Section 1: What Is Masculinity, Anyway?
Hell if I know. I am not a definitive authority on this, however, I can propose thoughts and ideas I have about some of the traits could include. The point of this is to make some sense of what women define as masculine traits and why this is important to their stance as a woman in today’s world.
First of all, allow me to acknowledge how difficult it must be to attempt to discern what women find masculine these days, let alone how to uphold notions of manhood in an effort to be in alignment with what women are looking for in a man. I’ve poked around this point in other lessons of mine, but I think that some of the repercussions of the feminist movement have boomeranged back to bite us. We’ve gone from having no rights to few rights to more rights and a blurring of gender lines. This is not a bad thing, as it was a catalyst for many overdue shifts, but we find ourselves in the midst of finding a workable model that acknowledges our differences and simultaneously respects and honors us as equally valuable beings. The pendulum is swinging as we speak and this section is our attempt to tease it out a bit further for your benefit.
As I mentioned in my introduction, though there is a wide range of what women of different age, race and religion may define as masculine, there appear to be some similarities amongst them that I’d like to outline here. I’ll go from the physical and tangible to the traits and characteristics that many women regard as the quintessence of manhood and masculinity.
No matter how we dice it, women appear to still appreciate a man’s ability to keep her and those around her safe as a foundational notion of masculinity. Though most of us aren’t dodging arrows or bayonets- we are still plagued by modern day perils like car jackers and identity thieves. Even though most enjoy a relatively safe existence, the nightly news will reminds us that dangers persist in the world, hence our perceived need for protection. Though women are becoming more adept at personal security and even further, are beginning to heal some of the wounds of men of long ago, there still remains a deep seeded desire to be defended and protected from harm.
It appears that regardless of how many ju jitsu classes we take, that we still desire for men to have the capacity to keep us safe if and when needed. Though that may come more in the form of stepping in between her and some obliterated drunk hitting on her, more serious circumstances could arise and women appear to feel comforted by the knowledge that her man will do his best to provide safety. We want you to go downstairs with the baseball bat in the middle of the night, to kill a spider and be willing to assume that modern day “hunter”. As my friend
Leana puts it like this:
”A masculine man is a strong, protective, and solid person. A person who has physical, emotional, and spiritual strength”
The flipside of this is demonstrating your fear or trepidation in handling such things, which will then cause her to feel as though she needs to provide safety for herself and the more masculine traits that go along with it (think edgy-ness, bitchy-ness and a more serious person overall). She steps out of her feminine role to ensure that her safety is handled. When you do this for her, she relaxes and can offer you her love.
I can hear you wondering about this already- these ideas aren’t so new at all…women still want men to be providers and protectors. Though some of this rings true, it’s with a slightly different, modern twist. Many women I know are the main breadwinners in their relationships and have even supported their men during different times in their partnership. They are willing to do so, especially to support their men in living in alignment with their passions and chasing their dreams. In my discussions with these gals, I’ve found that they are ok with this arrangement as long as she believes in his capacity to reciprocate this favor when and if need be. With expanded career and financial opportunities, many women are no longer solely dependent on men for sustenance. This allows for the sharing of financial responsibilities. However, if there is ever the possibility of bearing children, her mind goes to “what if….” and wants to know that he’s got the ability to provide for her needs if she’s grounded for awhile. It goes back to survival and safety again.
Look Like Tarzan (at least on the inside)
Though many women still have imprinted images of masculinity looking like the Rocky and Maverick, they’re more impressed with what they’re really made of. The women I’ve spoken to still appreciate the fact that men are, for the most part, physiologically more muscular and can therefore wield tools and complete tasks with a certain degree of ease. And though our modern times give us many tools of convenience, there’s no way around moving a Frigidaire up a flight of stairs. Even if men aren’t built with the pecs of Rambo, women can appreciate the ingenuity, spatial capabilities and engineering abilities that many men have. Though it may frustrate some women that they still have to depend on some of that brute strength, there’s also an appreciation for these skills in everyday life.
As my friend Dara notes:
“A real man upholds strength- Strength of character as well as physical strength.”
And as Susie states:
“Masculinity is directed action, physical strength, goal oriented and focused energy. It is base, structure and form.”
“Masculinity is a man owning what he recognizes as his maleness. It can be in a scent, a stature, a handshake, a tone.”
I want to interject here that there is no singular way that women “see” masculinity. Some of the most masculine men I know are actually shorter in stature, but carry themselves with dignity, class and a genuine sense of self that sets him apart. Pay attention to this, as I’ll build upon this further in the next lesson when it comes to how to portrait masculinity.
Leader of the Pack
As we’ve described in our Primitive Brain section, women seek leaders, as they tend to command the kind of determination, strength and fortitude that comprises an able mate. Take note, however, that this does not mean that he is not “allowed” to be vulnerable, sensitive or humble (we’ll talk about this later). It does mean that he acts with conviction and assuredness in his actions and internal character. This leadership quality means that you’re willing to make decisions for your relationship and is extremely attractive to women.
