Masculinity

What Is Masculinity?

Just recently, a rather contentious issue was examined at this website, concerning the design of another website for male studies.  I was struck by the high level of “Hot debate” comments underneath the article, as well as the large number of comments themselves.

I do not wish to reexamine the issue of whether or not that other website’s design can be considered masculine, gay-centered, feminine, or even whether Paul should have written the article in question.  I think that Paul’s decision to end the debate on a high note is sufficient.  However, I do think that many of the points mentioned by numerous commenters are worth exploring in a different vein.  One comment in particular, by the writer whose article sparked the whole debate, is definitely worth closer examination.  Jack Donovan is under the impression that the word “masculinity” has lost its meaning.

I am not interested here in delving into Donovan’s mind, or creating more hot debate.  If such disagreement arises again, so be it.  But I will take issue here with definitions, meanings, usage, and our society’s tendency to destroy, whether intentionally or not, a wonderful word like “masculinity.”

But first, some music.

Below are two audio selections from the orchestral repertoire.  If you are a classical fan, you may recognize one or both of these works, so my little experiment may not work so well for you.  If you are not a classical fan, don’t worry: Both examples are two minutes or less.  Simply listen and tell me which piece was written by a man, and which was written by a woman:

Musical Example 1

Musical Example 2

It seems fairly obvious, doesn’t it?  Musical Example 1 is soft, slow, with long, drawn-out notes played by the strings, a delicate harp playing descending modal scales, and the whole of the work sounds rather sad or forlorn.  For a piece such as this to be expressed well, an attention to fine details and an intuitive grasp of emotional expression is required.  Are these not the qualities we normally associate with the feminine?

Musical Example 2 is loud, harsh, exciting, violent, and tremendously difficult to play.  It requires an orchestra at the top of their form, each player a virtuoso.  It is commanding and demanding.  It makes you sit up and take notice.  (It is also, incidentally, my favorite piece of music of all time.)  I would argue, and I’m sure most would agree, that these are qualities we normally associate with the masculine.

I’m sure you realize where my little experiment is headed.  You may be thinking that I want you to think that Musical Example 1 was written by a woman, and Musical Example 2 was written by a man.  The more perceptive reader would probably anticipate that I’m up to something, and that there is some sort of trick being played here.

The more perceptive reader is correct.  I did play a trick.  Neither piece was written by a woman.  They were both written by a man.  A single composer: Igor Stravinsky.

These two brief examples help to explain why I think Stravinsky was one of the three greatest composers of all time.  Granted, that’s an opinion, and can never be more than that.  But it can also never be more than my opinion that the first example, from the ballet “Orpheus,” and that the second example, from Stravinsky’s earth-shattering, landmark masterpiece, “The Rite of Spring,” are both an exploration of the masculine.

Just because I assert that the above is merely my opinion does not mean that “masculinity” is ultimately meaningless, or that it is always thus symbolized in music and art.  I think that much of what is normally or traditionally associated with the masculine is merely perception, and nothing more.  That’s not such a bad thing.

The masculine, as it is represented in “Rite,” is indeed violent.  The final whirlwind during the finale is, again in my opinion, the single most violent passage of music ever written for orchestra.  By the time the ballet is finished, The Chosen One has been chosen, and she will be sacrificed by the men (with the blessing, of course, of the surviving women of the tribe) to appease the gods of spring.  Was Stravinsky a misandrist?  I have never seen any evidence of that.

To the contrary, the way that the masculine is represented in the ballet “Orpheus” seems to indicate that Stravinsky understood something about masculinity that I like to think I understand.  The title of Musical Example 1 is actually “Orpheus weeps for Eurydice,” who was his wife, according to legend.  Here we have a heterosexual man with the ability, through the normally feminine-associated arts, to charm nature, and to sensitively explore deep-rooted emotion.  Was Stravinsky a poof?  Hardly.  (Although Tchaikovsky was.  And if you choose to follow that wonderfully funny link, you will hear a segment of the most violent part of his final work.  This is the same Tchaikovsky that wrote the intricately delicate and beautiful “Nutcracker.”)

Does this mean that “masculinity” has no meaning, since these two pieces of music are so divergent?  To the contrary.  But would there be any problem with going back to original meaning?  Perhaps, because it’s also true that many of the words we use have evolved over time, making original intent impossible.  Sometimes, political considerations are responsible.  It is my view that the word “liberal” was hijacked some decades ago by a political ideology that is far from liberal.  There is even an argument currently en vogue within the anarchist community as to whether or not we should try salvaging the word itself, or move on to calling ourselves “voluntaryists” or “abolitionists.”  There are good arguments to be had on both sides.

There is also the consideration that what normally falls under the heading of a particular term has changed to such a degree that the definition has to be reduced.  In keeping with the musical examples I have proffered, I can safely say that this has happened with the term “music.”

I am quite certain that the definition of “music” used to mean: “Sounds that are deliberately organized for the human voice and/or musical instruments, where such organization leads to a harmonious outcome.”  If you listen again to the example above from “The Rite of Spring,” you may think that it doesn’t qualify as music, if you were to go by this definition.  It is true that the twentieth century brought about such an explosion in ideas, genres, styles, and attitudes, that the above definition simply won’t work any longer.  Therefore, I believe that the definition of music at this point is probably: “Sounds that are deliberately organized for the sake of their sonorous qualities alone.”

Therefore, we basically have three options with the word “masculinity,” as I see it:

  1. Declare the word to be meaningless, and weep like Orpheus.
  2. Fight for the original meaning.
  3. Strip down the meaning to its bare essentials, and stand for that no matter what.

I see no point in Option Number One.

