Thursday, April 2, 2015

Men, Explained

"Hey Jason, where have all the good men gone? Every man I meet is either an arrogant jackass or a pussy-whipped meek hipster." 
- Female friend, circa 2012
This is one of the questions that piqued my renewed interest in gender roles and relationships over the last few years. At the time, I suggested my friend was, for whatever reason, looking in the wrong places for "good men." She then went on the explain the exact nature of the problem. The men she met anywhere (bars, bookstores, Bible study, Big Lots, whatever) either came off as pompous douchebags or appeared to be amazing men... until they became needy, clingy little bitches about six months to a year into the relationship.

It became clear this friend HAD been looking everywhere. She had a lot of positive traits (hot, smart, funny, fiercely independent), she wasn't exceptionally picky (she had "dated down" on several occasions), and had realistic expectations of relationships. She shouldn't have had any problems attracting really great guys.

Yet she did.

Three years later, after significant in-depth observation, research, and countless discussions with both men and women, I finally have a good answer: There aren't very many truly good guys out there. Those that exist are taken. Worse, the women than are dating or married to these men recognize their value and will do virtually anything to keep them to themselves. They don't hit the open market very often.

That realization led me to two questions: 

  1. What were these "great men" doing that the rest of us were not, and 
  2. Could we teach the average American male how to be a "great man"?

The answer to the latter question is a definite "YES!" The answer to the former question is a little more sticky and took far longer to answer. Regardless, that one turned out to be an emphatic "Yes!", also.

To explain the "great man" characteristics, it's easiest to think of males as existing in three generations. 

First Generation Men

First Gen Men (FGM) are what we think of when we picture a love child between Don Draper and Ward Cleaver. Today, we usually call these men "alphas." FGMs were the head of the household. FGMs earned most of the family's income in a secure job he could expect to hold for the entirety of his life, thus filled the "provider" role. His wife was a stay-at-home mother. FGMs did the outdoor "manly" chores while his wife did the indoor "womanly" chores, which included almost all of the parenting responsibilities. FGMs, compared to males of today, was more confident, assertive, and skilled and capable at tasks that could help protect his family if needed. FGMs did not rely on his wife for emotional support and maintained a somewhat aloof, stoic demeanor around his family. FGMs relied on his male peer group for emotional support, which was usually done in fraternal organizations like The Freemasons or The Elk Club, or hobbies like hunting, fishing, golf, or strip clubs.

Sounds great, right?

Not so fast... FGM had a decidedly dark side. FGM was also paternalistic, chauvinistic, and occasionally, downright misogynistic. The woman's place was at in the kitchen, barefoot, and pregnant (FGMs were probably the original barefoot advocates.) If the wife got out of line, it was perfectly acceptable to slap her around a bit. Paradoxically, FGM's implied purpose was to protect his wife and children from the evils of the world.

Second Generation Men

Second Gen Men (SGM) came about sometime starting around the later 1960's. SGM is the product of technology, changing relationship expectations, and the equal rights movement. SGM is what we sometimes refer to as a "beta" male. SGM is kind, gentle, compassionate, egalitarian, interested in social justice, ignores traditional gender assignment for roles in society and in the family structure, adept at parenting, defers to his wife for head-of-household duties, and may even be a stay-at-home dad. The SGM, consciously or unconsciously, hopes to prove their love for women by placing women on a pedestal and trying their best to become the man they believe their woman wants. SGMs are great for the honeymoon period of relationships. 

SGM is also passive-aggressive, emotionally-needy, is easily angered, uses guilt and shame to get what they want, clingy, isolated, vulnerable, has trouble maintaining eye contact, slouches, would prefer to be a follower than a leader, does not like making decisions, scared to say "no", defensive, and doesn't take control in the bedroom. These characteristics make SGMs insufferable after a few years in a relationship. 

So how did SGM develop? Here's a short, overly-simplified explanation.

First, technology started to kill many of the heavily male-dominated blue-collar jobs in favor of more highly-skilled white collar jobs. Since there were fewer educated men than uneducated men, opportunities for women blossomed. This was perfect because post-"Rosy the Riveter" women were asserting their rights to break free of the patriarchal bonds that have oppressed them for the vast majority of the existence of humanity. SGM fully supports gender equality but recoils at extreme feminist stances like "all men are potential rapists." After all, SGM exists to please women and consider it their virtuous duty. They're really just engaging in a much more passive patriarchal "protection" behavior than their FGM ancestors. 

