A blog for Christian men "going their own way."

Friday, September 4, 2009

Manhood: It's Not About Her

One of the primary problem's men face in society is this: Their masculinity is too often tied to being accepted by women as potential mates. If women reject a man, then his manhood may be regarded by some as being less than fully realized. However, the problem is that women are not obligated to accept men as mates, even when there is nothing particularly wrong with the men in question. So we are left with two choices for men:

1) Men expressing anger towards the women that reject them.

2) Men expressing anger towards a social system that defines their masculinity in terms of the interest women have in these men.

Option #1 is the option that is often taken, but ultimately, it is counterproductive because women are free moral agents who have a right to their own preferences regarding mate selection. Option #2 is logical but draws criticism from those indifferent or hostile to men's issues (socons, liberals, and other individuals held under sway to popular ideas about manhood). I suppose many expect men to embrace a vision of masculinity that depends on the romantic interest of women and yet, at the same time, expect men to accept rejection from women as a fact of life. Such an expectation amounts to nothing more than asking men to accept humiliation and dehumanization.

To hold a man's self image and self-worth hostage to the whim and caprice of what others find to be sexually or romantically attractive is one of the worst forms of psychological slavery there is. It is unjust and inhumane, and no society built upon such a foundation deserves to survive. Indeed, given the judgment of history, such a society probably won't.

39 comments:

Elusive Wapiti said...

Yeah, a manhood that is defined using femininity as its only point of reference isn't a very complete manhood.

Anonymous said...

A society that defines itself based upon the acceptance of emotionally unstable females doesn't deserve to survive and hopefully won't.

Amir Larijani said...

However, the problem is that women are not obligated to accept men as mates, even when there is nothing particularly wrong with the men in question. So we are left with two choices for men:

1) Men expressing resentment towards the women that reject them.

2) Men expressing resentment towards a social system that defines their masculinity in terms of the interest women have in these men.


The third option is don't sweat it: accept the breaks in life.

I've been single for 42--almost 43--years. If I had based my manhood on whether a woman would accept me, I would have been a miserable prick. (Instead, I turned out to be an amiable prick.)

Rejection is never pleasant, and if you think the men have it bad, the women don't have a picnic either when the men reject them.

As for society, I do not waste much energy trying to change it. In the Church, I am intolerant of members who treat singles like second-class citizens, and am always ready to offer them an earful. And I have done this on many occasions.

EW says: Yeah, a manhood that is defined using femininity as its only point of reference isn't a very complete manhood.

Worse yet, a "manhood" that is defined using femininity as its only reference point is not "manhood". It's matriarchy.

Novaseeker said...

I think the don't sweat it option is probably the most sane. Option 2, while understandable, gives the system itself too much power over your own sense of well-being. The system sucks, currently, but isn't going to be changed anytime soon due to the structural elements that underpin the current system. So it seems that accepting that and coming to terms with it in some way is probably better than stewing in resentment over it.

There are women who are "screwed" by the current system, too, in many cases. In general the current system is bad for anyone who is not very attractive and highly sexualized, because those are the qualities that the current system enables and values. Once you realize that, you can separate yourself from it, if with some disappointment, and move on from the resentment. You can either engage the system in some way, refrain from doing so, or try to work around it, I think, without resentment.

Defining Manhood said...

Epic! This exactly what Defining Manhood is about. Redefining Manhood. Taking it away from "What women and society want from men." and turning it into "What individual men want for themselves." You should check out my forums if you get a chance @ http://definingmanhood.proboards.com.

Also, as I understand it, you are the author of the Anti-Male Shaming Tactics Catalog. I turned it into a video and it got 250 hits in less than 24 hours. Check it out on my youtube channel @ http://www.youtube.com/definingmanhood
It was the second video i ever made, the first one that got any attention, and its doing very well so far. I'd like to think that maybe the information is getting out there now to men who might not have seen it on the mens rights forums and blogs.

