Is A|N mature enough for a discussion about the meaning and expectations of manhood? What is meant by "a man"? Is a man just a male adult homo sapiens? Is a "man" just someone with a Y chromosome and a male appendage, who "subjugates" women? Are there positive traits that can be identified as "manly" without descending into discussions of rape and wolf whistles and "privilege"? Is a "man" just a hetero guy who watches football and chugs beer and hunts deer? Can a masculine ideal be defined in such a way that there is something for men to identify with, and emulate, as men?

This is the essay that prompted me to wonder if A|N is ready for a true discussion of masculinity, or if all gender discussions must descend into rhetoric of "men abuse, women are victims". Linking to this essay is meant to inspire thought, and maybe discussion. My intent on posting this discussion in the general forum is not to bait, or incite endless arguments, but to ask what people think of when they think of "men"? Especially, "ideal men".

A correlary of "Manhood" is "Womanhood". That should be a separate thread.

Two weeks ago I would not have posted this topic, but there have been some changes that make me ask if we are ready for the discussion.

Tags: men

Views: 487

Replies are closed for this discussion.

Replies to This Discussion

I dont think there really is such a thing. There are trends, tendencies towarrds certain traits and behaviours that correlate with gender, but I don't think that you can call any behaviour or trait "masculine" or "manly" per se. I think it always works out in a very limiting, constraining way if you begin to group behaviours according to gender. If we take behaviours X and label them Manly, what does that make someone who does not like them? Unmanly?

It is a good thing that these days, we can pick and mix from a large range of behaviours. These include what is traditionally labelled as manly pursuits and behaviours. It gives us all a wider range of choices. Why fall over ourselves to invent a new limiting set of parameters? It is a bit like we all deconverted from catholicism, but are sitting around wondering what we will say at mass this sunday in stead of "god".

I use the word manly myself, but generally just as a gendered word for "grown up".
"Is A|N mature enough for a discussion about the meaning and expectations of manhood? "
Yes. (so far)
Lots of thoughtful replies. Thanks Daniel, good topic.
I agree. It's great that we can discuss such a potentially divisive topic in such a positive way!
The problem with this issue is that there are two sides, and more often than not, one side or the other makes the bold assertion that the other cannot know anything about their side because they are not on their side.

Interesting side note before I get started, however, is that humans can take intentional stances and empathy is one of our strongest assets. I would assert that any claim made as described above instantly nullifies your argument, much the way Godwin's law eliminated any arguments based on the guilt by association fallacies many people attempt to interject into discussions by bringing up nazis.

Ok, first of all there has to be a reckoning of sorts when it comes to the sexes (not genders which is a wholly different ball game). There was and remains a certain Victorian attitude that woman are powerless and victims. It is this underlying assumption that is at the core of many various strains of feminism. When I did a study 15 years ago on women in the media, I was told by the head of Media Watch (an organization that monitors how women are portrayed in the media) that women cannot be abusers because they are powerless. If a woman does enact violence, it is an act of self defense.

Its that kind of thinking that creates this entitlement culture and that drives many of the stereotypes that plague us today - all of which are conversation stoppers.

Lets look at some common cultural issues as examples of how the perception doesn't match the reality and how this Victorian attitude is killing both men and women, though men tend to have been oppressed to a far greater degree over the last century.

Violence

Pretty much everyone agrees that men are more violent than women. It is common knowledge that spousal abuse rates skyrocket during the Superbowl, and that the majority of domestic abuse is caused by men and women are the ones who are the target of male violence.

Facts: Men are 25x more likely to die a violent death then women and are at least 25x more likely to die, period, at every age group. Additionally, the Superbowl myth was manufactured to add weight to an issue that should have been addressed through different stratagems.

In fact, violence is the problem in general. Studies have shown that in domestic cases there is almost a 50/50 split in who the aggressor is in violent situations. By far men attack men, they do not attack women nearly as much. Added to this, women often feel they have carte blanche in attacking men, so much so that cultural icons in the media show women routinely assaulting men with NO negative consequences. Additionally, studies have shown women not only cause close to 50 percent of violence in domestic cases, they tend to be the abuser disproportionally when it comes to physical and emotional abuse of children and the elderly.

What we do know is that people who are violent, are violent against those whom they can dominant and sex plays little to no role in how much of one sex or the other acts out in violent ways.

What is known is that women are not held to account for their actions, while men are crucified and held out as anachronisms in the modern world.