Second, changing relationship expectations brought about the idea of "soul mates." Prior to the 1960's, relationships served a utilitarian purpose of providing a framework to raise a family. It was almost like a business arrangement. Sure, there was the element of love, but the clearly-defined gender roles made life predicable and safe, which was the purpose of the family unit. When the economy changed and women started developing their own independence (and the ability to provide for their family), traditional gender roles became far less utilitarian. The result - relationship equality developed. On equal footing and no longer burdened with the threat of The Great Depression or World Wars, relationship expectations changed dramatically. Your partner was now expected to be your perfect compliment; you fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. Men struggled with this transition emotionally because the old fraternal organizations fell out of style. Women were expected to be men's emotional sounding board. While it sounds great in theory, men and women, generally, have very different emotions. In short, women aren't as capable as men of understanding male emotions. The reverse is also true.

Third, the equal rights movement convinced males it was foolish to exclude females at the top of the power pyramid. The more diversity any organization has, whether it be a club, business, or government, the better able it is to survive in a global economy. SGM fully supports equality. Unfortunately, SGM also didn't speak up to help lay the foundation for a truly egalitarian society. SGM, because they want to support equality, stepped back to allow women to assume all the roles they were once dissuaded from taking, which was a good thing. Many women quickly realized it was impossible to have a full-time career AND take care of a household AND raise the children, so they created a role for the newly-minted SGM. Not surprisingly, the ideal male was just a female with a penis. Men went along with it because they supported equality and it also opened up a new world WE didn't have access to: Accessing our "feminine side."

The problem that arose was balance. Our society assumed FGM characteristics created the oppressive, patriarchal system that kept women as second-class citizens. In reality, the traditional gender roles were just a function of practicality. In uncertain times, traditional gender roles work like a charm to keep our species alive. For the latter half of the 20th Century, we've enjoyed a safety and prosperity like no other time in our species' history. Still, FGM characteristics were vilified, feminine characteristics were viewed as the ideal, and the SGM "beta" was born. In many cases, SGM's fell into the emotionally-manipulative "Nice Guys" trap (worth a read for all men AND women... learning to identify yourself as a "Nice Guy" or recognize the traits in others in invaluable to your future happiness.) Today, the vast majority of males in our society are SGMs. Almost all are blissfully ignorant that the emptiness, sexual frustration, hopelessness, and loneliness they experience is a direct result of their assumed personality. They believe their outlook on life is the cure for their problems, not the cause

Women unwittingly supported this move from FGM to SGM because SGM appears to be the ideal male... on paper. They're willing to give full support to women's career ambitions, will share household chores and parenting, is more than willing to engage in open, honest communication, and, at least on the surface, appear to be kind and gentle (therefore safe... they don't appear to be abusers or rapists.) Indeed, as I mentioned earlier, dating a SGM is amazing... for about a year or three. SGMs tend to be one-trick ponies in that they have little or no ability to assume the masculine traits of their FGM ancestors. Why is 50 Shades of Gray so popular? Women today seriously crave a man that's assertive and confident enough to take control of an experience because SGM simply isn't capable of that decidedly alpha behavior. SGM will typically say they have "too much respect" for their significant others without realizing playing consensual, recreational power games in the bedroom (or relationship) has nothing to do with supporting gender equality outside the bedroom.

What about the rest of the males in our society today? 

Some have achieved Third Generation Male (TGM) status, but a greater number fill out a weird category that, sadly, is growing quickly. I'll call them "Old School Haters" (OSH.) OSH are men that, unlike the not-so-blissfully ignorant SGMs, understand that women's nonverbal cues are more important than the actual syntax of their speech. In other words, they're a little more in tune with female communication styles. Because of this, they recognize that women secretly despise the SGM, especially once they've dated a few and understand the trap. They understand that almost all women love masculinity. As a result, OSH avoids SGM behavior like the plague and adopts FGM characteristics, including the not-so-pleasant misogyny. 

The majority of The Red Pill adherents fit this category. Instead of seeing SGM as a transitional period where men are trying to figure out our place in our new, more equal world, they see SGM as a manufactured product of feminism. As such, they usually have an overt, venomous disdain for all things related to women and the equal rights movement. They see women as an inferior enemy to be manipulated for their own sexual gratification. These men really are misogynistic assholes. However, they're also VERY good at picking up women because they exude assertiveness and confidence far better than the SGMs they're competing with. They're like a shark swimming with a bunch of seals. They continue to have success because women want to believe there's more to them than just their cocky, confident outer coating. But alas, the alpha persona is just a gilding cover a whole lotta hate. 

The fact that OSHs get lots of pussy absolutely infuriates SGMs. After all, they're the "nice guys" that put in the time and effort to woo a woman with their friendly and adoring gestures. Yet they're the guys that are unceremoniously placed in the "friend zone." One of the most common complaints SGMs utter is "Why does she always go for jerks, they break her heart, then she cries on my shoulder? Doesn't she realize I would literally kill for her?!?"