Anonymous said...

Oh, the agony of who does the choosing. The whole thing is damned annoying. We ladies can sometimes have an absolutely horrible time of the whole dating business, too. I've been rejected, raped, emotionally abused and publicly humiliated by men. There are some pretty awful guys out there who go out of their way to hurt us. I'm concerned about men going their own way as an excuse to be cruel when some of us have already experienced enough of it coming from men who seemed to be the right kind when we met them, but soon turned out not to be.

1--completely useless and totally destructive.

2--Don't get angry, just make it change. Being a playa and gettin chicks is useless. Developing good social skills so that you can hold conversations, is far better. Going out and doing something interesting rather than relating only to your TV friends--also really helpful. Our society is mixed up about more things than dating. I talked to a Frenchman this evening and I started in by talking about how Americans are flaky and two-faced. It's really hard to make friends and know if people are even genuine.

Don't get mad, fix things. Men are good at that. DO something that actually helps.

Susan said...

I would say women struggle with the same thing, and it is likely even worse than it is for men. People often get concerned about whether a woman has marriage prospects, and even married women often feel that they are judged if they do not become mothers or choose not to be home full-time. Seems to me like our society mostly evaluates men by their careers.

vysota said...

Actually -- every society that has managed to survive DOES at least partially define masculinity with respect to how women receive the man. You see, home boy, to survive a society needs to procreate. To procreate a man and a woman need to have sex. For that a woman must be acceptable to a man, and that man must be acceptable to that woman. So, um, yes, manhood is partially defined by acceptance of women.

Anonymous said...

Lovely logic Vysota. Let's try this one on for size:

[sarcasm]

You see, home boy, to survive a society needs to produce crops. To produce crops, a man has to farm. For that, a man has to have skills in farming. So, um, yes, manhood is partially defined by skills in farming.

[/sarcasm]

It's elementary logic, Vysota. That All Q are P does not mean that all P are Q. But, then again, given your posting history, logic doesn't seem to be something you to appreciate.

Anonymous said...

"Actually -- every society that has managed to survive DOES at least partially define masculinity with respect to how women receive the man. You see, home boy, to survive a society needs to procreate. To procreate a man and a woman need to have sex. For that a woman must be acceptable to a man, and that man must be acceptable to that woman. So, um, yes, manhood is partially defined by acceptance of women."

So true. Feminism tried to separate femininity from men's approval of women and failed miserably, with the proliferation of combat boots and shapeless unisex togs that would have made Mao Tse Tung proud. It wasn't long before women were tarting it up again and now we have a fashion industry that's at par with world religion.

There is no true masculinity or femininity that exists entirely within its own gender, without regard for what the opposite sex. Certain aspects may be exist (like your actual genitals themselves) outside of the realms of social definition, and of course, individuals can always fall back on their own "personhood". But let's not kid ourselves that there is no qualitative aspect to femininity or masculinity. To remain single or to forfeit having children will compromise a certain aspect of one's masculinity or femininity. Think also what castration and hysterectomies do physically. Masculinity and femininity erodes with age, as well.

Those who remained single for the kingdom ("made themselves eunuchs") in Matthew 19:12, knew that such as choice would compromise their masculinity.

Those men and women who choose to "go their own way" should just do so, without worrying about how their masculinity or femininity is perceived by others.

Josh Krebs said...

This exactly what Defining Manhood is about. Redefining Manhood. Taking it away from "What women and society want from men." and turning it into "What individual men want for themselves."

Could we say instead that it is about redefining it as what God wants for me? That does seem to be the problem with the system--men and women out to get what they want instead of what God wants.

Anonymous said...

What Amir said, seconded by NS:

"The third option is don't sweat it: accept the breaks in life."

Life never promises to be fair, especially when it comes to love. Some people just have it harder than others -- best to own up to that, rather than spend your life wallowing in self-pity and blaming the oppposite sex.

vysota said...

