Monday, October 4, 2010

The Art of Womanliness

Today at work I met this woman, and we started talking about our respective areas of expertise /interest /research /teaching /etc. I explained to her my whole postmodern-feminism-environmental-ethics thang, and she was like "oh, I'm really interested in gender too. You should check out this website." And she typed in http://artofmanliness.com/. And at first this site looks like it might be kinda tongue-in-cheek, but it's not. And at first I thought maybe she was being kind of ironical, but she wasn't. So first, this makes me realize that sometimes you think you're communicating with a person but you really aren't connecting at all. And second this website raises a lot of questions for me. Questions like
  1. What do we mean by "manliness"? How is it defined and what makes it so valuable?
  2. Is "manliness" really an art?
  3. If so, is "womanliness" also an art?
  4. What would a website called "the Art of Womanliness" look like?

I think sometimes as feminists who've been feminists for a long time, we're so used to rolling our eyes at this kind of cultural artifact that we no longer take these questions seriously. I mean, obviously "manliness" is a social construct that is practiced and defined differently in different socio-historical contexts, etc. etc. But I think from time to time it's worthwhile to revisit the questions of how manliness (womanliness, masculinity, femininity, etc) is defined in our culture here and now, what significance this has, how it's influenced by the events of our time, how it fits in with other dominant cultural narratives, etc.

A quick poll of your peers will generally reveal that the connotations for words like manliness are still predominantly positive, while there's a bit of confusion surrounding the term womanliness. It is clear that womanliness has a strong tendency to be one of two things: an old-fashioned word that has homemaking and nurturing connotations, or an insult used primarily against men. Womanish is especially prone to this kind of negative usage. But beyond this asymmetry, what are the real differences between manliness and womanliness?

The founder of The Art of Manliness tells this story about the birth of the website

My idea for the Art of Manliness came about as I was standing in Borders bookstore looking at the men’s magazines. It seemed to me that the content in these magazines were continually going downhill, with more and more articles about sex and how to get six pack abs. Was this all there was to being a man?

And as I looked around at the men my age, it seemed to me that many were shirking responsibility and refusing to grow up. They had lost the confidence, focus, skills, and virtues that men of the past had embodied and were a little lost. The feminism movement did some great things, but it also made men confused about their role and no longer proud of the virtues of manliness. This, coupled with the fact that many men were raised without the influence of a good father, has left a generation adrift as to what it means to be an honorable, well-rounded man.

Talking about honorable manliness was to me a niche seemingly not covered on the web or elsewhere, and I decided to start The Art of Manliness to talk about all things manly- both the serious and the fun, but with the ultimate eye toward encouraging readers to be better husbands, fathers, brothers, men.

So he looked around at the version of masculinity that the manmags were selling, and he found it lacking. So far so good. I can sympathize with that. I look around at the version of femininity that the the girlmags are selling and I find it lacking too. But there are two important caveats here. For one thing, magazines, and media in general, exist primarily to sell products in our culture. It's capitalism, baby. Marketing drives media. Period. And nobody behind this marketing is sitting back asking "what should women/men really be like?" or "what's the best way to live?" Cuz that would be silly, right? You don't sell shit by asking ethical and/or philosophical questions. The only answer to a question like "what kind of men/women should we be" a marketer is going to come up with is "men/women who buy a lot of shit." So I would naturally expect the version of masculinity/femininity exhibited in any media outlet to be marketing-driven and totally irrelevant to the real underlying questions.

Secondly, I wonder why this discontent he experienced applied only to the version of masculinity he saw, and not to the version of humanity as a whole we're presented with. Because mostly what you see reflected in magazines is shallow, narcissistic, self-involved, entitled, petty people, right? And this ain't by accident, y'all. It turns out that one thing that shallow, narcissistic, self-involved, entitled, petty people are really good at is buying shit. But this isn't a gendered thing. Women and men are presented with different avenues to gain their material fulfillment in the vast marketing machine, but it's all the same thing in the end. It's just that by differentiating the marketing you sell twice as many products - one for the women and one for the men.

