The Lost Art of Masculinity.

Via on Aug 10, 2010

Father and son surf lesson in Morro Bay, CA 12 of 12

In the heart of the divorce boom (starting in the ‘60s, peaking in the ‘70s) a generation of women ended up parenting (mostly) solo, and a generation of boys ended up being raised (mostly) without a positive father figure, if they had one at all.

Maybe it was partially a reaction to “women’s lib” that led men to feel less-than-needed. And maybe it was the grey flannel rebellion, personified by the whining tone of the dissatisfaction of the Playboy Men of the ‘50s, that led women to feel fed up enough to stand up and say, “To hell with this!”

How far back this winding battle for self-actualization as war-of-the-sexes goes is a question that can’t be answered. But irrefutably, while entirely necessary, the attempt towards a leveling of the playing field has resulted in some serious casualties.

In the absence of a paternal figure, an inadvertent, angry, faux matriarchy emerged; one that was bound by the confines of the walls of the home, because outside of the home all the old rules still applied.

But in the home, woman ruled. Boys (and girls) grew up with women, angry women, women who were (righteously) angry at men, as the alpha and omega of their young lives. The mother became the sole ruler of the world that is childhood.

A generation of men really did fuck up. They left, fucked around, used women and dumped them. Fathers bailed, leaving an abscess as often as an absence.

And the absence of men, of good men, of real men, of responsible men, left a nasty taste not only in the mouths of overwhelmed mothers, but of boys raised in a world of righteously angry women.

This group of boys would grow into men. Men who still had a bad taste in their mouths. A bad taste about men. Which is hard to live with; especially if you’re a man.

For these reasons and more, a generation (or three) of sensitive and careful men have had to struggle to reclaim their man-parts. And the women of that same generation have had to cultivate the ability to trust men who, themselves, don’t trust men.

The struggle goes on.

As women have defined and redefined feminism, femininity, the feminine, men have seemingly struggled to keep their heads above water in the shifting tides of what it means to find equality. We’ve all had to learn that equal does not mean the same, that sharing responsibility and control means both men and women can be strong and vulnerable, and that there are things – some perhaps genetic, but most almost certainly social conditioning – that women want, and things that men need to step up to.

Vive la différence!

These desired things have come as a surprise to a generation of women who were raised with slogans like, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” batted around. But under the stratum of fear and distrust lies a substrata of desire.

A desire to be desired. A desire to be seduced. A desire to be taken care of.  A desire to be matched and met. And, most surprisingly, a desire to be stood up to, while being stood up with and stood up for.

The Lost Art of Strength

Women want strong men. I’m not talking about a man who can bench press their own weight, I’m talking about men who are not afraid to say yes, and not afraid to say no. I’m talking about men who aren’t afraid to take control of the wheel when the boat is drifting off course.

Strength comes in many forms. And the kind of strength a woman is looking for in a man is rarely, if ever, showy or flashy. That sort of display is more often insecurity masquerading as strength. Yet, most women aren’t looking for the “strong, silent type,” either.

There’s a ground between aloof and overbearing. That’s where most women want to see a man standing. Better yet, it’s where she wants to see a man walking toward her from.

Women are tired of men who are scared to be men. They’re tired of playing mommy.

When a woman says, “You decide!”, she’s most likely not trying to trick a guy. She’s requesting that he make the decision at hand. Too often men of generations X and Y (and some late boomers) would rather say, “No honey, it’s okay. You decide.” In many cases this dynamic leads to the woman feeling like she needs to take responsibility for everything, and the man feeling disempowered. So if you’re a man, next time a woman says, “No, really, you decide!” just do it.

Once a guy gets the hang of that, he may even graduate to the level of being able to take the reins without first receiving permission.

That’s the lost art of strength.

The Lost Art of Chivalry

There was a time not long ago that a man opening a door for a woman may have been met with scorn. For most of us, those days are over.

News flash; it’s safe to offer to pay the check. Offer to take her coat for her. Offer to walk her to her car – not to cash in on a kiss, but just to make sure she’s safe. The kiss may just come naturally as an expression of gratitude.

Furthermore, a man shouldn’t feel afraid to protect a woman’s honor. There’s nothing as sexy as a man speaking up to defend a girl’s reputation.