Anonymous #1 -- I understand sarcasm is exciting. Hell, when I first learned what it was I was thrilled too. Are you over yourself yet? On the off chance that you are, you might want to read this:

Yes, you managed to be (accidentally) correct. Scary but true. Though a man's manhood is not necessarily defined by his skills at farming, it IS defined, to a large degree, by his ability to procure food for himself and his family. That may include farming, or hunting, or (in modern societies) his ability to hold down a job that would support his family's need to eat. Again, this is not the entirety of the definition of manhood (as mentioned, ability to attract females is another), but it's an important one. No society particularly values deadbeats. I'm sorry to have to break it to ya, Anon.

So congrats, you managed to be almost correct. Unfortunately, if your posting history, not to mention present, is any indication, you're too in love with the sound of your own typing to bother with thinking.

Anonymous #2 -- right on.

Anonymous said...

Though a man's manhood is not necessarily defined by his skills at farming, it IS defined, to a large degree, by his ability to procure food for himself and his family.

You don't procure food for yourself. You pay someone else who has procured the food for you and put on a temperature controlled shelf for you. Likewise, probably some single man along the way with an infastructure-related job made sure you were safe and sound. If society fell flat tomorrow, you would probably starve.

Then and only then you can tell me about men having to procreate and procure food. But as it is, Vysota, we don't live in grass huts anymore.

Anonymous said...

Actually -- every society that has managed to survive DOES at least partially define masculinity with respect to how women receive the man. You see, home boy, to survive a society needs to procreate. To procreate a man and a woman need to have sex.

Here's another thing that's wrong with your statement: You committed the Fallacy of Division. What is true for society is not necessarily true for all of its members.

Dani said...

Could we say instead that it is about redefining it as what God wants for me? That does seem to be the problem with the system--men and women out to get what they want instead of what God wants.

Amen to that.

vysota said...

Actually, Anonymous #1, it's cute that you think you know so much about me, but I guarantee you I would not starve. However, it's nice of you to actually concede when you're wrong (your failure to contest ANY of my points is quite obvious).

Anonymous #2 -- we're talking about the definition of manhood. Definition of manhood comes from society. A society that wants to survive must define manhood (and womanhood) appropriately. With the homo sapiens being what they are, definitions of manhood must include ability to procreate and ability to procure food. A personal definition of manhood, whatever that may be, is entirely irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

Vysota,

You merely restated your original contention. You still need to address the problem of the Fallacy of Divison in your argument. You are making an assumption that what holds true collectively holds true individually. As was pointed out, you probably don't grow or kill your own food. We live in a complex, highly differentiated society.

Let's take your line of logic and look at it this way: Society needs women collectively to have 2.1 babies (above replacement level). In the past, they would have large families.

Two questions for you:

1. Are you willing to go on record and say that women who have less then three babies are lacking something in their womanhood? Yes or no?

2. Are you willing to say that single women or women with no children are lacking something in their womanhood? Yes or no?

Please answer both of these questions.

Learner said...

Anonymous (September 8, 12:41pm) and Vysota,

You both are confusing the concept of "masculinity" or "manhood" with the concept of male attractiveness and/or sexual desirability. By your definition Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, would have "lacked" with regard to masculinity and manhood.

Masculinity and feminity are defined by God, not by society. If society wants to survive by defining manhood and womanhood appropriately it would do well to adopt God's definition.

Anonymous said...

As a woman without children who can no longer have them, I will say yes, not having children does mean that I have missed out on a vital part of the experience of womanhood. Nevertheless, I am still a woman, and one who values what is feminine about me. But it is disingenuous to suggest that not marrying or having children has not exacted a toll, as far as far being a woman is concerned.

Anonymous said...

"Masculinity and feminity are defined by God"

Where in the Bible are they defined? Chapter and verse, please.

vysota said...

