The Shame of Manhood

While I’ve heard rumblings about some of the stuff Jordan Rushie explains, it was never really worth my time to look into it. I’m well past my dating years, and have no plans to go back. The whole notion of “the game” and the “red pill” are, from my distance, kinda funny, the sort of things that clog young men’s minds while the hormones that kept humanity going continued to flow dangerously.

Sure, I was aware of the introduction of gender studies in liberal arts education, which struck me as a worthwhile course of study as soon as someone opens up a chain of gender stores.  But then, philosophy majors weren’t in high demand either.

Needless to say, we’ve moved far from the days of Aristotle and Camus, and philosophizing about important yet practical topics like a natural order, morality, primary cause, virtue, ethics, and the meaning of our existence. It seems to me that academia is currently focused on pushing a third wave feminism ideal.

As a single guy in my 30s, all of this feminist gender studies stuff has absolutely no practical application to me. It won’t help me be a better lawyer, make more money, or live a more fulfilling life. In contrast, I will often refer back to classical philosophy for inspiration or perspective. A manuscript on cisgender heteronormative white male privilege, not so much.

The relative value of philosophy versus feminism as a major is a fight for someone else to make.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate the value of learning the deep thought of those handful of individuals whose ideas have survived millennia of scrutiny, as opposed to an article in Glamour Magazine about Gloria Steinem, together with advice about which lipstick matches one’s complexion, but neither goes to a particularly marketable skill.  If someone wants to spend four years and a ton of money to learn about why they’re victims of the patriarchy, it’s no skin off my nose. Go for it.

Interestingly, a “masculinity movement” and philosophy is rapidly growing on the internet. And it’s worth taking a look at it.

Well, it started with some guys trying to get laid. Nice guys with good jobs were wondering why women weren’t physically attracted to them, even though they “were doing everything right.” Then in 2005, Neil Strauss came along wrote “The Game”, which began to analyze the nature of sexual encounters between men and women in a very mainstream way. 

This is where it all turns creepy.  If I understand the thrust of Jordan’s post correctly, young men tried to be the kind of guys that feminist studies majors said they wanted to have sex with, and still they couldn’t get a date.  Women didn’t find them attractive, even though they were emotionally open and supportive, shaved their chest and wore hipster jeans.

So they decided to analyze it?

Slowly, men began to realize that while acting feminine was the politically correct thing to do, and it got them lots of likes on Facebook, it didn’t exactly land them girlfriends. I’m sure all you single guys in the dating market have heard this line: “you’re a really nice guy, but I just don’t feel the spark.”

And why is that? It turns out that even in a world where men are encouraged to act feminine, women still prefer having sex with masculine men. 

From the perspective of a guy who hasn’t had a date in well over thirty years, this all sounds utterly idiotic.  You’re guys. Be guys. Guys don’t study why they’re guys, or what it means to be a guy. We just are.  We like guy stuff for no better reason than that’s what we like. We like bacon. We like football. We like cars. We like action movies and we do not like rom coms.

Be who you are.  Who gives a damn what someone else tells you to be?  So what if “society” tells you to be more feminine, more sensitive? If you don’t like to eat sushi, don’t eat sushi. Do you really need to study this in college?  Just man up.

There is nothing wrong with liking pink and having a burning desire to do the vacuuming.  If that’s your thing, then that’s what you should do.  And if it’s not, you still have to do the vacuuming, because rooms don’t vacuum themselves. But you don’t have to like it.

But if you start talking about being masculine as if it’s an academic course of study, then you’re no different than those who major in feminist studies.  They sit around and whine about the misery of their gender, and you’re doing the same thing, just from the other side.  That’s not how guys work, and anyone who tells you that your need to be whoever you are depends on your wasting one second of your life discussing it is no manly man.

I’m not the world’s most masculine man, but I know what I am, and I’m glad I’m a man.  It’s what I am, and what I want to be. It’s right for me.  I don’t need anyone’s approval  to be a man. I don’t seek anyone’s validation.

