There’s a lot of big personal development influencers currently talking about masculinity in the manosphere right now. It seems to be a hot-button topic that a lot of men are struggling with or lack role models. So, let’s unpack what masculinity is and look at the different ideas behind it.
Masculinity is a set of characteristics and traits typically associated with men and boys, including strength, courage, aggression, and assertiveness. However, these traits can vary greatly among individuals and do not necessarily define what it means to be a man.
Mark Manson is a self-help author who writes about topics such as masculinity, relationships, and personal growth. His writing style is known for being candid and straightforward, often using personal anecdotes and examples to illustrate his points. Mark has his own thoughts on how traditional ideas of masculinity are obsolete. You can read more about it on his blog. Or on this podcast.
His main point seems to be that identities and gender roles have been constantly changing (and still changing) since the dawn of time. It’s nothing new. Every generation and century gets turned on their head as men and women desire different things and culture changes. Additionally, he believes that an emotionally healthy modern man shouldn’t associate expressing emotions as weakness. He seems to be pushing a modern take on how vulnerability, guilt, sadness, and other negative feelings should be expressed rather than hidden.
Traditional definitions of masculinity have become more and more outdated—and men are paying a hefty price for it. https://t.co/p7pVWn8afh
— Mark Manson (@IAmMarkManson) May 29, 2020
Jordan Peterson is a clinical psychologist and professor who has written extensively about masculinity and how it relates to personal responsibility and self-improvement. He believes that men should strive to be responsible and to take ownership of their lives, and that this involves developing traditional masculine virtues such as courage, integrity, and honesty.
In this YouTube video, I did have a hard time following him because, frankly, he used a lot of big words. I believe some of his main points include:
- there’s a necessity for the masculine and feminine spirit in life
- the answer is not to give up and kill yourself
- the modern world has removed ethics for many, which has affected masculinity negatively, creating a crisis
- attaining more power is not a good enough formula for solid marriages; it only contributes to a relationship of tyranny and unstable oppression.
According to Peterson, masculinity is not just about physical strength or aggression, but also involves virtues such as honesty, responsibility, and courage. He believes that men should strive to be responsible and take on leadership roles in their personal and professional lives.
Peterson also argues that masculinity is under threat in modern society, and that there is a need for men to reclaim their masculinity and embrace traditional male roles and responsibilities. He believes that the decline of traditional masculinity has contributed to a range of social and psychological problems, including increasing rates of depression and suicide among men.
Overall, Peterson encourages men to embrace their masculine nature and work to build strong, supportive communities with other men. He argues that traditional masculinity, characterized by traits such as strength, independence, and assertiveness, is important for the healthy development of men and boys.
Jack Donovan is an author and speaker who advocates for a return to traditional masculinity. He wrote book The Way of Men. He argues that modern society has emasculated men and discouraged them from embracing their natural masculinity, and that this has led to problems such as fatherlessness and a lack of male role models. Jack argues that it’s hard for the average person to define what masculinity is or think masculinity doesn’t actually exist, but they know it when they see it.
He argues that men across all cultures would agree that men expect a masculine men to be have strength, courage, mastery, and honor. They’re not exclusive to men, but they’re more important for men. He has a strong focus on the important of being in a tribe and what men demand from others in that tribe, how men select each other and prove themselves to each other. Men screened men for competence so that their tribe would continue to survive.
Jack acknowledges that the modern world doesn’t need the tribal level of masculinity, such as the need to hunt anymore. However, the natural urge to prove these four traits and be masculine still exists. He thinks feminists and others are trying to redefine masculinity or say that we don’t need any of these traits anymore, which he disagrees with. The choice of how you want to define masculinity and what you want to uphold is up to you.
Frankly, out of all the people here, I resonate with what he has to say the most. The language isn’t too technical or complex to comprehend. And he’s not some influencer that shot up in fame very recently; there’s always some new hyped influencer (like Andrew Tate currently or Jordan before him) who is getting a lot of attention. I feel like a lot of young men tend to fall for the hype of this new flashy controversial character and their marketing like they fall for each new diet fad. There’s a certain stability and plainness to Jack’s online persona and thoughts – he’s not a big influencer, just someone speaking his mind.
I also feel like I’m more “masculine” than I thought with his definition. I think I’ve done a lot to uphold strength, courage, mastery, and honor. From physical strength (a lot of powerlifting and CrossFit) to mental strength (discipline and going through when life gets dark) to virtues/honor of values (no drugs or lying) to mastery of a craft (writing and YouTube consistency) to courage (doing brave things, riding a roller coaster even though I despise them and approaching stunning women when I’m scared to death of rejection or embarrassment and sure it’s going to happen). I have room to improve in all these areas for sure, but I’m better than average. That’s surprising to me because part of me assumed masculinity was more about looking jacked or aggressive since that’s what I feel women are attracted to. Perhaps, that speaks to the various interpretations of the term because there is a certain truth to what women define masculinity as and what they’re attracted to versus the character traits that Jack defines it as. Nonetheless, despite how or what that’s perceived or expressed by others and women, I feel a bit better knowing that I’m embodying more of the masculine traits of a men that Jack defines than I expected.