I see very little point in Option Number Two, because there are numerous things about “original meaning,” depending on the individual or group of individuals who stand for that meaning, that would count people like me out of the realm of what is “masculine.”  In fact, I think that in modern-day America, perceptions of manhood are so far askew as to leave a great many heterosexual men out in the cold as well.  I believe that feminism and misandry are only partly to blame.  There are also various systems of coercion in place doing their part, many of which were in existence long before modern-day feminists sank their talons into those systems.  There are also non-coercive elements to blame, such as the consumer culture; and there are developments that have been a positive boon to humanity, such as the Industrial Revolution, which has altered every single aspect of human existence beyond recognition from ancient times, yet has presented us with challenges that I don’t think we have completely addressed.  To go back to some ancient form of masculine existence or an outdated definition is simply out of the question; therefore, original meaning has very little use in a Post-Industrial, Post-Enlightenment, Information Age.

The option for me, even if I go it alone, is Number Three, to strip the word down to its bare essentials, and to grow it from there, with equal amounts of love, freedom, truth, and peace.  Here, in my view, is the bare, essential, pure, fundamental meaning of “masculinity”:

The existence of manhood; and the perception, recognition, and application of reality through it.

It is my considered opinion that both musical examples above fit nicely within this definition, as both were written by one who existed in manhood, and who perceived, recognized, and applied the principles of the universe in which he lived to create his music.  His contribution is different from a football player’s, from Jack Donovan’s, from mine, and from every other man who ever walked upon this earth, or whoever will, but it is still masculine.

The key, as I see it, is to take that basic definition, own it like you own manhood, and walk in whatever direction your volition takes you, so long as you’re not causing harm to anyone else.  Always remember that your face, body, musculature, brain, and various internal organs, even if women possess many of the same, are unique to men in the way that they have been affected by your masculine genetic code, and the attendant hormones surging through your masculine body.  We can travel the world and recognize men, distinct from women.  We have always been able to do this.  We always will.

As I said in my first comment on Paul’s hotly debated article, I have no problem with effeminate men.  The reasons why I have no problem with them are, first of all, because “effeminate,” like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder; secondly because, as I hinted in that comment, I had numerous positive experiences with effeminate men in group therapy.  Without getting into detail, let me tell you of a singular experience I had where the transformation began:

I had put up with these guys for several weeks when I first started in the group.  As I saw it at that time, the “girliness” was out of control.  It irked me to no end.  I did not like these boys at all.

At some point, I finally got up the nerve to voice my concerns.  I remember Randy (not his real name) finally sat still, looked me directly in the eye, took me seriously for once, and asked me numerous direct but inoffensive questions about my feelings.  As I returned his gaze and spoke about what I was feeling, I could feel the resentment leaving, and a bond forming.  I admitted it openly at the time, and the group seemed to be appreciative.

Over the next several months, or perhaps it was longer than a year, this group of men became my lifeline, my outlet, my anchor, and my friends.  They were the genuine article.  (Turns out that they all loved Madeline Kahn as much as I did.)  I wasn’t the only masculine entity walking around on that campus that initially dismissed them as less-than-manly.  I’m sure I am not the last to have been proven wrong.  The masculine qualities these guys expressed were different than most.  But there was no mistaking that each of them had a penis and testicles, and that the unavoidable, external acknowledgement of the possession of those members, along with the internal surging of testosterone, had its influence on their behavior and their manly bodies.  None of these guys wore a dress.  None of these guys wanted a sex change.  None of them was under the impression that he wasn’t really a man.  Unhappy, yes.  (Just look at the religion each of them felt compelled to swear allegiance to.)  But masculinity was not in question for them.

To embrace a stripped-down, fundamental definition of “masculinity” is not destructive of anything worth saving.  It is merely to ask the question, “Have we been wrong all along?”  In some ways, I think we have.  We separate boys from men during the most crucial years of their development, right up until they’re ready to leave the fiery confusion of puberty.  Once these “boys” are 18, they know next to nothing about paying bills, holding down a job, starting a business, getting a mortgage, screwing or drinking responsibly, what to watch out for as their bodies start aging, starting a family, taking care of babies, how to be on guard against dangerous women, or what on earth “misandry” means.  We can give them automatic weapons when they’re 18, however, and cross our fingers that they don’t get their legs blown off.  Well done, America.

Masculinity, whether we choose to define it or not, will continue.  It’s natural law.  What is required at this point in time is not to abandon the word, any more than I think we ought to abandon the word “honor.”  What will benefit us the most is understanding, whenever we encounter it, those aspects of manhood that have been left behind, ignored, derided, or simply misunderstood.

I would also propose to all women out there that the definition of “femininity” be reduced similarly, for the benefit of people like me, who care about words and their definitions, and who are on occasion utterly fascinated with the feminine.  However, if the word “feminism” simply meant a pre-concern with the problems of women, then I would consider myself a masculinist, ever since I started reading about men’s issues in the mid-90s.  Unfortunately, that’s not what feminism is.  It cannot be reduced to a feel-good definition like what I have proposed.  Its track record is far too deadly.  With all the damage it has already done, it would be a shame if a few well- or ill-intentioned individuals have the final say on a wonderful, mysterious, and highly beneficial word like “masculinity.”  As long as I feel that I embody some aspect of the term, I ain’t gonna let that happen.

B.R. Merrick writes for “Strike The Root” and “A Voice for Men,” lives in the Northeast, is proud to be a classical music reviewer at Amazon.com and iTunes, and in spite of the poisonous nature of television, God Himself will have to pry his DVDs of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” out of his cold, dead hands, under threat of eternal damnation.

