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"Nothing prepares you for this. Nothing is rehearsed or written down."
October 21, 2011 7:56 AM   Subscribe

How a Man Can Grieve for a Deceased Friend -- from The Art of Manliness; an ongoing chronicle of masculinity in the 21st Century.
posted by schmod (95 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
the art of manliness is so gross.
posted by beefetish at 8:00 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


How is this any different from how a woman would grieve? I lost my best friend of close to 20 years about this time last year- there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him. This coming November 3rd is going to be the second hardest day I've ever had.

I guess the article is alright, but really not that great. I also don't understand why it is posted on a "manly" website specifically for men.
posted by TheBones at 8:04 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


because marketing bland stuff to people who are insecure about their gender presentation is a glorious tradition spanning decades if not centuries?
posted by beefetish at 8:05 AM on October 21, 2011 [12 favorites]


I would never know why Paul died as young as he did.

Because cancer is an indifferent menace. That's why language like this: "...doctors announced remission. Paul had won. But as soon as victory was claimed..." doesn't do those who die of cancer any favours. If there are those who are 'winners' over cancer, what does that make people like your friend Paul?

I would also suggest that there are as many right ways to grieve as there are people grieving times people to grieve over.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:06 AM on October 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Its advice for men. who traditionally have a hard time dealing with their emotions. Why is this objectionable?

I hope this doesn't turn into a sexism thread.
posted by seanyboy at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2011 [26 favorites]


I also don't understand why it is posted on a "manly" website specifically for men.

because marketing bland stuff to people who are insecure about their gender presentation is a glorious tradition spanning decades if not centuries?


Or perhaps because there are wildly different societal expectations placed on grieving men?
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2011 [20 favorites]


The Art of Manliness: perpetuating the male stereotype for no reason other than to perpetuate the male stereotype.
posted by Evernix at 8:07 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


advice for men is great, i just think this website is a poor example of it.
posted by beefetish at 8:09 AM on October 21, 2011


If there is ever a time not to let a gender category inform your behavior it is probably grieving. To value conformity to accepted norms of masculinity over and above the emotions related to the loss of human life seems sociopathic.
posted by Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon at 8:14 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the choice bit from the linked article and well worth remembering:
How does a man handle the death of a close friend, particularly when the friend dies when he’s young? The processes I followed were neither straightforward nor tightly defined. Here are three things I did. Your experience will undoubtedly look different.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:15 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think everyone goes through the grieving process differently. And if this helps get some people through it, then more power to them.
posted by rmd1023 at 8:17 AM on October 21, 2011


I think that The Art of Manliness, and things like it, are actually a sign of the instability of gender roles. And perhaps except for extreme cases of disassociation, I think gender identity informs a lot of human behavior, if only because it's part of who we are, which extends to what we do.

That said, I thought the narrative part of this article was problematic. I'm with Capt. Renault when it comes to excising the language of victory/fighting from our cancer vocabularies.

But the actual actionable advice, while maybe not man-specific, was pretty solid.
posted by emilycardigan at 8:19 AM on October 21, 2011


TheBones: "How is this any different from how a woman would grieve?"

I think that's the point, and that societal expectations are wildly out of whack with this fact. I posted the link, because I thought it was notable for a male-centric publication to give this kind of topic a sincere and honest treatment.

We talk about feminism and women's issues on The Blue all the time. I was hoping we could have a similar discussion with a focus on men's issues. Compared to other sites in the same genre, I've never found anything particularly objectionable on The Art of Manliness; rather, it seems fairly progressive.
posted by schmod at 8:22 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


This reads more to me like a "how to understand how (some) men grieve" than "how to, as a man, grieve." The biggest hint to me is that the first thing this guy did was "Walk."

I've been through a lot of death in my family, and I found that a majority of the men in my family, when dealing with grief, tended to go somewhere for awhile, while the majority of the women in my family tended to gather together.
posted by xingcat at 8:22 AM on October 21, 2011


Sooo, if you are a man you have to 1. exercise, a lot. 2. remember and 3. let go let god. ?

The best part of the advise was the part saying let yourself feel hurt.

Its advice for men. who traditionally have a hard time dealing with their emotions. Why is this objectionable?
I hope this doesn't turn into a sexism thread.


I think "A problem" is it is prescribing one way for all men to grieve, and that this is the proper way for men to grieve and don't worry it is manly. In a way the sexism is built-in already.

Know how I, a man, grieve? I drink, I cry, I yell, I swim in the cold lake, I space out, I rage against the universe and those that believe everything has a purpose, I sleep a lot, I work, and I talk to one or two people. Is that not "manly"? More important, Is that not human? and I would not presume that my way is THE way. It is A way.
posted by edgeways at 8:22 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think "A problem" is it is prescribing one way for all men to grieve, and that this is the proper way for men to grieve and don't worry it is manly. In a way the sexism is built-in already.

Yeah, but if you actually paid attention to the article, it very explicitly doesn't do that. It says "here's how I did," you might do it differently. It's ideas for how to grieve, not directions.

The text of the article isn't even gendered, counting the title, the word man appears twice. It's decent advice on grieving, directed at a group that society tells not to grieve. It's exactly the same as an article suggesting ways for women to do something traditionally considered masculine.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:27 AM on October 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'll dissent - I don't think there's enough writing about male friendships and expressions of emotion, and I think this was a lovely exposition of the theme. He showed how the "typical male" response to emotional events -- needing to be alone with it, reacting to feelings in actions (working out) rather than words -- could be a healthy part of the process, rather than maligned as unhealthy "withdrawal" or somesuch. It shows how male stereotypes (e.g., "strong, silent type") are compatible with a rich emotional life, even if they look different from the way women typically express/process emotions.

But I do think he left out one key point -- it takes a lot of bravery to deal as directly as he did with his friend's death. That's pretty manly.
posted by yarly at 8:28 AM on October 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


Susie Bright once talked about a future in which people take extreme gender roles (and not necessarily the ones they were born with), not to uphold gender stereotypes, but because those roles are fun.

