Previous posts: Part I, II, III, IV, V, VI
Men are aggressive, predatory, competitive, rough, sex-obsessed, unruly, stymied by complex emotions, self-important, prone to violence, and domineering.
Does that apply to all men? Hell no. As I said early on in this series, I’m going to make a lot of general statements. Generally, historically and biologically, the above statements are true. Your mileage — or your husband’s, son’s, nephew’s, father’s or best friend’s — may vary.
But these messy traits are part of the human male character — along with loyalty, focus, protectiveness, assertiveness, directness, courage, physical strength, logic, reason, intellectual rigor, risk-taking, fascination with machinery and tools, and more, both positive and negative.
In fact, let’s not speak of positive and negative traits. Violence and protectiveness spring from the same sources. Aggression and assertiveness are close cousins to each other. Blindness to emotions can be related to intellectual rigor, focus, courage, or inventiveness. Risk-taking can manifest as “hold my beer and watch this” or as the astonishing heroism of a Desmond Doss. Competitiveness can turn a man (or woman, though that’s a different subject) into a complete jerk or into a person whose rise to the top benefits the world. Or both at once.
It’s all in how those rowdy — and yes. often dangerous — male energies are channeled.
And that brings us to Reason One that good men are needed: because good men are essential for raising boys who will in turn become good men. Circular logic? Maybe. Truth? Yes. This we have covered earlier. Even the greatest mothers can’t do this one thing: be a living example to their children of what manhood ought to be.
Reason Two: Because trying to deny biology is stupid. It doesn’t work. Tell boys they must be more like girls (or drug their inherent restless, curious, disobedient boy-ness out of them) as we are now doing and you don’t end up with well-adjusted, less dangerous, more civilized men. You end up with confused, angry, self-loathing, resentful men or weak creatures in man-like bodies. And that is trouble. That means more incels, more misfits who hide in their parents’ basements, more drug addiction, more suicides, more unfocused rage, less productivity, fewer strong adults to do the hard and dirty jobs, very likely even more fulminating weaklings who decide spree killing is their big ticket to immortality. To produce healthy men, you must work with, not against, nature.
Reason Three: Because we need to build bridges, dig ditches, plan expeditions to outer space, develop and build new sources of power, handle natural disasters, build quantum computers, rebuild crumbling infrastructure, forge metals, protect communities, hunt game, collect trash, trim and harvest trees, fish in wild oceans, fight battles, and do a thousand other vital jobs that men have always excelled at. Again, can women do many of these things? Sure. Some can. And since women have been released from historic, imposed, artificial bonds more than ever are capable of such tasks. And good for us. But men’s brains, men’s bodies, and men’s temperaments were created for this kind of thing. And alas, by trying to make the more enticing of these tasks female-friendly, we all too often are trying to weaken the education of all rather than challenging the women.
Reason Four: Because even if we believe the population of the world is too high or growing too fast, we still need men with ample testosterone and healthy sperm counts to keep our species going. We aren’t producing many of those men today.
Reason Five: Because we need to defend liberty. We need to defend it with hard, logical ideas. With determined spirits. And perhaps ultimately with strong bodies, expertise with weaponry, and sound strategic and tactical thinking. Again, some women are good at these things. Mostly, however, these are the inborn specialties of men — but not of men who’ve been raised to be people-pleasing, non-controntational, don’t-rock-the-boat, compromising, fearful, whims-are-as-important-as principles sort of guys.
Reason Six: Because we’ve enjoyed the unique historical privilege of living in the first era of the world in which the individual — not the state, not the church, not the king, not the pasha, not the warlord — has been recognized as the prime unit of humanity, the measure of all justice, virtue, and prosperity. And this has been the work of men. Women, with their other-directedness, their emphasis on group endeavors, consensus, and collaboration could never have given birth to this revolution. And we women — and the carbon-copy men our feminized society is aiming to produce — will not and cannot sustain the primacy of individuality.
