• SumoMe

How does society view "manliness" these days? Photo: THE U.S. NATIONAL ARCHIVES.

In a well-written opinion piece by Iowa State student Barry Snell, traditional notions of manliness are challenged much in the same way I distinguished machismo versus manliness. In his article, he writes:

Manliness now appears to be thought of as some sort of sexism, an outmoded way of male behavior or a belief system, or is otherwise shrouded in other stereotypes. The mention of a man who is “manly” is often done in ridicule and tends to generate mental images of a muscle-bound, football-watching, beer-drinking, Marlboro-smoking, Playboy-reading, gear head who drives a big truck.

None of these things is [sic] manly.

. . .

So what is manliness?

When asked that question, most people struggle and eventually bring up chivalry. Chivalry is definitely part of a good answer, though I suspect most don’t know why. The chivalric code of the knights of old embodied many of the qualities of manliness. It stood for courage, a sense of justice, honor, integrity and courtesy. These things are most definitely manly.

It’s hard to be courageous. Courage implies the possibility of failure or rejection, which are the greatest fears of a man. Doing the right thing, to be just, when all others around you are doing something else, is one of the toughest tests in life for a man. But it’s during those times that the world needs a man the most.

. . .

Discipline, dedication and perseverance; the knowledge and skills to do things for oneself and the enterprising alacrity to do things for others. These are also parts of manliness.

A man must be true to his word. When he says he’s going to do something, he must have the discipline and integrity to make good on it. A man should always tell the truth. This includes being true to oneself too, as honesty means revealing one’s genuine character in the public sphere. There’s courage again; it takes a lot of it to be honest sometimes.

Men need to know things, for there is nothing more shameful than an ignorant man. A man needs to know his history so he can protect his future. He needs to know how to talk to people and he needs to know how to listen to them too. Being able to work with other people and identify common issues to work toward common solutions is the essence of politics, and genuine politics is the epitome of manliness. (Full Article: Iowa State Daily).

I don’t want to quote the entire article, so I encourage you read the full thing. I always love seeing these notions of manliness in public modes of exchange because it’s important to steer the discussion away from manliness as referenced in the beginning of Snell’s article and towards the idea of honesty, integrity, reliability, and intelligence. This is not as a method of escaping persecution or social inequality–men are generally not subject to that–but as a method of encouraging self-improvement. If society sets the bar for a normal man at the current popular qualities, the tendency to stagnate increases and the motivation to improve yourself as a man, father, husband, brother, and individual all die off.

The mission here is self-improvement, not perpetuation of the same failed model of manliness.

What do you think of the Iowa State Daily article? Give your opinion in the comments below.