The SGM doesn't realize the OSH is secretly miserable, too. While they can pick up lots of women, they have zero ability to maintain a long-term relationship. The patriarchal, misogynistic world that allowed our FGM grandfathers and great-grandfathers to flourish simply doesn't exist today. Or, when they DO enter a relationship, they turn 180° and become SGMs. Either way, they suck at relationships. Both the SGM and OSH are so caught up in their "alpha" and "beta" roles and attacking each other, they don't realize the other side holds the keys to the kingdom.

Third Generation Male

The Third Gen Male (TGM) is the true unicorn in our society. This is the fully-evolved male that has taken the positive masculine characteristics from both the FGM and SGM and abandoned the misogyny of the alphas and the emotional manipulation and neediness of the betas. They've mastered both masculinity and femininity, can recognize when and where specific gender roles are appropriate and effective, and can effectively utilize them at will. They are, in essence, complete and balanced modern men. 

The TGM fully supports equal opportunity, equal possibility, and equal responsibility, not only for gender, but also race, religion, sexual orientation, age, etc. TGM doesn't feel compelled to protect women, but is more than willing to protect the weak. TGM can be domineering, assertive, confident, aggressive, but can also be gentle, compassionate, and nurturing. TGM feels comfortable leading people and also following competent leaders. TGM realizes is goal in life is not to please women; he realizes his goal in life is to be the best version of himself he can possibly be. Part of that realization means TGM supports his significant others' quest to become the best version of her she can be. In the bedroom, TGM understands relationship dynamics and can effortlessly cycle between the comfortable, somewhat boring monotony of daily life to the white-hot passion of fantasy. The TGM understands passion and intimacy are opposites, and can use each other to create fulfilling relationships that stand the test of time. 

Ironically, by not focusing on what women want, the TGM becomes exactly what women want. When women say "I want a guy that can be himself", they don't mean they want a fat, boring, ambition-less lazy ass; they want a man that's not going to continually try to be what he thinks the woman wants. That's the reason they're so rare on the singles market... they're competing with clueless OSHs and SGMs. 

TGM, really, is balanced and fluid. This really shouldn't be a surprise given women basically went through the same "mastering both gender roles" process after the Feminist movement gained traction. The most successful women today are the women that can seamlessly transition between masculine and feminine roles.

The men that are reading this, in all likelihood, would be classified as a SGM. It's the most prevalent male personality type today. And I've spend the better part of a decade experimenting with different methods to transition from a SGM (I was once the poster child for the personality type) to a TGM. It has been a long, difficult journey, but the payoff has been phenomenal. I've been able to accomplish some amazing things personally, professionally, and in my role as a husband and father since I made this transformation. 

It has also been a great learning experience... mostly because I've realized that transition is FAR easier than I would have imagined. It seemed like an insurmountable journey because the underlying principles are buried under layer after layer of social convention, but I'm close to finishing a plan that spells out exactly how to navigate these tricky waters. 

"But Jason, what if I'm an OSH?"

The OSH male is a unique snowflake, but not in a good way. The OSH has all the tools to be a great TGM, but their insight to understand women leads them to conclude women are somehow evil. In other words, the OSH plays the victim role. They're not willing (or able) to understand human behavior is what it is; instead they must attach morality to the equation. Since femininity is evil, the OSH bitterly opposes adopting feminine traits. That one-sidedness could have led to successful relationships fifty years ago, but is an abysmal failure today. As long as the OSH is convinced women are either inferior or the spawn of Satan, they'll never have the tools to successfully navigate relationships. They'll forever be stuck in the shallow world of one-night stands and failed short-term relationships. 


To reiterate the answer to my friend's question of "Where have all the good men gone?", the really good men (TGMs) are already taken because the competition for them is intense. What's left are a gaggle of men that are either incapable of maintaining a relationship (OSHs) or too needy and clingy to keep a long-term relationship interesting (SGMs.) For women, I'm sure that sucks. For guys, it sucks even more.

Far too many of us reach our thirties, forties, or even our fifties before we learn our lesson. Many of us have snagged a wife, have kids, a nice career, and all the trappings of the American Dream. We should be deliriously happy... or at least content. After all, it worked for our FGM grandfathers and great grandfathers. Unfortunately, we're silently consumed with dread. There's an emptiness to life that's difficult to explain, but all-encompassing. We try to put up a facade of normalcy, contentment, and happiness, but we can't shake the feeling that something is missing. We desperately want hotter, more frequent sex with the women we love. We want have the confidence to make decisions and stop asking for permission to do anything and everything. We want a larger circle of male friends. We have a vague feeling the OSH males may have a key, but we also have the wherewithal to recognize their douchey personality type is incongruent with the modern era. We know there's a better answer.

That answer is evolving from a SGM to a TGM. 

And I have the map. 

Stay tuned. ;-)


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