About B.R. Merrick

B.R. Merrick writes for "Strike The Root" and "A Voice for Men," and is proud to be a classical music reviewer at Amazon.com and iTunes.

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  • http://www.fatalplanet.blogspot.com Theodore Labadie

    I was shocked when reading a biography of the Swan King Ludwig II how Wagner, that paragon of Teutonic masculinity loved to overdecorate his houses with volumes of pink satin and rich brocades.

    I think it is the male that is the beautiful sex, and the male that has the most discerning senses. Modernity has forced men to forget something about their nature that is beautiful and essential to civilization.

    • B.R. Merrick

      And Wagner was a ladies’ man. One of my music professors told us that his wife caught him in the arms of another woman, confronted him, and was told by him that in his new opera, one of the characters has an adulterous affair, and so he’s just doing research.

      I don’t much care for Wagner either way. His music sounds dry to me, although he was very important in the development of musical ideas.

      • http://www.fatalplanet.blogspot.com Theodore Labadie

        Odd you find his music dry since he had such a great sense of humor. Not even the overture to Tanhauser?

        • B.R. Merrick

          Not sure about that. Maybe I’ll download it and give it a try, if you like it. (Only 99 cents, right?) Every other time I’ve bought a CD of his stuff, I’ve ended up selling it later.

          • http://www.fatalplanet.blogspot.com Theodore Labadie
          • B.R. Merrick

            Ah! Now I recognize it. Unfortunately, though my top three favorites wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for what you hear at the link, it just doesn’t speak to me. And I’ve had the opportunity to play Wagner, which usually helps me to dissect and examine the music more closely.

            But if that’s your bag, baby, I can deal with it.

            :)

  • Norsefire

    This post is off topic but in this article it says that a mp in the uk has just called feminists bigots:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1350128/Tory-MP-Dominic-Raab-calls-male-equality-Feminists-bigots.html

  • http://huntingforarchetypes.blogspot.com Factory

    Apparently, shaming men for being ‘effeminate’ (or gay) isn’t even a new thing…

    My favorite take on the subject…

    • B.R. Merrick

      I remember that monologue. Very funny guy.

  • keith

    without reading any further, it is my impression that the second example was written in his younger years. now back to the article.

    • B.R. Merrick

      Indeed it was. Very perceptive.

  • Keyster

    A goal of Feminism was to vilianize masculinity to divide men,form a fissure between the brotherhood men once shared. You can’t even bitch or laugh about women with other men anymore without being called out.

    Whenever someone asks me what masculinity is I say; “It’s doing the right thing.”
    And if that’s too vague ask yourself, what would John Wayne do?
    http://www.playboy.com/articles/john-wayne-interview

    A man is proud, righteous, selfless and at his best when things are at their worst.
    A man gets things done without wasting time complaining about the task. A man NEVER lets self-pity get the best of him; he moves forward. A man chooses his battles wisely, letting inconsequental, trivial matters pass by, saving his energy to fight blatant injustice to himself or others with unleashed ferocity.

    A man never lies to himself, about himself.
    His reserves know no depth. He can always reach further than what his limits are.
    And when he gets knocked down, his pride broken in half, his world gone; he picks himself up and creates a new world all over again.

    This is why women want to be men, but never will be…
    …and they resent us for “keeping it” from them, as if it’s a right to be awarded.

    • typhonblue

      Okay here’s the problem I have with this.

      If that’s what men are, then why get irate if women are weak, manipulative, trivial, complaining, selfish, hedonistic liars with no sense of justice?

      If you hold women to no standard then…

      • Keyster

        Because we were force fed propaganda that they were none of those things, and now everyone believes it to be the defacto truth. A man understands a woman’s nature, and dismisses it; or at least he once did in another time, before she had so much legal recourse.

        We get irrate because we bought the propaganda that women are like men, only better…so when they misbehave, as women will do, it pisses us off because they’re not supposed to really be like that.

        No matter how much proof you have of woman’s true nature, no one will believe you. That’s how powerful the indocrination has been.

        • typhonblue

          I wasn’t referring to the posters/commentators here, but social attitudes in general. (Re-reading the comment I can see how it was ambiguous.)

          The ‘man up’ attitude… the idea that men are uniquely qualified to uphold a standard that women don’t and are worthless otherwise(but not worth the same as women, which is where this lie falls apart if you walk through it logically)–is the dynamic behind both excusing women their moral excesses(or their moral cowardice) and turning men into expendable pawns.

          It’s a pretty lie obscuring an ugly truth.

      • Alphabeta Supe

        @typhonblue

        You do understand that when men post what’s on their mind here it is not to justify themselves to women, don’t you? If they are to be held accountable, it will only be by other men.

        If you don’t want to draw attention to the fact that you are a woman, possibly on the warpath, and don’t want to unleash a barrage of artillery fire aimed squarely at you, it would be wise to keep your loaded comments to yourself.

        No man is accountable to any woman, neither out there nor in here, best you remember that before you post.

