What Does It Really Mean To Be A Man?

Lately there seems to be this crescendo of advice about all sorts of things related to living. You’ve got minimalism, you’ve got quick and easy ways to make money and you’ve got all sorts of brothority about what it means to be a man.

And what they all have in common is bullshit. What I mean to say by this, is that all the answers we need are already within us. And I don’t mean this to be trite or new-agey. I mean this sincerely.

I’m getting bored surfing the internet and diving so many web fathoms deep only to come up empty. It’s like a shell game out there where you get bupkis under every cup you look. And the main problem with this is that everyone’s taking the same information and just dressing it up differently.

What I want to do with this blog is offer something different. Contrarian. But not just for contrarian’s sake. You’ve probably heard that there’s nothing new under the sun. And for the most part I’d agree with that. But just because it’s old doesn’t make it right either.

Take the ideas we have about what it is to be a man. Brothority sites are popping up like weeds amongst the thistles of the interwebs. I wonder if we don’t have a crisis of masculinity in the developed world. Though I think the crisis is not so much about masculinity but about insecurity.

I think men are starting to feel insecure. No longer are women seeking men based on their ability to provide. Most women are providing just fine for themselves as it is. Now I’m generalizing, you still find women looking for wealthy men and wealthy men looking for attractive women. But the kind of woman that you and I are interested in, doesn’t need a sugar daddy or even a provider of any sorts.

And that should be liberating. Women’s liberation and feminism if anything should have liberated us all. ‘Cept I think it’s created a crisis of insecurity amongst men and what it means to be a man. And what’s been the result? Men and the blogs that cater to them are defaulting to the idea of the noble savage. Or man as a noble savage.

But I disagree, there is nothing noble about being savage. And although the authors of the term ‘noble savage’ perhaps mean something more along the lines of romantic primitivism, the idea is the same. A yearning for man as the domineering commander of his realm, of the natural world really. You see this all over the place. Blogs showing how to dress and butcher a rabbit for example. Though the rabbit has no need for a dress and would rather not be butchered.

And though this man’s search for meaning is not similar to Viktor Frankl’s literal experience, perhaps it is not dissimilar to the overall theme of trying to find something to feel positive about.

Men seem to be clutching at straws that turn out be strawmen and full of puffery rather than substance. The best that we can offer in the shallows of a blighted interweb is how men can command higher salaries, earn more respect and learn how to butcher the meek and mild even as they inherit the earth. What about learning how to kill a man with a single blow or render him unconscious with an arm bar? This is what curries favor in the circles where man’s search for an identity is floundering.

Let me be straight. None of these are solutions to the easily fixed problem of what it truly means to be a man. But it is no surprise that MMA and cage fighting has become the 21st century’s equivalent of Roman Gladiators. This is especially true in light of man’s plight to reidentify himself.

But the identity has never been lost. Rather it has just been covered up by stiff upper lips and working stiffs to bring home the bacon whether green from a money making machine or wet and bloody from other fields of study.

But man has always had the easy road. The mythology of the valiant paleolithic hunter, our noble savage to whom we aspire, was nothing more than an idle man living off the fat of the land. And that fat was found by womankind. Additionally, such societies were more egalitarian than ours are even today.

So not only did we provide at most 25% of the calories from our hunting, we also found ways to hang out with the boys and spend idle days roaming the savannah, pretending to work (hunt). While the women and older folk were at home in the village or community providing 75% and sometimes much more of the food we got to enjoy. Not to mention taking care of the children and the grandparents.

And we have a crisis of identity now! I’d say we should be embracing the march towards egalitarianism and putting down our bows and arrows for more community driven and peacefully empowering endeavors.

Not only do we not need flesh to survive, but we’re not very good at procuring it without effecient technologies. And war. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

And daily we commit war against the environment, the planet, our feathered, furred and finned siblings and of course each other. This is NOT what it means to be a man.

To be a man should be about leadership and stewardship. We should be the noble protector and benefactor. Yes, perhaps in extreme circumstances, violence is needed to protect one’s family, city and country. But that is incredibly rare. More often, we should be leading the charge towards a more egalitarian and equal society. Where the 1% do not own more than 40% of the wealth. These are things that it is worth pursuing if you are wondering what it is to be a man.

We are not romantic primitives living in huts and throwing spears. We have come this far because we have learned to negotiate, to reciprocate and to accommodate each other for the greater good. So let’s put down the spear and the butcher’s cleaver, and let’s pick up the staff of leadership and help build a better world for our children. Not one where the fittest survive.

Because I can promise you that might does not make right, it only makes for bigger monsters. When we learn that a man can stand firm in his belief for what is right and kind and just. And that he can win by helping others to win, then that is when we will have fully learned what it means to be a man.

I promise you that another man’s success is your own. For any success increases the pie from which we all eat. And any man’s failure decreases humanity’s forward progress for all of our betterment. So let’s not rejoice in competition and the vanquished losers. Rather let us all race towards the common goal and encourage each success of everyone however great or small. If you can do this, then you’ll be a man, my son!