“A masculine man is a one who is reliable, firm and direct. He gets things done. He is achievement oriented and physically strong and able. He is not easily threatened by others, but when he needs to set his boundaries he is able to do so firmly and no one questions where he stands.”
This quote implies that masculinity involves the capacity to handle what needs to be done in life- from taking care of that leaky faucet to asserting his convictions. When first meeting a woman, it may look like stepping between her and an overly obnoxious, pushy bar crowd or handling a tense situation with composure and class. (Quick side note: On my first date with one guy, we were outside the restaurant when a drunk, homeless man began to speak to us- not threateningly, but he was obviously compromised. My date stepped in front of me, held my hand behind and spoke calmly until the man went on his way- I felt safe and you’d better bet I took notice.)
As Lynn adds:
“Masculine qualities include, but are not limited to, perseverance, strength, determination, confidence, security, self-love, positive self –esteem, capability, decisiveness, honesty, ambition, assertiveness.”
Yet another woman contests:
”A masculine man is one that you know will follow through with what he promises. His yes is yes and his no is no. He is not easily swayed by others but stands firm in his beliefs and morals. Yet respectfully takes others views into consideration and is open to learning new ways of viewing the world. A man who takes initiative and is decisive is masculine to me.”
As I hope you can see, this supports the ideas we’ve been teaching you on the site- that you don’t have to appeal to ALL women, but in being honest with yourself and steadfast in your true nature, you will appeal to women who appreciate the uniqueness that is you. It doesn’t mean that he’s got to have it all figured out, rather; he takes strides to initiate and forge his way in the world, with determination. Notice that this doesn’t mean that you have to peacock, compensate or step on your brethren. By exuding these traits, you stand out in a distinguished and genuine manner…naturally.
A man of honor, honesty, integrity and character
This was one of the most unanimous parts of every woman’s description of masculinity. Each in some way noted the importance of integrity- saying what you’ll do and doing what you say. It’s an alignment of thought, word and action. Living true to yourself and your nature. Acting with personal honor and the honor of all (his partner, family and community) in mind.
“…a man who knows his balanced role in the family and community, of being the protector, provider. His heart and cock and spirit are connected.”
“A masculine man is confident and secure. He acts with integrity in all relationships. His honesty in work and business exchanges invokes trust in others. He is able to collaborate with men and women of all ages due to his non-judgmental nature and security in himself.”
This kind of security cannot be feigned and is one of the fundamental reasons we are so steadfast about the development of self-esteem and genuine confidence.
“A real man is authentic unto himself and to his own personal integrity. He does not buy into cultural myths of masculinity but follows the calling of his own heart and his own passions.”
Tarzan equal to Jane
This was a very common theme amongst the women I spoke with. They explain that masculinity involves the acknowledgement of equality amongst the sexes and the respect that follows.
”A true man celebrates the differences between men and women while seeing them as equal.”
The women I spoke with want a man who recognizes and appreciates the differences in the sexes, yet acknowledges the equality and inherent value of both.
Care like Jane
Though throughout the ages, we’ve been fed this idea that women are the caregivers and nurturers, perhaps we may have it backwards. Men deliver the seeds that women hold and germinate. Men are the givers of life and love. Women receive this and create life out of this form- yet men offer this forth first. I want to underscore this as paramount to the notion of masculinity. I see enormous potential for men to reclaim their positions as lovers in our society. This involves the recognition of this vital role and treating it with the honor and importance it deserves.
As my friend Christine states:
“Masculinity, for me, is a man’s ability to nurture and care for another person. Traits a masculine man might have would include: thoughtfulness, intrinsic motivation to assist others without the motivation of personal gain, ability to fix something of mine (or know how to find someone who can), sense of responsibility, and of course, a beautiful physical form doesn’t hurt.”
“I think a true man is not afraid of the feminine, but honors, respects and humbles himself before it. A true man does not belittle the soft & subtle power of the feminine, but reveres its strength and importance.”
This supports the underlying message that we’ve been offering you- that acknowledging your vulnerabilities is your ultimate strength. It is from this place of humility that you can receive love.
Both Tarzan and Jane
Yet another vital trait that most every woman spoke of was the demonstration of both masculine and feminine aspects- this doesn’t mean that he becomes feminine. Rather, this is a recognition that both tendencies reside in us all and to be masculine is to allow for the expression of the traditional “male” tendencies (physical strength, provider, protector) as well as upholding more classically “feminine” traits (sensitivity, compassion, care, concern) such as Christine states:
”A man who embraces his masculinity, as well as his feminine traits”
“It is the compliment to femininity rather than the opposite of it. Both are within each of us, and require one another to create balance, integrity and grounded-ness”
As you can see, this is a multi-faceted and complex notion with several passionate ideas. I hope this has been thought provoking for you- take some time to contemplate these concepts before moving onto the development of masculinity within you…