        • Anthony Hopkins

          We are accountable to each other. Like the bible asks “Am I my brother’s keeper?” and the answer is yes. As a married man I am accountable to my wife in the same sense she is accountable to me. The basis of ethics is “Treat others the way you would like to be treated”. Perhaps it’s about the definition of accountable?
          [img]http://avoiceformen.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Picture 009.jpg[/img]

    • D

      I think that you can say these things are manly and if that is the nuanced statement then I agree.
      In fact I would even raise the point here that to the degree that I have a problem with “game” it is largely due to the fact that game has us put on so many faux displays and behave, strictly for purpose of impressing women, as if some puissant battle (i.e. her “shittest” of his alpha status) were consequential/nontrivial,etc. I read Rudyard Kipling’s “If” and agree that what he describes is manly, and I dismay that by rules of “game” (and ergo what most women find attractive), Kipling is describing “beta” masculinity that, far from admiring, women tend to hold in contempt.
      A very, very sad state of affairs.
      But, having said that, I disagree with saying “a man is proud, righteous, selfless…” I appreciate that Keyster probably doesn’t mean to say so, that he is talking about what is manly, not about what is a man, but the statement leaves itself too open here.
      The possession of male genitalia does not confer virtue and that of female does not confer vice. Men are virtuous and flawed. Women are virtuous and flawed. He are, together, human with the possibility that our respective roles in the mating cycle confer certain strengths and weaknesses in unequal distribution, but to state or imply the moral superiority of either gender or of the “essence” of either gender is specious.

  • Stu

    We shouldn’t use the word violent or violence to describe anything except physical violence. Since feminits have brought the legal definition of violence to mean anything that upsets a woman…..I put it to you that playing your violent music will soon be considered an act of dometic voilence…..just like being silent…..or giving your partner a theatening stare…..whatever that is.

    Going back to listening to some music now……..AC/DC…….Shoot to thrill. That will do until get Rulaz latest CD

  • AntZ

    Masculinity is “the existence of manhood; and the perception, recognition, and application of reality through it.”

    I wonder if the author realizes that this definition of masculinity is logically identical to saying:

    “Masculinity is whatever you want it to be, as long as you are consistent.”

    Like all undelimited statements, the definition may provide individual usefulness in cases where a man is in conflict with himself. However, because it is unencumbered by ties to observable reality, it is impossible to judge the correctness (or incorrectness) of any individual man’s chosen definition of “masculinity”, again as long as that choice was made thoughtfully.

    The author’s definition may help you to find your personal TRUTH, but it does not help at all if you are searching for FACT.

    If you want to define “masculinity” from a factual point of view, you would have to examine what characteristics are common to all historical aspirations of the masculine.

    Reflecting on this question, I have concluded that there is only one characteristically masculine trait that has manifested itself in all peoples, in all times, and in all situations:

    Mutual solidarity and individual sacrifice for the good of the whole, when faced with a common threat.

    This is also the only characteristic that universally sets men apart form women in all peoples, in all times, and in all situations. When faced with an existential threat to their group, women worry about their individual survival, while men worry about the survival of their group.

    • B.R. Merrick

      I find your “factual” definition of masculinity to be intruiguing, and I am going to take it seriously as I examine historical precedent in the future. However, I do not believe that what I have defined can be equated to “Masculinity is whatever you want it to be, as long as you are consistent,” because you are leaving out the first part of the definition: “The existence of manhood.” First and foremost, manhood needs to be factually existent in order for masculinity to have a definition. But what you say may very well be a part of it.

      I do not think that words can mean whatever you want them to mean. But I do believe that masculine entities will embody various characteristics in a specifically masculine way, including your definition if need be.

    • B.R. Merrick

      Also, concerning “mutual solidarity and individual sacrifice for the good of the whole, when faced with a common threat,” would women’s concern for the welfare of children “when faced with an existential threat to their group” be considered self-sacrificial? Would women going to work in the factories during World War II when they would rather have stayed at home be considered self-sacrificial? Or do these belong in a different category from the sacrifices that men are oftentimes called upon to make?

    • AntZ

      @Merrick

      In my opinion, the aggregate sacrifice made by women over time has likely equalled, and possibly surpassed, that of men.

      My argument has nothing to do with which sex is “good” or “bad”. Women and men sacrifice under different circumstances.

      Being faced with a common enemy that presents an existential threat to their group is the trigger that motivates men to set aside their differences and fight for the survival of their group.

      Women have other circumstances which trigger their selfless instincts. I don’t care about these, because socially women are so hyper-applauded that I find any effort to identify the virtues of women to be counter productive. How can any woman who lives in our female-worship world possibly need to be reminded that there is something good within her?

      For men, the situation is different. Constant, unrelenting, organized dehumanization and demonization leaves vast room for someone to hold a mirror up and say “look, we have done good things also.”

      • B.R. Merrick

        Thanks for that explanation. I like it.

  • Keyster

    A large part of the modern vernacular as been the over use of the word “strong” to denote a woman whose overcome adversity of any kind.
    “She’s a strong woman!”
    “She’s a real fighter!”

    This is the feminist mass media applying masculine characteristics to women. Masculine is strong. Feminine is the opposite or weak. Its meant to give the impression that women can interchange between masculine and feminine as the situation dictates…or to get what she wants. (So ya better watch out buster!)

    This is at the root of the identity crisis of the masculine IMHO. Women have hijacked it as there own, and men aren’t quite sure who they are, or what their purpose is. If women can be “strong” simply by overcoming the slightest hardship, what does that make a man?

    • hestia

      The idea of strength (or of a strong women) has been assigned to women long before feminism took rise. In the Virtuous Wife passage from Proverbs 31 in the KJV the words strength and virtuous appear, both referring to what we today might refer to as masculine characteristics. Perhaps this could be argued to be an earlier form of the “honorary gentlemen” idea which would make sense considering a virtuous wife was supposed to be a rare being.

      From my own life experiences and family history, I personally find the old adage about a strong woman being behind every strong man to be true. I seriously doubt my husband would be able to be fulfilling the military dream/goal of his he is now if I were a wimpy woman who couldn’t face down conflicts and issues, let my fear & emotions get the best of me, and couldn’t keep the house, finances and family running without him here to hold my hand and tell me what to do. Feminine and masculine strength may indeed be very different but they can be perfect complements to each other rather than characteristics that are at odds with each other.