I'm not sure this site is a good example of doing that, but it actually did sound fun when she said it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:29 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do agree with those who say a man is allowed to grieve any way he wants to. So, in theory, there's no need to mention gender. We should all be gender-blind. That's a nice aspiration, but reality can be more complicated. It can be simplistic to say that men are free to do whatever they want, given that they're burdened with stereotypes and societal expectations (of course, the same goes for women in different ways). I don't especially feel the need for instructions on Grieving While Male, but if the piece is helpful to some men in thinking about these issues, that's fine with me.

Beyond that, it's a fact of life that many, many articles/websites/magazines are going to be pitched as being for "men" or for "women," even if the content would rationally apply to both. Gender-specific content sells (or, gets more pageviews). The words "men" or "women" in a headline gets more people to read the article than the words "person" or "people."
posted by John Cohen at 8:29 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having read a fair bit of the website now, I had a hard time finding many faults with it. Although it would be nice if they had some kind of 'mission statement' page to clarify, the whole 'reviving the art of manliness' tagline feels fairly significant to me. It isn't a website dedicated to masculine posturing. It's like schmod said--a publication for men that acknowledges that there are varied human responses to any situation. I think it's good that people have a place to go to read about grieving, and if they need to get that advice from a website targeted towards men, for whatever reason, fine.

Every single article I read was keen on that fact and encouraged readers to do what felt right to them rather than conform to a specific view of masculinity. There are a lot of articles about fitness and hygiene, but I didn't come across any that preached anything like the idea that a man must be fit and muscular. They're there for the interested to read; the uninterested don't need to read them.

Honestly it seems like a nice little site. I didn't expect it to be.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:31 AM on October 21, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'd like to take credit for unselfconscious expressions of grief, love, friendship, gratefulness -- but I can't really do so, because it's having people in my life who accept those expressions uncritically that permit me to be this way. I recall what it was like to not have that (and only a little) and know that other men who are surrounded by rigid enforcers of gender conformity probably don't see it as much of a choice.

So, I'm ok with restatements of what seems obvious to a lot of us, because to some guys out there, it'll be the only voice telling them it's ok to feel these things, or want to express them (even if they can't or don't).
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:33 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


To value conformity to accepted norms of masculinity over and above the emotions related to the loss of human life seems sociopathic.


*face...........palm*
posted by adamdschneider at 8:42 AM on October 21, 2011


This is also the site that gave us the Bartitsu article that also resulted in this great gif.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:45 AM on October 21, 2011


I was ready to snark, but I found the article rather touching and some of the other articles have advice that could have come right out of MetaFilter (I'm thinking of the "How to Date Women" article that has the gem When you ask, though, do it in person or over the phone. If you’re poking a woman you’re interested in on Facebook, you lose any credibility as a man.).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 8:51 AM on October 21, 2011


Its advice for men. who traditionally have a hard time dealing with their emotions. Why is this objectionable?

It's not really, it just seems anachronistic somehow. In my lifetime (early 30s), men having emotional reactions to the loss of a loved one hasn't exactly been a controversial topic. Used to be you'd just go out on a violent mission of vengeance, but times have changed.
posted by Hoopo at 8:53 AM on October 21, 2011


Today's entry, though, is on knife-throwing, which I think is pretty cool.
posted by jquinby at 9:02 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just realized that because this website does not have a Wikipedia page I found it very difficult to relate to.
posted by Anything at 9:03 AM on October 21, 2011


I like this article, when stripped of its headline (which I mentally do with most articles both on the internet and in newspapers - generally they are written not by the author, but by the editor, and thus generally serve as a blatant grab at pageviews and not as an honest interpretation of the author's intent). The comments are insightful and heartbreaking.

I think we can acknowledge that there is a need for discussion about the modern gender role that is "masculinity," but also acknowledge that it can be difficult to do so without promoting dangerous stereotypes. For example (not from the OP):
If you’re poking a woman you’re interested in on Facebook, you lose any credibility as a man.
Why does any action make a man lose "credibility as a man?" Once you lose all your credibility as a man, what are you then? "Ask someone out face-to-face" is great advice, but why does it have be framed as Manly vs. Not Manly?
posted by muddgirl at 9:03 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


About and FAQ
posted by Anything at 9:06 AM on October 21, 2011


You know, honestly, The Art of Manliness site is sort of fun, but for this—fuck that site.

Seriously. Fuck that bullshit obsolete moronic gender performance idiocy. You know how a real man mourns a deceased friend? Well, first, fuck that, too—a "real" man can say "dead," not bullshit like "passed away" or "departed" or "late" or [insert your own word-mincing reality-denying euphemism here], because any real person of any gender can call things what they are if they're really engaged with life. You know how to mourn?

Cry. Bawl. Be stoic. Be thoughtful. Walk. Run. Take a trip. Sit and reflect. Yell. Scream. Talk to people. Hide from people. Build a shrine. Come up with a meaningful ritual. Scatter ashes from a motorcycle. Make a beautiful bouquet for a grave. Write a poem. Write a book. Hell, become a writer. Tell the stories. Laugh. Hurt. Ache. Pine for those lost moments that no one else knew. Just stay with it. Deny it. Chase memories. Regret. Remember. Rejoice in what you had. Rejoice in who you became for knowing that person. Be glad they're gone. Be lost without them. Believe nothing will ever be quite as good again. Be confused. Wonder how the hell something like this could happen. Be alive. Be you.

Be human, right here, right now, as hard as you can. Life is short, love is strong.

One of the single most important things my father ever taught me was that it was is fine for a man to cry. It's fine when you're sad, when you're angry, when you're hurt, when you're lost, when you're overcome with joy, wonder, or beauty. My dad cried for Lieutenant Kije, and he wasn't even real.

Has it really come to this, that we need Grieving For Dummies?

When my father died, one morning back in 1997, and when I sat with my family in a hospital room, waiting, until the doctor came in with a stone face, I didn't cry.

I didn't cry, or speak, or...anything.

I walked out of the room, got into my car, drove over three curbs, across the front lawn of the hospital, drove home with my car straddling the center line of the road, went into my kitchen, and sat on the floor, completely frozen, for hours, until a friend came and pulled me to my feet.

I didn't fail to cry because I was a man. I didn't cry because the reality was impossible.

I spent a year dreaming that my father was really alive, despite all evidence to the contrary, and that he'd built a secret room in the basement to hide out until our family financial disaster had blown over.

