Saturday, March 10, 2012

Michael Cox - A “New Man” Manifesto

Michael Cox runs the Tao of Bachelorhood site, a kind of online handbook for how to be a better guy. Cox has been a bachelor all of his life, which he admits is not really a selling point, but he's happy, and along the way he has learned quite a bit "from the usual men’s books and ‘zines to Queer Eye to personal discussions with world-famous pickup artists." Okay, the pickup artists part is a bit sketchy.

Here is a bit of his "mission statement":
The Tao of Bachelorhood features down-to-earth lifestyle information for regular guys. No bikini photos, drinking games or videos of hockey fights, unless it’s to make a point. Instead we’ll explore both the big picture (keeping your integrity, behaving consistently and acting boldly) and the details of dating, grooming, fitness, relationships, clothes and nutrition.
I present this because the material I am about to share is his "New Man" Manifesto, so it seems useful to know a little about what he values in being a man.

My sense is that he is offering a down-to-earth model for being a man.

A “New Man” Manifesto

by Michael on February 17, 2012

Steve McQueen - He cleaned up well, too.

(Caution: frank talk ahead, with naughty words. Proceed only if you can handle it.)

What makes you a man?

I mean besides your penis.

I get kind of tired of seeing “expert” after “expert” (anyone can be an expert these days) try and lecture us on becoming a “modern” or “new” man. The fact is, the essence of manhood hasn’t changed, isn’t changing and will not change anytime soon, no matter how many pop psychologists want it to.

Don’t misinterpret that as suggesting that a man can’t be a teacher or a nurse, can’t raise a child, or can’t express feelings. These things are neither manly nor un-manly, and anyone who tells you a man has to somehow change to do them is full of shit.

Then there’s the other side: the (usually) guys whose only advice is to “man up.” If you were to break your leg, those same guys would tell you to “walk it off, you pansy.” It’s shotgun advice that in and of itself means nothing. Usually it’s code for doing things the laziest way possible. Well, you’re not an ape or a lion, you make choices based on some amount of self-aware, conscious thought. We’re socialized creatures who have evolved out of using genetic instinct to solve problems and decide courses of action. Thinking is not only allowed, it’s necessary.

So just what does it mean to be a man in the modern world? Get comfy…

You Are Your Habits

Life is a series of small habits that add up to who we are. What we do and how we do it. The way we eat. The way we shake hands. The way we behave when we meet a beautiful woman. How we choose to spend our free time. The way we act in public, and the way we act when no one’s watching.

All of these habits, put together, are you. They’re me. They make us leaders or lovers or loners.

Habits make the man.
Read the whole post.

Here is part two - this seems to be an ongoing series, so subscribe to his RSS feed to see future posts.

The Three Elements of Manhood (The New Man Manifesto, Part 2)

by Michael on March 7, 2012

Not a fortune; a statement of fact.

In the first part of The New Man Manifesto, we discussed the most basic building block of manliness: habits. Your habits define who you are, and if you don’t like who you are or the life you’re living, changing it is best done one habit at a time.

But what are the habits that set you apart as a great man, or at least a good man?

Most men’s magazines define manhood in materialistic terms: money, sex, power. However, chasing any of those as a “solution” is a fool’s game, and the news headlines are full of men who based their lives on the pursuit of one or more to the point where it cost them more than they gained. Money, sex and power do make for very easy articles to write, and a lot of guys are easily distracted by fancy cars or women in bikinis, so I understand why the “lad mags” promote them.

I tend to side with the philosophers, from Socrates to Richard Layard, who agree that beyond the necessities, owning things isn’t what makes people happy. Manhood, as much as we’d like it to be a goal-oriented achievement we can sketch out like a business plan, derives from within, much like happiness.

And success, as much as we’d like to define it as adulation and wealth, is probably more tied up in what we can do for others—how we use our gift. What we leave behind, not just after we’re dead, but after we’ve left the room. Success is how you feel about what you’ve just done, whether it’s an account-winning business presentation or saying “good morning” to your neighbor.

The other piece of the puzzle is the fact that we’ve got to deal with the customs and expectations of our society, as well as the realities of basic life. You’re expected to pull your weight in some way. You’re not awarded a woman as a birthright; you’re expected to attract one. Ideally you have a circle of male friends—of course, you can have female friends as well, but if you can’t make friends with other men, something’s out of whack.

The Three Elements

A “classic” successful man—one admired by other men and valued by women—can be deconstructed into three loosely defined elements:
  • Leadership
  • Relationships
  • Life Maintenance
Each of these elements overlaps the others, and if you excel in one you’re more likely to excel in the others as well. Each element encompasses a series of habits that you can adopt, change or drop. You don’t have to be an “alpha male” in any element to be happy or successful; you merely have to demonstrate that you have these elements within you.
Read the whole post.

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