What is Manliness?

This site has done a marvelous job in helping its members, male and female alike, to answer this question. Can Manliness be described in a few words though? If so, what words would you use?

I'm sure that we will all have slightly different opinions on the meaning, but can we reach a consensus?

If I had to provide a succinct definition to the question I would say this:

Manliness is the embodiment of those intellectual, physical, spiritual, and emotional qualities perceived as being most favourable in all men.

What do you think?

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Replies to This Discussion

That was a good article WIll...out of curiosity, how would you order the following then?

brave, economically successful, responsible, generous, sexually capable, procreative, and sociable with other men

I'd go:
1. brave
2. responsible
3. sociable
4. generous
5. economically successful
6. sexually capable
7. procreative
Second Will on bravery.

I think the essence of manliness (as distinct from humanity) is the desire and ability to effect change, according to his desires, beliefs or values.

This could be as major as playing a role in public life, or as small-scale as putting together a piece of wordwork.

When I can look back at something (even something trivial) and think "but for me, this would not be so", then that's when I feel more of a man.
Very good attempt at a definition Shaun. I like it quite a bit. I have a few suggestions for improving it
1) Manliness is an abstract term that cannot be the concrete "embodiment" of a set of abstract ideals. I think you were going for something more like "a collection of ideals" or the "Perfect Example of"
2) "Behavior" should also be added to the list of qualities.
3) Manliness is more than just the good. Unfortunately there is a bad side to manliness as well. I noticed the conversation quickly became a list of the higher positive attributes and virtues which constitute only part of the definition. Some societies, at least the female side of it that I am most familiar with, also expect that burping, farting, and scratching are some decidedly disgusting and distinctly male behaviors. Go ahead, ask any girl and she would probably call those behaviors, "a man thing". Few women seem to want to try hard enough to see the humor in the notorious Benjamin Franklin essay, "Fart Proudly". I am glad I am a man and have one more thing in this world to laugh about.
4) I think you allude to it but do not stress enough the critical aspect that "others" are the ones that will determine what a term like manliness means. When we think about ourselves, we use the knowledge of us which other people already have. We judge ourselves with the means other people have and have given us for judging ourselves. We learn from our culture what it is to be a hero or a villain, a man or a woman.

Here is how I would rewrite it.

Manliness is a subjective conceptual archetype of ALL intellectual, physical, spiritual, psychological, and behavioral attributes expected of a man for himself based upon the expectations that his group has for all the males belonging to that group.

Daniel is right on a couple of points. The question is a very deep one, and the answers given will rely strongly on a person's ontological views on being, existence, and reality.

Here are mine:
1) A supernatural God or creator in whose image man was created most likely does not exist. Even if God existed it would not change anything because either
a) Existence precedes essence. Before man existed he was nothing. Then he comes into existence and is something. Only after his existence can man define himself all on his own. Man is then free to conceive for himself what he is and wants to be, what he wills himself to be, and what his purpose is.
b) You believe a creator has given you free will without revealing an ultimate purpose.
3) This total freedom that we all have to define ourselves is a great responsibility and cause of anxiety and despair. It is very much like showing up for a new job without ever being told what the employer expects you to do, or how they expect you to do it.

So then 2 things happen
1) People act in Bad Faith in an attempt to fool ourselves that we are not free. We attempt to build numerous structures through roles, norms, cultures and beliefs to define our sense of reality - to give the illusion that a blueprint exists into which we fit and are part of. ~Jean Paul Sartre.
2) To attempt to manage the conflict that arises out of non-conformity to the roles, norms and cultures, a society will often try to influence individuals to change their behavior and become who society wants them to be.

Part of manliness for me is
1) The ability to embrace and accept the freedom of choice and the resulting anxiety from the responsibility of developing and evolving your own purpose and moral compass to steer by and commit to our own choices.

2) Seeking the truth. Knowing that committing to our choices is the healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt. To be utterly convinced and at the same time to allow doubts presupposes a greater respect for truth and acknowledges the awareness that truth often goes beyond anything that can be said or done at any given moment.

3) Making good choices for yourself based on reason that are in your own best interest or enjoyment without need or interest in gaining validation from others, and taking the responsibility for the consequences of those choices.

While recognizing these are not gender exclusive, I personally feel a good man trying to follow a good life will work to develop the following attributes.

1) Develop knowledge and self-knowledge. Socrates argued that knowledge is good and that knowledge leads to knowledge of the self, which in turn leads to knowledge of the difference between good and evil. Only in knowing one's self can one be good, because one at least has the choice of not committing a wrong if he knows it is wrong. However, he can commit wrong if he is ignorant of his actions. Therefore, knowledge is a virtue and conversely, ignorance is vice. From this, he stated the four virtues which could all be traced back to knowledge.
1) courage
2) temperance
3) justice
4) piety (adhering to moral principles)


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