Months later, my phone rang. I picked it up, and it was my father calling.

"Son, I just wanted to give you a call to let you know I've been talking to some people from Dresden here, and it looks like you were right about the firebombing after all."

"Thanks, Dad," I said, and hung up the phone, drifting out of my sleepwalking dream state right there. It's a long story, or a short one, how that of all things was what I needed. The ongoing argument about the World War II firebombing of Dresden was a running thing in our family, a touchpoint for shouting and acrimony that, among other things, almost got us thrown out of the restaurant where we were celebrating my sister's thirtieth birthday.

As I woke there, with my hand still on the phone, I knew he was probably lying, or that I was probably lying to myself in this strangely constructed nocturnal reality where I go for my walks, and that, most of all, made the difference.

"Thanks, Dad," I said, to no one in particular, and I sat on the edge of my bed with my head in my hands, and cried for an hour.

There is no one way to grieve, no matter who you or what are. My father taught me that, too.

Be human.
posted by sonascope at 9:11 AM on October 21, 2011 [18 favorites]


In my lifetime (early 30s), men having emotional reactions to the loss of a loved one hasn't exactly been a controversial topic.

Possibly because we (men past the first flush of youth) are too tightly wound to talk about it. My only issue with the article is that it seems to ignore that grief doesn't ever go away, at least not in my experience.
posted by tigrefacile at 9:12 AM on October 21, 2011


My only issue with the article is that it seems to ignore that grief doesn't ever go away, at least not in my experience.

Seconded.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:14 AM on October 21, 2011


The proper manly response to death is in Homer--see Achilles & Patroclus.

And you have to scream it in Greek.
posted by bukvich at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm sure you'll get a lot of favorites for that comment, sonascope, but it's pretty clear you didn't bother reading the (short!) article.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:16 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why does any action make a man lose "credibility as a man?"

Because the site authors frame masculinity as an ethical creed. To lose manliness cred, in their view, is to behave in a less than virtuous way.

I'm ok with that. One of the things that this site is a reaction to is the generally negative behaviour messaging men get. Men and boys are told to not do many things (don't squirm, don't hit your sister, don't show pain or fear, etc...). I think their creedo is an attempt to provide a positive, rather than a negatve mode for behaviour. Calling it "masculinity" is their way of reinterpreting an old, but still powerful concept for a lot of guys.
posted by bonehead at 9:20 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


How dare men discuss their gender identity in a positive fashion! What do they think they are, women?
posted by Edgewise at 9:32 AM on October 21, 2011 [11 favorites]


adamdschneider - I most certainly did, and I'd like for you to point out where I haven't before you accuse me of not reading it.

To give an example of what I'm responding to, though, there's this:

How does a man handle the death of a close friend, particularly when the friend dies when he’s young?

How does a man handle this? What in the planet of hell does being a man have to do with it? Do we mean this in a broad sociological way, or in regard to the writer's story?Sure, I get that he uses the standard YMMV with "[y]our experience will undoubtedly look different," but the framing device is still to put it in a context of how a "man" is meant to grieve. It's the title of the piece, it's the subtext of the piece, and it's the overt context, given that it's posted on artofmanliness.com, so it's not like I'm inventing what I'm responding to.

I could go simpler and say it's essentially a slight piece, without much depth or import, but I chose to address the issue of that context, so my apologies if I've strayed from your own take on the piece.

Hell, I could have gone into how modern performed masculinity doesn't allow for grief over another male because of ingrained, socialized homophobia, but that's even further afield.
posted by sonascope at 9:34 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the answer to my question, which was "What happens when you lose your manliness cred" is apparantly "You become a child." But that's not true at all - I can poke someone on facebook and still be an adult. I can slack off at work and still be an adult. Literally nothing I do will turn me into a child, because I am an adult.

Setting up a dichotomy between "adult men" and "man children" is just as useless as setting up a dichotomy between "men" and "women." We are more complex than that, and we can strive for all the virtues they claim as "manly" without denigrating those who appear not to.

How dare men discuss their gender identity in a positive fashion!

Do you think this actually characterizes the thoughts and beliefs of anyone in this thread?
posted by muddgirl at 9:36 AM on October 21, 2011


Knife-throwing! I have a perfectly good set of balanced throwing knives that gets no action whatsoever. Time to change that. Thanks, Art of Manliness!

Though, women with throwing knives? Ultra-cool. I prefer a gender-neutral approach to deadly weapons.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:40 AM on October 21, 2011


Getting whiskey drunk alone in front of a campfire seems to work just fine for me.
posted by nathancaswell at 9:40 AM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Real men don't read that crap site or even post comments about it
posted by Postroad at 9:41 AM on October 21, 2011


In other words, I'm struggling to find a theological difference between their manifesto (see what I did there) and the concept of a Man Card. The latter is addressed in the manifesto - it opposes manhood and womanhood, thus acting like a woman makes you less of a man. But The Art of Manliness does the same thing, but argues that acting like a child makes you less of a man.

I argue that your manhood or masculinity is something that no-one should be able to judge. It is internal to you and the your conception of the world.
posted by muddgirl at 9:43 AM on October 21, 2011


To give an example of what I'm responding to, though, there's this:

How does a man handle the death of a close friend, particularly when the friend dies when he’s young?


That "example" is the only reference to gender in the entire piece, and there's not a single suggestion that this is the only way for men grieve; in fact, it's exactly the opposite. It looks like you didn't read the piece because you're responding the context rather than the content.

The context is gendered because men (as a gender) have special societal pressures on them not to grieve, and so there's greater need for this advice for men. If the the advice given is "slight" it's because there's a lot of men who are very uncomfortable grieving, in spite of writing like this, not because of it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:43 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can poke someone on facebook and still be an adult. I can slack off at work and still be an adult. Literally nothing I do will turn me into a child, because I am an adult.

You're not using "adult" in the same context that they are. It's not about age, but behaviour. Were a grown individual to fall to the floor, screaming and yelling, would you not call that childish?

An adult, as they define it, takes responsability for their own actions and faces their fears and uncertainties. One who doesn't, regresses, behaves like a child. You can certainly behave as a child, even if your age is over 18.

