The Dream of Manhood
There are shared concepts of masculinity that transcend specific eras, ethnicities, and nationalities that also leave room for abundant variation, innovation and creativity. When we combine concepts like duty, honor, diligence, respect, loyalty, and resilience, we're attempting to say what kind of men we wish to be and what kind of company we wish to keep in the community of men. In its most elevated form, manhood is a body of aspirations that are not exclusively the property of men, but certainly represent a consensus on what men wish for the world and ourselves.
One Tree, Many Branches.
Any authentic model of manhood, to be consistent, has to permit simultaneously a rich affiliation with that concept and the full expression of an individual's personality. Manhood, in the traditional sense, is recognizable without needing to being constrained by narrow definitions. There might be 31 flavors of manhood, and any of us may prefer one or the other variety, but if we turn that variety into a template for everyone, we're cutting off the trunk of the tree for the sake of one of the branches.
The Health Report: Manhood vs. Crazy Town
In the absence of a discussion of manhood predicated on a reasonable consensus on what it means to be manly, men are being peeled off by dysfunctional ideologies and are hunkering down into narrower and narrower subcultures that confuse manhood with a superficial and exaggerated set of trappings (e.g. real men wear camouflage and Hawaiian shirts and have a derogatory vocabulary for women and anything that doesn't meet the 'standard'). Each of these pathetic movements promises that "authentic manhood" will be preserved, defended, and protected. Except, authentic manhood is entirely incompatible with a culture of fear and panic. Manhood isn't a defensive position. A mountain need not cower in a hailstorm.
The Prohibition on Discussion
Manhood is NOT under assault. It is unassailable. It has endured for millennia. What's under assault is men being able to effectively discuss what it means to be a man—and the community such a discussion nourishes. When someone suggests we can't have a legitimate conversation about "manhood" and "masculinity" without offering a concise definition that effectively excludes women, or that any acknowledgment that manly values (honor, resilience, hard work) can also be attributed to women means there can be no actual basis for identifying ourselves as distinctly men, they are inviting us to divide into polarized camps.
Fear Costs Us All the Enjoyment of Each Other.
The horns of the false dilemma that have left us wanting more are: [alternative 1] become men who deny ourselves and don't admit identifying as men; [alternative 2] react to that proposition as 'angry' men, electing to despise women generally and despise men that don't fit a narrow template in a bid to preserve our 'identity".
The opportunists who are capitalizing on the vacuum formed between these untenable alternatives gleefully offer us a bugaboo of shrill women who are critical of masculinity in toto. Certainly, there exist such people, but in reality, the misogynists and misandrists are the fringes. Most people aren't like that. Or they propose that men who have diluted the standard are making choices for the rest of us. In reality, no such eidolon is 'coming for us'. Most of us are just trying to find our way and live our lives, and we empower the fringe only by feeding the assumptions that let it coalesce in the first place. There's an enormous center where men and women can be distinct in some manner they individually choose and corporately intuit and also come together in mutual regard and respect.
The Peanut Gallery Hasn't Helped.
Critical theory has failed to help men find a shared model for masculinity. Academia's fetish for deconstruction and the progressive affaire du coeur with Marxist ideology have muddied the waters. They assert that the absence of conflict is evidence of revisionism and that all human struggle can be envisioned, not as the struggle to jointly improve our lot, but as a conflict between subgroups fighting to preserve their identities.
Insisting on that dialectic of theoretical opposites is a waste of intellect because that kind of thinking cannot produce a positive community of peers but can only excrete a culture of suspicion and polarization. The sad state of affairs is that critical theory has become so attached, albeit subtly, to what would otherwise be a valuable liberal education, that, to the average person, it forms an unaccountable absolute—an unquestioned premise. Ironically, those premises (lack of conflict is evidence of conflict; all conflict is existential) dilute the potential for clarity and undermine the effectiveness of genuine critical conversations.