Whether it’s a stranger, a catty bitch at a party, guy friends, or The Mom who’s speaking ill of the object of a man’s desire, he should decide carefully whose side to take. You can bet that the object of admiration will notice when the chivalrous man admiringly corrects someone’s misconceptions about her personality, attributes, or intents. Not only will she notice it, she’ll remember it fondly.

This attitude should not be abandoned once a man is safely ensconced in a relationship. These proper niceties will go a long way in making a woman feel safe, taken care of, adored. And all of these things are likely to lead to a sense of more stability and more freedom of expression and actualization in any relationship.

The gallantry of a fully expressed man is without compare, and that fully expressed masculinity becomes attractive rather than threatening when a woman knows that her man would not only lay his coat over a puddle for her, or raise his voice to defend her, but that he’d put his body in front of hers to protect her.

The Lost Art of Romance

There is no study that can prove whether men or women are more romantic, but I know very few women who feel that their man is too romantic. Besides, for most of us, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing!

A woman is likely to do a million little things a day to take care of her man. They may be things he doesn’t even notice. She’ll offer subtle romantic gestures like reaching out for his hand when walking side by side. Touching his neck while he drives. Stroking his arm gently while engaged in conversation.

It’s just plain courtesy for a man to offer his lover the same. When he pays attention to her, she notices. If he strokes her, she’s likely to purr.

But it’s the larger gestures that make most women melt; a candle-lit bath drawn for her without request. A massage without the expectation of return. A gift offered for no particular reason. A public display of affection. A surprise romantic celebration of a day that’s special to her.

Needless to say, some of these may be scary to try to pull off. But everyone, male and female alike, wants to be treated like the most important thing on earth every once in a while.

We all want to be someone’s everything. More over, we all want the one who is everything to us to show us that we are everything to them.

Reclaiming Masculinity

There’s more and more being written about the divine masculine and the divine feminine. There’s been plenty written about the wounded woman. There’s little to nothing being written about the wounded man.

It’s time for men to claim their wounds, and in claiming them, start healing themselves into wholeness.  I’m not your mama, but as a friend let me entreat you to take this advice seriously.

Many women are realizing that they want to be with men who are proud to be men. So guys, stand up, hold your head high, own those man-parts, and walk forward into the equal-but-different future of a world beyond the sex and gender wars.

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About Lasara Allen

Lasara is wife to her true love, and mother to two amazing young women. She’s also a best-selling author, an educator, and an activist. Lasara’s first book, the bestselling Sexy Witch (nonfiction, Llewellyn Worldwide), was published in 2005 under the name LaSara FireFox. As of 3/6/2012, after a coaching sabbatical, Lasara has openings for three three-week, individual, personally tailored coaching and mentoring programs. She also has slots in a cohort-model group coaching program available for a limited amount of time. Lasara is available for one-session commitments as well. Make whatever commitment feels best for you. Lasara offers individual coaching on topics such as; * Mental and Physical Health and Wellness - accepting your diagnosis (or that of a loved one) - learning to live with awareness of strengths and vulnerabilities - Learning to live gracefully within your spectrum of the possible * Mindful Relationships - self as primary partner - loving partnerships, friendships and connections - marriages - parenting - family * Spiritual Contemplation and Alignment - Entering into and committing to your spiritual inquiry - Learning to listen to listen for and hear the divine in your life - Inquiring into the role that faith may play in informing your path - The role of meditation, contemplation, and prayer in your practice For more information and endorsements, visit: http://lasaraallen.com/about-lasara/coaching-services/

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187 Responses to “The Lost Art of Masculinity.”

  1. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Thank you, Anita.

  2. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Agreed. It takes two to tango. :-)

  3. [...] we want to sit next to at Thanksgiving dinner, sidling right up against their heartbreak, hilarity, poignancy, and truth, including those who love meat in their mouths, and those who’d like to punch meat [...]

  4. [...] we want to sit next to at Thanksgiving dinner, sidling right up against their heartbreak, hilarity, poignancy, and truth, including those who love meat in their mouths, and those who’d like to punch meat [...]

  5. Adam says:

    A great book, "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover", about the male archetypes.

  6. [...] men on this site truly “bold,” or do they answer questions that way because they think that’s what men should be? Out of about 70 matches, it’ seemed like 90% of the men for me were [...]

  7. Sansara says:

    This is a great article. Thank you for writing.

