Welcome to Manhearted™
A Show, a Community, a Discussion of Manhood
We're better in a bundle than on the fringes.
It's easy to find venomous attitudes that masquerade as manhood but that are mostly a mask for resentment. Turn on talk radio, scan twitter, look at the spectacle in the streets of American cities and at the podiums and lecterns of small towns. We're told all that noise is manhood, but it's suspiciously frail, fearful, and weak.
Manhood can't be conferred by a group. Political factions, cults, gangs, militias—these don't make us men. They're distractions. There's no store-bought manhood. Some kid who shoots up a protest hasn't graduated into being a man; he's failed at it.
Nor is manhood a bundle of anger and resentment while ridiculing all other emotions as not tough enough. We can be tough AND unscrew our emotional life. Finally, denigrating women isn't a masculine calling card. Men who do that are weak, afraid, and faking it in the name of the rest of us.
We don't have to go LOOKING for our manhood to prove it. All of that suggests a dearth of community that went out with the neighborhood pub. So we're here to create some genuine community—to put the pub back in our neighborhood.
Someone's gotta call "land" from the crow's nest.
There's not ONE template for us. Men carve wood sculptures and read Aristotle. Men weld and drive trucks and teach school and design circuits and fly commercial airliners and any number of jobs. Men like football and don't like it. Men drink Scotch and ale and coffee and tea and water.
We need a show that doesn't put us in ONE box, but doesn't deny that there's something decent and right that makes us men. What that thing is, is a journey, not an absolute answer.
Nobody has all the answers. No one is the 'perfect' man or epitome' of "true" masculinity. So let's have a sense of humor about that, and call out things we KNOW are mucking up manhood and our full participation in the culture. The assholes are dominating the discussion. Let's call them out.
Every time someone defends 'date rape' as "boys being boys" or jumps on their own personal Access Hollywood bus and claims real men grab women in their special places, we've got a responsibility to call those men wusses, hacks, fake-men, and assholes. That's not political content; it's just US being ACTUAL men and saying what isn't.
We pay our way, all day long.
We meet our obligations, or we're not men. At least, there's a deficit of manhood when we don't. We're none of us perfect, but paying our way, trading value for value (which is the heart and root of honest work), and dealing honestly with one another—these are manly virtues. They're human virtues. And men value them.
So, to fund what we're doing here, there's a store. And it's a store the way a man might design it—at least the way one man might. There are well-made products—no shiny, slick crap that falls apart in a week. "Gotcha!" We hate that. The shop is curated, like a man's tool cabinet. And each thing is something we like and use ourselves or want for ourselves. There's a thing about manhood and tradition: we like things built-well like our fathers knew and owned and made. Our shop is like that.
Curated means there aren't twenty kinds of socks and endless aisles to browse. Shopping, for us, is not an end in itself. We're not looking for more ways to sap our attention and chew up the best hours of the most productive days of our lives while finding ways to waste what we earn. There's no Muzak. Feel free to suggest new store items any time.
If we can't talk about it, we've given up.
The angry men are certainly getting organized. But ironically, when men representing decent, honorable expressions of masculinity want to get together and talk, we're sometimes met with fears from the OTHER end of the spectrum that suggests any time we gather, celebrate what we share, or even self-identify, we're doing something wrong and are likely to hurt other people.
Torn between the two fringes, there's an enormous center of decency, strength, and goodness among men. There's nobility in genuine manhood, and we think it's NOT necessary or productive to sit out the cultural mess and not lift a finger. Instead, we think being MORE of that which we are, and less of what any fringe faction demands we become, is going to push the fringe back into the shadows.
Perhaps now, more than ever, a robust and healthy expression of masculinity is needed. We intend to merely remove the cultural prohibition on men talking to each other in an open-ended way about what it means to be men, and see where that discussion takes us. And meanwhile, we can also talk about dogs, trucks, tools, sports, fishing, and cigars.
The Problem with Definitions
What the Hell is "manhood" anyway?
We Know What We Know
Deep down, we have a sense of manhood.
When a man does a thing that's good, consistently, that he learned from his fathers, who learned it from his father, and so on; when that thing is something men discuss and celebrate; when it's reinforced by stories we tell of especially good examples; when we intentionally choose it as a code for ourselves and deliberately instill it in our children or seek friends who exemplify it, that thing is manhood. It's manhood not 'as opposed to womanhood' but manhood as opposed to something less than being a man.
For most of us, traditionally, if we sat down, bought another man a beer, and talked about what those things are, we'd learn quickly (if we didn't know already) that we share many of them. We weren't surprised when other men thought highly of honesty, duty, self-reliance, exchanging value for value, and commitment to one’s word.
This was once so common that we expected it in other men and were surprised and bewildered if there was NO shared sense of manhood. In fact, we relied on it as the basis for a community of peers, of aspiration, and our sense of self among potential equals. The point of Manhearted™ is to reignite that conversation.
There's no easy definition of manhood.
Maybe we don't need a definition. When one of us gets out of our car in the rain to help change a tire, do we need to stop and invent a sociological definition of that before we can step into action? The problem with most definitions of manhood is they're someone ELSE's definitions, they're not how we self-identify as men or think of masculinity. They're limiting, not fluid—and that inspires narrow attitudes that we're more than capable of exceeding and making irrelevant.
Men are capable of the full range of human possibilities. The restriction of those possibilities in the form of shrill woman-hater groups, violent tough-guy cults, crazy political theater and specious religious distractions, has created a vacuum devoid of actual masculinity. In short, THAT stuff isn't manhood. We're smarter, tougher, and better than that in our highest and best possible selves.
The problem with pushing toward a definition is, once you have it, someone invariably forms a 'cult' around it, and proceeds to undermine everything it ever meant. We're going to resist that. Real men aren't followers. Manhood isn't a definition but a direction. It's aspirational, not a box. It's a thing to enjoy, laugh about, and admire, not to camp out on, obsess over, and prove.
If we're not being dicks, that makes room for a LOT of people. And if our bet is right, there's room for MOST people. Men have been around a long time. For as long as people exist, we're also not going anywhere. Although whenever I used to ask my father where HE was going, he'd say, "Going to Hell if I don't change my ways, son."
Stories & Insights from Manhearted™ Contributors
Winston Wolf and Honey Bunny: Films We Watch Over and Over
Those with enough bravery, commitment, and heart seem most able to cope with a world that doesn’t make sense.
Asher Black Goes Off Like a Rocket on Manhearted™
In this extended Father’s Day episode, Asher doesn’t laud fathers (since that’s what everyone else is doing). Instead, he explores the mission of fatherhood to convey a child from uncertain youth to confident adulthood. And what can anyone do about it, if a father abdicates that responsibility?
Who’s a tough guy?—John Wick, Rambo, or Walt Kowalski (Gran Torino)? Asher makes the argument that the John Wick TYPE, while a fantasy meme for self-appointed warriors in general, is actually a wussified representation of their delicate disposition. These cultural icons are fundamentally different beings with a distinct ethos, and John Wick represents the sociopathic prig among us who is just as likely to participate in a mass shooting or overreact to a mask mandate. Asher also conflates Gran Torino w. El Camino (faux pas!).