On preview: the Man Card thing, that's an example of the shallow, woman-opposed conception of manhood that they're explicity trying to work against.
posted by bonehead at 9:49 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Were a grown individual to fall to the floor, screaming and yelling, would you not call that childish?

Sure, it's childish meaning LIKE a child, but it doesn't make that adult a child. It just means that, at this particular moment, they're acting petulant.

On preview: the Man Card thing, that's an example of the shallow, woman-opposed conception of manhood that they're explicity trying to work against.

I know that, but I don't think their child-opposed conception is any better. It divides all the men in the world between Adult Men and Child Men, and I don't see how that's helpful, besides as an exercise for feeling better about oneself by denigrating others.
posted by muddgirl at 9:59 AM on October 21, 2011


My wonderful upstairs neighbors work in a nightclub and are reformed frat boys. One of them told me his 'philosophy,' which seems to gel with that of The Art of Manliness: "My friends and I don't want to be 'Bros.' That's boring and tacky. No, we--we are men of honour."

And they act like it. They clean up the yard after they have huge parties, and they tell us a week before they have those parties. They shovel the walk, and smile and are good time guys who don't seem like entitled assholes. I'm for it.
posted by emilycardigan at 10:00 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


sonascope - I really do think you've misread it. In fact I think there's very little you've said that the author would disagree with.

"How does a young man grieve for a dead friend" is a question that you have no problem answering. The answer is easy for you: "however works best for him."

Many, many young men have trouble answering that question.

I attended fallen comrade ceremonies for a total of 4 Soldiers KIA while I was overseas. I was never a member of the unit of the fallen, but in those little plywood, dirt, and mud outposts in the mountains you interact with everyone pretty regularly. There were plenty of young men with no idea how to deal with the deaths of their friends, because that information isn't part of "being a man" for so many young American men. Hell, we're not even supposed to have especially close friends because it might get you accused of queerness.

This little essay is earnest and simple and not terribly new, but it's not bad. It says that it's ok to have close friends, and that it's ok to grieve when they die.

I have no opinion on the site as a whole.
posted by kavasa at 10:01 AM on October 21, 2011 [13 favorites]


Whenever people mention the Art of Manliness, I always think of Maddox's Alphabet of Manliness which according to the blurb is "so manly that even its sentences don't have periods." To be honest, I'm probably more comfortable with that kind of manliness.
posted by rhymer at 10:02 AM on October 21, 2011


Basically, both Miller Light and the Art of Manliness blog are exploiting gender insecurity to convince men to behave the way they want men to behave. Miller Light is doing that for evil, and AoM is doing that for good. But that's just an "ends justify the means" argument.

Can't we instead, I don't know, work against gender insecurity? Validate that you can be a man and wear a purse, or be a man and poke women on facebook, etc.?
posted by muddgirl at 10:06 AM on October 21, 2011


Manliness is wearing a Hawaiian shirt to a Cure concert.

Manliness is knowing when to apologize.

Manliness is sometimes doing stupid stuff and lighting yourself on fire, but only to the degree that you can laugh about it later.

Manliness looks good in heels.

Manliness can make a mean marinara sauce.

Manliness likes sports, but doesn't really care whether you do or not.

Manliness still harbors some old-fashioned views about chivalry, but is able to contextualize.

Manliness cries at funerals.

Manliness occasionally initiates sex by asking, "wanna rassle?"

Manliness isn't afraid to hold babies, and resists the urge to toss them into the air.

Manliness is constructed, not inherent.

Manliness doesn't read websites about manliness.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:24 AM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Can't we instead, I don't know, work against gender insecurity? Validate that you can be a man and wear a purse, or be a man and poke women on facebook, etc.?

For me? Sure. For some guy working at a foundry in Texas (yeah, yeah, stereotype on stereotype), maybe not. Some guys (most guys?) need some sort of gender role, but could use a positive spin on it for a change. And some guys are trapped by the expectations of those around them and no, can't really do as they please without real, significant consequences from their community.

I certainly get that AoM isn't the ideal, but not everyone is surrounded by people willing and able to accept something even more progressive, even if the reader in question is.

I'm kinda interested in messages to women over the past several years about what it means to be a "real woman". Most of these are transparently manipulative and trollish, of course. But I'm interested because I don't think I've ever experienced a period where I wasn't told what it was to be a "real man". By men and by women. Think of just the "positive" messages on this front from the women of my generation: "Real men look after their kids." "Real men don't condone violence." And on and on. Nothing wrong with the core message, but if nothing you do can remove your manhood, well then certainly these things are no exception. It's promoting an ideal, and it's using gendered language to do it.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:25 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Manliness is constructed, not inherent.

Yeah, by the man in question, not by somebody else. Take note.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:26 AM on October 21, 2011


... You know how a real man mourns a deceased friend? Well, first, fuck that, too—a "real" man can say "dead," not bullshit like "passed away" or "departed" or "late" or [insert your own word-mincing reality-denying euphemism here], because any real person of any gender can call things what they are if they're really engaged with life.
posted by sonascope

I'm sorry, but I feel the need to point out that neither the article nor the site at large (so far as I've been able to see) ever uses the term "real" man. I feel like that's important. I feel like it gives it an entirely different tone, one I feel like they're very careful to avoid.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:29 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know crying is a good outlet for grieving.....Just saying.
posted by LilSoulBrother85 at 10:32 AM on October 21, 2011


Oh, it's a nice piece and the author means well, I think, but when your whole advice on grieving over someone's death is "Walk. Hurt. Remember." then you're going to sound like a bit of a naif. And when this advice is delivered under the guise of "grieving like a man" on a sepia-colored blog decorated with handle-bar mustachios then it's going to look like you're a bit of a tweedy naif as well. That said, being a thoughtful, if somewhat tweedy, naif is a step up from being a thoughtless bro, so, yay them.

There were plenty of young men with no idea how to deal with the deaths of their friends, because that information isn't part of "being a man" for so many young American men. Hell, we're not even supposed to have especially close friends because it might get you accused of queerness.

On the one hand I'm sad for people who feel so defined by their social roles they can't even grieve, on the other I'm sort of like "Who's fault is it that you've never even reflected a little on your own life?"
posted by octobersurprise at 10:33 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Do you think this actually characterizes the thoughts and beliefs of anyone in this thread?