Jon Bernthal is an actor known for his roles in films and television shows that often depict strong, rugged, and masculine characters. He’s been the Punisher and the bad guy in a season of The Walking Dead. He has spoken about his own experiences with masculinity and how he believes it should be defined by personal values and actions rather than societal expectations. Jon believes it’s about standing up for people being picked on, staying on touch with someone who is sad, being kind, know how to survive in the woods, know how to defend himself. He thinks it gets confused with “it’s my way or the highway” or picking on others mentality, which is insecurity.
He says he’s not an expert, but he points to samurai and how why they obviously were strong and knew how to fight, they were also taught to be in touch with their feminine side and know how to cook and dance. This is interesting because it contrasts a bit with others’ perspective on masculinity since other influencers seem to either reference being in touch with your emotions as more of a “modern take” on masculinity or not mention it at all and focus on the strength or viciousness of masculinity.
Andrew Tate, an English kickboxer and entrepreneur, has also expressed his thoughts on masculinity in his writing and public appearances. Tate believes that masculinity is about taking ownership of one’s life and making the most of it, and that men should embrace their natural competitive instincts and strive for success in all areas of their lives.
Andrew seems to believe that men and women will revert back to their gender identity roles the closer their environment is to a survival-first environment. The first-world environment has kind of eroded those identity roles and made men soft. He doesn’t think that there is anything wrong with men acting in their natural way and traditional roles. He expresses, in his traditional controversial way, that toxic masculinity is simply a thing that women was coined as a weapon to tear down men who wanted to express their natural instinct to rebel.
According to the web, the standard definition for toxic masculinity is a set of attitudes and ways of behaving stereotypically associated with or expected of men, regarded as having a negative impact on men and on society as a whole. Traditional stereotypes of men as socially dominant, along with related traits such as misogyny and homophobia, can be considered “toxic” due in part to their promotion of violence, including sexual assault and domestic violence. The violent socialization of boys often normalizes violence, such as in the saying “boys will be boys” about bullying and aggression. It’s fairly obvious that times and opinions are changing, as Mark Manson mentioned, which are causing some debates about these things. For example, the rise of support for the LGBTQ community in recent times probably affects how and what can be said about them. Also, I noticed that the definition is fairly broad, which leads it open for a lot of debate and interpretation on what it’s defined as, which can lead to more arguments and misinterpretation.
Hamza is a new YouTuber who has taken the YouTube manosphere by storm. He seems to have amassed a large following, particularly internationally, over the last year talking about tips and stories of what a successful man should do. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s off the mark sometimes because he’s a young man spouting his own opinion and lots of views doesn’t always equate to accuracy, though people confuse the two because of the perceived credibility. That said, there’s no denying that his words are generating a lot of attention and he’s killing the social media marketing, gaining a million subs in the last year.
Hamza has a lot to say about the ideal man, who he labels as Adonis. Some of his points include that all men should do some contact sport, be disciplined, not be sucked into social media, be mentally healthy, and have a tribe. Similar to other influencers, he believes a source of issue comes from modern men not having as many male role models or fathers.
Overall, there are many slightly different perspectives on what it means to be masculine, and it is important to recognize that masculinity is not a monolithic concept. It can be defined and expressed in many different ways, and individuals should be free to define and express their own masculinity in a way that feels authentic and meaningful to them.
Frankly, I still don’t have a crystal clear grasp of what it is, and this article has been my first strong effort to venture into all the discussions and definitions. I’ve definitely obtained a better grasp of it now. It’s interesting to see that many definitions speak to character traits that I’m surprised I have already rather than behaviors of aggression or style and physique. There’s no doubt that there’s some men and women will describe being more masculine in the realms of succeeding in dating and attraction as someone with tattoos, large muscles, dark clothing and accessories, aggressive or dominant behaviors towards women. They believe these associations are part of what’s beneficial to be seen as attractive to women, which is also debatable since there’s a vast, complex world of different male archetypes, with others being successful in this area without embodying the jacked, bad boy archetype – for example, the refined, dapper, gentleman type with no tattoos.
Yet strangely enough, these are not the traits that are mentioned first or at all by these influencers. That said, there’s probably some truth to these, some indirect byproduct of these physical manifestations that these character traits mentioned allude to, such as physical strength and competence. While I do have levels of courage and physical and mental strength, I am still skinny because my training protocol so far has often been focused on strength over size. I’m told by someone good with women that I need to be more masculine to do better, and yet I’ve also been told by some women that I’m very courageous to approach and be so direct. Yet how come what I convey doesn’t lead to attraction? That’s a more complex discussion for another day, but my theory is it likely has to do with how masculinity truly matters on the hierarchy of attraction, how much perception vs. reality happens in the context of encounters (a woman has to see you over time conveying traits and being effective in a tribe versus making conclusions off a stranger approaching), how physical size equates to perceived strength, and how confidence sits higher on the hierarchy than the courage of overcoming a clear indication of anxiety and fear in an approach.
Did I miss anything? Am I off the mark for any of these people? Let me know because I’m still learning a lot about this myself. I guess the first step we can take to be more masculine can be one of many things, and in the spirit of having an action item, I will select one for myself, which is to express more of my values and virtues at all times and work on my inner strength through taking more martial arts classes.