So what are the manly virtues according to a website like AOM, and what does this say about womanliness? A quick perusal of The Different Types of Manliness over at AOM yields the following list of manly virtues:

  • Toughness, leadership, courage, sacrifice (the Warrior)
  • Self-sufficient, free-thinking, independent, able to be his own man (the Lone Wolf)
  • Free spirit, courage, vitality, risk-taking (the Adventurer)
  • Well-dressed, well-mannered (the Gentleman)
  • Idealistic, driven, civic-minded, principled (the Statesman)
  • Hard working, loyal, good husband and father (the Family Man)

So these virtues all seem to be pretty nice, right? I mean, I like well-mannered, loyal, hard-working, self-sufficient, idealistic men. But that's probably because I like well-mannered, loyal, hard-working, self-sufficient, idealistic people. What makes these characteristics male, or especially desirable in men more than women? And if these wide-ranging and sometimes contradictory characteristics are exclusively masculine, what virtues are left for the ladies?

When you teach a class on gender, if you ask a group of college-aged kids to define feminine virtue they unhesitatingly list sexual purity and modesty as the only two synonyms they know for the term, and act as if it's a quaint, outdated phrase. The thing is, I get the sense from sites like AOM that this isn't far from their sense of what womanliness amounts to. But I'm not sure why. You can infer from the About page that the founder of AOM and his wife are Mormon, although they go out of their way to avoid saying so. So I kind of expect their gender politics to be extremely conservative and somewhat, um, quaint. But doesn't a religious framework like theirs have any positive characteristics associated with womanliness?

And this brings me back to the question "what would a website on the Art of Womanliness look like?" So I did a google search just to make sure there wasn't one of those out there. And what did I find? A discussion thread at AOM. As you read through the discussion thread on the Art of Womanliness, here are some thoughts on what a site like this should do:

  • "cover the virtues and values of being a woman, etiquette, classic fashion, and womanly skills. I like to see stuff on dating, gardening, cooking, friendship, and how to negotiate feeling like an independent woman, while also feeling like, well, a woman" (yes, but what does it mean to "feel like a woman"?? And what are the womanly skills?)
  • "It shouldn't say working or being a breadwinner is wrong but it should have an area in the Family and Relationships section that does celebrate the stay at home mother as well. Chivalry should also be celebrated, and women should be noble in those ways too"
  • "They should emphasize the differences between men and women so they can enjoy being women as much as we enjoy being men"
  • "I think some of the ideas mentioned here like fashion, dating, family and relationships...to be honest, a lot of the things on this site I do apply to my own life as a woman. The general basic rules of respect, courtesy, manners, and the like are helpful to anyone."

And so on. But we're still left to ask "how are the male virtues different from the female virtues? This is never really specified. It seems like being respectful, courteous, responsible, etc are listed at the top of the list for both men and women. Of course, there are many veiled (and not so veiled) references to things like housekeeping and child-rearing and gardening and cooking and being a friend. Which brings us back to the same old "men should be adventurous and bold and idealistic and courageous and women should keep a clean house" dichotomy of a century ago which sites like AOM claim to eschew. But really, what else is underpinning this? What are the female virtues in this view, and how do they differ from male virtues?

And since we're so insisitent that there are in fact two distinct sets of virtues, why is this true? One commenter from the discussion mentioned above was so explicit as to claim that

It's hard for men to talk about this for fear of being chauvinist. Some food for thought. Men and women had certain roles that we both fell into out of natures guidance. We had those roles for centuries. Then all of a sudden the rules changed. While. I agree that most of this is for the better, it has to be confusing for women. What compounds it is that women feel like they can't be women and can't talk about it with other women.

So there it is - the ol' essentialist narrative (along with the ever-infuriating phrase "be women" with no accompanying explanation of what that means). But here we hit the performative contradiction, right? Art and artifice and artificial are antonyms for nature and natural. If manliness (and womanliness) is an art, can it be natural? If it's embedded in our very biology and issues forth from us in spite of ourselves can it be something that is lost and must be relearned? Could it be something we have to form discussion forums on and write articles about and establish support groups to regain? I mean, you're born with it, right? So what's with all the learning and policing?

In a way I really sympathize with the intent and the feeling behind sites like AOM. We do live in a world that tends to encourage shallow, petty, immature behavior. It truly is depressing to watch the juvenile dramas played out in celebrity culture and emulated by the masses. But why is this a gender issue? Good character - people who run deep, who do what they say they're going to do and finish what they start and stand by their friends and loved ones - is a thing of beauty and something to cherish. I agree wholeheartedly. But the issue isn't gendered and the enemy is neither feminism nor changing social roles. No, the enemy is much more ubiquitous and powerful than that. Look to the consumer economy that requires relentless market growth and perpetual buying, buying, buying, and then to the marketing machinery that feeds it, my friend. Thoughtful people who value something other than their image and their belongings don't feed the consumer economy in the right sort of way, and thus you will never see these characteristics truly valued and nurtured in our culture until we shift away from our economic practices.

