I'm not going to delve into the subject of how Manliness died, but I do want to spread the word on how it was dying and is now reviving. Fellow men, and young men in the journey to become men, I need some help finding sources for a speech I'm going to present.
I was largely influenced by Brett's performance at Ignite Tulsa, and I wanted to emulate that somehow. Today, I was given the privilege by my professor to present a speech on "Cultural Awareness" that is due within two weeks. He wouldn't mind if I delved into subcultures, so I wanted to do something different and difficult. I want to tell how Manliness isn't necessarily wrong. Before I discovered AoM, I believed manliness to be only what I found in media and magazines. These were buff, burly men who acted like jerks and had sex everywhere they went, gathering the women as a farmer does with wheat. I wasn't a jerk, but I believed there was a change in the way men were. Now, I know there is an alternative to this a. I have pledged to being counter-cultural, and help spread how to be a better person through becoming a real man. A man of strength, virtue, and intelligence.
Of course a man must help himself before asking others for help, so I have already found some sources myself:
And what has been a real great help, was studying speeches of other men. I had Brett's Manvotionals with me a few months ago, but I lost it. But the words of MLK and William Ernest Henley have stayed with me, even now. Pericles' funeral speech was a big booster of support for me. If anyone else has a problem with making speeches, look to other men who made great speeches.
However, there are many variables that prevent me from actually doing this:
1.) There are a lot of girls in this class. In my Speech class, there is a 2:3 ratio of young, bright young women to men who dream of a future for themselves. How bad would it be if I came into class with my ideas of reviving "manliness" in their faces? Of course I attempt to be polite daily to both genders, but the results seem unpredictable right now as I sort through what could happen. Maybe they'll raise their standards for the men they date, hopefully.
2.) I am a giant square. I try to be chaste, I never try to use coarse language, and I read books all the time. Now I will be a bigger square by presenting this speech. I shouldn't care about what others think, but someone has to think about their standing with the other students and professors.
3.) I'm very guilty of being both the metrosexual and man-boy that Brett presents in the video. I enjoy buying fashionable clothing, and I do play video games. In fact, I am soon to buy a custom computer on which that I can make mods for PC games. But I know my limits, and I never try to spend what I cannot afford by being frugal nor do I frequently play video games from dusk-til-dawn inside my room. I also try to believe there is a manly way to game but that's an entirely different discussion for another day if I manage to get there.
So please, could you help a young student? Are there any other articles, or books from the library that I can read to cite as a source? Are there any other speeches that can I study? Thank you for reading.
tl;dr version: I have a speech due in two weeks about the decline of manliness. Could you help me find sources, please?
Are those the "easy default roles" or are they man-made (emphasis on man) constructs that artificially define our roles? Sure a woman can breast feed and I cannot, but that doesn't mean I can't be nurturing or that my wife can't earn the bigger paycheck.
THe problem in your logic is the application of an all-or-none view. No one has said or even implied, that I noticed, that traditional gender roles or traditional definitions of manliness/femininity precludes Men from being nurturing or Women from earning substantial incomes. Hell, in this day and age of electronic wonders, a "stay at home" Mother with a little ingenuity can earn a relatively substantial income with little more than a laptop and a wifi connection, if her skill sets and talents are so enclined.
Eh, I'll go out and say it. That was the point of my examples. We have social structures beyond biology in place that (still) send the majority of paterfamiliases on one path and the majority of materfamiliases on another, and we then confuse those paths with what it is to be a pater- or materfamilias. Heck, as I type, the computer reminds me that despite the fact that a majority of households are headed my a woman or a woman and a man, only one of the terms is a neologism.
Now, we may say that our structures build on biology, so we like them. But that's an argument to be made, not self-evident.
I tend not to think that there has been a 'decline' in manliness. First off, it is hard to quantify 'manliness', and I don't think it comes with a sperm count or other such nonsense (the assumption that more sperm or testosterone = more manliness is facile at best).
Rather there have been changes in how different societies, at different times and places, perceive masculinity or how they idealize masculinity. The reasons why those perceptions and ideals change are the real interesting stuff.
Just got done reading a good book on the recession and it had quite a bit in there about how hard men have been hit. Had some great examples of guys the author followed who had been in the manufactering or construction business. Too many refused to retool their education and lives, because they thought doing something else wasn't manly. So they went unemployed, lost wives, lost kids, dug through trash, etc.