      I absolutely agree with you that being “strong” cannot come about from overcoming a small bit of hardship. Resilience, moral courage, and strength of character only come about from a life dedicated to the cultivation of these traits, a philosophy that says when going through hell keep on walking no matter what.

      • B.R. Merrick

        This is what I was hoping for when I asked for the female perspective. It makes further response from me less and less necessary.

      • Keyster

        I think “virtuous” in the Biblical context refferred to chastity. She would be morally “strong” to resist sexual impulse.

        It’s the popular assumption that women as a group are strong or have strength, because every little example of a woman doing anything unusually difficult is held up in the mass media, (as the exception that proves the rule). Single moms are “strong” by default. It’s this false narrative that puts most women, who aren’t strong, under so much pressure to prove that they are. And when the collapse under the weight of it, they blame men for somehow subverting them.

        • hestia

          It’s my understanding that the Hebrew word used in the passage “chayil” means strength and force in the same way we’d say a warrior is strong. The same word appears in that context at several points in the OT all in reference to men (Exodus 14:4, 9, 28 & Numbers 31:14) or to the biblical figure Ruth.

          This would make sense considering the passage in it’s entirety. The picture painted in Prov31 demands far more than sexual fidelity and practically speaking being a good wife and mother involves a morality and strength of character far more formidable than one formed around sexual purity alone. Work ethic, good financial sense, being able to resist temptations to all sorts of vices, being disciplined and dedicated when it’s tough, putting others first, and so forth are all part of a mature adult woman morality. heh, this could fit in well with the ongoing Laura Ingalls Wilder discussion on The Spearhead!

          Taking the passage at face value proves your point well I think…and I’m not bringing it up to bible thump or anything like that. This sort of woman was considered rare and never was common place. It’s a reverse form of NAWALT. A good look at the history of femininity, even of the truly strong variety, really blows a lot of feminist ideas right out of the water. It also proves what a deceitful operation women’s studies classes are as well as many Bible study classes.

          • Keyster

            Making sense of Biblical parables, translated through several languages for centuries, is always tricky ground. T

            The only historically “strong” women to feminists are…other feminists. Many of the greatest women through time would never have had anything to do with feminism; which is why we here so little about them. History is not patriarchal, reality is. Feminist history is not reality. Teaching children that there were once great women destroys their narrative; that women were once akin to black slaves.

            And now finally, FINALLY that they’ve been liberated from the shackles of the white male power structure; what are they doing? Crusading for yet more privilages as a group, and little else.

  • Nergal

    “The more perceptive reader is correct. I did play a trick. Neither piece was written by a woman.”

    I tested myself by listening before I read the article and that was my first impression. The first piece is soulful. It has an introspective quality to it. Now most people would assume women are introspective because they appear to be passive,but this is incorrect. Women are actually extroverted conformists by nature, so the lack of apparent individuality leads one to assume there is introspection going on. It is a mental illusion,similar to the optical illusions that trick your eyes into seeing lines or motion in a complex pattern that aren’t actually there. The truth is women are neither observing the world nor themselves, beyond a very limited scope of intrapersonal relations they observe nothing. They can, for instance, tell you what someone else’s facial expression means but they could never have devised a method to harness electricity or tell you what a soul is.

    The second piece is indeed commanding and that rules out a female hand automatically. Women lack charisma. They are natural followers of men and masculine or elder women,incapable of leading anyone but children. They only know how to plead for leadership or recognition. Even the most aggressive militant feminists are doing this. Their strap-on fantasies and femdom fetishism is still obvious as pleading or bullying people into accepting the inferior female headship. Unlike a man, they cannot inspire people to want to follow. They cannot impart dignity or glory to their leadership or promises of the same to their adherents.

    “Here we have a heterosexual man with the ability, through the normally feminine-associated arts, to charm nature, and to sensitively explore deep-rooted emotion.”

    Actually, in ancient Greece, men were in charge of music. There was a God of Music, Apollo,who was also ( I know this won’t come as a surprise to you guys) the God of reason and medicine. The lyre, which was Apollo’s instrument of choice, resembled a harp,but was actually like the electric guitar of the day/location. I think of Apollo like an ancient Greek Slash.

    There was no Goddess of Music.

    See here:

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_Greek_Goddess_of_music

    The female “deities” involved with music were said to be related to Apollo or acting under his authority.

    Music has always been a male domain, right from the time the first instrument was crafted, a flute made from an animal bone or reed, depending on whose version of history you accept on that one.

    • Kimski

      I concur. And after 50 years…No-actually,-after 200-400 years,(!), of males trying to inspire the more wealthy class of women to pick up an instrument and create music, there has not been a single Mozart, Beethoven or Stravinsky. Nor will there ever be one.
      If you’re asking why, you’ll probably end up with the same old: “-Well, women where oppressed!”.
      Kind of makes you wonder how the black man, living under REAL oppression during slavery, came up with so many different types of music, doesn’t it??

      I think it is very important that we define for ourselves, what it means to be a man. Under no circumstance is this something, that women should be allowed to do, no matter how much they want to, and indeed have done…
      -That would be like a bike asking a fish to define a bicycle…

      • thehermit

        Manliness is not a static but rather a dynamic thing, always changing, adopting for the current circumstances.

        “Actually, in ancient Greece, men were in charge of music.”

        Men were always in charge about music. Tell me a great woman composer. You can’t. Meanwhile, there are great women performers.
        This is like two sides of the same coin…

    • http://www.drdeezee.com J. Durden

      It’s no trick when you realize women rarely compose anything, period. ;)

    • B.R. Merrick

      The second piece is indeed commanding and that rules out a female hand automatically.

