KAMPALA – In the so-called age of femininity and the feminization of society, being a man, a real man, no doubt, has been elevated to an art form. It is such a rare occassion, to meet a real man nowadays. Especially because we (read: all the female teachers) are teaching boys to be feminine and stuff. Everyone is being so sensitive all of the sudden. It’s annoying, really.
In fact, as conservative writer Mr. David Goetch noted:
Bowing to the strident sniping of radical feminists, men have allowed themselves to be transformed into a bunch of wimpy eunuchs who, rather than stand their ground, have ceded their manhood to women who want to be men.
(American) men don’t know who they are anymore. They have become confused, like a dazed Pokemon, or a dog whose ball you pretended to throw but you actually didn’t, and in their confusion they accidently ceded control and let women take over. Oh, noes!
It’s so bad that commercialism and consumerism actually invented a way to combat these wimpy euneuchs and flog them back into proper manhood:
The New Warrior Training Adventure is a singular type of life affirming event, honoring the best in what men have to offer the planet. We are only able to recognize the powerful brilliance of men because we are willing to look at, and take full responsibility for, the pain we are also capable of creating … and suffering. This is the paradox of modern masculinity, and it is a lesson we are dedicated to learning and teaching.
Cultivating your manliness is an activity quite some engage in on a daily basis. The concept of the gentleman brings you back to a romanticised past in the same way a handlebar moustache does (A CLOSE SHAVE). A glorious past, no doubt, for the man, unburdened with the anxieties of the modern age. The demarcations it presents the modern man with are comforting in some way: you know what to do, what is expected of you, and you know in what way to behave in different social situations.
Being a man in a patriarchical and traditional society is to be priviliged. The fact that these patriarchical power structures are being challenged by the radical man-hating feminists and wimpy men educated to be soft makes some people (read: men) exceedingly nervous.
So, they go out in the wild (or politics), and assert their manliness by building something, or destroying something, or dancing wildly and boastenly and waving your arms (I am still talking about both the New Warrior Training Adventure and politics). There is an entire genre of books, quotes, lectures, posts and t-shirts that try to convey what it is to be a “real man” (see above).
Manliness or masculinity is a concept I have written about before. It is one that limits and restricts men in their physical appearances, emotions, thoughts, feelings, careers, and relationships in a similar way femininity does for women. I have argued before that for women, it’s way worse (THE MALE MASS-MURDERER AND HIS COUNTERPART). For both men and women, a constructed sense of gender, together with all its associations, behaviours, and appearances, is extremely important identity-wise.
It is a great part of my identity, -being a man. Or a gentleman, depending on what company I find myself in. I got immediately fascinated with the Art of Manliness when I came across its website in my research on A CLOSE SHAVE.
The Art of Manliness offers its visitors exactly that: an identity package consisting of how-to guides on manly behaviour, masculine traits, clothing, hairstyles, you name it. Besides offering advice on virtually anything a gentleman-in-training might have questions about, they also had a challenge back in 2009 called 30 Days To Be a Better Man. During these 30 days, participants were asked to complete one task per day, presumably to become a better man after completing all 30.
l want to explore what completing these challenges will do to my masculinity identity-wise. After 30 days of intense cultivation of my manhood, what’ll have happened to me? Will I feel more manly? Perhaps less, if I am not capable of completing the challenges. The concept of masculinity I have (which I have a hard time expressing since I am not sure what exactly it is) might be changed or challenged by these 30 days. Or, maybe the Art of Manliness is full of shit and nothing will happen.
From just looking at the list (see below), becoming a better man mostly involves a cultivation of one’s sense of self as an assertive, self-confident and determined Person with a Penis. For example, having unbendable principles (Day 1), or conquering a fear (Day 29), or increasing your testosterone (Day 4) are, I think, usually perceived as male achievements.
Not that a woman can never be perceived as having strong principles or as fearless, of course you can, and I know quite some women who would fit this bill. Perhaps it is the combination of these 30 activities that make a (better) man, lest you agree with the Art of Manliness. These activities have been co-opted by radical feminists, so let’s take them back and make them male again!
Here are the challenges:
Day 1: Define Your Core Values
Day 2: Shine Your Shoes
Day 3: Find a Mentor
Day 4: Increase Your Testosterone
Day 5: Cultivate Your Gratitude
Day 6: Update Your Resume
Day 7: Reconnect with an Old Friend
Day 8: Start a Journal
Day 9: Take a Woman on a Date
Day 10: Memorize “If”
Day 11: Give Yourself a Testicular Exam
Day 12: Create Your Bucket List
Day 13: Declutter Your Life
Day 14: Write a Letter to Your Father
Day 15: Make a Meal
Day 16: Create a Budget
Day 17: Talk to 3 Strangers
Day 18: Find Your N.U.T.s
Day 19: Schedule a Physical Exam
Day 20: Perform Service
Day 21: Write Your Own Eulogy
Day 22: Improve Your Posture
Day 23: Learn a Manual Skill
Day 24: Play!
Day 25: Start a Debt Reduction Plan
Day 26: Take the Marine Corps Fitness Test
Day 27: Start a Book
Day 28: Write a Love Letter
Day 29: Conquer a Fear
Day 30: Get a Straight Razor Shave