Sometime last year, I reignited my interest in gender roles. Specifically, I started investigating the way gender roles influenced our romantic relationships. During that time, it became apparent "feminine" and "masculine" gender roles played an integral role in long-term relationship success. Unfortunately, this realization came after I had published my book detailing strategies couples can use to spice up a dormant sex life - No Bone Zone.
Initially, I made the assumption that the ideal male or the ideal female would possess both masculine and feminine virtues, and could call on them at will depending on the situation. This seemed logical, and it appeared to be confirmed by observation - people that could play both roles tended to be viewed as "high value."
Fast-forward about a year. Over the last few weeks, we've been having gender role discussions in my San Diego Man Camp, a forerunner to the actual Man Camp project I'll be launching shortly. We were discussing an article about being a gentleman that appeared on the excellent website The Art of Manliness. The article made a case that learning to be a man is a prerequisite to learning to be a gentleman. Gentlemanly, civilized behavior is a smoothing out of the rough edges of masculinity. As such, to be a real gentleman, you must first learn to be a man. This was of interest to the Man Camp group because all of us, to one degree or another, is in the process of learning to be good at being men.
It was also of interest because it provided a better framework for my observations about attractiveness and gender roles. Suddenly, the method of how men can combine feminine traits with masculine traits came into perfect focus. Being a "gentleman" was nothing more than using feminine traits like openness, patience, kindness, graciousness, etc. to take the rough edges off the gruffness of masculinity.
This also explained why effeminate men, White Knights, and "Nice Guys" are so damn repulsive to most women (and many men.) They adopt these "gentlemanly" traits but have nothing underneath to back them up. They're all bark and no bite. For example, white knights love to "protect" women from the evil alpha males, but their aggressive posturing and threats are laughed off because it's just a veneer. White knights are cowards that would back down at any hint of actual confrontation because they have no actual masculine "protection" skills. And most women intuitively know this.
But Not All Men are Betas, Right?
There are a few men that DO pick up on the failings of the beta male, then attempt to correct course by adopting a hyper-masculine persona. This is the stereotypical "douche" (think Jersey Shore.) These men kinda get it right in that they recognize women are sexually aroused by alpha males, but the unchecked masculinity a) is sort of obnoxious and interferes with their ability to function as a productive member of society, and b) pretty much assures they're going to suck at long-term relationships. At the very least, the alpha douche wins out over the wimpy beta because they actually have the skill set to protect those they love.
Interestingly, both the beta male and the douche see that each other is ineffective, yet fail to see the same in themselves. Here's a "Nice Guy" take on the dynamic:
If you're a regular reader of this website, you'll immediately see the humor.
So Where Did We Go Wrong?
Genetic and biological males have simply lost the desire to really embrace and develop masculine traits. It's almost like most men today have developed an allergic reaction to manliness. For whatever reason, our society has forgotten how to teach men to be men. Most men fall into some version of the beta male trap. A few "rise above" and adopt the alpha douche persona. Yet very few bother to take the time to learn how to really be good at being a man, then learn to temper that unchecked manliness with appropriate doses of femininity.
I'm finding more and more men (and a few younger women that haven't fully learned how shitty beta males are over the long haul) that buy into a much different narrative - they're trying to "redefine" masculinity. This "redefining" is a wholesale destruction of all four masculine virtues and replacing them with feminine virtues. These men are going a step further than just trying to be gentlemanly without learning the prerequisite masculine virtues; they're actually trying to redefine masculinity as femininity.
This group of men fall into a special category of resentful males I'm going to call "Politically Correct Butthurt Men." These PCBM men not only reject masculinity, they actively vilify it. Why? They have zero confidence in their own ability to learn to be good at being a man. That leads these men to attack any display of masculinity as "compensating for insecurity" and other such nonsense.
Using my Gender Role Protection Theory, these men would be the Sheepiest Sheep in the tribe with no ability to protect. In a more dangerous environment, these men would normally be welcomed into the tribe and given appropriate non-protective role. In our modern safe and prosperous society where there's little need for protection, these men have a degree of power and influence and can insist we yank the fangs from our society's Sheepdogs.
These men can't play by the rules that have governed our species throughout our history, so they attempt to change the rules by making men act (and kinda look) like women. They're like the obese kid that lobbies to add a brownie eating contest to the third grade field day events. They can win at THAT game. The problem, of course, is that their version of masculinity is despised by almost all women. Women don't want a woman with a penis. Women want a manly man that has the ability to temper that masculinity with the social savvy of gentlemanly behaviors. That is the ideal man. That is what us men need to become. That is what we need to teach our sons.
So What Does this "Ideal Man" Look Like?
The ideal man would possess all four of the virtues effective men possess - physical strength, courage, a mastery of a wide variety of skills that serve his tribe, and honor (defined as the admiration and respect of the other men in his tribe.) The ideal man would also possess enough feminine virtues to temper these masculine virtues in a way that allows him to be a competent social animal. The ideal man has the capacity to conjure their inner-rage if the shit hits the fan, but they also have the ability to control that rage. The ideal man has that masculine aggressiveness at his fingertips and can call on it when needed, but also has the social tools to diffuse situations in a more peaceful manner.
So how do men combine masculine and feminine virtues? Men have to learn to be good at being a man. Once that is accomplished, and ONLY when that is accomplished, they can then learn to judiciously temper that masculinity with the polish of feminine virtues. Masculinity is the sculpture we chisel out of the block of granite that is our personality. Femininity is the sandpaper we use to polish that sculpture to make us effective gentlemen. That's the explicit goal of my Man Camp tribe - we're a bunch of guys that accept this challenge because we know, at a primitive level, that this is the way of men.