In answering the question of what makes a masculine man, we need to start by understanding what it means to be a man? As a start, if you look up the word ‘masculine’ you are likely to encounter terms like ‘macho’, ‘tough’, ‘strapping’, and ‘virile’. Terms which most of us are likely to form some connection with either positively, with a sense of indifference, or for some in present times, negatively.
When it comes to the idea of masculinity, such are the times we’re in, that men today are faced with competing definitions of terms.
The traditional roles associated with men: that of a leader, healer, supporter, comforter, and father, underpinned by the principles of courage, determination, self-reliance, integrity, and truth are being challenged today by new narratives that seek to promote a more ‘current’ and ‘inclusive’ understanding of what of the idea of masculinity.
Since men are faced with competing views of masculinity, that seek to promote or in turn are driven by notions such as ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusivity’, there is a great degree of confusion on the question of what it means to be a man in the modern world.
Going deeper, a lot of these modern notions of “masculinity” is predicated on social agendas or ideologies that are not always in favor of a more traditional, or better an authentic understanding of masculinity.
The word ‘traditional’ in this context may not be the best term, for depending on the reader, it may seem like a throwback to an earlier, possibly “sexist” era. But that is where the problem with the debate on masculinity lies.
Being a masculine man today in practice is so poorly understood, or often misunderstood, that it is associated with qualities and beliefs which are not only outdated, but as something undesirable, problematic, and something that should be left behind. But is this the right course of action?
Why Masculinity is Needed?
When it comes to understanding the importance of masculinity, it is important that we take a step back and look at the status of men in the modern world.
If you can get past the loudspeakers who drone on about issues on gender and identity, a closer look at the state of society today reveals that the status of men, as a collective with respect to major social indicators points to some troubling indicators.
The status of men in the Western world, when studied across numerous social indicators, perform poorly in contrast to the opposite sex: From involvement in violent crime, incarceration, drug use, and arguably the most significant overall indicator, life expectancy. In the United States for example, women on average are expected to live a total five years longer than men (1).
When you look at these indicators it is tempting to point to social realities like the economy, bad governance, and policymaking as the causes.
Whilst this is true to some extent when one considers the state of developed nations which are characterized by a degree of stability and the prevalence of opportunities, evinced by the fact that many men do make it in life (i.e. go on to lead meaningful, productive lives).
The question is what is stopping the millions of other men from doing the same. This question is a pressing one, particularly for those who are in the formative years of their lives, physically and psychologically. What is stopping them, or will stop them, from reaching their goals and becoming a success?
Make no mistake, the trouble that men are facing in the world today directly or indirectly correlates with their ability or in this case, their inability to succeed in the various arenas of life: like dating, finance, personal leadership, and growth. All of which find their place in the man’s ability to connect with and live out his masculine self.
The fact remains that despite all that is going on in the world: the various trials and hardships that people face in various facets of life, some men, many in fact do succeed. The question is how?
The answer to this question can be condensed to a combination of beliefs, principles, and values that the men who do make it in life come to embrace. And most if not all of them find their place in the masculine ideal, which we have discussed in a previous post. Here we will break down how these masculine traits take shape.
True Masculinity in Practice
A few years ago there was a commercial released by a popular consumer goods company that sells men’s personal care products, which went viral, for the most part for the wrong reasons.
The negative response it garnered was considerable, that it even started to hit the mainstream media. I will not mention the company’s name or provide many details of the commercial, but if you have seen in, or are vaguely familiar with it; or not, its message was simply this: that there is something wrong with the idea of men being men, or boys being boys.
To its credit, the video/advert did touch on a number of important topics, such as the need for role models, dealing with conflict, and relating to the opposite sex. However many of these topics were approached from a view that was insular, particularistic, and principally opposed to the masculine ideal.
At one point the advert purports to show one of the “problematic” aspects of modern men.
It is the part that involves a young man’s reaction to a young woman: The girl who is walking by is dressed in a rather suggestive outfit; and as she goes past him, the bloke responds to her-as any real man would-he acknowledges her presence, possibly her style and then proceeds to approach her. But as he proceeds to do so, he is blocked by a “good guy” who stops the man from engaging the young woman.
Right. So what is problematic about this picture? For starters, we have the insinuation that a man who finds a young woman attractive or interesting and proceeds to approach her, in a public place in the middle of the f**king day is somehow problematic.
Problematic for who? The girl who dresses provocatively and is clearly craving attention from men or otherwise. Or for the moral paragon who proceeds to “defend” the young woman from unwarranted attention, by holding off the guy who wanted to speak to her?
I don’t know about you, but when it comes to male-female relationships, particularly in the West, there are a certain number of written and unwritten rules that govern our behavior. And being able to approach a girl you find interesting is an acceptable one. But no longer it seems! It is a time when we live in a culture that has come to find masculinity offensive.
Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone
So how does healthy masculinity work in practice? When it comes to the relationship between the sexes men are expected to be the leaders.