      I have heard music by a living female composer named Augusta Reed Thomas that, in my view, makes this statement incorrect. I have also heard the music of a female composer who hid her work from the Soviet government for years out of fear that it would invite censorship. The New York Philharmonic gave the United States premier of a work for viola and orchestra (I believe — this was several years ago), and I was swept away by the introspection that I heard. Her name was Galina Ustvolskaya, and the great Dmitri Shostakovich said of her: “I am convinced that the music of G. I. Ustvolskaya will achieve worldwide renown, to be valued by all who perceive truth in music to be of paramount importance.”

      Granted, these women are exceptions, and unfortunately, female composers currently living are coming into their own in an era when the Western World doesn’t seem much interested in innovation or originality, so I don’t expect to encounter many more, but again, what matters to me is the music, not the sex.

      It also doesn’t matter to me whether men or women created the instruments we now enjoy. I knew a lot of women who could pound the hell out the piano better than I ever did.

      I do agree with much of this comment in a general way, however. But when it comes to making generalizations about whether or not women can think or feel adequately, or be introspective, well, I’m not getting it. Where do you come up with “Women are actually extroverted conformists by nature”? I think of introspection and individuality as human, and that these qualities can be expressed in both masculine and feminine ways, depending on the sex of the individual who expresses.

  • B.R. Merrick

    I am withholding my thoughts on some of the above comments, because I am still trying to understand what some of the commenters are actually saying, and trying to determine where I might agree or disagree. I think I will have a rather lengthy comment at a later time.

    Instead, I will simply plead here, as much as I can, for thoughts from some of our female readers. What do you ladies think about these men’s thoughts on women?

  • Peter Charnley

    Observing the human world today, from the various perspectives of rising and declining economic, political, technological and cultural global power and influence, a very strong link cannot possibly be ignored between the rising influence of the female in western societies over recent decades and a sharp decline in the relative world strength, influence and predicted quality of life within those societies that, chronologically, very closely parallels these various shifting tides of change.

    Western societies that have deliberately chosen to exalt femininity at the ruthless and pitiless expense of masculinity have done so at huge cost to themselves. It is clear they have lost their imagination, their momentum and they have lost their dignity – in their own eyes and in the eyes of others.

    • B.R. Merrick

      I can speak from my perspective on government schooling, that the desire to take care of everybody else, especially the children (it’s always the children), has resulted in what you’re saying here:

      It is clear they have lost their imagination…

      Very little that modern composers (most of them male) are writing is really all that interesting. There does indeed seem to be a reduction in imagination that is consistent with mass schooling and mass child-rearing.

  • hestia

    Good stuff, BR but I do wonder if we can truly reduce the concept of masculine and feminine to a simple understanding. With both femininity and masculinity I tend to the opinion that true understanding is beyond our scope of understanding, or at least not found within the language we have to express our ideas. The essence of the sexes is very broad. Think of the many gods and goddesses one might learn about while studying the classics, and the traits and stories assigned to each one, represent a different facet/aspect of masculinity and femininity respectively. Some individuals may find themselves identifying heavily with a specific deity when they study the classics (I certainly do. Who she is should be obvious ;) ) but others may relate just a bit to many different deities. Most people, however, can see parts of themselves and others in these stories and come to a better understanding of their own sex, the idea of vive la difference, and the broader picture of how humans relate to each other.

    Ultimately there is no one right (or Real) way to be a man or woman. On the other thread such a position was said to be a result of post-modern style relativism, but frankly I’d make the argument that the other side, the tight handed and myopic view of the sexes is immature and lacks the depth of experience or a sincere understanding and appreciation of the many ambiguities that are real and very human. A lot of discussions on what makes a man or woman are extremely shallow and reflect well this immaturity. Real Women must wear this and drive that. Real Men must only participate in this narrow list of hobbies and best never read this book. What do any of these outward and very consumerist choices have to do with something as important and grand as the essence of masculinity and femininity? Do they really capture something that has existed for all time? I think not.

    • B.R. Merrick

      I do wonder if we can truly reduce the concept of masculine and feminine to a simple understanding.

      My effort with this article is not to reduce masculinity itself, but to start with the fundamental definition, which I believe is the existence of manhood. Masculinity, as you rightly point out in your comment, is going to manifest itself in numerous ways.

      Therefore, as you say, it shouldn’t be pigeon-holed into specifics by individuals who refuse to accept masculine entities as masculine. Thanks for your thoughts.

  • Alphabeta Supe

    I agree with the author and some of the commenters above that masculinity is a dynamic property. Unlike the other-worldliness of Godliness, masculinity and femininity are functions of cutural and sociological influences, so ought not be presumed to be fixed. If we must fix them to anything, I’d fix them to each other and assert that masculinity is the complement of femininity, and vice-versa. Thus, one would not have definition without the other. If masculinity were ever lost then so would femininity.

    I’m intrigued also by what the women have to say. Let’s start with Eve Ensler, the founder of V-Day and author of The Vagina Monologues. Because apparently she’s the final authority on all things female (/sarcasm).

    http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/02/02/ensler.TED.talk.girl.power/index.html?hpt=Mid

    In this particularly prurient (even for TED) piece of vulva veneratus, Ensler would have us believe that the “future is Girl”. Unable to resist flipping her engorged little bean in public, she gushes:

    The future is “girl.” Imagine girl is a cell that each of us — boys and girls — are born with. Imagine this girl cell is central to the evolution of our species and an assurance of the continuation of the human race.