So there's your target. The massive Capitalist-Marketing-Consuming Juggernaut. Good luck with that.

39 comments:

  1. I think they don't want to say it outright, but these conservative types would probably list stuff like being quiet, sweet, submissive, and deferential, as womanly virtues. I think what they mean by "be a woman" or "feel like a woman" is "attend to the house and kids and let your man make all the decisions. Because "be a woman" is contrasted with "be a breadwinner" and "be independent." I think they've figured out that saying this stuff out loud can get you in trouble and they don't want that. They don't want to turn people off and make them stop listening. It's the same reason they don't divulge their LDS backgrounds.

    Tricky.

    Great post!

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  2. feralCat10/05/2010

    I sympathize with their distaste for the image of people that most gendered mags project too, but it's obvious that their conservative values are the underlying motive here. I also think this nostalgic longing for the past is a form of escapism. They spend a lot of time talking about "classic" fashions and manners. And for men (or whatever the dominant group is) nostalgia makes perfect sense. You're pining after the days when your privilege was unmitigated by concerns for fairness and inclusivity. So maybe that's why a website on the art of womanliness wouldn't fly - there's nothing to pine after for women.

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  3. @feralCat-
    I had the same thought about how it's escapism. And it reminded me of this post about the cowboy culture and why it becomes more popular during tough times.

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  4. Anonymous10/05/2010

    And of course, most feminists do defend a woman's right to both work outside the home and be a stay at home mom. They're working with a caricature of feminism.

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  5. Is it just me or is this version of manliness mostly intended for white, middle class, American men? It's funny that in the 6 types of Manliness post only one of the images featured a black man, and it was the Family Man, which seems ... inconsistent with our cultural view of black men as irresponsible on the family front.

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  6. Will,

    I noticed that too! The thing is, I can think of examples just from movies of black men who fit (more or less) all six of the archetypes he lists, so it does seem strange that the family man is the only one where black men come in. For example, just think of some of the characters that Samuel L Jackson, Don Cheadle, and Morgan Freeman have played, and you've already got all six of them covered. Odd that they didn't make the list in favor of actors like Cary Grant and Clint Eastwood. And that's only movies. In real life when you're talking about idealistic and civic-minded, MLK Jr doesn't make the list? Really?

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  7. MelbaToast10/05/2010

    I think the reason why people who are putting forth this kind of rhetoric about men generally remain silent about women is because this "restoring manliness" thing really relies on contrast and exclusion to function. What is a man? The opposite of a woman. And vice versa. So it's no longer cool to say women should be docile and submissive, but if women are confident leaders and men are too, then what's the function of masculinity/femininity anymore?

    The exchange in the discussion thread about womanliness illustrates this well. Many commenters wanted to say something like "chivalry is a good thing in men, and in women too." But if that's the case, why is being chivalrous (loyal, respectful, etc) a manly virtue anymore? That's their problem, but their unwilling to say aloud that they don't think women should be confident, independent, etc.

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  8. I'm sorry, but I can't even take that site seriously knowing it's run by a Mormon who's propagating his religious beliefs but doesn't have the balls to own up to it. I don't care what religious standpoint you're coming from - if you can't own it then I'm not listening to your spiel.

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  9. @MelbaToast -
    It's like there's all this hedging going on, where everyone talks around this thing - womanliness without ever actualy saying anything concrete about it. Somehow we're all just supposed to magically know what they mean when they use these nebulous phrases ("be a man" "feel like a woman").

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  10. As a rather (by which I mean very) tomboyish kid and teen I used to imagine that to "feel like a woman" was to feel like a delicate flower. I still can't imagine why anyone would aspire to that!

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    1. Feminism teaches women to me immature tomboys. ;)

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  11. I guess I had never thought about the marketing aspect you mention here. Now that I think about it, it does make perfect sense. I've thought for awhile now of marketing as being opposed to reason - as seeking to subvert reason. But it's also anti-character. Of course.

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  12. "As a rather (by which I mean very) tomboyish kid and teen I used to imagine that to "feel like a woman" was to feel like a delicate flower. I still can't imagine why anyone would aspire to that! "

    I had that same view as a youngin'! I went out of my way to be tougher, stronger, louder, etc...to "prove" I wasn't a "flower" to be stepped on. I wasn't like a steroid induced heathen...but I made my point.