  8. Heh says:

    You titled this "The Lost Art of Masculinity" and the main point of the article is about a heterosexual interaction with a female mate. This was rather disenchanting. I recommend you change the title. You essentially are saying that a man who claims his masculinity is a man who knows how to be a good partner to a woman. First off, a man's masculinity at it's base has nothing to do with being heterosexual or a mate if you truly want a man to be "wholesome.". Obviously one can biologically compare men and women, and attributes of masculinity will certainly draw comparisons to women. However, this title connected with this article is very disempowering for mens' self-respect and self-image. If a man so chooses to partner with a woman, his masculinity hopefully would be healthy before this….and his masculinity would further evolve with his new role as a heterosexual mate. Please, though, don't box men into thinking that their masculinity is dependent upon women. I feel that is an insult from you.

    Main point: change the title to something that better reflects the article and I'd have no major problems with it. It's a rather fine article :) oh….except for your anger in saying a WHOLE generation of men fucked up…that's rather immature, ignorant, and below the belt. Bad choice of articulating your disgust by again boxing in every man with that statement. It's no different than some lame statement like, "Every woman is a bitch when she's PMS-ing."

    Thanks

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      You are right on many points. I would rewrite/revise the article, but people love it the way it is. Perhaps I'll write a "redux" at some point.

    • David says:

      This is a response to “Heh” and a number of other critics of this article.

      It’s this same ‘politically correct’ nonsense that is contributing to the exact problem the writer is addressing. So the article is geared towards heterosexual men. So what? Go write your own article.

      I don’t think it just applies to men though. There is this growing consideration that we have to be careful what we say and you make sure that what you say won’t be accidentally offensive to this or that group. Don’t use he as a pronoun to refer to people generally because women may get offended. Don’t write about heterosexual men, because homosexual men might feel left out.

      Next thing you know people will say, “Don’t have a tv ad where everyone is wearing clothes because nudists might be offended.”

      I am completely supportive of different lifestyles and recognize that they sometimes get harrassed by intolerant people but that doesn’t give members of these groups a license to go looking for reasons to be offended where no offense was intended.

      This article is right on and addresses something that I feel is negatively effecting our society. Thank you for writing this, I’ve been saying the same thing for years.

  9. Manly McManus says:

    What I got out of this is that women want to collectively empower men. The problem is that "empowerment" isn't given: It's taken. Men don't really want women's collective permission to be men: We want women to recognize that with freedom comes responsibility, and although women as a whole have been really good about voicing their rights to that freedom, they've wielded it irresponsibly and have caused a whole lot of pain for men and boys in the process. I was a bit annoyed by the fact that this article somehow skips the part that men haven't just learned not to trust men and themselves: We don't trust women either for making us feel like there's something wrong with us just for being men. And from that perspective, what women really need to do is earn our trust back, not demand more from us. Due to the responses posted by the many women who read this, it's clear that women just do not get this.

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      I have been having this very same conversation with my husband and some other men in my life.

      Start trusting yourself (yourselves). Stand up for what you believe is just and right. Ask for what you need. Let's see what happens from there.

  10. Larry says:

    What a bunch of crap!! If a man wrote this' suggesting that it was about "All Women"; say, "a loss of femininity," he would be shot at dawn. What a bunch of crap!!! The great thing about the Internet? All people have a voice, and an audience. The bad thing? All people have a voice and an audience!

  11. A Man says:

    Yes, men should start foits! Nothing more manly than getting in a fist fight with some random stranger who was rude to a girl you're with. And it comes with the added bonus of sexual experimentation and free tattoos, all thanks to your absolutely free-of-charge jail time.
    Hang out at more dive bars and hit on the 20 year olds. I think they're more up your alley.

  12. Dylan Barmmer Dylan says:

    Well said for the most part, but not sure it adequately addresses the horrible behavior of so many of the Angry Women who are out there. You can be the White Knight with this kind of woman (and there are MANY out there), and still end up with Blue Balls. Or, worse, a Black Eye. This still also seems to put most of the burden on the man to "change things". In a lot of ways, it sums up the Age Old Maxim — What do women want? Only Everything. Personally, I'm holding out hope for a Good Sexy Sane Woman…and if she starts talking about "The Goddess", especially while acting like The Princess, she's getting the boot. Or at least a firm spanking. Good luck. To everyone. Take care of yourself, and pleasure the person you're with. Frequently.

