Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Art of Manliness Explained

This was one of my most favorite blogs that I wrote for and I'm reposting it, because well, I love it. 

Read it and let me know if you agree about what it means to be a man in today's world.

Could we be in the middle of a "manaissance" -- a time wherein a new kind of "manly dad" is learning how to step up to the plate? Brett McKay, founder of the website The Art of Manliness, thinks so.
His site gets hundreds of thousands of hits each week, yet despite being featured on CNN and garnering a heavy cult following, Brett is incredibly down-to-earth about his mission to inspire dudes to be better men -- and better dads. We sat down with him to talk about how dad's roles have changed in recent years (among other topics). Read on -- then show this to your man!

momlogic: How did the idea for the website come about?

Brett McKay: I was standing in Borders one night looking at men's magazines, and I realized that the topics they covered were exactly the same every month: How to get six-pack abs, how to score lots of women and something about Megan Fox's boobs (or whoever the babe of the moment was). I remember thinking, "Is this all there is to being a modern man?"

And I as looked around at the men my age, a lot of them seemed a little lost and directionless. Some of them had grown up without dads; they didn't have any male mentors, and the examples of men in the media were clueless buffoons or violent meatheads. They didn't know what a man was, and I realized I didn't have a clear idea, either. The art of manliness had stopped being passed down from generation to generation. I thought it was time for my generation to rediscover it. So I decided to start a different kind of men's magazine, one that didn't focus on cars and boobs, but instead had more substance and took seriously the idea of helping men become better, helping them reach their potential and find their way in the world -- while having fun, too!

ml: Why do you think there has been a resurgence of "manliness" recently?

BM: I think a lot of men are just fed up with the low expectations given to them these days. They're tired of being the butt of every commercial or sitcom joke. They're tired of the Maxim/Spike TV versions of masculinity. I also think that a generation of men who grew up without strong father figures is looking for guidance on how to be honorable men. Also, some sociologists argue that every generation ends up [being] like their grandparents' generation in some ways.

ml: How does this new manliness relate to family life?

BM: To me, being manly means being the best husband, father, friend, brother and son you can be. It's all about stepping up to the plate, taking personal responsibility for your life and being a contributing member of society and your family. I believe that a man should be the rock of the family. Not in the stoic "you can't squeeze tears from a stone" way, but by being the anchor of calm during life's storms, stepping up instead of hiding when your wife and kids need you, solving problems, taking care of what needs to be done and showing some leadership.

I definitely believe that marriage is an equal partnership, but too often these days, men who are afraid of coming off as chauvinistic (or are just lazy!) turn the "equal partnership" into the wife having to make all the decisions, all the time. The women I know, all across the feminist/nonfeminist spectrum, want a man to take charge of things sometimes.

In regards to fatherhood, being a "manly dad" means being available to your kids both physically and emotionally. Having dad around is important for both girls and boys, so dads should do the things they know they should but too often don't. Spend time with your kids. Play with them. Talk with them. Read with them. Be the best example you can be. Show your kids that being a good man not only means being strong and brave, but also being nurturing and empathetic.

ml: Amen! In your opinion, why are many of today's women drawn to manly men?

BM: I think biology plays a role; there's that evolutionary desire for a man who can be a capable provider and protector. What women really want is a guy who's emotionally healthy and mature, but also has that confident, take-charge kind of manliness that's truly attractive.

ml: We know that you don't have kids yet, but would like to someday. If you have a son, what will you teach him?
BM: If I had a boy, the way I'd instill the art of manliness in him is to read him stories about great men from history, teach him how to do manly stuff and, most importantly, spend quality time with him, modeling good manhood and mentoring him in manliness.

ml: What do you consider to be typical "manly" activities?

BM: Well, there's the typical stuff we think of -- woodworking, hunting, fishing, sports. But I think that a lot of different activities can be manly, so long as a man does them with gusto. Great art, literature and music have been created by manly men. The life of the mind can be manly. Video games and fantasy football? Not manly. Men need to get out and actually play football and a real guitar instead of playing pretend football coach and jamming on a plastic instrument.

Is your man a "manly dad"? Tell us why -- or why not.

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