Conflict Theory Produces the Conflict.
Conflict theory, in particular, foments a polarized culture of opposites which it presumes underlies all instances of culture. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy that, to the pseudo-intellectual, is mistaken for proving its substance. When someone brings up "manhood" or "masculinity". the person influenced by conflict theory says, "Define those things as opposed to womanhood or femininity." We don't accept the ground of the question. We are not men "as opposed to" women. Manhood isn't simply non-womanhood, and it's possible and even necessary to authentic manhood to respect and appreciate women as distinct but not opposite—and certainly as individuals to the degree they exemplify whatever values we hold. All of that goes for other men who don't match our template for manhood. There is some broad consensus model, but it's an open system, not the closed one presumed by rigid academic cults like conflict theory.
Not Everything is An Identity
Perhaps identity, the way its presented to us now, was invented to sell more advertising. We're broken down into every conceivable niche interest and subgroup on the scale of big-data to make us easy to target for everything from virility supplements to financial products. We can buy ads on Facebook that target Joe in Miami. Joe in Miami's "demographic": 40-something gerontophiliacs who like dramas featuring strong female leads, identify as free-will true-believing Nazarites of the Second Coming and routinely purchase dental and astrology-related products via the internet. You've got every gender, ethnicity, orientation, religious denomination, and ideological fetish forming a clan. And those clans are largely lonely, embittered, and often go to war. Manhearted is specifically rejecting making manhood an IDENTITY appliance, while also refusing to treat it as an optional accessory. We all have our own personalities. Our personalities are WHO we are. The rest is just WHAT we are or HOW we behave. Confusing, person, behavior, and nature is the bane of our joyous congress as free people. And as men, we need to resist that being undermined. "Any man who judges by the group is a pea-wit. You take men one at a time." - Sgt. 'Buster' Kilrain (Kevin Conway).
We Make No Apologies for Having the Talk.
We have no ideology to push, no rigid template or narrow definition to prove correct. ManHearted is a venue for examining the things men value about being men that we've expressed consistently over aeons, that form a consensus about what we want and embody our highest and best aspirations. We merely assert the intellectual freedom to discuss such things unburdened by a need to be against someone else. We aren't signing onto the distorted cultural movements that are all about attacking some 'enemy'. We're not for the lily-livered. We aren't looking for hobgoblins to fear or gremlins to blame.
We Will Have Fun. Period.
We're a mix of different kinds of people—tradesmen and intellectuals, metalheads and jocks, cigar smokers and non-smokers, Scotch drinkers and lager enthusiasts, engineers and artists. We're 31 flavors of self-aware but not self-obsessed manhood. If someone wants to riff about Aristotle or Seneca, and someone else Prince or Mick Jagger, and someone else Bobby Orr or Tom Landry, we're going to make room. You don't have to like it all or care about any of it. The only thing you can't do, really, is suggest the other person is a waste of flesh and shouldn't really exist, because he likes a flavor you don't. So relax, pour your favorite beverage, and welcome to ManHearted.
The Terms: Show Some Freaking Respect!
What's the opposite of having fun? We have a no-asshole rule, like any other environment with some self-respect. Read the terms of service (TOS), because they're not suggestions. But here's the short version: treat people with respect, whether or not they're here. Don't walk on fracking eggshells, but there's an obvious difference between saying, "I think Tom Brady is a moron." and "Tom Brady should die in a fiery crash." Don't mess with us on this; we will use the eject button. Similarly, this is not the clubhouse in Little Rascals with a sign out front that says "He-Man Womun Haters Club" (with a backwards R). There ARE women here. We like them, so don't act like some date rapist who got an economics degree from Wharton. And before you're tempted to mistreat or get fresh with a woman at Manhearted™, consider that real men don't do that. It's a wuss move. Remember Aunt Bee from Mayberry R.F.D or Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke, or just your Mom, and show some freaking respect. Do that, and we're going to enjoy having you around.