In my personal research of what masculinity is, the utter cultural vagueness and ambiguity annoy the dickens out of me. What it means to be a man has evolved and devolved like an ebb and flow of an ocean as societies and time have come and gone. There does not seem to be a solid definition that the past generations and the present day societies could use as a plumbline of what it means to be a man. I have been pondering this seemingly bottomless pit of a topic for some time now, and I have begun to realize how much each person's view on masculinity was and is being shaped by the father figures in one's life.
In the process of writing and researching for this article, I was skimming over a dissertation on "Understanding masculinity: The role of father-son interaction on men's perceptions of manhood" By: Clyde J. Remmo, Jr. (Link) This dissertation profoundly resonated with me as he explores the fact that the relationship between a man and a child is merely an act of teaching the one to copy the other. It could also be looked at like the expectation of the father to teach a child to ride a bike. It is a cultural expectation that the sons are to be developed as men by the father figures in their lives. This lead me to wonder where would masculinity be if fathers did not exist?
I think a good place to start finding out where masculinity would be without fathers is what impact on children, in general, would there be if they did not have a father present in their lives.
"Studies have shown that children in America living in homes without fathers are 5 times more likely to live in poverty than children who live with both their mother and their father. Fatherless children are also 2 to 3 times more likely to develop an emotional or behavioral problem requiring psychiatric treatment. Studies have shown that children who grow up without fathers also are more likely to commit crime, and do poorer in school. Perhaps most tragically of all, children who grow up fatherless also are more likely to commit suicide than those who grow up in a home with both their mother and father."
--Capital Youth Empowerment Program (Link)--
"Since the end of Second World War there has been increasing interest by governments and social commentators in the effects of the absent father on the development of those within the remaining family unit. As a result thousands of studies have since been conducted. These studies have repeatedly uncovered a staggering array of issues inflicted particularly on the children of father absent households.
Interestingly it has been shown that the affects of emotionally unavailable fathers were almost identical to those where the father was physically absent.
Theeffects covered everything from physical differences (i.e. the quickened development into and through puberty of children raised with no father present) through to many and varied social and physiological issues.
The summary of issues listed below, in noway covers every aspect of father absence however it is still a powerful indictment to the current social epidemic.
In reference to the general population individuals raised inan absent father environment demonstrate;
1. 5 times the average suicide rate:
2. Dramatically increased rates of depression and anxiety:
3. 32 times the average rate of incarceration:
4. Decreased education levels and increased drop-out rates:
5. Consistently lower average income levels:
6. Lower job security:
7. Increased rates of divorce and relationship issues:
8. Substantially increased rates of substance abuse: and
9. Increases in social and mental behavioral issues:"
--The Father Code (Link)--
You could spend so much time reading articles and opinions on what the adverse effects are of fatherlessness, and I encourage you to do it. I became sick to my stomach in reading the massive amount of information that is on this topic and the negative effects it is having on society.
I think what I personally have come to conclude is that with the deterioration of fathers in society so will the deterioration of masculinity occur. It would be fascinating to know what the perception of a man would be in a culture that has absolutely no fathers. It seems as though this article has taken a hypothetical turn but I just have no other way to express my inquisitive nature towards this topic.
What effect on masculinity do you think fatherlessness would have? Where is masculinity learned? Why does masculinity matter? These are questions I want to find out. I hope you join me in the process.
Years ago I had taken it upon myself to learn how to craft my own wooden furniture. I spent hours online looking at designs and styles I loved, watched YouTube videos, and bought books on the topic. Finally, I decided on my first project and proceeded to start the arduous scary process of doing something for the first time.
I drove around until I found some wooden pallets in a dumpster or scavenged Craigslist for any free lumber that was posted. After accumulating a mountain of wood and a decent amount of frustration trying to pull the pallets apart, I was then launched into the phase of the project that slowly began to change my life. Articulating my vision. Back in Step 2 I briefly touch on the topic of creating a vision. Well, woodworking is a very practical example of creating a vision and then acting upon it.
The western world is saturated with self-help literature, self-proclaimed gurus, and nonsensical material attempting to manipulate you into following their "best" methods. If you spend any time on social media the amount of content created to inspire and motivate you seems to be an up an established trend. This stuff is everywhere.
Time and time again I run into men who struggle with finding the motivation to get up and actually take action in life. So, I started an ongoing series to help men who struggle with this. I wanted to create practical tools and ways for men to get a jump start in their life.