    Now imagine that a few powerful people, invested in owning this world, understood that the oppression of this cell was key to retaining their power, so they reinterpreted this cell, undermining its value and making us believe that it is weak. They initiated a process to crush, eradicate, annihilate, humiliate, belittle, censor, reduce and kill off the girl cell.

    This was called patriarchy.

    Imagine girl is a chip in the huge microcosm of our collective consciousness, which is essential to the balance, wisdom and future of humanity.

    Imagine that girl is the part of each of us that feels compassion, empathy, passion, intensity, association, relationship, emotion, play, resistance, vulnerability, intuitive intelligence, vision.

    Imagine that compassion informs wisdom. That vulnerability is our greatest strength. That emotions have inherent logic and lead to radical saving action.

    The state of girl, the condition of girl — in the world and in us — will determine if this species survives.

    I’ll leave others to vent this prize nanny goat’s effluvia at a time of their own choosing and just deodorize the bit that relates to BR’s article.

    I think poor Eve’s flipped her bean so much it’s turned into curd. The future will be apt to read their Embryology textbooks more carefully than she, I should expect. Let’s try to picture what they’ll learn.

    Imagine that the X-chromosome contained about 5% of the haploid genome, and that the genes it housed encoded house-keeping and specialized functions that were completely conserved in gene content between generations or, if you like, comprised the “human cell”.

    Imagine that the ‘human cell’ did not encode sex determination or differentiation and that both male and female gametes possess one X-chromosome. In other words, imagine that the genes central to the evolution of our species and the concomitant assurance of the continuation of the human race were in ALL human embryos BEFORE sex was determined.

    Now imagine that the functions necessary for human survival in a world full of deadly mystery required the development of something more than the ‘human cell’. Imagine that the presence of a Y chromosome provided an individual with the specialized functions necessary to explore, exploit and render safe a dangerous world to the precious X.

    Imagine that “women and children first” was a code that the XY host lived and died by, and that it was passed from father to son through the ages. Imagine, finally, that the XY was able to do this because it had the attributes of the ‘human cell’ plus something essentially more.

    This was called Masculinity.

    Further study: Because the Y-chromosome encodes rapidly mutating genes, which are the basis of our adaptability and masculinity, masculinity may eventually die out if there are no more physical challenges for us to overcome, like perhaps death itself.

    Conclusions:

    1. Eve Ensler is a fool (confirmation only – we knew this from the start).

    2. Masculinity is the behavioural consequence of the genetic imperatives of the Y-chromosome. As long as the ‘human cell’ (X-chromosome) yields a different phenotype when paired with a Y-chromosome than with another X, masculinity will be defined. Future definitions may differ widely from today’s, but so will definitions of femininity.

    3. The Y-chromosome may eventually become extinct if we no longer need the fast-evolving genes it carries but no arbitrary political movement can make this happen before its time. It’s certainly not going to happen on our watch, or the feminists’.

    • B.R. Merrick

      Hot damn! That’s one hell of an observation.

    • thehermit

      “Now imagine that a few powerful people, invested in owning this world, understood that the oppression of this cell was key to retaining their power, so they reinterpreted this cell, undermining its value and making us believe that it is weak. They initiated a process to crush, eradicate, annihilate, humiliate, belittle, censor, reduce and kill off the girl cell.

      This was called patriarchy.”

      This woman is completely nuts. I’m really, really surprised anybody is interested what she has to say. Why does she get so big publicity?

      • B.R. Merrick

        Because well-known actresses sign up in droves to blurt out her “Vagina Monologues” every chance they get. If a celebrity does it, it must be worth watching.

  • keith

    Masculinity is modular like leggo, I believe to see this is to first look at the male child, how he is influenced by his body and how he responds to his body. He is mischievous and clever, gentle and curious about violence. His curiosity is isolating and easily angered when interrupted. He is loving, vulnerable and kind.

    The rest are attributes, modular add-on. Courage, forthright, all the social constructs used to contain and harness him are social exaggerations of his younger self. They are exaggerated to remove his control of them, so that the celebration of his own uniqueness is externalized and controlled by others. Little boys like little boys because they are a direct reflection of his potential and an external challenging threat. Little boys like little girls less as an indirect reflection of internal options. Little boys engage the external directly through cause and effect. Little girls engage the internal through effect. Then they both get bigger and sign on to blogs.

  • keith

    I don’t think masculinity is much more than what we would see in a young boy age six or eight. The rest is social exaggeration for the purpose of manipulation and control. To turn him into a piece of inventory.

  • Primal

    This is masculinity: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1350128/Tory-MP-Dominic-Raab-Feminists-obnoxious-bigots-men-raw-deal.html ….the willingness to take tough stands against overwhelming odds.

  • Alan

    You know, my own view is perhaps unwelcome here but the simplest description of masculinity is Christ Himself. Eternal: is, was and shall be. The Alpha and the Omega. The first and the last. Can’t really get more comprehensive than that. Power and grace; truth and freedom. Christ crucified, Christ enthroned. Top to bottom and side to side it covers the lot. One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind (mixing my metaphors here). Anyway, just my 2 cents. Ciao!

    • B.R. Merrick

      Why would that be unwelcome? I don’t believe in Jesus anymore, but there’s a reason why I consider myself a Post-Christian instead of an ex-Christian, and you’ve hit on it with your view.

      • hestia

        Off-topic but just had to say how much I like your phrase “Post-Christian” That’s pretty much where I am myself but have never thought to use such a phrase. It’s much more positive and representative of my beliefs than that of “ex-christian”. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • AntZ

      “… simplest description of masculinity is Christ Himself …”

      It is not simple at all, but I think it is factually correct.

      After all the story of Christ is the story of individual sacrefice for the survival of the community.