Yeah, that's why I said it. But when you ask me with such an (implied) incredulous tone, I begin to doubt myself. You're right: how absurd to imagine that anyone here could be hostile to the concept of masculinity? There's way too much enlightenment here for that.
posted by Edgewise at 10:35 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


My wonderful upstairs neighbors work in a nightclub and are reformed frat boys. One of them told me his 'philosophy,' which seems to gel with that of The Art of Manliness: "My friends and I don't want to be 'Bros.' That's boring and tacky. No, we--we are men of honour."

I have no particular love or hate for fraternities, but it sounds like what you're talking about aren't "reformed frat boys" at all. "Men of honor" is the oldest fraternity trope there is, they are probably doing exactly what their fraternity values statement expects of them.
posted by Winnemac at 10:37 AM on October 21, 2011


So what does "manly" mean, in the context of this discussion? BitterOldPunk's comment really threw me off...

To me it feels like a confusion of cause and effect. The way I understand the relationship between being a man, and being "manly" is like this:

you are a man --> so you are likely to live your life in a "manly" style.

I don't think this is correct:

you strive to be manly --> so you become a man.

the order of this second alternative is just wrong, to me. In my logic, you are a man first, and then you may or may not comply with whatever one of the million definitions of manly there are. I don't behave hispanic so I can call myself hispanic. I don't study and read up on how to best be a woman, because I was born a woman, and that's who I am, without special efforts.

Do you guys feel like you have to strive to be men? or does it feel like being men is something you were born with? (This is an honest question, I'm really trying to understand)
posted by Tarumba at 10:38 AM on October 21, 2011


I wish people would stop acting like genders aren't different. You're in denial, and it doesn't mean we can't be treated equally in the eyes of the law, but that's frankly all that matters to me as a feminist.

Here is a man who wrote a beautiful story about the end of his friend's life, and how he chose to deal with it. Why all the hate? This is a story about two men, why shouldn't we admit it?
posted by sunshinesky at 10:47 AM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have no particular love or hate for fraternities, but it sounds like what you're talking about aren't "reformed frat boys" at all. "Men of honor" is the oldest fraternity trope there is, they are probably doing exactly what their fraternity values statement expects of them.


My bad. I was, perhaps unfairly, using 'Frat boy' as a cultural shorthand for a repellent kind of young 'manliness', one of entitlement, alcoholism, and misogyny that also runs rampant in the club/promotion industry. The actual conversation I had with my neighbor was a bit more nuanced, about these and other tropes of masculinity. I might have skipped some pertinent details in an attempt to avoid dominating the thread with a personal narrative or anecdote.
posted by emilycardigan at 10:47 AM on October 21, 2011


Seriously. Fuck that bullshit obsolete moronic gender performance idiocy. You know how a real man mourns a deceased friend?

You know how I grieve? Firstly, I read articles before commenting on them. Altho obviously there is a vast spectrum of mourning behaviours that could be attempted - you've gone a different route than I, and that's okay.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:47 AM on October 21, 2011


As someone who has watched a number of people, including my very own husband, struggle with how to be masculine without being macho, I love this site and this whole social concept. Maybe some of y'all are so enlightened and free that you're above and beyond those struggles, and if so, hey great -- seriously, genuinely, no snark, I wish we were all there. But there are a lot of guys out there who aren't, and they deserve some roadmaps, even if they're imperfect.
posted by KathrynT at 10:47 AM on October 21, 2011 [7 favorites]


Eh, I'm going to get way too annoyed at this thread, and it's the weekend, so I will bow out with this relevant text:

TBL: Is it. . . is it, being prepared to do the right thing? Whatever the price? Isn't that what makes a man?

TD: Sure. That and a pair of testicles.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:48 AM on October 21, 2011


I love this site. Manliness is awesome, and so is its opposite... womanliness? What's not cool is to be imprisioned by either. Also, everyone needs both! Manly women are awesome, a girl throwing a knife, how cool is that? Also a dude being sensitive, caring, yay! Yin-yang is about archetypes, not gender.
posted by Tom-B at 10:50 AM on October 21, 2011


Masculinity ought to be a way of self-identifying, but it's more complex than that because the social parameters that define masculinity are indistinct and unfixed. So if I call myself a man, or if I identify myself as masculine what that means is constantly changing, even if I am not.

I feel like a man, but I don't necessarily feel like a grown-up, if that makes any sense.
posted by tigrefacile at 10:52 AM on October 21, 2011


"You know crying is a good outlet for grieving.....Just saying."
From the article:
"In the weeks that followed, memories snuck up on me at the strangest times, at unexpected places. Months later in the middle of a workday I was driving down a road when memories hit me anew. I needed to pull to the shoulder and sob."
It really feels like people are engaging with their assumptions about the essay rather than the essay itself.
"On the one hand I'm sad for people who feel so defined by their social roles they can't even grieve, on the other I'm sort of like "Who's fault is it that you've never even reflected a little on your own life?"
That's a pretty hard line position to take. The culture you grow up in can change the shape of your brain. It alters the way you perceive distance in drawings and can render you unable to hear or reproduce sounds that persons from other cultures perceive easily. You can depress or raise a child's test scores by telling him or her that you expect lower or higher test scores.

I guess my response to your question is: "why do we need to assign fault?" Does it do any good to blame?

Isn't it enough to say "this essay might help someone."?
"I don't study and read up on how to best be a woman, because I was born a woman, and that's who I am, without special efforts."
You are blessed in a way that many are not.
posted by kavasa at 10:52 AM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


That was at Tarumba BTW.
posted by tigrefacile at 10:53 AM on October 21, 2011


Thanks for this. The article was sincere and humble. Not what I was expecting from an essay about how to be "manly" man should be..

That word, "manliness", just has so much baggage. The site aims to "revive the lost art of manliness" is also, in my opinion, a chasing after an invented version of manliness that probably never existed in the way that the site founder imagines it.