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  13. Anonymous10/06/2010

    Would you be happy if they called it The Art of Person-ness?

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  14. I don't think so. I mean, it's true that the characteristics they're labeling as manly really just are characteristics people should have. But I'm not sure I'm buying this "it's a lost art" thing. And at any rate, it distracts us from the troubling underlying issues that we really should be confronting. Let's talk about marketing and consumerism and what effect these have on character development. That would be an interesting discussion.

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  15. my boyfriend is so obsessed with this site. He bought the book, and quotes it daily. I didn't get it at first, and sometimes maybe I still don't..but I came home to my freshly folded laundry on the bed. He hasn't done laundry in the year we have lived together..ever. (Unless I asked) He said it was the "book" that made him want to do it. he said it made him realize things that he slacks on and areas he needs to improve on..and I was shocked. and pleased. it made me almost wish that there was something similar for women...how to be strong women..wives..moms..single indendent women. we all have room to grow and improve our hearts and souls.

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  16. This blog post and discussion fascinates me. So much so that I wanted to find out what, exactly, a site would look like if these same principles of honor, kindness, integrity, etc. were written for an all female audience.

    So I built one: artofwomanliness.heroku.com

    It takes the live site at artofmanliness.com and translates it so that the gender of every piece of text is swapped. We now have, for example, a complete article on "Archetypes of American Womanliness"

    As I read it I think "most of this makes sense, though these archetypal ladies seem to have poor relationships."

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  17. I have been on the Art of Manliness for over a year and I'm a woman. Brett does not promote his religion. You should read the list of groups, they are as diverse as the color of the rainbow. The discussions are fiesty and fun, serious and challenging.

    I started the Art of Womanliness last year, however, just in the last few months began really working it. We welcome all women and men. I have ownership of several Artofwomanliness addresses,.com, etc. Why would a man start a site similiar?

    I have a vision for this site and it includes women of the world sharing together.

    DJ Munson
    http://artofwomanliness.ning.com/

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  18. Sure, I don't think anyone's arguing that he promotes his religion, or that it would be a problem if he did, as long as he was honest about it. But I think it would be absurd to assume that his religion, which has very archaic views of gender, doesn't influence his work or the site. There's a clear and subtle message that the world would be a better place if women and men would adhere to traditional roles. Since these traditional roles are hierarchical and often oppressive, that idea is always going to get some resistance. It's as simple as that.

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  19. I'm a career woman, single parent to 3 older children, independent in my political views and I'm not getting that subtle message. Men and woman are equal and AoM promotes that along with being a better man for the better of everyone that surrounds them regardless of gender. It's a simple as that for me.

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  20. Anonymous3/12/2011

    I have 3 young sons, and until I had them, I probably would have been with you guys, but seeing the world from their eyes has opened my eyes to the sense that the role of men has changed, so that defining what a man is, is like trying to grasp a cloud.

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  21. I have been having these questions concerning masc/femin on my mind for some time now. I actually found this page while searching for "how to shave..". I like anonymous' comment about the "Art of Personess". I hear the phrase "be a man and take care of your responsibilities" for instance children, far more than "be a good responsible adult/person" so I too assumed that it meant something to be a man besides possessing a Y chromosome. I also thought that being a woman had some intrinsic glory know only to women as well. This being said, I would still like to see a world in which people are just people ( i.e. a quiet, introverted man or a outspoken,extroverted woman). I am obviously not a humanities student so please be nice in any responses but would such a world be one of many feminist goals?(My sister is a feminist and she is usually willing to indulge me in such conversation but even she has a limit to how long she'll humor some of my silly questions)

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  22. @ Anonymous: Maybe my last comment was a bit verbose but these are my sentiments. I feel silly for thinking about it but it keeps tapping at the back of my mind. These thoughts really started intensifying since my mother has been inquiring as to when I will start dating. I always thought being yourself was the way to go but then again....

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  23. r,
    Postmodern feminists advocate for moving away from the sex/gender binary and allowing people to develop however they will outside of these constructs. This is a start.

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    1. Yea, we should all me hermaphrodites.