Reason Seven: Because dangers still exist and stability is at best a temporary state and at worst a delusion. This does not imply TEOTWAWKI (though that, too). It could include any bad situation, from an urban crime wave, to the natural (or political) ebb and flow of good times and harder times, to a family emergency, to war, to all-out Mad Max time. It’s a modern luxury to believe that government will always take care of us and that rough men are no longer needed. We live in a rare moment of calm in the history of the human race — and anyone with open eyes can see the cracks developing in the walls of comfort that surround us.
Reason Eight: For the sake of balance. A society totally steeped in traditional male values and governed by male urges might not look like The Lord of the Flies, but it wouldn’t be pretty, either. (And no, we have never had such a society. Even at their worst, patriarchal cultures have been softened and civilized by the women and children who are center of human survival.) Likewise a society totally steeped in feminized values wouldn’t look like Wonder Woman’s homeland. It would be … well, very much like the culture we see developing around us — in which people compete to earn social brownie points, governmental bounty, and special privileges for loudly proclaiming themselves to be weak, exploited, victimized, helpless, emotionally screwed up, oppressed, and perpetually indignant about one thing or another (even while simultaneously rising to the top of educational and professional ladders and bullying others into submission and silence).
Reason Nine: Because good men make good mentors. In professions and trades, and in life generally, older adults, both men and women, are invaluable for guiding younger people into productive paths. Professional mentors can help young up-and-comers find the best resources, make the best contacts, and present themselves in the best ways to succeed. These days, though, smart and capable men have become wary of being mentors, especially to women. Why take someone under your wing who might, years later, suddenly level a charge of sexual abuse at you, destroying your reputation and possibly costing you your career? No doubt some mentors have always been abusers. I doubt that will ever change; alpha men (or beta men in alpha positions) are often predatory. But today we’ve created a situation where wise, decent men fear to mentor anyone, especially young women. And that’s everyone’s loss.
Reason Ten: I almost hate to mention this because it’s both out of my area of expertise and out of character for me. But nations need strong men (not strongmen in the political sense) to hold their own on the global stage. Although testosterone and sperm counts may be down in many parts of the world, the cultural suppression and weakening of men is, as far as I know, primarily a project of the Western world — The U.S., Canada, and Europe. Other highly urbanized locales have their hapless half-men (Japan notoriously has its mostly male hikikomori.) But how much de-masculinization do you see in Latin America or the Muslim world? China apparently has it, but China is taking nationwide measures to combat the problem. The measures themselves seem pathetic and typically too collectivist, but at least they’re aiming to fix the problem of de-natured males rather than exacerbate it.
Do I think the Western world should be more like the Chinese or the Islamic states? Let’s give that another great big HELL NO. But let’s also not miss that world powers are clearly probing our weaknesses. Chinese diplomats have already, and uncharacteristically, told off U.S. officials and turned their contemptful defiance into a popular meme back home. The U.S. military is well into the process of going woke, which inherently means going weak.
If we don’t all go down in the same economic flames before it has a chance, China will outstrip the U.S. both economically and militarily in the near future. Now perhaps you think the U.S. deserves to lose its rank as the world’s undisputed superpower (we’ve done a lot to merit such a fall). Maybe you oppose nationalism in general. Maybe you recognize (the simple truth) that the U.S. has often used its power abominably. Maybe you’re an anarchist who considers all government an impediment to freedom (raises hand). Maybe you believe the U.S. military needs to be cut back, or that we should have no standing military at all (hand goes up again). But if you think that having the U.S. or other Western nations bow before the power of China or maybe a future Islamic hegemony will make the world a happier, more just, or more peaceful place, you’ve got another think coming.
So consider what happens when some collectivist nation with military might and ruthless ambitions decides we’re a weak target because they have strong, confident men and all we’re left with is wimpy men, angry women, and “leaders” who sway in the ever-changing political winds.
Women complain today that men are dangerous. And you know what? Men are dangerous. And we need them to be. It’s their historic and their biological function to be dangerous in protection of and provision for life, family, community, principles, and more.