      Precisely what I have been saying constitutes the “core” of masculinity.

      The ultimate act of “masculinity” is to give up one’s life for the good of the other.

      When faced with the Devil as an existential threat to humanity, Christ came to Earth to fight for the survival of his people (in this case, the entire human race). In the end, he was forced to sacrefice his individual life to ensure the survival of humanity.

      I do not believe in God or Christ or any other religious ideology, but I take careful note that EVERY world religion has at its core the sacrefice of a man for the good of his community.

  • Peter Charnley

    I read Dominic Raab’s comments, not just on Angry Harry’s site, but raw – in today’s, Tuesday, 25 th Jan., Daily Mail newspaper. Good stuff.

    It is great (and important) to read sense and truth on the internet – but it is a bit like drinking caffeine free coffee in some ways. It is your choice, it is your speciality. But when you see it in the mainstream press you know it is the ‘coffee’ that everyone is drinking – knowingly and unknowlingly.

    Alas it was a shame that there were several other articles in the same newspaper with journalists wetting themselves in glee at the firing of Andy Gray and Richard Keys from the Sky Sports Channel because of so called ‘off air’ sexist comments about a female football match official.

    I just hope that these cretinous journalists will just unwittingly highlight the poignancy of Raab’s message in people’s minds.

    To uninformed American readers, I won’t go into any details about the incident involving Gray and keys – but what has happened to them has been a monstrous act of gross feminist hypocrisy and, for want of a better term, professional genocide. Quite disgusting.

  • http://www.versifier59.wordpress.com Capt. DaPoet

    Men are both male and female XY while females are all female XX with no masculine side to explore leaving men quite able to both explore as well as appreciate the masculine and the feminine sides of their duel nature.

  • Marc

    @ B. R. Merrick

    “Therefore, we basically have three options with the word “masculinity,” as I see it:

    1. Declare the word to be meaningless, and weep like Orpheus.
    2. Fight for the original meaning.
    3. Strip down the meaning to its bare essentials, and stand for that no matter what.“

    This is a great peace which is ultimately beneficial for advancement of the men’s movement. I totally agree with you about the three options available for “masculinity”. As well, I do not see a point in option one. Your rational about existence of numerous definitions about the “original meaning” which are dependent to the individuals or groups of individuals is entirely valid. Actually, I would also add that these definitions also change by time and create more confusion.

    However, defining the “masculinity” to mere “existence of manhood; and the perception, recognition and application of reality through it” might be too simplistic and unproductive (by using “mere” I do not want to decrease the value of manhood which is holy for me). This implies that masculinity is synonym to manhood and is the same as being a man. I do not see any practical difference between this and the first option. As the first one is elimination of the word and the third one is elimination of the meaning of the word and substitution of its meaning with the meaning of another word which we already have.

    We are all humans but I do not think we could define humanity as just being a human. I cannot see the humanity in a person who does not care about himself or others (forget harming others). I think most people are in agreement with this notion (I just think so! Not necessarily the truth). The same thing applies for masculinity. I would like to consider another option to define “masculinity” and call it “dynamic masculinity”.

    This is a system of believes, attitudes and behaviors that originate from “existence of manhood; and the perception, recognition and application of reality through it” and eventually leads a man to his full potentials. At first, it might appear that it is the same as the second option (traditional masculinity), but there is a major unfortunate difference between these two. There are lots of predefined characteristics for traditional masculinity which are, as mentioned before, very different and sometimes contradictory based on the cultures, time and etc. However, unluckily we do not have predefined and/or known sets of believes, attitudes and behaviors. We should do our research and look for these attributes which make our job much harder. Some of the attributes of the traditional masculinity might be among these and some of course not. We should do our research to find validations for these attributes which are based upon men’s inherent qualities with attention to avoid collapse into moral relativism and not to be distracted by feminism. If we men fulfill our potentials, feel happier and be more confident with more sense of self-respect we will be much better for ourselves, other men and the society as a whole.

    • B.R. Merrick

      Marc, your comment is an excellent one, and I think that some of the comments above may already be an effort in that direction. I’m excited to see how and where this will turn up!

  • dr. orange

    When I was jogging two weeks ago, I had a perception of masculinity that I never had before. I thought that there’s not the ONE masculinity. I thought of masculinity as a strategy to blaze the trail to the goal of volition. It used to be survival. Now it’s more faceted.
    This article, along with that feeling I had, is one of those inceptions of a new perception of the world.
    It may be as groundbreaking as when I started to dare thinking that god may not exist at the age of 15, a thought that’s not allowed to be thought being raised strongly catholic and in fear of god.
    I do think however that there’s a male archetype. Strength, Exploration, Bravery, Endurance. But this is just the loam which you can press into very different shapes and forms.

    • B.R. Merrick

      See that “Like” checkmark? That’s mine.

  • http://www.manwomanmyth.com Perseus

    This is a terrific article. I wasn’t reading AVfM back in January (unfortunately) and I’m super grateful that I came across it now. This is the type of conversation I have been longing to have about maleness/masculinity for a long time now.

  • MGTOW-man

    Whatever masculinity is (and the same goes for manhood), it most definitely cannot be defined by women—period! …and it will be exploited, hated, and twisted if left up to feminists—who hate it because they can never attain it! (They need to take that up with God, at least not blame men for nature!).

    I am glad that Merrick included in his definition of masculinity: “The existence of manhood; and the perception, recognition, and application of reality through it.”

    Perhaps this is why feminists despise it so much—because it is linked to reality in which they have no clue what that is but instead think it has something to do with their feelings, which actually distorts their perceptions of reality. That is why we MRA’s have such trouble with “their” reality.