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  24. Anonymous5/18/2011

    My wife, who is a "woman," is not "quiet, sweet, submissive, and deferential." This woman is a one who has the character to be quiet and sweet, but also to be bold and expelative. As do I. My "Woman" is strong willed and stubborn; just how I envision a "woman" to be. I believe that running the household is THE job. I have had to do it. She wants to do it. Perhaps this is inherent? Perhaps not in all women... She was caught up in feminist theory in college before we were dating and found it to be lacking. I would say the same for the hyper-masculine culture of today's society. I look at all of the "metrosexual" men that surround me. They want to act tough and self-sufficient, but lack in the one characteristic that is evident in real "man" and real "woman:" Self-confidence (For the most part, these guys cannot hold a real conversation). Put away our needs to fit in with the feminist agenda or the hyper-masculine agenda and one will discover the true "woman" or "man." I guess that I have been looking for a crack in "The Art of Manliness." I haven't found it, yet. Perhaps it is beacause this site explores the hunter/provider aspects that are inherent in man. I know that it is a foepaw to characterize women as "caretakers," but if it helps, what is a CEO? Perhaps people need to really explore who they truly are, objectively. Throw out the propoganda 101 that mainstream media and higher education throw at us. ...Of course I must be one of those conservative fools... All I know is that my "Woman" is strong, stubborn, sweet, and everything that everything I could, from my heart, want a woman to be. She doesn't take crap... Neither do I... Guess what? I works beautifully!

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  25. Anonymous8/02/2011

    I like your thoughts. I think there is, however, a reason the site is called "Art of Manliness" rather than "Social Science of Manliness." As you rightfully observe, it's hard to pinpoint how virtuous manliness does or "should" differ from virtuous womanhood or just plain personhood. Nevertheless, shaving with a straight razor and shooting guns stirs some of us in a particular way that academically critiquing the "the massive Capitalist-Marketing-Consuming Juggernaut doesn't."

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    1. Kerinda4/04/2012

      But I think the author's point is that the discontent that the AoM guy feels with the masculinity that's portrayed in media has a deeper underlying source, and you can't fix that with a "band-aid" approach like the discussions on AoM. Dealing with the deeper issue of how media and marketing shapes character of both men and women is the goal.

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  26. I somehow stumbled on the site Art of Manliness and found it incredibly frustrating for the reasons you mentioned. I asked myself the same question of what the art of womanliness would like like, and that led me to your post. Thank you so much for articulately explaining everything that is damaging about this website.

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  27. Thank you for writing that.

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  28. From a marketing perspective, the Art of Manliness is more important than you think. AoM gets the draw it does precisely because people are interested in what it has to say. Not all people, but certain people. I suspect men come from places like GQ or Esquire to AoM expecting much the same as they're used to. Many of them move on, but many of them read more in depth. And then they stop and think. Is it a drop in the bucket against the consumer-culture juggernaut? You bet. Is a drop in the bucket better than nothing? You bet. Are you making much of a difference here? Probably not. You're a drop in the bucket. That's a good thing. And it can always be better. Why, then, write them off as hopeless?

    You're right - the issue of good character is not gendered. But does every site of this kind need to be unisex? Why? Would it not be better to target specific interests and attack the juggernaut from different angles? Different people want different things There are good life tips in here for anyone. Mostly men will read them because that's the angle from which AoM has chosen to approach. That's fine - it's a niche market. This will create a lot of redundancy on the web - I could probably find much of that stuff elsewhere without the English Leather scent - but that's fine too, because it's the web. The web is huge.

    I get what you're saying about what's going on the discussion page (it's a dead link, by the way). The veiled and not-so-veiled references to the old gender binary. But at the same time, it's a discussion page. Brett McKay, unless he's commenting on those threads (which I doubt), has nothing to do with that. You should really know that by now. What conclusions his readers draw is entirely up to them, and they won't always be right - and this includes you, me and all the commenters on this post. Let the natterers natter. As well try and stop the planets spinning and the stars burning.

    In the end, I'm just not sure what your point is. If you're saying we should homogenize everything on the web so no one feels excluded, then that, if you'll excuse me, is stupid. If my enemy is your enemy, don't complain that my shirt is red and yours is blue - let's fight together.

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  29. Anonymous2/08/2012

    I think the reason they titled the website Art of Manliness was because their target audience were men, not to label anything exclusively for men.

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  30. Anonymous4/02/2012

    I agree. It seems to me that women have realized that they are more than just a housewife and can do anything, while men feel like they were robbed of the thing that made them men, which may have been dominance and power. This made the man feel useless, like he had nothing to sustain him, and he drifted away into the culture we see today. The women, however, are doing just fine. They know who they are and that they don't have to take anything from anyone. The men do not.

