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Thread: Manliness Then And Now

  1. #11
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    Nice post, CL.

    Fifty years ago, if you referred to someone as "manly", people would know what you meant. Today, I'm not so sure. Look at some of the Times reader comments. Everybody seems to want to impose their own straw-man definition on the term so they can attack or deconstruct it. The zero-sum feminists who can't hear about a a man's virtue without demanding equal time for female senators. The people who want to tell you the classical Greeks were slave-owning pederasts. The Trump-obsessed. The pacifists who want to equate martial valor with war-mongering. We hear about the importance of sharing feelings and the pathology of gender stereotypes. And we hear from so many who try to fill the void left by abandoned standards of honor or conduct with politics.

    I must say it's refreshing to come here and see posts from people who get it. Who recognize people in their everyday lives who demonstrate the qualities of courage, unselfishness, accountability, self-restraint and integrity that we are talking about when we are talking about "manliness".

  2. #12
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    Ultralite, if you have read my posts, you have seen the extent of my criticism and complaints - I am human, and so given at times to complain over small things. I have been known to criticise dh actions to my children "I really wish your father would stop using my dish towels as pot holders" but never his character.

    i probably complain about him more here among strangers, because sometimes I need to vent (again, I am human) and it seems to do no harm among those he will never meet. I never complain about him to my parents (except lightly - dish towel example) because I saw that my mother forgave my father's faults far more quickly than my grandmother did and I would prefer to be the last to forgive him - if he is "right" with me than no one else has a right to criticize.

    i don't have "gal pals". I have one close friend who I sometimes talk to about major stuff, because she is supportive and wise enough to know that there is a huge difference between having a problem with someone and someone being a problem. And that her role is to offer insight and feedback and not encourage blame.

    the kids and I tease him - a common line is "classic Dad!" Applied recently when he insisted on using a chalk line and a level to cut a (perfect!) hole in my cabinet instead of using the template. Or when he does something like forget how old one of our children is or the identity of the friend they brought home last night. And sometimes laugh at him (or with - he is able to laugh at himself), but would never belittle or ridicule. No one has ever needed to tell my children to treat their father with respect - it has always been clear to them that he deserved it.

    i tried to imagine lumping my husband in with my kids - maybe after he had his appendix out and thought he would go back to work the next day (classic dad). I felt like I had to be his mother. And Sometimes when he is being particularly goofy I might say he is one of the kids or "as bad as the kids" but fondly- like when he led all the nieces and nephews in a cannonball contest off the dock this summer, or when he decides we are all having cake or such for lunch.

  3. #13
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    More and more I am convinced that "feminism is the radical notion that women are people".

    Not that I would particularly aspire to David Brook's "manly virtues", they are an odd hodgepodge indeed (I mean sure some of them are fine, and others are just odd).
    If you want something to get done, ask a busy person. If you want them to have a nervous breakdown that is.

  4. #14
    Senior Member gimmethesimplelife's Avatar
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    This is an interesting topic in my book, especially given that I am a gay male and have had my masculinity called into question more than once in the past. I realize that only a person or two here has met me IRL so I'm going to just make it clear that I'm no Chuck Norris but I'm also no flamer, either. The one trait that I cherish in myself that I consider masculine personally - I will stand up to almost anyone or any entity for my rights without thinking twice (though sometimes it probably would be in my best practical interest to keep my mouth shut). I also have the ability to adhere to opinions and beliefs that don't make me popular with some people - social approval is not all that important to me, and I consider this a masculine trait, too.

    My husband has more traditionally masculine qualities - more quiet and calm and just steady - steady is a good word for him and something that I very much admire.

    This is an interesting topic for a gay man though, and it's something that does get discussed among gay men - and now with all the tensions between straight men and straight women, and the proliferation of the MGTOW movement - there seems to be more of a questioning as to what constitutes "masculine" behavior - at least that I have noticed. One thing I bless feminism for - not only did feminism allow women the right to walk away from their traditional roles, for men with some courage, feminism has allowed men to walk away from their traditional roles, too - I believe this is a wonderful thing, I really do. The traditional male role does not work for all men any more than the traditional female role works for all women, and if there is truly to be equality, men get the right to walk away from their traditional roles too - otherwise equality is equality in name only, and life is too short for such as I see it. Interesting topic! Rob

  5. #15
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Rob, you're certainly right that gay men discuss masculinity a lot. Probably because most of us had our masculinity, or lack thereof, called out during our formative years. I know I certainly did. And enough that it probably warrants a separate thread to discuss, although I don't know that there are a lot of people on this board besides you and me who would especially care about such a niche topic. But honestly, anyone that's ever perused M4M personal ads has undoubtedly seen countless ads requesting in one way or another that potential partners be masculine. Probably the most common being "straight acting seeks same" which seems to use "straight acting" as a pseudonym for masculine. That has always seemed like one of the biggest self slaps gay men can give themselves. And then there's the complication, when discussing masculinity with gay men, that masculinity can be ascribed to both physical traits of a person and their behavior. A lot of gay male discussion of masculinity seems to focus on physical traits. Brian Sims is a great example of someone that most gay men would describe as masculine. I know I would, at least judging from his pictures. I mean, woof! Physically he's hotter than hell to me. But is being a former college football player and currently a hairy bear congressperson enough to make one masculine? I don't really think so. Actions say volumes and I don't know enough about Brian to have any idea what his actions say about him. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. I'd need to get to know him better to answer that question.