To have initiative and take the lead. If a guy finds a girl interesting, and the time and setting permit it, he is totally right to approach her, introduce himself, initiate a conversation, and see where it leads. And the girl is totally free to or not to reciprocate.
That is her call. Her decision. But that decision can only be made, if the man, or let me correct myself: a truly masculine man is going to approach and talk to her in the first place. And believe it or not, most women actually welcome and enjoy such attention.
But as things stand when it comes to the subject of women, dating, and relationships, things aren’t looking good for a lot of men in the West. If the problem with modern men is their ‘toxic masculinity', which, at least as far as major consumer companies are concerned, manifests via their propensity to approach a girl they find attractive.
But a closer look at society reveals that the real problem is quite the opposite. The problem with a lot of men today in relation to the opposite sex is the lack of action. The lack of initiative. One that is born of an array of factors.
A 2020 article on Heathline reported that in the period between 2000 – 2018, for men between the ages of 18 to 24 sexual inactivity over the past year increased from around 19 percent to almost 31 percent. Interestingly, sexual inactivity among women in the same age range remained relatively stable, and actually rose from 15 percent to 19 percent rose during the same time (2).
If there is one way to bring these numbers down, (provided you think that it is a good idea) is for men to actually grow a pair and make the f**king move! Go out. Approach. Take risks. Face rejection. Learn from your experiences, however bad or inadequate. And keep persisting.
Women, like any other arena of life, require learning, skill, and mastery. Unfortunately not too many men are willing to do what it takes to make things work. Making matters worse, if these consumer ads are anything to go buy, men today are being actively discouraged by popular culture from doing so. In sum, this is an attack on masculinity, which needs to be opposed.
Which is not happening. A lot of men today are content to live out their lives by following a predictable routine consisting of study, work, gaming, and Netflix. There is no risk-taking, no growth, no excitement.
A drab predictable life. And speaking of our incel friends (i.e. the guys who can’t get laid even if they wanted to), it is marked by the notable e absence of female company. The kind of men who for the most part are content to jerk off their free time on their favorite adult site, and then b**ch about how unfair life is.
Then there is the group of guys who are holed up in their ‘mother’s basement’. Whose only meaningful contribution to society is the time they spend trolling and s**t posting online. And more seriously for some, even this life is not accessible. The many men who are compelled to live without work, hope, and purpose.
Now there are many ways to diagnose these problems, but basically, it comes down to one major factor: These men, all of whom are stuck in various stages of life, are not taking action, with the right guidance.
Their inability to make the kind of choices that test their metal; to make the kind of decisions that disrupts their life of predictability and routine; to make choices that generate anxiety, fear, and even discomfort, but are then willing to confront it, work past it, and emerge victoriously.
The rewards for making the change is great. The problem that men face today is the lack of initiative, courage, and determination to make this happen. In a word, this is the problem with the lack of masculinity.
Discovering your Masculine Self
So what does it take to become a masculine man? The answer to this could be found by looking at your current state in life and asking the question: where would I like to be in six months, a year, or five years?
For all men who are faced with challenges at work, in relationships, and self-discipline and wish to overcome them, or even for men who are doing reasonably well in these areas, but who wish to take their game to the next level? The answer to these major questions connects back to the core question of masculinity. As the qualities, skills, and tools that you will need to succeed, builds from this basis. Thus the first step is to identify its importance.
We live in a world, speaking of the West, and especially in recent times, where masculinity, or specifically behaviors and traits that are traditionally associated with masculinity have been the subject of criticism, censure and with respect to our academic systems and changing character of our social organizations, outright opposition.
Qualities that have been traditionally associated with males: like competitiveness, aggression, and establishing hierarchies have been viewed with a great deal of suspicion. Which has been made more problematic by the lack of voices and representatives who can make the case for masculinity as a constructive force in society.
This turn of events has led to the scenario where countless men who are filled with these energies waiting to break out but are left without a meaningful outlet for expression. A problem that is especially true in the formative years of their lives. A key contributory factor is the lack of male role models and leaders during the development of men.
This is a topic for another time, but for now, it is important to focus on the key elements that underpin the process of discovering one’s masculine self.
Recognizing the Beast Within
The first step in discovering your masculine self is to recognize that there is a force that lies within you. Dormant, buried and for many, weakened by the world around them.
But it is there. It never truly goes away (well, unless you decide to…). And for many that primal force of nature comes out from time to time. And in the absence of discipline and control, it often does so in a chaotic or destructive way.
If anyone has any doubts about the destructive power of the masculine: just take a look at the gangs that roam our streets, the organized crime syndicates, and the countless petty felons that terrorize our neighborhoods. Notice anything familiar? Yep. They are all overwhelmingly male.
The tempting response to this, one that is routinely adopted by the mainstream is to simply categorize these problems, which are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men, as the products of ‘toxic masculinity': Which is a loose way of saying that any quality or attribute that men display that correlates with violence, crime, conflict or sexual conduct that society deems unacceptable, as inherently problematic.
