Masculinity

THIS DESERVES PASSING ON! #EVOLVETHEDEFINITION

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There’s a difference between wisdom and arrogance. There’s a difference between persuading and Machiavellian. There’s a difference between astute and reckless. There’s a big difference between a baboon and being human. Let’s not lose these distinctions gentlemen. “Refined and civilized” has a much brighter future than brutish and uncouth. Is this really so hard to understand? Men, must we step-up (again) to teach and defend human decency?

The men’s fashion company, Bonobos takes one of the earliest steps in this 1:30 promo for a gender-responsible organization to reverberate a more accepting, broader, and diverse representation of what it means to evolve masculinity. What are your thoughts ladies and gentlemen?

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Live Well — Love Much — Laugh Often — Learn Always

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42 thoughts on “Masculinity

  1. I try very hard to never use the gender construct. I will recognize sex differences when relevant (the use of pronouns, for example) but I think gender itself is a negative/harmful way of compacting the world into reflecting our biases and stereotypes. I think it’s harmful because of its individual-reducing format and alters the way we see/filter the social world into a series of group identity boxes that we assemble with different labels (regardless of the truthfulness or accuracy of our filing system). I want to see and treat individuals for the individuals they are and not as representatives of my gender-labeled boxes. Does that make any sense?

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    • I think I do understand tildeb, I hope completely.

      I want to see and treat individuals for the individuals they are and not as representatives of my gender-labeled boxes. Does that make any sense?

      When you distinguished “recognizing sex differences when relevant,” to me that was recognizing everyone’s uniqueness as a Homo sapien, in probably endlessly imaginable circumstances, ALL requiring case-specific managment and etiquette/decency — I would personally say common decency from Homo sapien to Homo sapien. But once an encounter progresses from total stranger into domains of acquaintence, friend, close friend, band of brother/sister, partner/spouse (these many classifications can vary too), certain components and dynamics change OR are not relevant. Why? Time. People change. People are imperfect inside one situation, and perfect inside others. With SO MUCH being fluid and relative to a given situation in time where millisecond discernment is not always precise, it is truly ignorant and irrational to be cruedly oversimplifying (hyper-judgmental?) of a very complex system and/or situation, in my opinion. Am I on the right track tildeb? 🙂

      I do believe that some/much of humanity has indeed “EVOLVED” into highly cognitive, intelligent, observant, perceptive, often stoic(?) personalities, but as a descendant of primates with several/many of those deeply embedded traits, there are many Homo sapiens who do not evolve in these ways… as quickly. However, that does not mean it isn’t possible. I am certain about this tildeb, exposing oneself to as much diversity as possible does nothing but GOOD in progressing humanity’s best virtues, and increased understanding and collaboration. Stagnation in antiquated social paradigms leads eventually to extinction of that Chordate, or member(s) of that species.

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      • A couple of things and story:

        First, diversity.

        I grew up in many countries and several cultures. This exposure led me to understand that people were greatly shaped by their culture but maintained not just their basic human qualities but basic biases and ease of fooling themselves about others. These, too, were basic human qualities and played out to great effect in, say, apartheid South Africa or the concentration camps of greater Germany. So I understood that all of us have that inner monster linked to our presumptions about others, and so we must be very careful if we wish to contain it. I could see the vast difference cultural values had when politicized and so I could better appreciate just how advanced and central was the importance in law of individual autonomy shared by all. Without that value element, populations could develop in many ways visiting great horrors to entire populations presumed to be deserving. I grasped that there was no difference in how this was allowed to happen – allowing beliefs to define reality as if accurate – only the what. So being exposed to diversity only goes so far in widening one’s tolerance and appreciation for differences and similarities. What really matters is what values are worthy of being championed. And at the pinnacle of these diverse values resides that we see ourselves in the Other, that we grant to them the same dignity and rights and freedoms and responsibilities that we grant to ourselves. Without that central value, each of unlocks and even cracks open the door to letting that inner monster affect us.

        Imagine my surprise, then, when I found myself forgetting this lesson when I was younger and even more full of myself than I am today! (Hard to believe, I know, but true nevertheless.) My confidence I thought was justified by my capabilities. I forgot to extend that consideration and did what I knew I shouldn’t do: allow my presumptions to guide me So, the story:

        My closest friend was very busy at medical school. He turned down my repeated requests for a game of squash or tennis because of the need to concentrate on his studies but his fairly slight and rather quiet undergraduate girlfriend said she’d be willing to take me up on the offer. Now, understand that I had won many tournaments – open and closed – in both sports and considered myself quite good at any sport with a racquet, which is why I always sought good competition from my closest friend who was also very good. But his well coiffed slender girlfriend? Seriously?