    That leads me to my assumption about AoM. The site was intended to reach out to men because it was the men who lost what it means to be a productive, thinking, leading person. It has nothing to do with masculinity in general or specific "male" qualities. It think it has to do with remaking men into what they once were: strong, hopeful, determined, and purposeful. Not in order to become "men" again, but to able to hold themselves to the same high standards that they once did, only now it will be alongside women.

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  31. Anonymous5/03/2012

    I'll try and post this (again) and see if you reject it (again). If you do end up suppressing this a second time, all I ask is that you take a second to think about your intellectual dishonesty and realize that it hurts nobody but yourself.

    From Feb. 8. 2012, about 6:30 PM:
    From a marketing perspective, the Art of Manliness is more important than you think. AoM gets the draw it does precisely because people are interested in what it has to say. Not all people, but certain people. I suspect men come from places like GQ or Esquire to AoM expecting much the same as they’re used to. Many of them move on, but many of them read more in depth. And then they stop and think. Is it a drop in the bucket against the consumer-culture juggernaut? You bet. Is a drop in the bucket better than nothing? You bet. Are you making much of a difference here? Probably not. You’re a drop in the bucket. That’s a good thing. And it can always be better. Why, then, write them off as hopeless?
    You’re right – the issue of good character is not gendered. But does every site of this kind need to be unisex? Why? Would it not be better to target specific interests and attack the juggernaut from different angles? Different people want different things There are good life tips in here for anyone. Mostly men will read them because that’s the angle from which AoM has chosen to approach. That’s fine – it’s a niche market. This will create a lot of redundancy on the web – I could probably find much of that stuff elsewhere without the English Leather scent – but that’s fine too, because it’s the web. The web is huge.
    I get what you’re saying about what’s going on the discussion page (it’s a dead link, by the way). The veiled and not-so-veiled references to the old gender binary. But at the same time, it’s a discussion page. Brett McKay, unless he’s commenting on those threads (which I doubt), has nothing to do with that. You should really know that by now. What conclusions his readers draw is entirely up to them, and they won’t always be right – and this includes you, me and all the commenters on this post. Let the natterers natter. As well try and stop the planets spinning and the stars burning.
    In the end, I’m just not sure what your point is. If you’re saying we should homogenize everything on the web so no one feels excluded, then that, if you’ll excuse me, is stupid. If my enemy is your enemy, don’t complain that my shirt is red and yours is blue – let’s fight together.

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    1. This is the first time I've seen this comment - it may have gone straight into the spam for some reason.

      The short answer to your question is, I have an issue with gender essentialism wherever I see it. Especially when it's trying to masquerade as something else.

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    2. Anonymous5/06/2012

      I don't see gender essentialism where you do. Your chief complaint seems to be the site's extolling of so-called manly virtues which, in your mind, must be exclusive to men and thus leave women "out of the club." Where you legitimately came upon that idea I can't say. If your problem is with a discussion thread (a discussion thread that I must repeat is either closed or mislinked), again I say, ignore them. Discussion threads are almost exclusively full of idiots endlessly debating minutiae (I am aware of the irony, TYVM). If your complaint is that such a site attracts such people, people who clearly hold essentialist views, then so what? OWS is endorsed by the American Nazi party, yet OWS supports precisely no Nazi ideals. I ask therefore that forums be discounted until you can take a better sample from a more sizable population.

      So we're left with a countercultural site targeted at men, generally providing tips about things that, yes, traditionally have been the domains of exclusively men. Yet nowhere on that site is it asserted that these things need remain the domains of exclusively men, and nowhere on that site is it asserted that the reason this is so is because of qualities inherent in men and absent in women. Your accusation of gender essentialism, especially "masquerading" as something else, is thus baseless and I'm forced to ask again: seriously, what is your problem with this website? You needn't see enemies in every shadow.

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  32. As a man and avid passerby of AoM, I feel like you're all completely missing the point. AoM is a guideline for men to be better men. This IS a necessity for humanity as a whole. There's nothing saying women can't do the same things men can do or have the same virtues men should have, but if you understood balance and actually understood what you were talking about you would realize that the art of manlyness and the art of womanlyness only differ situationally.