  6. #16
    Senior Member bae's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jp1 View Post
    Rob, you're certainly right that gay men discuss masculinity a lot. Probably because most of us had our masculinity, or lack thereof, called out during our formative years.
    I've always found that a bit odd.

    Most of the gay men in my father's and my father-in-law's social circles are quite masculine in the more surface-level things, and much more so in their actions in support of family and community.

    I wonder if the people linking masculinity to sexual preference are perhaps dealing with their own insecurities of some sort.

    Mind you, I realize there's a whole spectrum of behaviour out there, but, interestingly, straight people exhibit many of the same behaviours....

  7. #17
    Senior Member jp1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bae View Post
    I've always found that a bit odd.

    Most of the gay men in my father's and my father-in-law's social circles are quite masculine in the more surface-level things, and much more so in their actions in support of family and community.

    I wonder if the people linking masculinity to sexual preference are perhaps dealing with their own insecurities of some sort.

    Mind you, I realize there's a whole spectrum of behaviour out there, but, interestingly, straight people exhibit many of the same behaviours....
    I'm not a sociologist so I don't know the answer to your question, but I'd suspect that it has to do with the changing level of knowledge/acceptance of gay people over time. Go back far enough (your father's generation) and no one thought anyone was gay. Go back to when people my age were figuring out they were gay and most people didn't think about it but a few did and at least a couple chose to call people like me fag when we were just hitting puberty. For better or worse I will never ever forget that day in seventh grade biology when it first happened to me. Whether that has forever altered my perspective on life I don't know. But to keep going, looking at the gay teenagers today and it's yet another different story. Having parental support/approval surely causes them to have a profoundly different view of themselves than I did at that age.

    I'm sure you're absolutely right that my insecurities about myself when I was younger have affected my perceptions of masculinity and may well be the reason that I find someone who presents as masculine like Brian Sims so attractive and why so many gay men are repelled by non-masculine men.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ultralight View Post
    There was a time in this country when men could run a trot line, grow their own tomatoes, and read Steinbeck novels. Men used to cultivate a certain toughness and this toughness was valued by other men and admired by women.

    That era is mostly gone.
    No, it's alive and well.

    Reposting a timely piece I read today:

    Hundreds and hundreds of small boats pulled by countless pickups and SUVs from across the South are headed for Houston. Almost all of them driven by men. They're using their own property, sacrificing their own time, spending their own money, and risking their own lives for one reason: to help total strangers in desperate need.
    Most of them are by themselves. Most are dressed like the redneck duck hunters and bass fisherman they are. Many are veterans. Most are wearing well-us...ed gimme-hats, t-shirts, and jeans; and there's a preponderance of camo. Most are probably gun owners, and most probably voted for Trump.
    These are the people the Left loves to hate, the ones Maddow mocks. The ones Maher and Olbermann just *know* they're so much better than.
    These are The Quiet Ones. They don't wear masks and tear down statues. They don't, as a rule, march and demonstrate. And most have probably never been in a Whole Foods.
    But they'll spend the next several days wading in cold, dirty water; dodging gators and water moccasins and fire ants; eating whatever meager rations are available; and sleeping wherever they can in dirty, damp clothes. Their reward is the tears and the hugs and the smiles from the terrified people they help. They'll deliver one boatload, and then go back for more.
    When disaster strikes, it's what men do. Real men. Heroic men. American men. And then they'll knock back a few shots, or a few beers with like-minded men they've never met before, and talk about fish, or ten-point bucks, or the benefits of hollow-point ammo, or their F-150.
    And the next time they hear someone talk about "the patriarchy", or "male privilege", they'll snort, turn off the TV and go to bed.
    In the meantime, they'll likely be up again before dawn. To do it again. Until the helpless are rescued. And the work's done.
    They're unlikely to be reimbursed. There won't be medals. They won't care. They're heroes. And it's what heroes do.

    "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." ~ Albert Einstein

  9. #19
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    Those are my neighbors. And that is one of the reasons why I have a great deal of respect for them even though I don't agree with most of them about many things.

    i genuinely like them even though I often do not enjoy talking with them. I often believe they are mistaken, ignorant (lacking information - as in many areas I am also), or wrong, but I do not find them dishonorable. I do think it reflects poorly on them to support trump when HE is being dishonorable, but then I've never been a "my side right or wrong" kind of girl. I'm more of an "oh lord, please don't be on my side!" Or "I am telling you you are wrong because I love you." Type

    Denny would pull me out of a ditch, and has plowed my driveway (even though I specifically asked him not to) but he thinks I'm going straight to hell and he'd take my daughter's health care or my student's mother away in a heart beat. Then he'd cry because that little girl was in foster care and blame her parents.

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