Rather than "manliness" I'd much rather talk about "masculinity" and not to pretend that the ideal verson of a man is to be found in some old-timey moustached dude from an imagined period of perfect, no-bro-having manliness of ye olden times.
posted by beau jackson at 10:54 AM on October 21, 2011


Rather than just a yelp into the uncaring ether.
posted by tigrefacile at 10:54 AM on October 21, 2011


In Brazil there's a song about that! Check out that 80s style. The lyrics go: Being a feminine man / doesn't hurt my manly side / if God's both a girl and a boy / I'm manly and womanly!
posted by Tom-B at 10:55 AM on October 21, 2011


I agree that this is a pretty thin piece; everyone, man or woman, grieves in their own way and there's no prescribed Manly or Womanly way to do it.

In general, though, I am a fan of The Art of Manliness. It is not, as many seem to assume based on its name, the web equivalent of The Man Show. The concepts of "manhood" and "masculinity" as examined by AoM are neither the modern idiot manchild stereotype, nor the sexism and philandering portrayed in Mad Men. AoM does tend to look to the past for cues about fashion, grooming, and etiquette, but it also encourages guys to be thoughtful and introspective about their own lives and the world around them instead of taking their cues from beer commercials and reality television.

I think what is so polarizing is the basic premise that any upon which any discussion about gender identity is founded:

Men and Women are different.

There is so much historical and cultural baggage attached to that statement that I am hesitant to even type it in a discussion that already feels a little bit charged... but there it is. The problem with a statement like that is that can easily be misconstrued to imply inequality, and that's certainly not what AoM and similar examinations of modern masculinity are saying.
posted by usonian at 10:58 AM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


...basic premise upon which any discussion about...

My kingdom for a 5 minute edit window.
posted by usonian at 11:01 AM on October 21, 2011


On the one hand I'm sad for people who feel so defined by their social roles they can't even grieve, on the other I'm sort of like "Who's fault is it that you've never even reflected a little on your own life?"
posted by octobersurprise at 10:33 AM on October 21 [+] [!]


Who's fault is it that you cannot conceive of a way of life outside your particular background and personality?

I read The Art of Manliness because it attempts to salvage actual virtues and ideas from a concept (masculinity) that has been ripped to shreds by attempts to commercialize and monetize it. The man card nonsense as cited above, where manliness is simply a series of signifier without anything to signify, and purely as oppositional to women, as bonehead said, is not what the site is about. It does look to the past, because, in some ways, the masculinity of the past was much more nuanced and multi-faceted then the denuded and commercial version of pop masculinity. It's not a desire to harken back to the good old days or cling to outmoded and harmful notions of gender, sexuality, or race, but to mine the past for the virtues and positive aspects of masculinity and creating a concept of manliness that is not tied to outdated cultural concepts or empty and meaningless signs.

For those of you have no need of that and seemingly sprang into the world with a full-formed sense of healthy and vibrant masculinity with no doubt or need of self-reflection, that's great, but I know that putting down people like me who are trying to construct a positive masculone gender identity for themselves is not particularly manly.
posted by Snyder at 11:14 AM on October 21, 2011 [8 favorites]


I'll concede that my reservations are less about the article and more about context. The context problem, for me, is that you've got a site dedicated to resurrecting and promoting a kind of retro, revisionist masculinity, generally in a sort of fun, playful way, devoid of the kind of ugly, absurd bullshit you get from the likes of Jack Malebranche Donovan, but the way this topic was handled was like writing an article for Seventeen magazine titled "How can a fat girl ever find happiness?" You can write the most sensitive, heartfelt piece in the world, but if you can't be bothered to subvert your source medium and your introductory premise with a deft hand, I don't know how it's really going to be about what it purports to be about, unless it's read in a vacuum.

Read in a vacuum, this piece is fine. It's sweet, even. Petite, but sweet.

I get that this guy is actually trying to make a counterpoint. I just don't think he does it effectively, I think the framing undermines the point, and I think writing a weak depolarizing piece for a page specifically about accentuating gender polarization is questionable. Claiming that, because I pull "real man" out of the subtext in a site that's heavily invested in gender authenticity, I'm manufacturing that point from whole cloth doesn't seem to me to be a fair point, though. It's worth watching their promo video to get an idea of the direction AoM.com is taking.

I could well be wrong. Several comments here make valid points that I still can't get entirely behind, but that's why it takes all kinds to make a world, and I appreciate the discourse. I also get why I'm the odd man out when I'm hoping that a site that's about celebrating a historical era of gender performance would have framed it better. As it stands, I think the question the article asks at the end, and the comments that follow are the meaningful part, but otherwise, it's just filler content in between articles on how to wax your mustache, how to avoid having women as friends, and how to act like your grandfather did.

It's not that it misses the mark. It's that the aim is off to start with. YMMV.
posted by sonascope at 11:31 AM on October 21, 2011


Manliness is awesome, and so is its opposite... womanliness?

AoM explicitely says that Manliness and Womanliness are not opposites, but rather that Manliness is opposite Childishness (and Womanliness is also opposite Childishness). But also that Manliness and Womanliness are different. Or something.
posted by muddgirl at 11:37 AM on October 21, 2011


The story about his friend was touching, but that it descends into "TOP TEN WAYS TO GRIEVE THE DEATH OF YOUR BEST FRIEND." Which is somehow terribly trite and insulting, especially framed in the context that sonascope described above.

The author likely meant well, but in its context the entire thing ends up feeling forced and tacky.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:37 AM on October 21, 2011


Feminism's great success has shifted the balance of power between men and women, mostly in a positive way. However as the balance of power has shifted, there hasn't been much thought given to the new role of men in these new circumstances. I, for one, am interested in the discussion.
posted by fake at 12:01 PM on October 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had many, many (too many) opportunities to learn how to grieve over the loss of friends my age in my thirties, and it never gets easier. There is no 1,2,3 list to accomplish, nor is there any set limit on the amount of pain you are going to feel about it. It may go from being a bad toothache to arthritis in your knee, but it's still pain.

As I read this, I thought it was more about a public forum for someone to say: Permission to grieve granted.

And not really much deeper than that.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 12:08 PM on October 21, 2011




Feminism's great success has shifted the balance of power between men and women, mostly in a positive way. However as the balance of power has shifted, there hasn't been much thought given to the new role of men in these new circumstances. I, for one, am interested in the discussion.
posted by fake at 12:01 PM on October 21 [+] [!]


