Masculinity, attraction and the future of manly men. (We’ve been tweeting alot lately about manhood and masculinity, and the response so far has been favourable so much so that we’ve decided to write up an article about the state of modern masculinity. Here goes):
Sometime within the past year, nearly 4,800 women participated in a controversial experiment on masculinity.
The participants came from 30 countries including Argentina, Sweden, Russia, Australia and the United States. The women’s country of origin was an important part of the experiment.
After registering on a website site, the women clicked through to a listing of psychology tests then they were presented with pairs of men’s faces. For each set they would need to select the face they considered more attractive and indicate how much they preferred it to the other one.
The faces, it turned out, looked eerily alike and yet subtly different, like identical twins. They were created by software that masculinizes or feminizes a person’s features in a few keystrokes. Only by examining the faces closely could one discern that the man on the left, say, had slightly rounder eyes and a narrower jaw than the one on the right. Some of the faces had slightly thinner lips than their doppelgängers, or wider-set eyes, or thicker archless brows. It took most women fewer than 10 minutes to click through the 20 pairs of male faces and select which ones they found hunkiest.
The data showed that a woman likes her men based on her nation’s World Health Organization statistics for mortality rates, life expectancy and the impact of communicable disease. In countries where poor health is particularly a threat to survival, women leant toward “manlier” men. That is, they preferred their males to have shorter, broader faces and stronger eyebrows, cheekbones and jaw lines.
On the other hand, women from westernised countries with well-funded public health-care systems like Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Austria, preferred a more feminine looking man.
So how is it even possible to link a woman’s masculinity preferences to the health of her nation? The answer begins with the theory of sexual selection. It goes that women are the choosier sex because they take on most of the risk and burden of reproduction and child rearing. While a man can sleep around with 100 women in a year’s time and have 100 kids, a woman who sleeps with 100 men in a year will only have one baby (barring multiples). She has more at stake in each pregnancy. Therefore, it is in her best interest to at least choose a high-quality mate. And one of the hallmarks of a quality male is good health.
But what does health have to do with masculinity? The link is testosterone, the hormone behind manly muscles, strong jaws, prominent eyebrow ridges, facial hair and deep voices. Testosterone is immunosuppressive. This means a man must be healthy and in good condition to withstand its effects on his development. Testosterone is also linked to other traits related to strength: fitness, fertility and dominance. From an evolutionary perspective, masculinity is basically man’s way of advertising good genes, dominance and likelihood to father healthier kids.
The big question that comes of the study is this: Is it possible that modern medicine—and by extension modern life—inadvertently devalues masculinity?
In a study of 2,100 Air Force veterans, men with testosterone levels one standard deviation above the mean were 43% more likely to get divorced than men with normal levels, 31% more likely to leave home because of marital problems, 38% more likely to cheat on their wives, and 13% more likely to admit that they hit or hurled things at them. Therefore it goes without reason that some husband-seekers are now more willing trade off masculinity for companionship and good parenting and are pursuing (women pursuing men being very beginning of the imbalance between the sexes!!) “metrosexuals”—impeccable guys who exfoliate, order salads for dinner and carry man purses.
However all that this demonstrates to us is that the idea of modern society has somehow lost sight of authentic masculinity, linking it now to men who are uncooperative, unsympathetic, philandering, aggressive and disinterested in parenting.
Could it be these men are acting out their frustration of being labelled, emasculated and devalued in society? Have we – both men and women – lost sight of what true masculinity is and does masculinity really matter? Hell yeah! In fact it matters a hell of a lot!
Much of the contemporary analysis of men and masculinity has been influenced by the work of a number of pro-feminist writers (mostly women) who have been leading figures in developing the now commonly accepted view of men, so much so that men are increasingly beginning to believe it. However, when a woman tells a man how to be a man, then he is not a man.
Popular culture mocks manhood on a daily basis; male bashing is common amongst the ladies and men are considered the butt of the joke—the jester of the household. Overly masculine men are portrayed as beasts, or on the flip side, sophomoric simpletons who grunt out our desires or weakly go along, to get along which is leading to an entire generation of men who are increasingly passive, or passive aggressive.
Manhood needs a break from the chorus of voices urging men to be more responsible, more reliable, more dutiful (not that they shouldn’t be in the first place … but hitting men over and over with a mallet of disapproval doesn’t make it happen), soft, even weak … and dead. For the last forty years or so, men have allowed a passivity to over take their assertive and decisive nature. Men have surrendered their courage and laid down our arms.
Here’s a feral thought: Men were created to be dangerous. According to John Eldredge, author of the popular book on rediscovering masculinity, ‘Wild at Heart’, men have abandoned their inner hero. Simply look at the dreams and desires written in every boy’s heart: to be a superman, to be a warrior, to live a life of adventure and risk. Sadly, most men abandon those dreams and desires – world that feels like nothing more than pressure to be a “nice guy.” It’s no wonder that many men are often passive and bored to death. Men need the permission to be what they were designed to be – dangerous, passionate, alive, and free.
Men must resurrect authentic manhood. Although the task may seem hard and the timing wrong, manhood can rise again in strength. Men can shake off the bondage of passivity and embrace the adventurous spirit, once again taking the assertive role of leadership. The assertive nature is a disposition of confidence.
Remember, MAN, you are a man! You’re a husband, a father, and a leader. It is within your authority and responsibility to walk in the dignity of your destiny and the covenant of your calling.
The nemesis of manhood wants to seduce you into the comfortable bed of passivity by breaking down your confidence. Stop it! Don’t withdraw into the shame of inaction. Step up! Get back on the field of contest and assert yourself into the adventure of authentic manhood.
Steps To Resurrect Your Authentic Manhood
Be a man of action. Get up off the couch and start moving. Re-enter the field of contest. Get your blood moving.
Embrace personal responsibility. Don’t rely on the government, a company, or another person to make your life. Step out and take possession of your destiny.
Mark your territory.
Your world is only as big as the trails that you are willing to run. Some men never adventure out of their comfort zone. You may find a whole new world is awaiting you if you will be assertive enough to go there.
Take your stand.
Be a man of your word. Whatever you approach, do it with confidence. Fear will never serve you in victory. Stand up tall and straight, put your shoulders back and face the challenge head on.
Strength! Courage! Take the Lead.
Be a strong man. Your wife and children should draw strength from you. They should rely on your integrity, honesty and not-putting-up-with-crappiness. Don’t cower in the face of a challenge. If you want leadership, you must take responsibility for it. As men, we’re put in the position of leadership to protect those who we are leading.
If someone puts you down or hurts someone you love, state the boundaries and consequences, then follow through; not with violence but with a firm voice and courage. Come on man, you can do it!
Find your ‘nthuke’.
In the Meru African tribe, men are organised into small groups of ten, or twelve on the basis of their age and clan – the ‘nthuke’. The purpose – to create a lifetime group connection where boys grow into men together, sharing and being accountable to one another through the ups, downs and passages of life, until death do them part!
Give it everything you’ve got.
Don’t do things halfway. Everything that your hand touches should be excellent! Excellence begets excellence. That means that when you prove yourself to do something right you will learn even better ways for the next time.
Renew your mind.
Don’t attempt to have success in your old way of thinking. You can’t do the same old thing and expect new results. Learn and apply the principles of living a truly fulfilled, faithful life.
Embrace your manhood gents! You are amazing just as you are!
The Stylemeister. (With a little help from the peeps below):
‘Why Women Don’t Want Macho Men’, March 27, 2010, by Jena Pincott (author of “Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?”) —Wall Street Journal – http://tinyurl.com/ydoyu5h.
The voice of authentic manhood – www.fivestarmen.com.