The problem is violence directed at women, but violence period.


Sexual Assault


This is a difficult one because it is a highly emotional subject from the start. Most people would agree that men rape, women are raped - in fact many people laugh at the idea of a man being raped.


Facts: Most studies on sexual abuse are flawed in one way or another. Often the groups performing the study have a bias that is not accounted for, the samples are too small, or the study is being made to back a political position. Its because of this that true stats are hard to come by, but I will use one well known study performed in Canada that shaped Canadian law regarding sexual abuse.

The study is called the VAWS (Violence against women survey) and was poorly conceived from the start. First the sampling was incredibly small. Second the sample pool was slanted and guaranteed to return biased results - it was conducted survey style on a university campus near the rape councilling center. Third the study used loaded questions such as, In the last 6mths has your partner punched, slapped, kicked, shoved, pushed or pulled you? And lastly, when the women who took the study objected to the loaded questions, surveyors said the women were not qualified to define abuse because they were victims, they were also given discretionary powers to answer for the women.

The results? 2/3 of all women will be sexually abused within their lifetime. A horrifying statistic and so wholly improbable that any credible scientist would have immediately looked for problems with their methodology. Instead, the survey was used to scare women senseless and to project a world that simply does not exist. In the end, the survey has done more harm than good, and it put a barrier up between men and women.

Not to let facts get in the way of a good scare, but a woman has about the same chance of being struck by lightening as they do being raped by a stranger. This isn't to say sexual abuse isn't a problem, it is, but the fear surrounding it is hyperbole. Additionally, most women who report abuse are abused by someone they know and trust - a far cry from the media image of our streets being predatory grounds where women are open game.

Other studies conducted have shown that the actual figure of abuse over a lifetime for women is closer to 1/3. While still high it also correlates well with the rates of sexual abuse amongst men who vastly under report incidences of abuse. Additionally, as can be clearly seen through the judiciary and in the media, women who rape underage boys rarely get labeled as rapists and the boys are seen as lucky and not abused. It should also be pointed out that rates of rape in male prisons is exceedingly high, and the rape itself is seen as a systemic component of the criminals punishment, and often gleefully so.

And while it is true that men overwhelmingly commit most sexual abuse, they commit such acts against people they know and trust - for whatever that is worth, and the behavior is a large deviation from then norm. Instead, all males are seen as potential rapists and men aren't even allowed to be around children anymore, even though statistically the woman sheltering the child is more likely to be abusing that child through physical or emotional means.

Again, the problem isn't so much who is to blame, or how much to assign, but that it exists and nothing constructive is being done to solve the issue.

Manhood:

Being a man today is perilous and frankly I stopped caring what women want or think. Much the same way women have stood up and stated they will not let men define for them what is beautiful in a woman, or how a woman should act - I refuse to let any woman dictate the norms for men.

Women can't define what a man is anymore than most men can. In fact, it's my position that any attempt at a definition only breeds stereotypes and fosters further divisions. However, one thing really needs to be pointed out as it is rarely if ever brought to light.

Women do have the ultimate say it what they want from men, just as men have the ultimate say in what they want in women. So at a very basic level our natural desires will create progeny that fits our conscious or unconscious criteria of the other. What is interesting, to me at least, is that the pill is creating more and more men with feminine attributes (women on the pill like men with softer features who are less aggressive and dominate while women off the pill tend to prefer more rugged features and aggressive, dominant men).

For myself, I demand everyone take account of their actions and be free from the desire to place whatever burden they encounter on others as the easy way out. I have told my daughters that to be truly equal is to accept your own limitations, to know yourself, and to accept the outcomes of your actions at all times.

For the most part, defining actual characteristics is futile since male behavior and female behavior exists on a spectrum where much of it overlaps.
This is an EXCELLENT post. Thank you.

What is interesting, to me at least, is that the pill is creating more and more men with feminine attributes (women on the pill like men with softer features who are less aggressive and dominate while women off the pill tend to prefer more rugged features and aggressive, dominant men).

Contraceptive pills trick a woman's body, as you know, into assuming a state of pregnancy. If we were to look back at our ancestors, which man would be less of a danger to a foetus: rugged, aggressive dominant men or the man who is less so? I would be one to argue that before the upstart of civilisation, the more aggressive man would be ideal in defending a pregnant partner, but by that same token bring more risk. A "softer" man (I do not apply these terms to current times) is more likely to protect the woman but also be an additional nurturing force - not just a defending one. Modernity has no use for such deeply-ingrained biology, but that doesn't stop the subconscious from following it.
I follow MMA (mixed martial arts) extensively, and I remember reading this article about a much talked-about female MMA match - the man argued that women shouldn't fight because they were the "fairer sex" and the only hope men had in being "civilised" - therefore, any sign of brute strength would mean the entire society was heading towards ruin.