        This is what happens when one presumes. I presumed her physical stature mattered. I presumed her gender – her appearance – mattered, that girls like she was didn’t come equipped with that ferocious drive to win, to make demands on the body for a ball or birdy, didn’t spatial sense of where to be knowing the angles of returns, but paid more attention to being attractive and attentive to males. I presumed I would have to ease off my desire to win and just have a friendly and social game, probably not even keep score… until my friend said she’d kick my ass. We had a good laugh because he must have been joking. So we made a bet that the loser could make a meal for the three of us. A win for everyone no matter the outcome. And surely she could cook…

        Well, suffice to say, she kicked my ass. She dominated every facet of the game. It’s called being outplayed. I made dinner, and my laughing friend asked if he forgot to mention she was an Olympian and was at university on a athletic scholarship.

        I lost face because I forgot to let individuals demonstrate their capabilities, so busy was I presuming my experiences guided me and not my presumptions based on stereotypes I thought I had suppressed. I hadn’t. But I also gained because she went on to teach me how to be not only a better player but how to put aside my biases or pay the price for inattention to detail. For example, we often played six or seven sets of tennis in very hot weather and so the rule was topless for one meant topless for both. I learned paying attention to physiques will cost me when what really matters is my attention to the tennis. Allowing myself to be diverted from dealing squarely with the point at hand, on the merit of the proposition alone, because of some unrelated and imported assumption – like presuming what matters is gender, or race, or age, or sexual orientation, or sex – will affect my game, so to speak. What matters is paying attention to the merit at hand and not the source. To be clear, we never dallied and she went on to become an excellent doctor in her own right (last I heard she was completing the final year of her neurosurgical residency in Scotland) while my friend went to the States and now is head of Emergency Medicine for several large hospitals. That’s why I try not to pay attention to my imported presumptions: if I do, then I allow these presumptions to fool me into thinking my beliefs define reality when reality, much to my chagrin, is perfectly capable of doing this, thank you very much. That’s where my attention should be.

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        • DAMN! I am so glad I left my comment-reply open for correction and further clarification tildeb! 😜 Thank you. That was EXCELLENT! You know, I think you should make this your next blog-post! You can link it to here if you like for contextual reasons or not, but I think you REALLY ought to post this comment! It NAILS a lot of key points/truths without undermining an individual’s individuality and particular… “merits”!

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    • No, I haven’t heard of him, but that is definitely fascinating. It isn’t that far-fetched either, is it? There are already several species on Earth which reproduce WITHOUT “an opposite sex.” There are species that also CHANGE their sex. Then there is the mother-of-all possible realities…

      If I understand the very basics of Homologous chromosomes (I’m so not an expert!) the Y-chromosome is by comparison pretty fragile and weak and has not been doing well over the course of hundreds-of-thousands of years. The X-chromosome has the ability to repair DNA. The Y-chromosome? No such luck. Hence, there is a reasonable possibility that in several millenia — especially if males keep trying to kill off each other! LOL — men will become unnecessary and extinct. Hahahahaha! 😆😬

      https://www.scmp.com/tech/science-research/article/1909151/are-men-going-become-extinct-some-experts-give-males-5-million

      http://theconversation.com/sex-genes-the-y-chromosome-and-the-future-of-men-32893

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      • A somewhat similar idea has occurred to me. Remember that very soon the human genetic future will be under our conscious control — to some extent it already is — rather than being at the mercy of the Darwinian forces which have controlled the development of life until now.

        A form of natural selection might continue to operate. For example, since reactionary political parties hostile to science are disproportionately supported by male voters, one could argue that female-dominated (or all-female) societies would impose less obstruction on science and thus have faster technological progress than competing male-dominate societies, all other things being equal.