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      Dylan – good stuff. Agreed agreed agreed.

      "This still also seems to put most of the burden on the man to "change things"." – Well, women have been working pretty hard to change things. It resulted in a lot of Angry Women – or maybe the changes needed resulted in that.

      However, all things being equal, it's time for all of us to do the work that it takes to show up as who are, where we are in a any given moment, and allow/encourage those we love to do the same.

      Good luck with your search. Be the man you are to find the woman you want. Right?

      And, yes to pleasure, and pleasuring.

  13. quirkofnature says:

    Such a brilliantly written article, and so so so spot on – thankyou!! x

  14. aepxc says:

    And what would men get out of regaining all of these lost arts? New responsibilities must always come with new powers, just as new powers must always come with new responsibilities. The article lists plenty of responsibilities to be reclaimed, but without much upside (greater appreciation, I suppose, but the fact of appreciation by itself is not worth very much).

    There really are only two paths that can be taken. Either there is a strong, imbalance of powers and responsibilities in favour of one side (we tried it, and it just led to a lot of women being unfairly restrained and abused), or each side is much more balanced in powers and responsibilities and, as a result, much more self-interested, self-contained, and standalone. The latter, to my eyes, is clearly the lesser of two evils, but it does come with clear trade-offs – namely, each side playing only to their own strengths and interests. So men end up showing less chivalry (no interests) and less romanticism (no strengths).

    Chivalry, in particular, is so very clearly rooted in the dynamics of power politics. By and large, it is another name for magnanimity – “I am so much better than you that I will prove it by unilaterally donating some of my efforts towards your interests”. Chivalry from an equal, much like magnanimity from an equal, is a contradiction in terms.

  15. G.R. says:

    Years ago-even in the face of a lack of male role models in the home – there were men of character that young boys could look up to – movis stars, athletes, politicians, teachers, religious leaders, etc. Now it is hard to find a hand full that you can point out to a younster and say "Look at (this person) – he is good, he is kind, he is loyal, he is fair, he is patriotic, he has integrity, he is a gentleman -aspire to be like him." Where are the "JOHN WAYNE'S" of our day? Our children presented with Michael Vick, Charlie Sheen, gangsta rap, and "reality TV" – You get back what you put in ~~

  16. Bruce says:

    Yes! Just yes.

  17. [...] When women say, “I don’t need a man to take care of me” they are giving men a reason not to be… Being chivalrous is a way that a guy shows you he cares and respects you. [...]

  18. robbie says:

    this is the best thing i've ever read in a while.. i'm sharing this in my facebook page..

  19. coko says:

    i think the article is awesome abd might be missing one fact- maybe it wasn’t men nor women that were the problem, but thiz whole50s societal “family jnit” that was created in the first place. This system that obviously did not work for women, who started stepping out of their roles as wive-mother-house slave… AND PERHAPS- the reason the men started disappearing from these units is that it wasn’t working forthem either. Maybe they couldn’t find themselves in these domestic units and so left, just like women stood up and said, no more.

    We have a tendency to blame in our society and find fault, but lets remember that if something isn’t working for oneperson in a relationship, theb it most certainly isn’t working for the other.

    Family units were created as the ideal… mom dad two kids a buick or (gasp!) two… a manicured lawn mom at home and dad wit a good job.

    it looks goof and

  20. coko says:

    i think the article is awesome abd might be missing one fact- maybe it wasn’t men nor women that were the problem, but thiz whole50s societal “family jnit” that was created in the first place. This system that obviously did not work for women, who started stepping out of their roles as wive-mother-house slave… AND PERHAPS- the reason the men started disappearing from these units is that it wasn’t working forthem either. Maybe they couldn’t find themselves in these domestic units and so left, just like women stood up and said, no more.

    We have a tendency to blame in our society and find fault, but lets remember that if something isn’t working for oneperson in a relationship, theb it most certainly isn’t working for the other.

    Family units were created as the ideal… mom dad two kids a buick or (gasp!) two… a manicured lawn mom at home and dad wit a good job.

    it looks good and pretty outside, abd that is the way the media wanted it to look, so that young people would work for chrysler and gm and send their kids offto the army to fight for “this great country’s freedom”

    I think ultimately we should examine the whole family unit and also how women and men learn to find thelselves. gosh- we are all babies, no?