One function of civilization (and of mothers and fathers) has always been to see that the dangerous traits of males are directed into healthy, productive channels or are given non-deadly outlets. That’s fine. That’s as it should be. But trying to make males harmless harms them and harms all of society.
That’s it. I’m done with this series now. Thank you for sticking with it to the end.
As I said at the start, it’s really a topic for a book, not a handful of blog posts. And it’s not a book I’m going to write. But I hope this series of posts will make a small difference to a small group of people. That it will make a difference to a few boys wondering why their world feels so upside down and uncomfortable for them. That it will make a difference to a few families hoping to raise healthy children. That it will make a difference to a few young women who secretly understand that grievance-based feminism and weak male lovers don’t make them happy. That it will make a difference to a few thinkers who’ve had these “unacceptable” thoughts but feared to speak up. That it will make a difference to a few men who perhaps wondered if any women in the world still valued them. That it will make a difference to a few readers who will eventually raise their voices louder than mine.
Perhaps even those modest hopes are in vain. A writer never knows. But if even a few of us stand strong against the de-masculinization of boys and men, we have a chance. Maybe it’s a chance of saving something very good in our society. Maybe it’s “only” a chance to restore something very good in some unknown, perilous future.
In closing, I want to emphasize again that I’m not advocating a return to tradition, especially any patriarchal tradition. I said it earlier-on: A world where men dominate and women’s strengths are artificially suppressed isn’t good for women OR men.
What’s good is balance. What’s good is recognizing the biological reality that men and women are different, but that neither is innately superior.
I shouldn’t have to say it, but there are vast differences within the sexes, too. There will always be mild, gentle men and warrior women. There will always be math-whiz girls and boys who want to play dress-up. There may be women who are meant to be expert iron workers, ditch diggers, or loggers (though I haven’t met them), just as there are men who may excel at social work or kindergarten teaching.
We all deserve meaningful opportunities to develop ourselves as we see fit. That means all of us will make mistakes, and some of us will make colossal mistakes (like paying a fortune for college degrees that will qualify us for burger flipping — until McDonalds replaces its burger flippers with robots). We need to be free to screw up — and learn that actions have real-life consequences. We also need to be free (and encouraged) to work hard, be smart, sacrifice for the future, take the raw material that is ourselves and make it better.
One of the great, sadly underappreciated joys of humanity is our true diversity (NOT the “diversity” that says everyone can look different but must think alike). But an absolute necessity of being human is recognizing and working with reality. The reality is that men and women are, on balance, biologically, physically, functionally, and temperamentally, different. Neither sex should devalue or attempt to de-nature the other.
Female virtues and abilities were too-long suppressed. Women are now ascendant and have been for decades, but using our newfound power to remake boys and men in our own image, to scorn them, or to deprive them of outlets for their own strengths is going to backfire — on men, on women, on everybody.
Vive la difference!
I can only hope to represent the better male representaion of our species.
Doing my best.
Sidenote: I think “Bold” got stick on in the middle of your list.
Peace to all!
Now I have to go back and start over and read all of them all at once in order methinks to get the needed effect.
I have five grand kids, four of which are male. I have concerns for them all as I do for us all and our future. With every chance I get there is something I am trying to pass on, something I myself have not always been good at; virtue.
IMHO to be a real man; virtue needs to be your foundation. It isn’t something promoted by our government run schools nor our society in general today if anything it is the opposite and the pay is better not to have virtue it seems.
I believe this republic of ours has reached its end just as past republics have and the lost of virtue is the grease for those skids as it has been before.
But like being in a building that is collapsing, the best option is getting out of it. That doesn’t mean to flee to another planet nor country but just far enough away so none of the parts collapsing takes you with it. Something I think you and I have done. Life is short really, so finding a peaceful corner away from the rat fight (some call it a race) is a good first step.
You know the one thing that I also see now that is a concern is that many in this next generation will never know what liberty means. TPTB will do everything that they can to make sure that continues too, which means having weak men who are sheep and will be a part of the herd is really the curve they want us on today.
All I as just one person can say or do is resist it with every breath till death.