This whole article is based on the current results of a survey The Man Effect started in early April 2018. So, if you have not yet had a chance to take this survey on masculinity please take a couple moments out of your day, click the button below and go take it.
Yet again, another shooting has happened in America, and I am sad to say I believe it won't be the last. It saddens my heart deeply when lives are unnecessarily taken, and I find it odd that this has become something that our society has to now be on alert for. I remember when Columbine shooting happened. It was as an eerie day, and yet we seem to be living in a sort of groundhogs type society where this is repeating.
When ponding on the lost lives and the heated gun control debates that are ruining social media, I wondered what can I actually tangible do to make a difference in these moments when I feel so helpless from afar.
For quite some time now I have been asking the people of Reddit, Facebook, and the humans around me what they think when it comes to the topic of masculinity.
I have been spending years now studying and researching the topic of masculinity and what it means to other men and women. If you have not had a chance yet check out the photography side of this website where I have interviewed hundreds of people asking them all the same question, "If you were to describe what it means to be a man in one word, what would it be and why?"
These are all things I want to touch on in this article. Male friendships are a huge deal and play an important role in life, not only to me but men at large. For the sake of this article, though, I want to start off with defining male friendships.
Male friendships: Two men who have a sense of comradery. They may spend time together, have similar interests, or relate on a deep level. They at times can have an unspoken and spoken commitment to the other individual.
It has been one of my strongest desires with starting The Man Effect to help encourage men to be authentic and more present. Well, I was talking to one of my cousins who is a therapist, and we were discussing psychology and life in general. That is when being present came up in our conversation, and it inspired me to want to write an article to encourage men to grow in this arena and give them practical tips on how to do so.
Life has been known to throw a few problems at those going through it. Yet, the men who face, overcome, and do not cower in the presence of adversity. They grow exponentially, and the life they live is different than those who do not.
I am curious to know, have you encountered hardship and problems as I have? I mean there is no way I can be the only human on this earth! HA
I had just watched one of my close friends go through a painful divorce and could not fathom how he was still holding on. We regularly talked throughout the process, and I watched him keep pushing and not give up. Later on, when I was thinking and reflecting on this painful experience he was going through I suddenly remembered, he had hired a life coach and spoke so highly of him.
I remember thinking how cynical I was of the term "life coach" and how I felt I knew my judgments were accurate.
Have you ever wished to become a man of action?
Why? Is it out of regret? Or longing for a fuller life? Or is it motivated by fear of missing out on life?
These are all critical questions to ask before you start seeking the motivation to be a man who is known to get things done.
Have you ever had the thought, "If only I were more confident as a man then I would get that raise at work, the pretty girl would give me attention, or I would be able to pitch my business idea and find investors."
Let's be honest at some point in life if you probably had some form of thought along those lines.
The desire and value of confidence is something spread far and wide throughout men. Sure they might not overtly say, "I wish I was more confident." But the thought is there.
There and millions of boys and young men growing up with only a mother, and those who do have fathers chances are high that they are not emotionally present.
Have you ever looked into or researched how vital the father plays in the emotional and social development of a child?
Well, I think before we dive into some creative ways for men to improve life it is important to understand where this immaturity may be coming from and why it is crucial to develop maturity so we can help prevent the some of the next generations from experiencing these struggles.
Some call it prolonged adolescence others call it extended adolescence, regardless in my opinion immaturity has been bleeding into the early and mid-twenties in a way that is entirely new to the western culture. We have previously touched on this topic here "Why Prolonged Adolescence is the New Epidemic."
My journey through the depths of the internet and books to find ways to be a more authentic man have made me realize something...
There is a lack of decent material out there for men seeking to better themselves. Sure you can find information on how to throw a tomahawk or how to shake a hand, but there is little to no content on how to become an emotionally intelligent authentic man.
The art of a genuinely placed compliment to women is an essential skill of a well-rounded man. I am no professional, but I have seen the fruit from taking cognitive action in this arena. So, I wanted to share what I have learned.
Taking the time to compliment those around you will give you a tangible experience on the power of your words.
For years and years I did not believe it was possible to define masculinity, but in the past months my perspective has changed, and I decided I would take the time to write down what my definition of masculinity currently is.
Now, before we proceed, I do want you to acknowledge with me that much of what a culture deems masculine is highly dependent upon the time period and the society that influences the people defining masculinity.