Anonymous:
1. Yes.
2. Yes.
Just like men who don't have children lack something in their manhood. Them's the laws of nature. Oh, and your statement about me not growing my own food is moot. I've addressed it already.

Learner -- as an atheist I don't believe in what you are saying.

Anonymous #2 -- I'm sorry you did not get to have children. I hope I will have some of my own one day.

Learner said...

As a woman without children who can no longer have them, I will say yes, not having children does mean that I have missed out on a vital part of the experience of womanhood. Nevertheless, I am still a woman, and one who values what is feminine about me. But it is disingenuous to suggest that not marrying or having children has not exacted a toll, as far as far being a woman is concerned.

I agree that not having children could be experienced by women (and men for that matter) as missing a part of the experience of being a woman (or man). However, I don't think being childless makes a woman less of a woman or a man less of a man any more than not having any other experience or relationship (ie; being a sister or brother) would.

Learner said...

Vysota,

as an atheist I don't believe in what you are saying.

That is certainly your choice, however it is also my choice to disregard the opinions of a atheist on the subject of Biblical Manhood or womanhood.

Learner said...

"Masculinity and feminity are defined by God"

Where in the Bible are they defined? Chapter and verse, please.


Sure, the description of Biblical masculinity/manhood and feminity/womanhood starts in Genesis 1:1 and goes through until Revelation 22:21.

Also, part of how God defines feminity and masculinity is revealed in nature.

Anonymous said...

"Sure, the description of Biblical masculinity/manhood and feminity/womanhood starts in Genesis 1:1 and goes through until Revelation 22:21...Also, part of how God defines feminity and masculinity is revealed in nature."

No -- not "description", you said "defined".


"I don't think being childless makes a woman less of a woman or a man less of a man any more than not having any other experience or relationship (ie; being a sister or brother) would."

An well-worn platitude that makes no appearance in the scriptures, which may assure the barren, the eunuchs, etc. that they are still loved by God and have opportunities to serve. But there is no assurance that masculinity or femininity of the individual or the collective will go unaffected by averting marriage and having children.

Sure, a childless woman is still a woman (even a "bad" childless woman is still a woman), but there is a qualitative aspect to manhood and womanhood that, in the larger sense, you cannot just regard sexuality, marriage and parenthood with indifference -- they are, without parallel, our participation in our humanity and creation.

Learner said...

No -- not "description", you said "defined".

Okay Catwoman, or are you going by GG (gortex grrl?) now? Make that:

Sure, the definition of Biblical masculinity/manhood and feminity/womanhood starts in Genesis 1:1 and goes through until Revelation 22:21...Also, part of how God defines feminity and masculinity is revealed in nature.

you cannot just regard sexuality, marriage and parenthood with indifference

The idea that manhood or masculinity is not dependent on women does not mean that sexuality, marriage and parenthood are meaningless. It just means they don't have a role in defining what manhood is.

I'll ask again, where does the idea that sexuality, marriage and parenthood define manhood put the "manhood" of Jesus? Or Paul?

Anonymous said...

"Sure, the definition of Biblical masculinity/manhood and feminity/womanhood starts in Genesis 1:1 and goes through until Revelation 22:21...Also, part of how God defines feminity and masculinity is revealed in nature."

Yup, just as I thought. There's be no verses defining femininity or masculinity coming from you.

"The idea that manhood or masculinity is not dependent on women does not mean that sexuality, marriage and parenthood are meaningless. It just means they don't have a role in defining what manhood is."

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but you're saying that beyond being male and adult, being all there is to making a man/woman, a man/woman (which I agree with), there are no qualitative features to "manhood".

"I'll ask again, where does the idea that sexuality, marriage and parenthood define manhood put the "manhood" of Jesus?"

Jesus, being not only human, but the divine son of God, transcends gender and sexuality.

As for Paul, even if he was single all his life (and we don't know if he was) he never asked that his manhood be validated or complained that it wasn't.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

Yup, just as I thought. There's be no verses defining femininity or masculinity coming from you.