Speaking of passing something of value to children (and especially boys), here’s something I’d have liked to mention in this post but couldn’t work in.
As a young woman I was devoted to C.S. Forester’s Horatio Hornblower novels, about a young British naval officer who — though humble and lacking the aristocratic connections that were a must back then — rises to well-earned glory during and after the Napoleonic Wars. I just recently I learned that, in the late 1990s and early aughts, A&E made eight movie-length episodes from material in three of the 11 books.
They are excellent, both as entertainment and as the kind of lessons in courage, decisiveness, character, duty, smart risk-taking, and honor that most boys no longer get.
The friend who introduced me to the first film sent me the whole set of eight DVDs. When I told him I intended to buy a set for the boys who live next door, he sent me another to give to them!
I don’t know whether the series is available via streaming, but the DVD set is inexpensive (around $20) and IMHO belongs in every family’s video library. (NOTE: Don’t get the “Complete” set, which contains only six of the eight and is more expensive. Look for the “Collectors Edition,” which contains all eight and is more economical.)
Thanks for the heads up, I’ll be giving that as gifts!
“As I said at the start, it’s really a topic for a book, not a handful of blog posts. And it’s not a book I’m going to write.”
But I really wish you would.
Give me some men who are stout hearted men who will fight for the rights they adore… Men will never be like women, no matter how hard the feminists try to make them in their image. Men are wired differently and I hope that fact will overcome all the meddling that is thrown at them. As a child of the ’40s, I have always looked up to men and raised my boys to be such. Good, strong men.
Of all the reasons – and they are all good – I do think I like the part in number 8 best where you make a comparison of “Wonder Woman World”. I believe it to me true; even the Amazon society exhibited the classic male traits. It is not that they are exclusive to men, but pretending that somehow they could exist completely without men is a bit disingenuous. If you spent any time in an all female household (I have), you have a more balanced view of might work out.
In terms of the world and their view of the West – yes, absolutely. You literally see it being played out right now. Every power with ability and desire is looking at the seeming dis-solution of American resolve and unity and, frankly, the rise of the “socially conscious” society, laughing quietly up their sleeves, and then moving on with doing what they feel like they need to do. They do not think we are up to it. Frankly, I do not think we are up to it either. My fear is that someone in power does think we are up to it, with tragic results.
(Kind of wish it was a book, through).
Good stuff, Claire.
I’m 79, with no grandkids – and glad. I don’t think there’s much hope. I’m glad that I grew up when I did.
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A datum…. I recently went to a recruiting meeting for the Boy Scouts. The local scoutmaster is, I think, Vietnamese (I didn’t ask, and its none of my business), and a woman (I didn’t have to ask).
They have a long form to fill out if you want to volunteer as an adult leader. I decided not to volunteer. The form is too intrusive, the political correctness too stifling. Among other things, why are they asking my ethnic background? So they can fill some racially determined quota so as not to be “racist”? Right.
They’ll have to learn how to tie a bowline from someone else.
Sort of OT, but IMHO about a man who dared to be different, was persecuted, and is at last free:
Bill Cosby All Charges Dropped & Thanks Jesse Jackson For His Early Release.
The immensely popular Cosby Show portrayed an intact Black family who weren’t oppressed. Therefore Hollywood had to cancel it. They did so quite viciously.
I can’t find any confirmation of that Cosby news — only that Cosby thanked Jesse Jackson for advocating for his early release back in December. Also it’s simply not possible for all charges to be dropped after a person’s already been convicted. And surely there would have been lots of articles, as well as public howling and debate, if Cosby really had been released.
“Sidenote: I think “Bold” got stick on in the middle of your list.”
I am so sorry! I couldn’t figure out what you meant and for some reason the problem wasn’t showing up on my screen. It took me until this morning, when a friend texted to put the problem in different words, that I finally fixed it. I hate that sort of thing and I’m sorry you guys had to put up with it for a full day.
“They’ll have to learn how to tie a bowline from someone else.”
Another sad example of boys being denied mentorship thanks to political correctness.
