered as a massive structure that must be supported by three pillars. If one of the pillars is absent or weak, the other pillars are put under undue strain, twisting and contorting.

In a time when most men aren’t expected to be guardians and may have an unhappy, uncreative work, the procreator pillar (at least the sex aspect of it) may seem to be the last remaining opportunity to exhibit one’s masculinity. The pillar of reproduction, which was supposed to be only one component of a man’s multi-faceted existence, is now being pressed to hold much more weight than it was designed to, turning sex into an unhealthy fixation.

Each of the pillars is critical, and they all interact and interact with one another. For example, a guy who exhibits competence as a protector might earn the respect of his peers, who will then want to partner with him in hunting/business, giving him the opportunity to improve his provisioning skills. A guy who is a better provider would also attract more women, increasing his chances of being a procreator. The pillars cannot be separated totally however; a man will not be regarded masculine if he, for example, has a brood of children but fails to pay for them.

Even if the failure is due to a handicap or event beyond the man’s control, failing to participate in one or more of the masculine imperatives is regarded humiliating. However, a man might lessen his humiliation if he finds out new ways to contribute by aiming for higher competence in the tasks to which he is capable. A weak guy, for example, may nevertheless help his community by producing technical improvements. An infertile guy can want to be a fearsome warrior or a fearsome hunter. A guy strives not to be a burden to others in whatever way he can.

The greatest humiliation and disdain are reserved for a guy who can’t or won’t strive toward masculinity – and doesn’t seem to care. He may disparage masculine values, show apathy about the value of a male reputation, or try to reposition the goalposts on manhood to better suit his own particular abilities and tendencies. For example, a feeble guy with a sharp mind can reply, “There’s nothing macho about being powerful.” That’s for the knuckleheads. “A genuine guy develops his thoughts.” “What’s macho about being a stupid breeder?” a guy who can’t or doesn’t want to have children may ask. A lady may be beaten up by any moron. “A guy knows what he wants, and I have no desire to have children.”


“I cannot participate in this male function, and I recognize I fall short in this area of the manly code,” an honorable man states. But I understand why this guideline is included in the code, and I hold it in high regard. I’ll work hard to be the best I can be where I can and help in other ways.”

Being a Good Man vs. Being a Good Man at Being a Man are two different things.

When anthropologist Michael Herzfeld studied the culture of a tiny town in Crete, he discovered that the males differentiated between two types of manhood: being a decent man and being a good at being a man. The three P’s are the prerequisites for obtaining the latter title.

Living the “higher” moral qualities – having a virtuous character – is what it means to be a decent man. Pursuing Beauty, Truth, Wisdom, and Justice, as well as being kind, honest, and truthful, are all aspects of goodness. It’s about maximizing one’s human potential and reaching eudemonia, or a fully flourishing existence, as the ancient Greeks termed it. Being a good guy isn’t all that different from being a good woman, thus the definition is more about how a man differs from a kid than it is about how a man differs from a woman.

Being a good man entails being able to execute the masculine role properly – being a capable defender, procreator, and provider, as well as being prepared to take public risks, confront danger, work hard, act quickly, compete passionately, seek strength, and solve issues. It’s all about making the most of one’s particularly male potential. Being a decent guy entails understanding how a man varies from a kid as well as how he differs from a woman.

A philosophical category of manliness is being a decent man.

An anthropological category of manliness is being adept at being a man.

The first comes from inside our heads: a drive to create an ideal.

The second stems from biological, evolutionary, and environmental facts.

It is possible to be a good guy while without also being a good man. A mafia leader, for example, works in a risky environment, supports his family, and is very resourceful. He also randomly whacks others. He isn’t a decent guy, but he excels at being one. He is a true believer in the three P’s. Which is why, even if we don’t want to be like him, we can’t help but think of him as a macho figure. Consider Walter White as a current pop culture example: despite all of his heinous deeds, people still wanted to cheer for him (and wanted to lambast Skyler White for her desire to seek the truth and turn in Walt). Although the moral part of our minds informs us that he isn’t a “genuine man,” we feel an old, amoral reverence for him.

While you may be excellent at being a guy without being a nice man, as we’ll show next time, the opposite is not true.


Conclusion and Next Steps

I debated whether to use the present or past tense in writing this conclusion and the other entries in this series. On the one hand, everything I’ve said here has been true for thousands of years in practically every civilization, and it continues to be true in many societies today. In the current Western culture, however, fundamental concepts of the traditional code of masculinity are often questioned, altered, and critiqued. But, since our contemporary civilization is such a little blip in the broad scheme of things, and because the code’s echoes may still be heard today, I eventually opted to write this essay in the present tense.

I said at the outset of this series that in today’s society, some individuals believe manliness is completely unimportant, while others understand its importance but fall into one of three camps: 1) the code of masculinity should be preserved as it has been for thousands of years, 2) the code of manhood is offensive/damaging/irrelevant and should be abandoned entirely, or 3) certain aspects of the code should be preserved while others should be discarded.

Hopefully, the previous three pieces in this series have shown that the first point – that manliness has no significance – is completely untrue.

Come along for the last three pieces in the series before deciding which of the three other potential positions you fall into. The following is where Manhood 101 will go next:

  • What is the essence of manhood?
  • What is the origin of masculinity, and why has it vanished?
  • Even now, why should you be a man?

Continue reading the series here: Part I is to protect; Part II is to reproduce; and Part III is to provide. Part V: What Is Masculinity’s Heart? Where Does Manhood Come From in Part VI? Why Are We So Conflicted About Manhood? Part VII – Why Are We So Conflicted About Manhood? The Dead End Roads to Manhood (Part VIII) Semper Virilis: A Roadmap to Manhood (Part IX)



The “provider, protector husband” is a man that was created to take care of his family. He provides and protects them while also making sure they have everything they need.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a man a protector?

A: A man is a protector if he has the skills and abilities to protect others. He does not need to be strong, there are many ways of protecting someone even when youre weak or frail.

Is it a mans job to provide and protect?

A: Yes, it is a mans job to provide and protect.

What does protector of man mean?

A: The protector of man means that he is an individual in charge of the protection, welfare and defense of mankind. Protector can also refer to someone who takes care or does something for others.

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