Can you tie that into the context of the article? I don't see any connection between power relationships between genders, and an article on mourning. Women's empowerment shouldn't make it any more or less easy for men to mourn, and certainly don't affect the things the article mentioned. "Walking, remembering, and grieving" if I recall correctly. All very gendered things I'm sure.

Is the suggestion that men's emotional isolation was a reasonable tradeoff for dominance at home and in the work place? It's certainly been implicitly suggested in other places, although it's an interesting concept to say the least.
posted by Stagger Lee at 12:11 PM on October 21, 2011


Who's fault is it that you cannot conceive of a way of life outside your particular background and personality?

It's true that none of us can truly grasp what a way of life outside our particular background and personality (or gender) is like; it's equally true that most of us are blessed with an ability to try to imagine lives different than our own and graced with some knowledge of being a little or a lot different from our peers.

Anyway, I was mulling over the claim that young men have "no idea how to deal with the deaths of their friends, because that information isn't part of 'being a man'." That, in fact, even having friends is "queer." I don't know if this is true, or if it is true of many men, but if there are such men, then they sound like especially unfortunate or especially unreflective people.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:49 PM on October 21, 2011


Can you tie that into the context of the article?

The discussion here is part of the context of the article, and I was trying to give a sense of the broad strokes of my thinking on things related to "being a man", whatever that means today.

Let me give you some context for my own thinking. I went to Art school; my teachers were feminist and I was never more than a few words away from a conversation with women's studies majors - my dear friends. I adopted feminist ideology and feminist frameworks and feminist thinking. It became a part of me, though it was not a comfortable or easy thing, and it often left more questions than it answered.

Then, I moved to Russia for a year. There, (broadly speaking) feminism is a word met with derision - and where I was often/always the most feminist man in classrooms full of women. I had an SO who wanted me to make all the decisions and pay for everything and who wanted to do my dishes and it hit me really hard and caused me to spend a lot of time re-evaluating my place between these two poles. What it meant for me as a man.

I have no conclusions (but a lot of thoughts) and I see no problem with talking about certain aspects of grief as particularly male. As someone who identifies as a man and has experienced a tremendous amount of alienation and loss in the last few years, reading another man's experiences and approach is helpful and I would like more of it.
posted by fake at 1:35 PM on October 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


You know, all the discussion here is just a redux of much of what was said back in this thread, just a little more than one year ago.
posted by Edgewise at 1:52 PM on October 21, 2011


Hey fake, thanks for responding, and in good faith at that.

I totally follow you, that gender is a relationship and has two poles, not just one. Relationships are about how we relate, not nailed down and individual. So yeah, I get what you're saying.

I think that my issue with drawing that into the article is that... well, I still don't understand why the article is trying to gender grief. In fact, the article shies away from shared grief or relationships and discusses it as a very personal thing, all the more isolated from social behavior.

I also think, from my own studies, that third wave feminism does try to address issues like this by deconstructing itself gender, not just femininity. An awful lot of energy is spent attacking second wave feminism for leaving men out in the cold, but if we're going to criticize scholarship, we should probably stay up to date.

Third wave is rejecting binary gender and building more complex ideas of gender. It would likely provide answers to some men, but there are a lot of emotions and communication issues to get over there.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:53 PM on October 21, 2011


october - in part I'm paraphrasing this. The idea being that this particular problem isn't especially anything, that it is instead quite common.

sonascope - yeah I mean I really don't have an opinion of the site as a whole. I just read the linked essay and considered it on its own.

I've never really had much success answering or thinking about the question of "what does it mean to be a man/woman/other".
posted by kavasa at 1:53 PM on October 21, 2011


In our discussions about how women experience the world, there are always requests for the menfolk to just be quiet and listen, since they don't share the same experiences and could probably benefit from hearing the womens' perspectives for once. I would love it if the same standard could be applied here, and my fellow womenfolk could be a little less vocal about what masculinity means to them, and how it affects and relates to feminism. Seriously, coming into this discussion with that narrow "how does this relate to third-wave/radfem?" viewpoint seems no different from the "WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ" stuff everyone complains about.
posted by dialetheia at 2:56 PM on October 21, 2011 [3 favorites]


In our discussions about how women experience the world, there are always requests for the menfolk to just be quiet and listen, since they don't share the same experiences and could probably benefit from hearing the womens' perspectives for once. I would love it if the same standard could be applied here, and my fellow womenfolk could be a little less vocal about what masculinity means to them, and how it affects and relates to feminism. Seriously, coming into this discussion with that narrow "how does this relate to third-wave/radfem?" viewpoint seems no different from the "WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ" stuff everyone complains about.

Full disclosure: I'm a firefighter, and I have chest hair, a chainsaw, and two trucks.
Can I talk about third wave feminism now, or will that still count as silencing male voices?
posted by Stagger Lee at 3:08 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]



In our discussions about how women experience the world, there are always requests for the menfolk to just be quiet and listen, since they don't share the same experiences and could probably benefit from hearing the womens' perspectives for once. I would love it if the same standard could be applied here


Why? I don't think it's any more productive here to exclude a large portion of the population as it is in conversation about women/femininity. Both genders have some valuable experience with the opposite gender to share that can be a meaningful part of the conversation.
posted by sunshinesky at 3:18 PM on October 21, 2011


How I am turning into a crank:

So I decided to bracket off my baseline unhappiness with the "manliness" frame and just sort of enjoy the site as, I dunno, a production from a Ron Swanson fan club or something. And the article linked to in this post is decent. Not great, but decent. But then I went and looked at other stuff on their site, and found their "required reading for men" page. I was fairly okay with most of their choices, didn't think they were particularly ambitious, but not particularly offensive either. I was actually nodding a bit, like, "yes, yes, that's a good idea!" when they mentioned actually reading Wealth of Nations, but then I realized: there's two potential followup recommendations for what comes after Wealth of Nations:
  • Followup 1 is Capital. This, in my experience, is the typical choice for people who've actually read and understood a bit of Smith and want to think more about political economy.
  • Followup 2, unfortunately, is the one they actually went for. The typical "what to read after you've read Wealth of Nations" recommendation that you get from people who have neither read nor understood Adam Smith at all. Yeah, that's right. Atlas (fucking) Shrugged.
The only good Objectivist is a fictional Objectivist. Ron Swanson gets a pass. Real people... don't.