  21. Jannie Parquette says:

    I have to say that for the past couple of hours i have been hooked by the amazing posts on this site. Keep up the wonderful work.

  22. Silk-woven facade says:

    Appreciate the message that the author is trying to get across in this article. But men do not need to do anything special to "own those man parts".

    Society, the media machine and general opinion has had an affect of conditioning men over the last few decades. It's not been an easy time for men in terms of what it means to be a man.

    Men need to stop listening to the endless commentary about what men should do, or what they should not do because the qualities of every single man are already there within him – he just needs to unlearn the conditioning.

    It's a spiritual path, path of uncovering.

    What women want changes with the seasons if you read what popular womens magazines talk about. Men should certainly not listen to their advice!

  23. Janene Kozloff says:

    I’m developing a site site and I was thinking of switching the template.Yours looks pretty nice! You could visit my site and tell me your viewpoint!

  24. fabsadami says:

    Although I agree with the gist of this piece, i think you're missing a central point. And that is, why are men scared to be men? Its because feminism went so far as to make men seem like the evil enemy. Men didn't become scared to be men overnight. We got the fear of god put into us by the radical feminist movement. We were, and often still are admonished for chivalry. Just a few days ago, i got told off my a pregnant woman on a tram for offering her my seat, with a line something like "what, don't you think i'm strong enough to stand on my own two feet?" Read "the war against boys"–boys AREN'T ALLOWED to be boys anymore. Over time, it somehow became negative to have testosterone and to exhibit it. I get told off for allowing my niece to watch football or rugby with me, and for exhibiting standard man-likes-sports-behaviour in front of her. So to now suddenly expect men to "step up" and reactivate those instincts out of nowhere is asking for a miracle. My point is that men are getting a very confusing message from society, which still isn't sure whether its ok for men to be men and for boys to be boys. A generation of men grew up being told that masculinity was a negative thing. its going to take time for masculinity to become positive again.

  25. Richard Bhurosah says:

    A woman preaching about masculinity… How fucking ridiculous. I suppose f you would be happy with a macho macho man go for it.
    How far would you take chivalry? Would you be happy for your husband or son to sacrifice themselves in a hypothetical situation of 'women & children' first? Or you just happy for them to pick up the check on every date?
    Romance is about equal respect in a modern society. Make a time machine and head off to Victorian England.
    ‎"Furthermore, a man shouldn’t feel afraid to protect a woman’s honor. There’s nothing as sexy as a man speaking up to defend a girl’s reputation."
    This could be the most stupid thing I've ever read on the internet (and I've been on MRA, conservative & liverpool fc sites). Here we have the reason, in my extensive experience, of how physical violence begins. From bars & nightclubs I have worked or managed, I can say that 90% of bar fights between 2 males can be traced to 'protecting/defending a woman' in some outdated machoism display. And more often than not, from men who would in no way be violent in any normal situation. The idea this somehow cements a man into being a man is truly astonishingly stupid.
    Its interesting to what you think makes a man a 'man', but I wonder, what is your idea of femininity? I take it they cannot defend their own honour, because they'd come across as masculine, or unfeminine? I'm pretty sure that women are more than capable of fighting their own arguments; and, because of gender roles, there is far less chance of anything leading escalating into physical confrontation.
    The lost art of strength section – this bit just sounds juvenile. A strong man would be able to admit he doesn't know what the best decision would be, or maybe he doesn't really care, as either outcome would suit him, so the woman could have the decision. I take it in a relationship, you are sexually active with your partner? So even after this, if you still feel like a Mum, I'd be very worried indeed. Strong men ask for help, and know when its needed.
    The romance lacking in some mens behaviour is not because they don't want to show it, but because they feel they can't because it is not 'manly'; this is because of the gender role, alpha male syndrome, machoism & the whole 'treat em mean keep em keen' trait. It is brought about exactly by phrases such as 'man up' and act like a man.
    I'm probably no doubt not a man in your eyes… I've actually just lifted the Macbook off my lap and had a quick feel down there… yep.. all there… I'm still a man alright.

    • @tom_zorro says:

      I agree, the whole point to relationships is being able to relate to that person –

      If you cant do that , then where is the relationships ?