Stop talking about it. Stop writing books about it. Stop making Youtube videos about it.  Don’t be ashamed of it, and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed for being who you are. And for crying out loud, do not characterize it as a course of academic study.  If you’re a guy, just be a guy. If you’re still unclear how to accomplish this, pull my finger.

53 thoughts on “The Shame of Manhood

  1. Jordan Rushie

    It’s funny how you managed to both hit the mark, and miss the mark, in one post.

    “You’re guys. Be guys. Guys don’t study why their guys, or what it means to be a guy. We just are. We like guy stuff for no better reason than that’s what we like. We like bacon. We like football. We like cars. We like action movies and we do not like rom coms.”

    Exactly. But therein lies the problem. This is what you’re told – “Football is sexist because it excludes women, and it’s a sport for stupid jocks. Guys who like cars have small penises and trying to over compensate for something. Action movies are misogynistic and Braveheart was a testament to Mel Gibson’s ego.”

    So what’s a guy to do? Watch nothing but romcoms and read feminist literature? Join a yoga class? Get a pedicure? Become a cheerleader? Feign some SJW outrage about something someone said on the internet? Sadly, that is what young men are being taught now. When all they want to do is watch action movies, eat bacon, and play football.

    I also note that more and more men are being raised without fathers. Because that’s exactly what “dad” would say – “Shut up, go outside, and go do something.” Many confused guys have turned to the internet, because they don’t have that Greenfield-esque father figure.

    In the grand scheme of things, I think the blowback is natural and a bit necessary to swing the pendulum back.

    Side note – I once called you and we got on the topic of dating. Your advice was “Act like you’ve been there before, will ya?” It was an excellent piece of advice that I didn’t comprehend at the time.

    1. SHG Post author

      What’s a guy to do? Be a guy. Be who you are. Like what you like. Someone on the internet says you have a small penis? So what? Unless it happens that you have a small penis, and this is a sore point. Do you have a small penis?

      Don’t answer that. If someone who doesn’t know you says that your liking football, even a team as pathetic and worthless as the Eagles (for example), means you have three eyes, does that mean you have three eyes? Does that mean you have to argue, or worse, prove, you don’t. It’s idiotic. Who cares what they say?

      Do you get the point, that this quest for validation, as if you’re only allowed to be a guy if someone on the internet says you are, is the failing? Don’t ask for permission to be who you are. Just be it.

      1. Jordan Rushie

        Oddly enough, I completely agree.

        If you actually like being a cheerleader and getting pedicures, go do that. Not my cup of tea, but whatever.

        I think part of the overarching point is exactly what you addressed – seeking validation. Through women, through Facebook likes, through retweets, whatever.

      2. Rob McMillin

        Do you get the point, that this quest for validation, as if you’re only allowed to be a guy if someone on the internet says you are, is the failing? Don’t ask for permission to be who you are. Just be it.

        Yes. This.

        Virtually everything wrong with modern feminism contains sentences with the words, “men are taught to”, precisely because they assert a blank slate view of men, and ignore the side effects of testosterone.

    2. Bruce Godfrey

      Are these commentators right? Is football terrible? Are there reasons to enjoy action flicks other than the reason that these sophomores named? On what date did they acquire jurisdiction over your life, and by what act or document?

      Maybe – hypothetically – they are right on the merits on some points. If they are right on the merits – IF – then give them credit for being right and change your view. Demand, like a good philosophy professor, that they show their work. If they are wrong, don’t give them points on the board that they didn’t score, or rent-free space in your worldview.

      A good question to ask to busybodies and hectoring scolds: “I think I owe you absolutely nothing – what are the odds that I am wrong?”

  2. Bruce Godfrey

    One hypothesis is that women might be less likely to be interested in someone who has put his quarter in the life jukebox, pressed B7 and expects to hear Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” Only instead of a quarter and an overplayed song, it’s acting like a GQ drone-clone and a interested “female” landing in one’s lap. “World owes me a living” is unattractive but “world owes me a date” is even worse.

