There are a number of different facets encompassing masculinity discussed in this book, but one of the major ones is the need for men to thrive and survive within tight-knit social groups. Donovan repeatedly highlights the necessity of men needing to be a part of a group, or ‘gang’ as he calls it:
Being good at being a man has more to do with a man’s ability to succeed with men and within groups of men than it does with a man’s relationship to any woman or any group of women.
In fact, he ends the book by imploring men to start their own gangs and find like-minded men where they can cultivate masculine thought:
…your friends on message boards and on social networking sites, scattered all over the world, are not going to be there for you when the proverbial shit hits the fan. Spend more time making contact with men who are geographically close to you.
I spent about 4 years in a fraternity in college, 3 ½ of which were spent living in a frat house. Parties, booze, and girls aside, living in a fraternity house is something that I’ve found impossible to replicate in the real world. Although the stigmas of Greek life are strong, the truth is that fraternities are an amazing environment for young men to cultivate masculine ideals and meet like-minded men.
Fraternities fill this role of the masculine gang perfectly—so it should come as no surprise that universities around the country are seeking to dismantle Greek life, namely fraternities, by sensationalizing stories about ‘gang rapes’, hazing, and binge drinking. Whether or not these events actually happened is irrelevant to some, because they want to get rid of fraternities at all costs. They are the last bastion of masculinity and traditionalism on college campuses—a true threat to cultural Marxism.
Savages vs. Civilization
I refer to the idea of man trying to reconcile his primitive nature with living in a civilized society ‘Savages and Civilization’. I’ve written about it in the past and believe that it is one of the fundamental concepts men should understand.
This is not an original idea, however. In fact, Donovan points this out in the The Way of Men:
The true “crisis of masculinity” is the ongoing and ever-changing struggle to find an acceptable compromise between the primal gang masculinity that men have been selected for over the course of human evolutionary history, and the level of restraint required of men to maintain a desirable level of order in a given civilization.
The deep-rooted conflict arises because:
The goal of civilization seems to be to eliminate work and risk, but the world has changed more than we have. Our bodies crave work and sex; our minds crave risk and conflict.
This is a delicate balance to maintain, one that many have philosophers have grappled with. I believe that the solution lies in allowing men to embrace their primitive nature, within the confines of what can be done within a civilized state.
Donovan uses a fascinating example in the chapter ‘Thug Life: The Story of Rome’. He wrote that as the borders of the Roman Empire grew, the men in the center of the Empire grew further and further from the front lines of battle. This removed the inherent danger of fighting an enemy and potentially losing one’s life, and therefore:
For men deep inside the circle, manliness became increasingly metaphorical. Men who did other work could satisfy their need to be seen as men among men by fighting metaphorically, showing social courage, mastering their desires, and behaving ethically. The meaning of the word virtues and the Roman idea of manliness expanded to include values that were not merely survival virtues, but also civic and moral virtues.
This is an interesting phenomenon that has grown exponentially today. Although we hear and see of war in the news, only a small fraction of the population will enlist in the military, let alone see fighting.
Another factor that needs to be emphasized is the role of men and women in power. I believe that for nations to thrive, it means maintaining a patriarchy, fulfilling traditional gender roles, and in general accepting the physical superiority of men:
There is no human culture where men who are weak are considered manlier while women who are more muscular are considered more womanly.
As women gain more and more power, we move further away from human nature. And as our violent and adrenaline filled outlets are reduced and regulated at the hands of a fem-centric government, men retreat deeper from the world, struggling to find new outlets. And when they can no longer find any suitable outlets, they begin to break rules and bad things happen—use your imagination.
So what kind of society would embrace giving more power to women? What would they gain? What men would support it?
To protect and serve their own interests, the wealthy and privileged have used feminists and pacifists to promote a masculinity that has nothing to do with being good at being a man, and everything to do with being what they consider a “good man.” Their version of a good man is isolated from his peers, emotional, effectively impotent, easy to manage, and tactically inept. A man who is more concerned with being a good man than being good at being a man makes a very well-behaved slave.
A ‘good man’ is one who is easy to control. One who follows the rules and does as he is told. This is what the government desires. Governments see men, not women, as a threat to power and they must be quelled at all costs, at least in the eyes of modern Western nations.
What Men Must Do (And Not Do)
It seemed that Donovan grew more cynical as the book went on. I was hoping for a resolution to this dilemma, and was given one in the last chapter. What Donovan does more of, however, is to show what won’t work.
For one, he brings down the hammer on the Men’s Rights Movement:
The Men’s Rights Movement seeks equity with women, and therefore points in the same direction as feminism. It wants to relieve men of making sacrifices on the behalf of women. It wants men and women alike to pursue individual prosperity without special, gendered obligations or clearly defined sex roles. The anger that drives the Men’s Rights Movement comes from a sense that women aren’t playing fairly, that they are cheating, that when given the chance they will use the rhetoric of equality to skew things in their own favor.
Donovan also notes, which I agree with, that Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’s) provide a valuable service in the short term. Yet, in the long run it is not a sufficient solution.
To me, the fact that MRA’s exist shows that men are capitulating to the fem-centric world order we’re moving towards. MRA’s don’t embrace masculine solutions, and so the end result we’ll be left with is not one that is in line with masculine ideals.
When I first started The Way of Men, I was wondering what all the hype was about. I was already familiar with the concepts being written about and didn’t know what value I would get from it. Though as I read on, I was presented with a number of fascinating and thought provoking ideas. So much so that this article only encompasses a small portion of them.
The Way of Men is a fantastic look at masculinity and modern men. So much so, that if I were to choose one book to give to people to explain the current state of men, gender relations, feminism etc. this would be it.
And that is my recommendation to you.
This book got a lot of attention from this part of the internet and I was surprised it took me so long to get to. Now that I’ve read it I feel that I have a better grasp of the masculinity and the surrounding concepts presented.