Apparently the cult of domesticity and the idea of the "Angel in the House" aren't completely dead yet.
Brilliant. This post of yours should be required reading. Bravo.
Thoughtful post. If I can add some comments -

Over the past approx 6 months, there has been an extended series of front page discussions regarding the topics of male privilege, rape, gender inequality, victimization of women. Some of those discussions continue. So while there has been a very large amount of text (possibly hundreds of screen pages) written on A|N about negative attributes or negative behaviors of men, subjugation and victimization of women, there hasn't been nearly as much written about positive attributes or expectations. Actually, of either sex. To a significant degree, there has been defensiveness, division, members leaving A|N, and other members giving up on the discussions.

My hope in bringing up this topic is to focus, not just on what isn't working, or what is bad (there is plenty of that), but to find a focus on the positive attributes of men. Not as opposed to women, or in defense against bad behaviors, but positive attributes to aspire to and acknowledge, in and of themselves.

This is why I'm wanting to keep this discussion positive, and focused on positive characteristics and behavior patterns. Again, it's not in any way meant to minimize the challenges and pain of women, but to give a perspective that can build bridges rather than moats.
This is why I'm wanting to keep this discussion positive, and focused on positive characteristics and behavior patterns. Again, it's not in any way meant to minimize the challenges and pain of women, but to give a perspective that can build bridges rather than moats.

Dan, thanks for bringing a sort of "neutraliser" to the discussions. If we could continue threads like this, it may be easier to work on breaking down the issues afflicting both men and women.
Hi Larry,

I'll point out that "men" and "women" are not equal; they are, however, equally human.

If you changed this statement to read:

I'll point out that "men" and "women" are not the same; they are, however, equal and equally human.

I'd agree with it.

Was that your intent or were making a different point?
For myself, I demand everyone take account of their actions and be free from the desire to place whatever burden they encounter on others as the easy way out.

Well said
Daniel, if your post is truly indicative of your intentions, then I'd say you've succeeded.

goodthink made interesting points, the most significant of which is:
"For myself, I demand everyone take account of their actions and be free from the desire to place whatever burden they encounter on others as the easy way out. I have told my daughters that to be truly equal is to accept your own limitations, to know yourself, and to accept the outcomes of your actions at all times.

For the most part, defining actual characteristics is futile since male behavior and female behavior exists on a spectrum where much of it overlaps."

Perhaps you're all attritive now of my scorn for ideology (if you've read any of my posts at all), but this quote ties in with that issue well. But the thing about ideology and Johnny's "group think," Daniel, is that its manifestations can be just as furtive as they are insidious. Take a look at the article you cited. Like all ideologues, Paul Elam (the author of the article) begins sounding very reasonable indeed, but inevitably, he descends into the same ideological tunnel vision of which he accuses his opposition. He whines about misandry and the role the media has played in emasculating men, and you can almost picture him sitting there dabbing at his eyes with a handkerchief. He champions the subject of the article, the Dockers ad, as "a step in the right direction." Since when is fighting extremism (in this case, rabid Femi-nazism) with opposing extremism (in this case, self-congratulatory, weeping cock-stroking) ever a step in the right direction? If anything, it's the opposite. Also, look at Elam's other entries, as well as the other contributors to the site. Most are of the same breed. They tackle an issue that does indeed need to be tackled, but instead of an intelligent play, they run the ball right off the field. Surreptitious and deadly, this is reactionary collectivism (aka religion) at its peak.

I gleaned this from goothink's response: stick to the facts and derive your moral and/or social course from there. Psychologists, archeologists and anthropologists--like Dr Debra Tannen--give us the best advice, which is that the inherent gender differences (such as communication) compliment each other, and therefore should be celebrated.

The only thing that vexes me more than rabid feminism is the extreme opposite reaction. Yeah sure, men have it REAL bad, don't they? For goodness sake, let's not sit on our asses and stick our bottom lips out because ideologues say mean things to us. Let's man up, and fight irrationality with reason.

Is that really so much to ask?

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

MJ

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service