    Be yourself: it will scare away all the wrong women (and men.)

  3. se

    “the world’s my masculine man” was probably meant to be “world’s most masculine man” or something similar.

    Nice essay.

      1. Todd E.

        I thought you were about to go into “Lola” by the Kinks, as that’s almost a direct quote.

  4. Mark

    This all turned creepy when Rushie started typing. College didn’t used to be about just getting a job. It used to be about getting an education. If Rushie had actually taken a women’s study class or two, he might understand why he’s so clueless now. Educationally, philosophy seems to have been wasted on him. The only 20th century philosophy he mentions is objectivism.

    This male angst was around when Rushie was still watching Barney and Friends and drinking out of a sippy cup. In 1990, Robert Bly’s book Iron John was a bestseller about men losing their masculinity. It inspired men’s weekends where men, out of touch with their inner men, got together and cried.

    (No, I’m not an attorney. But I’m not selling Viagra either).

    1. SHG Post author

      All those words without actually saying anything.

      College didn’t used to be about just getting a job. It used to be about getting an education.

      And getting an education was ultimately for the purpose of getting a job. Where you leap over the important point is that getting an education, even in philosophy, was to teach you to think, to appreciate the world, and to gain the wisdom that our predecessors gained, to be applied to the future. It wasn’t to engage in masturbation for its own sake.

      If Rushie had actually taken a women’s study class or two, he might understand why he’s so clueless now.

      Why? Yet again, you leap over the only salient purpose a sentence like this would have. Apparently, depth of thought and persuasiveness isn’t being taught in women’s studies.

      1. Mark

        Never took a women’s studies class myself. I came of age in the Age of Theory. Structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, etc. A lot of it was crap, but it taught me to think. Social science taught me more. You’re right, I leapt on characterizing education. Point is, Rushie might have done better to enter the 20th or 21st century when it came to thought, even if it meant learning about things he would later criticize. Logic may be eternal, but patterns of thought are not.

        Mental masturbation, counselor? Evidence of prima facie?

        (Thanks for responding. No one invited me).

        1. SHG Post author

          “Evidence of prima facie”? That doesn’t mean anything.

          As it happens, I’m a huge fan of a liberal arts education, for what it enables us to do in all endeavors. But I still fail to see what feminist studies adds to critical thought. Maybe in a hundred years, some of it will have survived scrutiny and held up as worthwhile truisms, but that remains to be seen.

          As for Jordan entering the 21st Century, he’s a product of his time, just as you are a product of yours and I am a product of mine. It appears these times are confusing for young people of all genders, causing them to question themselves rather than just be. It would be more helpful to straighten them out rather than add to the confusion.

          You’ve used a lot of words, but have yet to actually make a point (other than Jordan is a poopy head because you say so). If you’ve got one, spit it out. If not, stop murdering words for no reason.

          1. Mark

            Jordan writes: “As a single guy in my 30s, all of this feminist gender studies stuff has absolutely no practical application to me. It won’t help me be a better lawyer, make more money, or live a more fulfilling life. In contrast, I will often refer back to classical philosophy for inspiration or perspective. A manuscript on cisgender heteronormative white male privilege, not so much.”

            My point: yes, all that feminist gender studies stuff has a practical application in that it would allow him to see things from a perspective other than his. Jordan’s argument is: from my perspective all this other stuff from another perspective about my perspective adds nothing to my perspective.

            Would understanding white, heterosexual male privilege make him a better lawyer? That’s a question he dismisses rather than answers. It’s easy enough to create a strawman out of an emerging area’s (social movement? field of study?) vocabulary, but it’s more difficult to understand what “cisgender heteronormative white male privilege” might actually be and then dismiss it.