The dedicated locals I know led scouts long enough to get both their boys and a friend or two through Eagle rank, then got out of scouting as quickly as they could because of this sort of nonsense.
I am fond of pointing out to those who think gender is flexible that “Men provide muscle mass and DNA; women create civilization”. I guess that’s the condensed version of the article above.
Sorry. Jumped the gun on that.
Your usual great stuff, Claire. I especially liked reasons six and nine.
I read the entire Hornblower series in my late teens and early 20s. Great series. Enjoyed them immensely. I liked how he had all kinds of doubts, but didn’t express them verbally, and pushed through them. I imagine he’d be accused today of being “taciturn” or have “lack of emotional connection” or some such rot. As for the Boy Scouts – I was on the board of a local troop, and got #1 son to Eagle – all before the final collapse when they turned from Boy Scouts of America, to just “Scouts.”
Girls can get all kinds of “safe spaces” and clubs and organizations that specifically exclude boys – but boys cannot. It’s disgusting.
There are still some leftover good things about “Scouts” but it’s definitely milquetoast compared to previous iterations.
I have Boy Scout Handbooks going back to the 1920s – and you can see that the program had already been made less rigorous – particularly in the middle 1970s when they tried to get “hip” and introduced berets and “Skill Awards.”
There was a backlash in the 1980s and 90s and the program was reset a bit. Even to 2010 it was still worthy – but by 2016, the death spiral had begun.
It’s too bad.
“As I said at the start, it’s really a topic for a book, not a handful of blog posts. And it’s not a book I’m going to write.”
I have found that sometimes a handful of blog posts makes a good short book. Consider preserving this series in a more convenient and physical format, i.e., collect them and put a cover on it.
[…] Ten reasons good men matter in good times and bad […]
The first woman I ever knew that had this attitude towards men was my best friends mother. She was awesome & raised 3 fine upstanding young men & had my respect. You, Claire, are only the second woman in my 57 years that I’ve heard of with the same value system! The world needs more Women like You!
The Gathering Resistance to the Stigmatisation of Masculinity
by Hannah Gal at Quillette
Claire, what an amazing series of posts! I have given so much thought to these issues over the years and to the harm we are now doing to the men and boys in our culture. And to the women as well.
I am an Argentine tango dancer and spend time dancing both in the US and in Buenos Aires. Tango is the perfect expression and interplay of masculine and feminine energies. In a good dance they combine into a glorious and balanced whole greater than the sum of its parts. The two dancers first create deep connection in the tango embrace. Then the leader (usually a man) invites the follower (usually a woman) to accept his invitation to step and to move, again and again. She is free to respond and to express herself uniquely in that response. One reason I love this dance so much is that the natural energies of both sexes are welcomed and fully expressed without apologies or political [in]correctness. My very best dances are always with men who are unabashedly masculine.
A while back I made a custom bumper sticker for myself. It says:
“Tango….the cure for feminism.” Of course I would never put in on my car – I’m too discreet for any labels, plus I’d be guaranteeing vandalism, lol. But tango is a beautiful metaphor for the exhilerating and stimulating differences that nature bestowed on sexes.
I owned a boutique about 10 years ago. There I met and spoke with many attractive, successful young women in their 30’s and now probably 40’s who would complain to me that they couldn’t get husbands or boyfriends. I didn’t know them well, but I surmise that they were probably taught to be their own men, and not to need and welcome those masculine energies – even to be afraid of them. It’s sad. Suzanne Venker (https://www.suzannevenker.com) explores this a lot in her blog and books.
So I wholeheartedly agree – Vive la différence!!!
Suzanne – A thoughtful response.
Silent H — I love it! Yours was without a doubt among the truly unique responses to this or any other post I’ve ever made.
But even with my tiny, creaky, “still stepping on toes” experience of the Tango (and no experience at all of the Argentine Tango, except in videos), I see exactly what you mean. I also hope one day it will be safe for you to put that bumper sticker on your vehicle with pride.
Thanks for posting about Suzanne Venker, too.