      Using cliches to try to define who or what you are through others (males or female ) only indicates that you do not know who you are yourself and therefore cant possibly have any idea what you want because its not permanent.

      To become self aware creates permanence , and once you a permanent you will know what matters and how to find it others as well.

  26. [...] and steering clear of the words ‘divine’ and ‘spiritual’ because those tend to refer to a way of masculinity that tries to ‘rise above’ and ‘transcend’ the body, the mud, the blood, the anger and all other ‘unpure’ and ‘unsavory’ expressions of energy. [...]

  27. @tom_zorro says:

    There are plenty of strong disabled men who no woman ( even ugly or desperate ) would take a 2nd look at .

  28. [...] sh*t at him, and he’s still standing. Not only is he still standing—he’s still loving me. He’s not afraid to violate the rules I have locking my orgasm. His commitment to total presence in the face of my feminine outrage liberates the woman in me—and [...]

  29. [...] What is typically described as ‘dominance’ actually stems from reptilian-minded, scarcity-driven thinking, i.e. kill or be killed. Men’s compulsive acquisition of status and competitive one-upmanship are masks hiding deep wounds surrounding their disconnect from the feminine and confusion about their own authentic masculinity. [...]

  30. paul says:

    Men have been betrayed by feminism. Still, we live and learn. Men need to be men and stand firm with honour.

  31. robert says:

    Wow, I loved the first part of this where you identify some of my parents generations biggest failures. But the rest of it is an insult to men. You would simply continue the travesty of earlier generations. You are the second wave of “Angry Women” only the anger has fadedd so you feel empowered to tell Men how to be. You are still living within the imaginary walls of the home you mention. In the real world I am surrounded by examples of Masculinity that have nothing to do with want women want. As an author I would expect you to see the failure of logic you present here and redract it. But you will not because there are more fluff headed bitchezs out there that “love it” as you say. So many that you can not even correct the title? I used to have more respect for the elephant journal.

  32. marcus says:

    I am not sure who you are hanging out with, but the behaviors you say are "long gone" are in no way long gone amongst me or the people I spend time with.

    I open the door for everyone – especially females. I have never had a look of disdain. I make strong decisions, have strong stances, and am not an asshole about it. I know very well the power of kindness and assertiveness with women. I also know dozens of guys who don't act the way you say all men act.

    Instead of making sweeping generalizations, maybe consider that the men you are hanging out with are not the only case.

  33. Jas says:

    A woman's complaint about men, whether disguised in new age language or not, is still a complaint. I'll take my advise about how to be a man from male role model. Thank you anyway.

  34. TRuge says:

    Amazing article, almost every sentence strikes a (sometimes painful) tone in my heart. But as I read it it is also extremely depressing, depressing because at 47 I don't believe I can change as a man and become the strong and confident man my woman deserves at her side…. Are we a lost generation ?

  35. I have to be frank and say that is a bit infuriating. It's fine to want a partner who exhibits the traits Lasara defines as masculine, but it's offensive to try to define someone's gender for them and suggest that if a man fails to exhibit the traits the author desires, they are just a symptom of society ills.

    It sounds like Lasara prefers partners who are confident, assertive, kind, and willing to take care of her at times. I'd say most people want that, including straight men who want that from their wives and girlfriends. It's fair to say that if someone exhibits the behaviors Lasara describes, they'll probably be more desirable to more potential partners. However, no one owes those behaviors to her or anyone else, and certainly not based on the fact that they have a penis.

    The fact that men are no longer willing to ruin their coats so that women don't have to walk around puddles is not a societal problem that we should pin on "the divorce boom" or feminism.

  36. MCFrosch says:

    I have to say I completely agree with you! opening the door for me is in no way offensive! lol

  37. Daniel Mirante says:

    There is a line in red which is very interesting "there are things – some perhaps genetic, but most almost certainly social conditioning – that women want, and things that men need to step up to." – this is called 'female preference'. Men also have preferences. Stepping up to a relationship is entirely a mutual affair of meeting the other – and attraction is presumably the outcome of meeting many preferences. But when it comes like a checklist – this is the paradox that needs to be navigated by both men and women – how to step up to a set of hardwired-mixed-with-personal desires presented by a being who is also historically and socially conditioned with baggage? And who's preferences may not always be enlightened? Again I'm referring to both men and women here.