            Guys acting feminine? Getting lots of Facebook likes? Women want masculine men? Is this how you guys argue in court? Expert witness for the prosecution: Neil Strauss, “best known for his best-selling book The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists, in which he describes his experiences in the seduction community in an effort to become a ‘pick-up artist’ (Wikipedia (and damn proud of it)). Exhibit A: “the phrase cisgender heteronormative white male privilege.” Witness for the defense? None needed. Case closed. I doubt Jordan’s cases are this loosely argued.

            I don’t think Jordan is a poopyhead. He’s surely intelligent, probably a great lawyer, and definitely making more money than I do. I just started reading your blog a couple of weeks ago and had some spare time this morning. Had this been a legal topic, I wouldn’t have weighed in.

            Feminist studies? You fail to see what that adds? Perspective, counselor, perspective. Facts only take on meaning with perspective. (And before you get started, no, I’m not arguing that all perspectives are equal). We choose our perspective based on pre-disposition and inclination, but there is no one single perspective that works for everything. It’s our choice of perspective, our arguments, and the results that count in the end. Outright dismissal of other perspectives isn’t mental masturbation, which at least takes some effort.

            1. SHG Post author

              Sigh. The dictionary called and asked if you could stop murdering all its words. Have you ever considered brevity?

              I agree that understanding different perspectives is, as a general proposition, a good thing. What makes you think feminist studies helps? There are a great many women, but very few who share third wave feminist views. Why not have a college major in anarcho-syndicalism, and argue that everyone should take a few courses in Wobblies? Or vegan studies?

              You keep leaping over the substantive connections, despite all the words you’ve murdered. What makes the feminist perspective more valuable than the black or Hispanic perspective? Or the white male perspective? Of the short guy perspective, or tall gal perspective? The world is filled with perspectives. What makes whiny women special?

              I’ve spent a great deal of timing reading, hearing, learning neo-feminist perspective. Frankly, it’s a total load of self-serving, narcissistic crap, infantilizing women and turning them into self-absorbed whiners who think the world should bend to their whim to protect their delicate sensibilities because they’re such special victims. This isn’t old school feminism, the quest for equality, but quite the opposite.

              You’re far less persuasive than you think. If anything, the extent of your effort, coupled with the number of words murdered, to get nowhere is rather damning to your position. No, you have not convinced me that women’s studies is of equivalent value to Camus because it offers “perspective.” Sorry, you lose.

  5. mirriam

    I feel the same about women. I have a 28 year old associate. She is pretty and smart and works her ass off. She wants to make the doe eyed look work and yet bitch about men hitting on her. Shut up already. Be doe eyed. Be smart. Wear a dress and mascara. Who gives a shit honestly? Men will hit on you. What should they do instead, rufie you? A guy can’t win with this mixed message that’s for sure. But at the same time I ask do we not have actual things to do? If you have things to do you are attractive. If you are worried about women finding you attractive and if you are busy investigating the things that will make you attractive you are clearly not very busy and have no life and that is not attractive.

    Everyone just stop trying so hard. Just stop. It’s really annoying and the people you want to attract don’t give a crap and are just annoyed by it.

    1. SHG Post author

      I was talking to a young lady yesterday, who happened to have some tats. She said to me, “how can I get angry with someone who stares at my tattoos, when I had them done and they’re there to be stared at.”

  6. PaulaMarie Susi

    As someone who is sadly back in the (dating) pool, all I can say is Fucking A. Yes, please be a MAN. Otherwise, I’d be dating , you know, women .

      1. Mark

        I was looking for something on Freddie Gray. Your blog came up. I’ve already learned a few things.

  7. The Real Peterman

    “You’re guys. Be guys. Guys don’t study why their guys, or what it means to be a guy. We just are.”

    That’s easy to say. A lot of us, though, when we were still Junior Guys and in the process of forming ourselves, were told that bacon and football and action movies weren’t the right way to be men. Why listen to those voices? They were the loudest, and the most frequently in our ears.

    “We just are.”. Nobody just is. Being alive takes a lot of effort.