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    • There’s a fascinating episode of Star Trek: TNG where Riker falls in love with a gender neutral person from a planet where gender doesn’t exist. It’s a good episode and, for the time it aired, rather brave, I think. SciFi often can deal with this type of a thing in such a way as to be culturally “safe” and yet intellectually and morally brave at the same time. Dax, the Trill on DS9, is also quite a fascinating character, as is her whole species, when it comes to gender. A symbiote, which is gender-less, and lives for hundreds of years, goes from humanoid host to humanoid host, regardless of the host’s gender, for multiple life-times and accumulates experiences of having been both sexes and both a mother and a father dozens of times. I think such an experience could only strengthen a species of creatures like humans. Our world would be the better by far if such a way of life were reality.

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    • I am too Rosaliene! Yet, it just might be a question of survival or avoiding extinction rather than cerebral exercises! If we as a part of humanity REFUSE to evolve and progress, and more importantly ADAPT… then history has clearly shown what happens when you don’t (Dodos followed by bafoons?)! Ummmm, DUH! 😲😄

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      • Yes, it is a question of survival. For millions of years, primate male aggression was equipped with, at best, canine teeth and fists. In an eye-blink of evolutionary time, it’s acquired H-bombs. If we hadn’t already learned to suppress those patterns of escalating intimidation and aggression to some extent, we’d already all be dead.

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    • Pink, if you are swimming in it (the competitiveness & aggression like in the animal kingdom), surrounded by it much of your life, it is quite similar to the military training assassins and killers and every aspect of achieving the mission’s objective. Most veterans who return to “civilian life” take a long, LONG time to DEprogram or reintegrate into society; some/many slip into PTSD.

      I think we’ve broken the threshold in the last 2-3 decades (in psychology) to realize there are indeed much better alternatives than 24/7 “competitiveness and aggression” to establish survivability. It’s called intellectual creativeness, resourcefulness, and ingenious collaboration. 😉

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        • LMAO!!! 🤣 Smart ass. 😉 True, perhaps to an extent. I think there’s also a danger of going too far into alternative dimensions, ala Ready Player One or Somewhere In Time (one of my favorites).

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      • Things have improved to some degree, but that’s highly dependent on socio-cultural factors. In religious communities, generally conservative ones, or where resources are limited you still see aggression and competitiveness playing a huge role in interaction. Interestingly it also applies to circles of high-achieving people jockeying for position in the social/business hierarchy.

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  2. Unfortunately it’s all too easy to understand how the traditional “brutish and uncouth” types would react to that video. They’d say these guys are not masculine, and they’d do it using some of the epithets which have already evolved to denigrate males who deviate from the traditional paradigm of being aggressive, emotionally stunted, and fixated on asserting dominance.

    Unfortunately, that paradigm does have a genetic basis. In most primate species (bonobos are the only exception I’m aware of), each social group has a male dominance hierarchy and males compete aggressively to move up that hierarchy. Since females preferentially mate with high-status males, the most aggressive ones pass on more of their genes to the next generation, reinforcing the pattern. It’s not hard to see that pattern in most human societies, even if it manifests itself in more complex and sophisticated ways.

    The progress of civilization has included (and required) curbing male aggression by socializing males to behave differently. Unfortunately some groups have been less reformed than others.

    I think the process is still continuing — “brutish and uncouth” behavior doesn’t bring the same advantages in advanced human societies as it does in other primate societies. And a lot of men have realized that that traditional form of masculinity is a pretty miserable way to live.

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    • Umm… I have quibble with the portrayal of being male is related genetically to “boorish and uncouth” behaviour, that a male paradigm exists of being “aggressive, emotionally stunted, and fixated on asserting dominance” and that this paradigm is part of our genetic inheritance from the Great Apes.

      The problem with this line of thinking is that as far as gorilla social hierarchies go, aggressive males who try to rule this way have their tenure cut short very quickly but two or more other males who may not be as big or strong. In fact, ruling power is kept by a dominant male only by social acceptance of fair and stable rule (which also includes the ability and willingness to defend the tribe and responding violently to threats against it). So the heritability idea of ‘male’ behaviour based on the presumed paradigm looks nice when assumed to be true but faces a significant problem by comparison with our genetic cousins when we find that it is the longer reigning males of social prowess as well as physical dominating features and abilities who have the greater reproductive fitness.

      So when we talk of trait inheritance, then fitness plays a key role and this means reproductive success into the second generation. So this means those traits that best produce the kind of environment that best fosters second generation success are more fit. And this is where this notion of brutish behaviour directed at short term dominance falls apart in evolutionary terms. Social dominance in the sense of being able to maintain prosperity for the family unit extended into the tribal unit through peace, order, and good governance is what longevity for reproductive fitness requires. These outcomes also require inherited traits. And this is what we find in our Great Ape cousins, a social hierarchy.

