Masculinity is about being a man within a group of men. Above all things, masculinity is about what men want from each other.
For most of their time on this planet, men have organized in small survival bands, set against a hostile environment, competing for women and resources with other bands of men.
The raw masculinity that all men know in their gut has to do with being good at being a man within a small, embattled gang of men struggling to survive.
Men aren't wired to fight or cooperate; they are wired to fight and cooperate.
Men will constantly shift gears from in-group competition to competition between groups, or competition against an external threat.
There is an orthodoxy in academia that prefers to make a distinction between masculinity and manliness, and this distinction serves the ideology of feminists and cultural determinists. For more on this debate, Harvey C. Mansfield outlined his reasons for writing about manliness instead of masculinity in his 2006 book, Manliness.
Strength, Courage, Mastery, and Honor are the alpha virtues of men all over the world. They are the fundamental virtues of men because without them, no "higher" virtues can be entertained. You need to be alive to philosophize. You can add to these virtues and you can create rules and moral codes to govern them, but if you remove them from the equation altogether you aren't just leaving behind the virtues that are specific to men, you are abandoning the virtues that make civilization possible.
Strength is the ability to exert one's will over oneself, over nature and over other people.
The "cowardly lion"--the tough looking guy who stands aside as weaker men fight the fight, take the risks and do the work-- is worth less than the men who step into the arena.
Courage is kinetic. Courage initiates movement, action or fortitude. Courage exercises strength. The "cowardly lion"--the tough looking guy who stands aside as weaker men fight the fight, take the risks and do the work-- is worth less than the men who step into the arena.
It is not the strongest man who will necessarily lead, it is the man who takes the lead who will lead.
We say a man possesses gravitas when he makes us believe we should take him seriously. We get our word "gravity" from the Latin gravitas; it means "heavy." The Romans used gravitas the same way we do--to say that a man or a thing is to be taken seriously.
Courage is the will to risk harm in order to benefit oneself or others. In its most basic amoral form, courage is a willingness or passionate desire to fight or hold ground at any cost (gameness, heart, spirit, thumos). In its most developed, civilized and moral form courage is the considered and decisive willingness to risk harm to ensure the success or survival of a group or another person (courage, virtus, andreia).
Mastery is a man's desire and ability to cultivate and demonstrate proficiency and expertise in technics that aid in the exertion of will over himself, over nature, over women, and over other men.
Until you can function as a competent member of the group and carry your own weight, you are a supplicant and a drag on the collective. A child is a child, but an incompetent adult is a beggar. One of the problems with massive welfare states is that they make children or beggars of us all, and as such are an affront and a barrier to adult masculinity. It has become clichéd comedy for men and women to laugh at men who are concerned with being competent. The "men refuse to stop and ask for directions" joke never seems to get old for women, who are more comfortable with dependence, or socialist types, because reducing men to a childlike state of supplication and submission to state bureaucrats is required for big-government welfare states to function. Masculine loathing of dependence is a bulwark to the therapeutic mother state.
Honor is a concern for one's reputation for strength, courage and mastery within the context of an honor group comprised primarily of other men.
Part of the reason that honor is a virtue rather than merely a state of affairs is that showing concern for the respect of your peers is a show of loyalty and indication of belonging--of being us rather than them. It is a show of deference. Hobbes noted that men honored each other by seeking each other's counsel and by imitating each other. Caring about what the men around you think of you is a show of respect, and conversely, not caring what other men think of you is a sign of disrespect.
Flamboyant dishonor is an openly expressed lack of concern for one's reputation for strength, courage and mastery within the context of an honor group comprised primarily of other men. The flamboyantly dishonorable man seeks attention for something the male group doesn't value, or which isn't appropriate at a given time. The man who flamboyantly rejects the honor codes of the group can obviously not be trusted to "snap to" in a state of emergency. Dishonor is disloyalty. A man who not only openly refuses to strive to be as strong, courageous and competent as he can, but who flaunts these codes theatrically for all to see is a weak link. He makes his peers seem more vulnerable for tolerating vulnerability, and more cowardly for tolerating cowardice. He brings shame on the group, and with shame comes danger, because public displays of weakness and cowardice invite attack.