Is manliness some preconceived notion/perception, or is manliness about doing what you have to do, even if someone says that your shirt isn't manly, or you don't drive a manly enough car or the other notions.
I don't think I'd go that far. Just because something is difficult to quantify doesn't mean it can't be "in decline".
You are likely right about idealizing and perception. But, I'd figure those would be contributors to a decline (or increase) ... not separate from it. If people idealized masculinity less, it will likely decline. If people percieve masculinity less favorably or as less valuable, it will likely decline. The "reasons why those perceptions and ideals change" would be the reason for the decline he's talking about.
Just a different way of staging the same conversation. "Why is masculinity perceived as less ideal in modern America?" is the same question as "Why is masculinity on the decline in modern America?"
I think the question of 'is this on the decline/rise' is the wrong question. It is a useless question. Far more important and interesting are the dynamic views of masculinity. When the view changes, it's not that there is a decline or rise, it just changes (a thesis that doesn't fit neatly into narratives of decline and fall, but closer to the truth).
The underlying assumption of 'is this on the decline/rise' is that there is some standard by which the trend is rising or degrading. But in terms of subjective phenomenon like 'masculinity', such a phenomenon is enmeshed in social, economic, political, and historical discourse. How a society or some segment thereof perceives this ideal or phenomenon is much more important to discover than measuring its rise or fall.
You're still just rephrasing the same question. He didn't ask "is this on the decline" ... he asked why. Which is the same question you're asking, just asked in a different way. He sees it as a move away from traditional masculinity -- thus a 'decline'. You see it as a social change in the "dynamic view of masculinity" from away what-he-would-call "traditional". Same thing, just restated with different assumptions.
Assumptions aside -- he thinks masculinity is a specific traditional set of values; you think its a dynamic, socially-percieved construct -- its still the same question. "Why?" Why the change? Why the decline of the traditional in favor of the not-so-traditional? It doesn't matter much how you say it.
There is a tendency to try to overcomplicate questions to avoid answering ...
"Why is masculinity on the decline?" "It can't decline, because masculinity is a dynamic social construct; its changing." "That's why I asked the question." "But you said decline, which presupposes a set standard by which it is rising or declining." "Yeah, but I asked why." "You asked why it was declining." "Alright, why is it changing?"
Seems like a bunch of work just to restate the same question without the word "decline". Nitpicking words like "decline" when you see the same trend he does, you'd just call it a "change" rather than a "decline", doesn't strike me as terribly productive.
That's because "decline" implies an inferior end result.
No, it doesn't. A decline in the murder rate is not an inferior end result. All the word "decline" implies is a reduction -- whether that's good or bad is up to you.
I think the perception of masculinity is more three-dimensional and can move in more directions than just up or down. I dont' think it's restating the same questions. I'm interested in how a society perceives masculinity. "Is it declining or rising?" is a question that supposes one standard for measuring masculinity, which isn't useful.
It is useful. Some just don't like it. I understand your position on the dynamic perceptions of masculinity thing. I get that you don't like the "one standard" deal. I think you're wrong, but that's really neither here nor there.
You're still hung-up on the word 'decline' rather than discussing the real question -- why is it moving in whatever direction you think it is? It is clear that you believe the "dynamic perception of masculinity" is changing. You just won't say how or why. At least he'll say "decline" and stand by it. You just keep saying its "complex", or "three-dimensional", or "dynamic", or "nuanced", or "about perceptions and ideals" ... without clarifying what your multi-dimensional complex nuanced dynamic viewpoint actually is.
It reads like you're talking around your point. Just state your case. How is it changing, and why? Is your position on this so complex that it defies explanation?
No, my point is not "so complex". Part and parcel to my question about tracking a perception rather than an up & down rise & decline is: why does that perception change?
Answers range from social to economic to political or some admixture of those or other factors, depending on how persuasive the writer is. I don't have the answer for this particular question.
My comment is mostly about what questions we ask and what framework we use to answer those questions.
Bottom line is I don't think masculinity is in decline. I think measuring such a thing is a fool's errand, a waste of time. It's more interesting to ask why is the ideal man of 1960s America different than the ideal man of 2000s America.
Probably more interesting is that there isn't one ideal archetype for either 1960s America or 2000s America, but a variety of ideals that come from various sectors for various reasons. The multiplicity of images that the singular word masculinity conjures up means that the term is so multi-faceted with many layers of meaning that saying manliness is on the rise or decline is far too simplistic of a way to go about describing it as a social phenomenon.