      But we cannot discount the evolutionary role for the need of some members to participate in violence without threatening reproductive success to keep the environment safe for these units when threatened, and so this is where testosterone plays a very important part. This is the root of the heritable traits that fuels the ability and willingness for some members to commit great violence quickly and why males have been selected to be the ones to do this: on the one hand, evolution has equipped the males to be willing and able to commit violence causing and receiving casualties without affecting the second generation fitness (all those ‘brutish and uncouth and aggressive and dominating desires’), while on the other they are the ones capable of fathering many through social dominance (maintaining the environment for fitness).

      The problem with selection that favours brutish and uncouth behaviour does not reside with the males who exhibit these traits. It resides with females who choose them as mates or the social environments (culture) that allows the brutes to thrive by socially controlling women’s reproduction. That’s where human societies tend to run off the evolutionary rails because through our technologies and social hierarchies we can compensate for natural pressures on poor fitness by such Fine Fellows. If you want to get rid of these Fine Fellows – a great source of war – then the solution is to empower women to have control over their own reproductive choices. That’s why there is strong argument to favor individual autonomy in law for women – to gain the right over their reproductive lives – and why when it comes to human values, there’s only one social environment in the world that holds this enlightened value to be dominant: the West, where individual autonomy in law is a value that can be wrested from the control of those who attempt to act contrary to it. And it’s a long, hard slog.

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  3. *brutish and uncouth behavior doesn’t bring the same advantages in advanced human societies*

    It might seem that way on the surface, but I think what’s happened is simply that we’ve adapted dominance behaviour into new circumstances. Before moving to France we lived in a very exclusive gated community. Highly educated, successful people all outwardly feigning politeness, but competing in the most brutal of ways. Who’s got the better address, the better house, the best connections, who gets invited to the more important events. If you listened to the conversations carefully they were essentially verbal boxing matches of people trying to assert their position in the social hierarchy. Often by destabilising the positions of the people around them. Same structure, different weapons.

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    • That’s pretty much what I was referring to. Brutish and uncouth behavior, the kind that’s obviously analogous to what you see in chimpanzee dominance displays — shouting and screaming, explicit threats, showing weapons, physical fighting — doesn’t bring dominance or reproductive success in human cultures, except the most primitive ones. Among humans, males move up the dominance hierarchy by acquiring and displaying wealth, power, and social status. The dominance hierarchy still exists, but the strategies for rising within it have changed.

      Inadequately-civilized males sometimes still display that “brutish and uncouth behavior because it’s instinctive, even though it no longer works to increase dominance — I’m thinking of mobs like in Charlottesville, the fetishistic gun culture, gay-bashers, people like that. It’s raw primate behavior persisting into a society which overall has developed to a more sophisticated level.

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      • Pink/Infidel, is it ANY wonder that there is less than a 4% – 5% genetic difference between us and primates, less so with chimpanzees. If one observes the natural behavior of the primates in their natural habitat (Bonobos being the exception of course) for long, long hours, days, years, etc, it then becomes much easier to identify the more primate males inside OUR species in all various societal environments — as we’ve mentioned, they can’t help but manifest it. Hahahaha! Just look very closely at what is going on between the two leaders of Russia and the USA when they are together for long periods. 😜 And there are thousands of more examples that can be given. I’m curious…

        if those two leaders watched enough of ape society if they’d recognize anything? 😄

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  4. Masculine. Feminine. I think now, more than ever, those words are evolving to mean different things. I’m pretty sure I don’t fit the traditional description of feminine, but I’m okay with that. I define who I am. Heck, I know there are some that would say I probably have more masculine traits (at least in the internal) than feminine, but I’ve never felt anything but feminine. I know very masculine guys (in my eyes) who’ve never needed to physicially prove their manliness. What made them real men to me was the way the stood up for themselves and others. And like the last guy said, the biggest tie to both words should surround humanity. Sometimes a dictionary is just not big enough to catch the true aura of a word.

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  5. I think men ought to be tough and strong. Able to take charge but not be a tyrant. Able to be the rock in the family. I feel too many men are being feminized to be weak and soft as boys by bitter single mothers and radical feminists. A man should be tough, but gentle towards the weak.

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