Masculinity in the perfect ideal is aspirational, not attainable. The point is to be better, stronger, more courageous, more masterful--to achieve greater honor.
If a word or concept can mean anything, it means nothing.
It's dishonest to pretend that men who don't meet a given set of moral standards are unmanly men. Men may say that immoral men are not real men, but their behavior--including the public admiration for the virility of roguish and criminal types--shows that they don't quite believe this. There is a difference between being a good man and being good at being a man.
Men of ideas and men of action have much to learn from each other, and the truly great are men of both action and abstraction.
"Outmoded" is a word you'll see frequently in academic writing about masculinity. So-called experts talk about manhood like it was last year's fad, in part because they subscribe to convenient but discredited blank slate theories about gender being "as lightly linked to sex as are the clothing, the manners, and the form of head-dress that a society at a given period assigns to either sex."
A man who is more concerned with being a good man than being good at being a man makes a very well-behaved slave.
Drawing on their understanding of primates, evolutionary biologists Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson came up with a theory about male gang behavior they dubbed, perhaps unflatteringly, male demonism. "Demonic males gather in small, self-perpetuating, self aggrandizing bands. They sight or invent an enemy "over there" --across the ridge, on the other side of the boundary, on the other side of a linguistic or social or political or ethnic or racial divide. The nature of the divide hardly seems to matter. What matters is the opportunity to engage in the vast and compelling drama of belonging to the gang, identifying the enemy, going on the patrol, participating in the attack."
When men are materially invested in a society--when they believe there is more of what they want to gain by working for the group than by working against it--men will control and redirect their energies in the service of a prosperous society. When men are emotionally invested in a society--when they feel a strong connection to the group, a strong sense of us--men will control and redirect their energies in the service of a peaceful society as long as the most aggressive men (the men who are better at being men) are provided with desirable "equivalents" to gang aggression.
As opportunities for men to do what they evolved to do decrease, greater emphasis is placed on simulated, vicarious, and intellectualized channels of masculinity to maintain order and cultural unity. Men still get to feel like men, but the threat that men pose to order, to established interests, and to the interests of women is mitigated.
The introduction of women into a field of competition short-circuits its viability as a substitute for male gang activity.
The repudiation of violent masculinity is the murder of male identity.
Wrangham and Peterson argued that in spite of cultural determinist theories and a lot of wishful thinking about peaceful pre-historic matriarchies--the evolutionary, archaeological, historical, anthropological, physiological and genetic evidence overwhelmingly suggests that humans have always been a patriarchal, male-bonded party-gang species that engaged in regular coalitionary violence.
Those who believe human warfare is somehow unnatural will find little objective support for this theory in history or the sciences. Human societies are complex, and aspects of both bonobo and chimpanzee patterns are familiar enough. But male aggression, male coalitional violence, and male political dominance have all been identified as "human universals"--meaning that evidence of these behaviors have been found in some form in almost every human society that has ever been studied.
The goal of civilization seems to be to eliminate work and risk, but the world has changed more than we have. Our bodies crave work and sex, our minds crave risk and conflict.
The true "crisis of masculinity" is the ongoing and ever-changing struggle to find an acceptable compromise between the primal gang masculinity that men have been selected for over the course of human evolutionary history, and the level of restraint required of men to maintain a desirable level of order in a given civilization.
Civilization comes at a cost of manliness. It comes at a cost of wildness, of risk, of strife. It comes at a cost of strength, of courage, of mastery. It comes at a cost of honor. Increased civilization exacts a toll of virility, forcing manliness into further redoubts of vicariousness and abstraction. Civilization requires men to abandon their tribal gangs and submit to the will of one big institutionalized gang. Globalist civilization requires the abandonment of the gang narrative, of us against them.
During times of peace and plenty it has always been the Way of Women to lure men to away from the volatile gang, to seek his investment in her reproductive endeavor, and to encourage him to seek refuge and comfort in domesticity. A comfortable man is less likely to take risks, and warriors have always known that too much comfort makes men soft.
People need to stop looking to the State for help and direction. They must become disillusioned and disappointed. To push things in a direction that is ultimately--though not immediately--better for men, the emotional connection between the people and the state must be severed completely.