That is because the scripture as a whole defines femininity and masculinity as it describes what God desires to see in us as women and men. It does not say that that society defines masculinity and feminity.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but you're saying that beyond being male and adult, being all there is to making a man/woman, a man/woman (which I agree with), there are no qualitative features to "manhood".

No, I am not saying that there are no qualitative features of manhood or womanhood. I am saying that for Christians those qualitative features are outlined by God, not by society or by members of the opposite sex. Members of the opposite sex can find others sexually or relationally attractive or not, but that does not diminish an individual's "manhood" or "womanhood". Would not marrying or having children affect the experience someone has? Yes, as would doing or not doing everything we could possibly do in this life.

Jesus, being not only human, but the divine son of God, transcends gender and sexuality.

Jesus was fully God and fully man. He wasn't a generic human, he was incarnated as a man, and as such displayed perfect "manhood". He did not marry or have children so how could marriage or children define manhood if the only perfect man did not do those things?

As for Paul, even if he was single all his life (and we don't know if he was) he never asked that his manhood be validated or complained that it wasn't.

Why do you suppose that was? Perhaps that was because he placed what God had to say about who he was above what society or other people (including woman) had to say. And by the way this post is about a man not expecting others to validate his manhood.

Novaseeker said...

Jesus, being not only human, but the divine son of God, transcends gender and sexuality.

Not quite, in theological terms.

The Father, having never been incarnate, and the Spirit as well are "beyond human sex differentiation" in an anthropomorphic sense, even though the Father is revealed as Father and not Mother, which certainly has some significance in a way that doesn't directly relate to human gender or the sexes.

The Son, however, upon His incarnation, is now forever fully a human male as He is the divine Son. Unlike the rest of the Trinity, Christ has a human sex, and it is male. There are profound implications of this in many strands of theology, of course, but as pertains to the discussion here, but in Christ's humanity and masculinity, there was nothing lacking. He was the perfect man -- the only one.

Of course it's correct that women are also tied to Christ because of their common humanity with Him. And throughout the ages, until relatively recently, women did try to imitate Christ as well, to varying degrees. However, that does not change that Christ is inherently a male figure, and is portrayed clearly in the Gospels as such, rather than an ungendered, or gender-transcending, persona.

Because of all of that, the person of Christ is quite a substantial refutation of the idea that men need to be tied to women in a sexual, romantic or familial way in order to be fully participating in "manhood". To claim this is to claim that Christ's manhood was somehow lacking, or, contrariwise, that His human life is somehow not the proper object of emulation, or even of imitation, by other men. Both of those ideas seem rather at odds with what Christians have believed since the beginning.

Instead, as I read the Gospels and Paul on this issue, Christ's model of celibacy is revered, and not at all considered something unworthy of emulation. Paul concedes that it is a difficult path, but never once indicates that those who follow in that path are compromising or sacrificing their manhood by doing so. This thought would have never occurred to him, because he saw Christ as the perfect man.

Anonymous said...

"That is because the scripture as a whole defines femininity and masculinity as it describes what God desires to see in us as women and men...That is because the scripture as a whole defines femininity and masculinity as it describes what God desires to see in us as women and men."

Are you sure you want to do that, Learner? Equate "describes" with "defines"? If so, you'll find there are very few exhortations to "women" or "men" outside their adult family roles as wives, husbands, mothers, or fathers. Remove all that from the scriptures and you're left with some description of what God desires to see in us as believers in general, but not much that is gender specific (at least not enough to define "manhood" and "womanhood", apart from marital and family roles).

"Jesus was fully God and fully man. He wasn't a generic human, he was incarnated as a man, and as such displayed perfect "manhood". He did not marry or have children so how could marriage or children define manhood if the only perfect man did not do those things?"