    How to understand the masculine role in a society where the female role has fundamentally altered, and to discover what our genuine role and responsibility is in that? That's where I think there is no replacement than understanding and knowing oneself, and knowing – as the author says, when to say no and when to say yes. But one has to accept that although the author says she likes a man who *can say* no, a man may have to sensitively navigate the effects of saying 'no' where it is not seen as some wonderful virtue. In other words, nothing is simple in human relationships, and a great many things come down to 'doing the work' and knowing oneself as a man or a woman.

    P.S the title of the piece sets an unfortunate tone of misandry, although the piece itself was ok.

  38. Daniel Mirante says:

    There is a line in red which is very interesting "there are things – some perhaps genetic, but most almost certainly social conditioning – that women want, and things that men need to step up to." – this is called 'female preference'. Men also have preferences. Stepping up to a relationship is entirely a mutual affair of meeting the other – and attraction is presumably the outcome of meeting many preferences. But when it comes like a checklist – this is the paradox that needs to be navigated by both men and women – how to step up to a set of hardwired-mixed-with-personal desires presented by a being who is also historically and socially conditioned with baggage? And who's preferences may not always be enlightened? Again I'm referring to both men and women here.

    How to understand the masculine role in a society where the female role has fundamentally altered, and to discover what our genuine role and responsibility is in that? That's where I think there is no replacement than understanding and knowing oneself, and knowing – as the author says, when to say no and when to say yes. But one has to accept that although the author says she likes a man who *can say* no, a man may have to sensitively navigate the effects of saying 'no' where it is not seen as some wonderful virtue. In other words, nothing is simple in human relationships, and a great many things come down to 'doing the work' and knowing oneself as a man or a woman.

    P.S the title of the piece sets an unfortunate tone of misandry

  39. Matt says:

    I don't know quite how to articulate this, but it strikes me that there is something terribly asymmetrical about how men and women are comfortable writing about one another's experience. I simply cannot imagine a man writing this article about the experience and wounds of women — and certainly not without stirring some strong objections from women. Yet it seems these days that I often see women speaking quite easily about what men have or lack, and why, and what they need to be that they aren't, and why. Most of these forays, it seems to me, lack humility in my opinion, and, unfortunately, this one seems to me to be no exception. I think many of the points here are worthwhile, but a pervasive lack of humility, about experience which the author can only ever know from the outside, offends me. I think it is both a sign of how forbearing men are, and also how confused men are, that we accept an article like this with few complaints.

    For the sake of full disclosure (and which, at this point will probably surprise no one reading this) I'll say that I have sustained some wounds around masculine identity — largely the result of incomplete fathering. However, I do not feel those are a liability as I reflect on this piece. Frankly, I think they give me a particular kind of authority.

  40. jodyhopkinson says:

    as a single mama – not angry – just tired.

  41. Basil White says:

    “Son, please keep in mind: if she’s having a good time, YOU’RE gonna have a good time.”

  42. Ashley says:

    As a Marriage and Family Therapist, I feel qualified to say this is one of the best, most supportive, compassionate, and clearest commentaries on masculinity I've read. Wonderful.

  43. Christine says:

    There are no absolutes…I raised 3 sons as a single mom…they are men now…masculine, confident, loving and strong. Maybe because I didn't try to be the absent father, only the present mother…maybe because I encouraged them to be the best version of themselves that they could be…maybe because I was just lucky that way…but they are wonderful men and I am very proud of them.

  44. Maria says:

    I am reding it again. I fond your insight enlightening and I ponder on what am I currently doing in my own world.

  45. Rekha Nigam says:

    This is the most insightful article I've read on a very complex issue fraught with dangers of being politically incorrect. Kudos!

  46. larsbars21 says:

    This is beautiful. Thank you.

  47. Nick says:

    One thing I felt was missing from this article, and societies attitude. Whenever there is a problem people always look to men to change. Men should not open the door for a lady, men should not try to solve women;s problems and just listen, men should now start opening doors for women again. How about women make some changes too? have about stop making jokes at men's expense about men being dumb or useless? How about not treating men with scorn? How about women think about the way they talk about and treat men, and whether they would accept it if the genders where reversed. I'm not here to claim that women are to blame for all the ills of the world, but they have a role to play to make things better.

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