Oh, right, this is about how I'm turning into a crank: So I find myself almost physically incapable of reading anything on the site — anything! — now that I've found that it harbors an endorsement of Atlas Shrugged. It's petty and childish and I'd be a better person if I could get past this reaction, but, well, there it is.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 4:57 PM on October 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought it was quiet and lovely piece. I would never have read it otherwise because I have no interest in "manliness." Thank you for posting it.
posted by book 'em dano at 7:56 PM on October 21, 2011


During a confusing time in my life where I felt like I was losing out on all the things I had previously valued as a part of my identity, my mom sent me the Art of Manliness book. it was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life, and set me back on my path. At this point, I had already been a Metafilter lurker for years, which was a precursor to my interest in the manliness without macho ethos AoM discusses, thanks to a couple of posters like Smedleyman and tkchrist.
I always feared what would happen when AoM eventually showed up on Metafilter. And the reactions here are pretty much what I expected - people completely unable to see the value a site like AoM might bring to sane, non-oppressive folks because they can't move past their initial "Oh my, how positively... Gendered." reactions.
It's sad really, like watching two close friends fight. Or watching one friend insult the other behind his back.
posted by mdaugherty82 at 9:01 PM on October 21, 2011 [5 favorites]


Whatever you do, don't just be yourself. Not around a friend.
posted by Twang at 2:39 AM on October 22, 2011


The artofmanliness.com site is an ad for a franchise of books and novelty products aimed at consumers interested in a retro, revisionist alternate history of masculinity. It's fun sometimes, informative sometimes, and obnoxious sometimes, but it's still an ad, and essentially a way of repackaging steampunk/dieselpunk cutesified history for people who don't care all that much about science fiction. Enjoy it, but don't omit the grain of salt...or a well-blocked hat.
posted by sonascope at 5:15 AM on October 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I try to avoid doing the "people are wrong on the internet" thing but I put myself out there as having said that AoM had an influence (a positive one!) on me, only to have it implied (generally, of course, not at me specifically) that I'm just a rube falling for their marketing. I feel just the slightest need to defend myself.

"a retro, revisionist alternate history of masculinity."
"essentially a way of repackaging steampunk/dieselpunk cutesified history for people who don't care all that much about science fiction."


This is incorrect. There's a great article by Brett McKay, the founder of the site called something like "the baby and the bathwater." The gist is "Many great things were accomplished in the name of manliness and masculinity throughout history. However, there was a lot of oppression that came along with that. How can we salvage the good parts and find ways to reconcile/leave behind all the negatives?" There's no revision. It acknowledges history, and asks, what can we cull?

I will admit, there are problems with some of AoM - namely, I find many of their commenters to be too conservative Christian for my lefty agnostic self. But the site itself isn't really patently offensive or advocate for offensive behaviors or attitudes. And when I want enlightened conversation, I come to Metafilter (usually).

It helped me put words to the values and attitudes I admired in my father, and as such helped me determine what kind of father I want to be. I think there's value you there. Others, who are sensitive to gendering might not value it. But just because I do doesn't make me a sheep blindly following some marketing drumbeat.
posted by mdaugherty82 at 9:31 AM on October 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, my critique on AoM.com wouldn't be that it's worthless, or that there's no good content there. I've been visiting the site since '08, having found it while researching blades for my '48 Super Speed, and there certainly are useful things to be found on the site. That said, they're packaged in such a slick, overdesigned, and very, very twee format that it's hard to take the site seriously on any greater level.

Sharing an article about parallel parking is great. Titling it "How to Parallel Park…Like a Man!" is twee. Writing about grieving is great, but titling it "How a Man Can Grieve for a Deceased Friend" is, again, silly overdesigned marketing. Linking to an article called "4 Manly iPad Cases" is both twee and pointless, with a nice dose of exaggerated insecurity to buff it all to a nice shine. The problem with AoM isn't that it's a site about issues and ideas of interest from and for the perspective of male-identified people—it's that it leans so heavily on Disneyfied faux aged fonts, strongman clip art, mustache logos everywhere and a kind of fluffy puffy filler article that makes it indistinguishable than, say, Ladies' Home Journal. Maybe that's the point. It's an ad for a product, and the product is a kind of commodified masculinity and the books and accessories to support that lifestyle.

I will say, though, that I did not impugn the notion of finding information on AoM—but as the "baby and the bathwater" notion goes, one has to splash through an ocean of bathwater to find the baby on AoM. That doesn't mean there's not a baby there somewhere, but it also doesn't mean that it's unjustified to find fault with the framework.
posted by sonascope at 11:46 AM on October 22, 2011


Incidentally, there was an interesting reddit thread the other day, asking "Men, what 'unmanly' things do you do that you're not ashamed of?" - it got over 10,000 replies. I was shocked at the breadth of everyday things that many men thought were "unmanly" - moisturizing, conditioning, writing, going to the library, crying, liking animals, caring how they look, doing any form of housework whatsoever, crossing their legs, grocery shopping, cooking, cuddling, dancing, hugging and kissing their children, holding their wife's hand, it goes on and on - all these totally normal, ungendered things I would never have guessed anyone could consider inherently "unmanly" in any way.

At first the thread drove me crazy to read, but by the end I just felt so bad for these guys who felt like they couldn't so much as turn around without doing something unmasculine, whether they were "ashamed" of it or not. It must feel terrible to feel defensive about such basic human necessities as cooking and grocery shopping (not to mention cuddling or loving kittens and puppies, two of the greatest pleasures on Earth).

I think this anxiety about one's mascuinity is a symptom of the lack of guidance and positive role models (and opportunity, for that matter) for young men, and that If they had more positive models of how to behave, they wouldn't be as uptight about all the myriad ways they can transgress against these amorphous unwritten rules. If sites like Art of Manliness can help instill a clearer, more positive model of masculinity for these guys - well, it still wouldn't be my ungendered dream world, but it would be a big improvement, and I think the guys in that thread would probably be a lot happier and more fulfilled.
posted by dialetheia at 2:27 AM on October 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


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