    1. SHG Post author

      Meh. Stop trying so hard. Just be whoever you are. It’s not hard at all unless you’re trying to overcomplicate it.

      And to the extent young people hear voices telling them to be something they’re not, that’s why us old guys are here, to tell them otherwise.

    2. Kathleen Casey

      Read all his advice. “Stop talking about it.”
      Shut your yap, that’s right. Will power is a good start. Your reasoning ability will improve. Sooner or later you will “stop being ashamed of it.”

      We all have the same or similar problem but we all have to figure it out for ourselves. Good advice helps but we have to listen.

    3. Jack

      This baffles me – I read everywhere that “growing up, we were told that football, bacon, and muscle cars weren’t the right way to be men” (and this is supposedly particularly true about my generation – I’m 27), yet nobody ever once told me this. Sure, I read it all over the internet and I hear how all women my age are supposedly victim feminists, but I don’t know a single woman like this – and I went to a very liberal college. I watch football when it pleases me, drink beer and scotch, have a sports car, and am a pork aficionado, yet I had no problem marrying a doctor. Fucking sack up man…

  8. losingtrader

    I go on vacation for 2 days and until I read the following, I was about to ask, “who hijacked this blog and what have you done with Scott Greenfield?”
    “Sigh. The dictionary called and asked if you could stop murdering all its words. Have you ever considered brevity?”

    Thankfully, you’re clearly still in charge. I think.

  9. Ken Mackenzie

    There’s profit in neurosis. Old fashioned guys don’t take the classes, buy the self-help book or the pectoral implants or the chest wrinkle cream. Stop talking down the industry. Think of the livelihoods at stake.

      1. Fubar

        From the scientific gender studies catalog entry for Cisgender Heteronormative Isomerism: Threat or EPA Superfund Candidate?

        Wrinkle creams all have targets particular,
        Like Bondo™ for wrinkles vehicular.
        There’s one for each totem,
        Including the scrotum,
        To flatten out wrinkles testicular!

      2. Ken Mackenzie

        I hit 40 and internet advertising started trying to sell me chest wrinkle cream. There’s a whole range of unnecessary stuff you can sell people if you worry them first. Men are the marketers’ frontier land.

  10. alpharia

    Stop NOT being yourself, if you are constantly trying to act in a way that is not part of your nature, whether you are a woman or a man then you are deluding not only yourself but others.

    Stop worrying about what others think of you. If you are being ethical and true to your own beliefs and ideals and it is not intentionally hurting others then you are doing well.

    I think Bernard M. Baruch said it best in : “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

    or more simply, to paraphrase Coco Chanel : “A man should be two things: who and what he wants.”

  11. Dragoness Eclectic

    Hmm… maybe the “nice guys” fail because they’re pretending to be something they are not (a friend) just to get in a women’s pants. Most women I have ever heard of find that a real turn-off. Most women I’ve heard of also consider pick-up artists to be slimy frauds they wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole.

    Also, way to stereotype women, Game dude. I’m a women, and I like action movies, Louis L’Amour westerns, sports cars, going fishing, have gone hunting, and don’t dislike football (unless my team of the moment drops the ball in some stupid way again–Jeez, just give Marshawn Lynch the damn football you idiots!) I know quite a few women who like fast cars and faster planes.

    As for helping around the house, no one of either gender likes a housemate who does nothing useful all day but expects everything to be nice and clean and convenient for them. That’s not a new issue; it probably goes back to ancient Sumer. It’s not masculine or feminine, either; it’s just human nature.

    I married a “masculine” man who was honest about what he was. Be an honest and decent human being–THAT’S attractive.

    1. SHG Post author

      I published this because as the post has already been around a while. Otherwise, this is pure reddit quality.

      1. Dragoness Eclectic

        So… not being up on all the current internet jargon, what exactly is meant by “reddit quality”? I find their forums for game mods that interest me to be quite useful, but other than that, read very little on reddit.

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