Getting Back on the Ball(s): My Study in Manliness

Alright, it’s been about ten days since my last post, and that one wasn’t even about anything I was reading. It’s time to get moving again here, and I’ve got just the subject to rouse just about no one from their gender-neutral slumbers: masculinity, or manliness.

Now, I’m fully aware that there’s lots and lots of blogs, well known and obscure, that discuss this subject all the time, taking traditional, perhaps misogynistic stances about men, thinking they need to be out there planting battle axes in the skulls of their enemies with a flask full of Jack Daniels at their hip.  On top of that, there’s plenty of blogs out there full of more effeminate men attempting to get the male population to be more open about their feelings while being less intense about the fact that they are actually men.

These polarizing views of masculinity have left men paralyzed and confused about what it means to be a man.  While both of these views are well-meaning, both of them, in my opinion, miss the mark when attempting to nail down masculinity, smashing their readers’ thumbs beneath the hammer of their poorly aimed reasoning.  Frankly, I think the attempt to assign values to the genders is half-assed, inaccurate, and impotent.

Men have told me that men are meant to lead, to have adventures, to go into battle guns a-blazing and kick ass, leaving a trail of dead in their wake. We’re told to sound our barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world as we bound from mountaintop to mountaintop.  There’s nothing wrong with any of these things, but why can’t women do the same thing?  For that matter, I’ve been told women are meant to be compassionate, gentle and caring, the person we run to when we’ve scraped our knee so she can make it all better.  There’s nothing wrong with these things, but why can’t we assign these things to men as well?

What I’m getting at is that we’ve been identifying universal values (adventure, passion, love, gentleness) as gender-specific.  This is incorrect and ultimately detrimental if we’re going to get people to be the individuals they’re trying to be.  A man can be loving and kind just as much as he can kick ass on the football field, and a woman can lay waste to her enemies just as much as she can tend to her child’s wounds. All values are masculine, and all values are feminine; how much you realize your own gender identity depends on your embracing of these values.

That being said, I don’t know much about manliness beyond that, so I’m going looking for it.  I don’t know if I necessarily have books I can define as “manly”, but I do have a good resource from the Art of Manliness, the site that’s inspiring this search of mine, and I’ll be examining some stuff from my own library as well.  I thought I had a finalized group of books to read, but I’m going to rethink what I currently have to read.  I grabbed what I have rather haphazardly.

Anyway, that’s what’s coming up soon.  The next couple days, however, will be book reviews from the books that were left in my bag from before.  See ya then!

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2 thoughts on “Getting Back on the Ball(s): My Study in Manliness

  1. I am really excited about future posts on the subject. I wanted to tackle this very issue, but I wanted a lot of feedback from the guys because, ‘I am no man!’ as Eowyn says in Lord of the Rings. Thank you for the post!

  2. Hemingway. Hemingway has manly books.

    I said that in jest, but then I walked away and came back, only to remember that “The Sun Also Rises” does look pretty hard at masculinity.

    Also, if you haven’t read it yet, “Fight Club” has some interesting ideas about being a man in it. It’s not exactly presented in a straightforward, serious way, but there are some interesting meditations on being a man / manly and what our culture crams down our throats as being “correct.”

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