    There's one example that really says it all- Anyone should be kind enough to hold the door open for a stranger. the difference is if a man takes a woman on a date I personally feel he should hold the door open. with that in mind some women don't like when men hold the door open for them in which case one would not open the door. (personally not someone I would go out with.)

    the art of womanlyness does have its role in this situation as any true lady will tell you. In this situation a lady out with a gentleman will step to the side allowing her date to open the door for her and say thank you.

    As a feminist I'll assume you would find this behavior submissive. You'd be wrong. Any good woman knows men like to feel needed. We like to have a purpose. We also like to take care of our women and hopefully they like to take care of us. Because this lady cares for this gentleman she will do him the honor of letting him open the door. It's symbiotic. To see it any other way would be pointlessly corrupting a mutually beneficial relationship. The AoW is about women honoring us men by allowing us to be gentleman.

    That being said, it's 2012, I'm 22, I'm old fashioned. Not because I'm sexist but because men and women understood that their situational roles were a necessity. Man and Woman is not the same as masculin and feminin, and to look at it that way is ridiculous. One must look at things from both sides and see the balance.

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  33. And as to the "middle class white male" statement. As a LOWER class white/black/native american man in america it offends me that you would suggest the middle class white men are the only ones with or that should have these manly qualities or that you would insinuate anyone on AoM is eluding to such a thing. I find that comment extremely distasteful. Being "manly" holds no prejudice. Women can be manly if they want. It's a way of thinking. Again it's knowing your place in different situations.

    My biggest issue is that you have a problem with AoM opinion of what an AoW website should look like. This, in my opinion, is quite hypocritical and here's why.

    1st- yu say his focus should have been on "people" not just men. Well. People men and women and the website is about men and their dealings with women among other things. Hence, "people". then the suggestion of AoW which would be focused on women. So by your own definition the site is focused on "people" as a whole.

    2nd-The values of manlyness and "what would the values of womanlyness look like?". Who says they should be any different? Apparently you are because he doesn't. Why would a man know what women value? For all we know it's exactly the same things. That, however, is irrelevant. What's relevant is, if you want men to know, "what the values of womanlyness look like", you should probably make a website called Art of Womanlyness.

    3rd-Your issue with suggestions for AoW. Everything on that list is also on AoM. So there is no undertone that women should stay home with the kids make dinner and clean. "celebrate the stay at home mom". Unfortunately for feminist, there are women who find joy in staying home, taking care of kids, cleaning, and making dinner, and they could benefit from having a site giving them tips on making that easier. Just as there are many types of men (masculin/feminin/neutral) there are many types of women and all should have somewhere to look for inspiration. It's not sexist it just makes sense.

    4th-"So there it is - the ol' essentialist narrative (along with the ever-infuriating phrase "be women" with no accompanying explanation of what that means)". What are you even saying here? First of all it's not a man's job to tell a woman what being a woman means. In a way you reinforce the statement by needing a definition. Maybe if there were an AoW website you would have all the answers you're looking for about what being a woman is.
    Second of all this is your most hypocritical point in this entire entry. Why? Because first you're reprimanding opinions these men are voicing about what an AoW website might look like implying it's a sexist idealist view on women. Then when this man says

    "It's hard for men to talk about this for fear of being chauvinist. Some food for thought. Men and women had certain roles that we both fell into out of natures guidance. We had those roles for centuries. Then all of a sudden the rules changed. While. I agree that most of this is for the better, it has to be confusing for women. What compounds it is that women feel like they can't be women and can't talk about it with other women."

    You insinuate sexism (which in the situation above you implied it ridiculous that men thing women would judge them for their opinions women) while also scrutinizing a fact of nature. which makes absolutely no sense because its a fact. not an opinion. In nature the male animal of any species has a clear role as does the female. All he's saying is that while women's rights is one of the best things to happen to the world, it also blurs the once very clear lines of male and female as a species. what he failed to say is that its as confusing for men as it is for women.

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  34. In conclusion of this accidentally very long comment, I don't entirely disagree with you simply because there ARE men out there who think of men as men and women as women and that thing women should submit to men and so on. But there are women that do the same of men. Where i disagree is that with a site like AoM and what should be a site for AoW, it's not about one submitting or dominating. It's about a balanced symbiotic relationship. A dance between masculinity and femininity. Personally my Idea of qualities a real woman holds do not include being submissive or weak. I don't think any person male or female should be weak. That said, there should be give and take on both ends.

    I found this blog quite interesting and I would really enjoy future conversations or even going back and forth on this discusion.

    -sincerely

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