Of course, Jesus and Paul were both human and men. The point is that they sacrificed their humanity and manhood, which is indeed a kind of transcendant masculinity. Just as soldiers who sacrifice themselves in the cause of war. Think of Tom Cruise's character in "Born on the Fourth of July". He comes back a war hero (there a few things that make a man a man more than that), yet there's a poignant scene where he cries to his mother (who doesn't get it) how he wishes he could have his dick and balls back. Now, is he a man? Absolutely! But would he tell you that his war injury has taken away a part of his manhood? Absolutely he would say that -- to suggest otherwise would minimize the cost. It's not just a matter of one less "experience" in life.

"And by the way this post is about a man not expecting others to validate his manhood."

Actually, this post is more about objecting to how society defines manhood. Quite unnecessary, if the expectations or validations of others don't matter.

Learner said...

Catwoman,

Yes, I am comfortable with using a myriad of descriptions to define something from scripture when one concise definition does not exist. There are indeed scriptures that talk about what God expects from us outside of the issues of sexuality, marriage and family.

Of course, Jesus and Paul were both human and men. The point is that they sacrificed their humanity and manhood, which is indeed a kind of transcendant masculinity.

Er....what? When did Jesus "sacrifice his humanity and manhood"? Where is the idea that Jesus sacrificed his manhood anywhere in the scripture? Wait, let me guess. He sacrificed his manhood when he didn't engage in sex or marry or procreate? I disagree and think you are saying Jesus sacrificed his manhood to fit your definition of manhood which is dependent on sexuality, marriage and procreation. An entirely circular argument. Either Jesus was the perfect man or not.

By the way, I am done with this conversation with you Catwoman. Please feel free to respond if you wish but I am done.

Anonymous said...

"There are indeed scriptures that talk about what God expects from us outside of the issues of sexuality, marriage and family."

That's sidestepping the point, which is that the scriptures do not give **gender specific** expectations outside marital and familial roles. You have failed to provide scriptural examples that show how God defines manhood (as opposed to gender godliness) ourside those roles.

"Where is the idea that Jesus sacrificed his manhood anywhere in the scripture?"

It's interesting that you ask me this, rather than acknowledge the other part of my point -- that they sacrificed their **humanity** (or mortality), of which manhood is certainly a part. You would have no discomfort in saying that Christ sacrificed his life for you, would you? Wouldn't that sacrifice also include every aspect -- masculine and otherwise -- of his mortal life: his flesh, his will, his power, his authority when he submitted to humilation, condemnation and death at the hands of his captors?

"Wait, let me guess. He sacrificed his manhood when he didn't engage in sex or marry or procreate?"

Those men who sacrifice those **aspects** of their manhood gain so much more as heroes for God's kingdom. The point is that you cannot compare those examples of sacrificial manhood to men living in the comforts of modernity who simply don't get married.

Anakin Niceguy said...

There ARE verses that talk about men and women outside of the husband/wife relationship--specifically the ones that govern how the sexes are to behave in the assembly of the saints.

Anonymous said...

Again: chapter and verse, please.

Anonymous said...

BITTER BITTER BITTER

Anonymous said...

Men in general(not all of course) feel pressured to have women accept them because men are brainwashed at an early age to believe that idea. Later in life I begin to think that manhood and womanhood were spiritual inclinations as opposed to physical inclinations. Of course, a man has to be physically strong to protect his familty but even that comes from a God-given "warrior spirit" as oppsed to the macho image that is so prevalent.A man not popular with women is no less a man that a woman who does not have several men suitors.

Anonymous said...

Men in general(not all of course) feel pressured to have women accept them because men are brainwashed at an early age to believe that idea. Later in life I begin to think that manhood and womanhood were spiritual inclinations as opposed to physical inclinations. Of course, a man has to be physically strong to protect his family but even that comes from a God-given "warrior spirit" as oppsed to the macho image that is so prevalent.A man not popular with women is no less a man than a woman who does not have several male suitors.

Anonymous said...

How many times do you see something along the lines of "what women want"?