The danger with this conclusion is that risks delegitimizing any and all behaviors that draw strength from men’s core masculinity, which also give rise to such delinquencies.
You see the problem with men behaving badly in the world (and I am not talking about a guy approaching a hot girl walking down the street) is that these actions and behaviors stem from a place that forms part of the man’s core: his desire for competition, his want to fight and learn, his urge to pursue and express himself.
The problem lies with the inability of men, especially young men, to express these urges and desires in a constructive way. The lack of access to the right outlets to help channel their primal energies.
For what lies within is not the problem. These urges, which are biological in nature cannot just be suppressed. One could try. But nature is such that it would find a way one way. One way or the other.
So the answer is to accept it. Embrace it. Embrace your masculinity. And then find a way to channel those energies in a constructive way. In a way that aids you in the mission to fulfill your goals. Which brings us to the next important question: Considering these factors, what is the process of becoming a masculine man?
Becoming a Masculine Man
Life is about struggle. It is the challenges and trials that help men learn, grow, and become the best version of themselves. Recognizing this is a key step toward moving forward. Anything that is good or worthy in life is not going to come easy. You must work for it. Making this process compelling is your masculinity. For it to undergoes a process of learning and growth.
Returning to an earlier point: there are very good reasons why some men not only do well in life, but excel. The men who are able to take things to the next level, and do great work.
How do they do it? What is the secret of their success? And what could the average guy who wishes to succeed do to match their accomplishments.
The first step is to get started. Recognizing that your masculine core needs to be tapped harnessed, developed and channeled towards productive ends, needs to be aided by a supporting framework. An environment in which you can learn the key principles of life, and acquire valuable skills in areas like finance, relationships, mindset, and leadership.
To succeed in each of these areas entails a process. A learning curve. One that requires the investment in time, effort, and dedication. It is about being able to push yourself to get to that next level.
Which in practice could mean anything from being able to approach and talk to that hot girl. Being able to negotiate a pay rise. Start a side hustle. Quit your job when you are ready, and go out on your own. Or to become a leader in your area of expertise. Whatever it is, like all successful men that came before, one must strive, take risks, and face one’s fears. Success is only born through struggle. And that’s good thing.
As the great Stoic Epictetus said: “The true man is revealed in difficult times. So, when trouble comes, think of yourself as a wrestler whom God, like a trainer, has paired with a tough young buck. For what purpose? To turn you into Olympic-class material. But this is going to take some sweat to accomplish”.
The Process of Becoming a Masculine Man
There is no single approach one can adopt to reconnect with one’s masculine core. But in working towards reaching your goals, and living as a true masculine man there are a number of steps that will aid you in this journey.
- One: Recognize that your masculinity, which is connected to biological sex is a real thing. And the impulses it gives rise to should not be ignored or dismissed.
- Two: Understand what you feel inside: the urge to fight, compete, and the want to do great things requires an outlet for expression.
- Three: Know that Masculinity, Manhood, and Leadership which correlate with biology, correspond in turn to a leadership question. To grow as a man who is in touch with his masculinity you need the support and guidance of men who have been there and done that.
- Four: Remember that humans are social creatures. We learn, grow and develop in groups. From families, religious communities, schools, and other social groups, we do things in cooperation with others. When it comes to your masculinity, its development also requires a community to aid it.
- Five: Find your Tribe. There is no simple answer for this. But ALL men, at some point in their lives, need to find a group, community, team, or mission they can connect with. Particularly one that is affirmative of their masculine core to learn, grow, and take risks.
Recognizing a problem or obstacle in life is only the first stage, wanting to do something about it and taking action is the next.
But what about outcomes? What about the factors of time, investment, and measurability of actions in relation to results?
If you are serious about reaching your goals in areas like finance, fitness, mindset, or dating, then there is no clearer path than to reach out and seek help from an expert.
Take control of your life by engaging your biggest challenges by working with someone who has been there and done. Someone who provides provable results, within a set time frame.
John the Bulldog, the founder of Bulldog Mindset is here to help. If you are ready to take your life to the next level fast, then this is for you.
Know that the best way to succeed in life is to learn from those who have come before you. Things are a lot clearer when the path before you has already been tread, and even better when there are guides and role models standing nearby who can point you in the right direction when you sway off track.
A masculine man is one who embraces the idea of the struggle, who does not shy away from testing situations, and who is not afraid of failure. He is the one who is willing to take chances, and make mistakes.
And yes, and that includes approaching that hot girl passing by because you wanted to; even if there was a voice shouting inside your head telling you ‘no'. Or a dumb commercial, which features some loser who tries to stop you from doing what you really want to. F**k all of that and just do it!
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2022. Vital Statistics Rapid Release. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/vsrr/VSRR10-508.pdf. [Accessed 13 May 2022].
- Healthline. 2022. Why Young Adults, Especially Men, Are Having Sex Less Frequently. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/young-adults-especially-men-having-sex-less-frequently. [Accessed 13 May 2022].