That being said out of the hundreds of conversations, books, podcasts, videos, and my own observations, I have spotted a pattern that I believe brings substantial merit to the discussion about masculinity.
Looking masculine holds a powerful cultural context in today's day and age and trying to attain this look for some men is highly desired while others naturally fill the role.
I decided to write down some characteristics on how to look more masculine. I divided them into outer attributes and inner qualities that I believe will help you on your journey.
Taking the time to work on the internal qualities first allows you to build a healthy foundation, so you are not motivated from a place of insecurity. Work on your foundations of who you are, changing the outside has little to no fruit if you do not give proper attention to who you are internally.
Authentic masculinity is a commodity desired heavily in western culture. With the increased exposure of sexual harassment and rise in advocacy for women's rights, there seems to be a decent amount of confusion around the topic of masculinity these days.
Now, I believe that many things define what makes a man, a man, but often this is something, not cognitively thought about, or given attention. There are many assumptions lived by in the realm of masculinity.
The power of well placed and articulately delivered piece of advice is an integral part of being a mature society contributing man in my unsolicited opinion. To be asked the right question, given a bit of specific information to transform a mentality or swift kick in the butt; all of these are things I hope every human can experience.
I was recently asked by a friend jovially what the quote of the day was, in response I thought I would attempt to create something original and out came this remark, "The best fertilizer for a new dream, is the carcass of an old one."
As these words came to my mind and I found myself communicating them, I discovered it resonated deeply with where I am at personally in my journey.
I have yet to meet a man who doesn't desire to feel confident in his skin and men who already feel confident I am sure they wouldn't mind a little more. I mean come on... that is like every mans dream; to feel a massive sense of confidence and exude it for others to see and feel.
So in general, when thinking about our life and style, the level of our confidence influences the decisions we make. Take a moment and ask yourself this, "When was the last time I chose not to do (Fill in the blank) was because I was not confident enough?" I think you may be surprised if you honestly assess yourself with this question.
Take a moment right now, think, reflect, and consider the men in your life and the men of the past that you have respect, ask yourself what is a consistent thread that all these men have.
Chances are they will be dependable, honest, safe, respectable, and many other attributes, but here is the thing, none of these qualities are just handed out at the local charity. No, these core qualities are developed, earned, and built. The men who you respect have held onto their values, they have said no and yes when appropriate and stuck to their word.
There is an unlimited amount of potential power waiting to be tapped into merely by you choosing to show up on a daily basis.
Why am I trying to emphasize this? Because the amount of personal growth and internal power I have discovered by choosing to perform tasks that push me towards my dreams, actively, has without any question transformed my immediate world.
Respect and being masculine go hand in hand.
The more a man is respected, the more he appears to others as being masculine.
Now I am not saying this is a 100% truth, but it is a working theory of mine.
You see a man who takes action and builds a business, asks for a raise, learns a new skill, or many other examples.
The thing is the man who does this creates a momentum of growing respect that others see and contribute to.
I have an investment opportunity for you. An opportunity other 20-something’s are passing up.
This investment can make you more money, get you a better job, land you a great relationship with a beautiful woman, and give you more self-confidence.
This investment is your appearance.
"Healthy masculinity is displayed when a man is secure and confident enough in himself that he doesn't need a woman to be weak or less in order to compensate. This provides space for a woman to walk in healthy femininity, having no need to fight to prove herself capable and worthy to man. She is able to flourish due to the empowerment he gives her through his own strength and selflessness, allowing her to be her full self and not made small. He is not intimidated by her but is challenged by her and in return, is able to challenge her as well. He thrives in his masculinity knowing he is not dependent on her approval, yet is affirmed and encouraged by her desire for him to be the truest version of himself- authentic and honest."
Are you sick of not feeling in control of your life?
Do you hate waking up in the morning because you don't want to go to work or face the day?
Have you spent your entire life trying to keep the peace?
Then what I am about to share most likely will speak to your core.
Sure, everyone has to do things they don't like and need a sense of finesse when navigating the storm of life. This doesn't mean you need to give up your internal power though....
Outside of getting an erection in my 10th grade English class I know of very few things that are less awkward than a classic "Men's Group." No seriously, in English class when that bell rang telling me it was time to exit the classroom, I waited ever so patiently for every person to leave while I supposedly "doodled" on the papers in my notebooks. No one ever warned me about these symptoms of puberty let alone told me what to do in these situations. Damn you sexually suppressed upbringing. Damn you....but I digress...