Men are in trouble.
Not in a physical sense, but as an idea. I don’t need to reiterate how the very concepts of masculinity and manhood have been minimized, marginalized, denigrated, and misunderstood over the past few generations. Many more qualified have written books about that. But it’s undeniable that so-called “toxic masculinity” is blamed for everything from the lack of women in the STEM fields to the shootings in Orlando. Masculinity is even blamed for harming men themselves.
In light of this, what’s a man to do? How are men supposed to deal with their very nature?
And more importantly, what does it mean to be a man?
Enter Jack Donovan.
Published in 2012, The Way of Men stands out like a beacon of clarity in the dark sea of confusion. Donovan not only defines masculinity and what it means to be a man, but instead of merely diagnosing the problem and calling it a day, Donovan does one of the most masculine things he could:
He offers a solution.
Donovan does more than bash society, bash feminism, or bash intellectuals. Although there are plenty of targets that feel the heat of his focused ire–and deservedly so–Donovan is more interested in explaining what makes men men, what makes men good men, what makes men good at being a man, and how men should cope with a society that seems to treat them as irrelevant relics of the past.
Donovan identifies four characteristics that make up masculinity: strength, courage, mastery, and honor. He examines each of these manly virtues historically and amorally before getting into their ethics and morality.
But ultimately, Donovan’s point is that the way of men is the way of the gang, about “being a man within a group of men.”
And it is this “way of the gang” that is going to help restart society when the modern globalist power structure inevitably collapses.
In times of chaos, gangs of men defend what Donovan calls “the perimeter” against a harsh outside world. Men thrive competition both within and without their own group, and do best in an “us versus them” state. This involves more than just raw physical strength; the much derided sense of needing to protect and provide is also a huge part of this.
Yet somewhere along the line, men have been made passive against their nature. This, Donovan argues, has been bad for men and for the societies in which they live.
Donovan does target feminism as one culprit, but it’s not the only one. Wealthy men and globalist elites also have a strong interest in taming and controlling masculinity to perpetuate the consumer culture that enriches them. As today’s political divide increasingly seems to be along globalist/nationalist lines, this is prescient indeed.
Strong, defiant, and slightly dangerous masculinity will make it hard to squeeze every last man into a neat little boxes.It will resist conformity and make the creation of a docile, homogeneous culture difficult.
This is because, in the words of H.L. Mencken, “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
That’s just how men are. And a society that gentles men by failing to channel these impulses in a constructive way leads to what Milo Yiannopoulos calls “The Sexodus” and Helen Smith calls Men on Strike: Men checking out of dating and fatherhood since the cost-benefit ratio highly disfavors them, and instead having sex with robots and retreating into virtual worlds like pornography and video games where they are actually allowed to live out their natural impulses to create, seek adventure, and cause a little trouble.
The Way of Men articulates much of my own sentiments about what I call the cage of safety: society’s way of making sure that our lives resemble nothing more then a bowling lane with bumpers in the gutters and all of the important stops predetermined and set up for us along the way.
But the problem with this is that if there’s no chance for failure, you will feel no pressure to succeed, nor will you feel any accomplishment when you do.
Refreshingly, Donovan has no interest in blaming women for men’s problems, nor does he deride them. He’s more interested in the differences between men and women, and how they coexist synergistically to make civilization function.
Men are better at certain things society needs, just as women are better at other, different things. Donovan’s issue is that this balance has been distorted.
The way of men is the perfect polemical against the participation trophy, everyone is a winner society we live in today. Donovan’s proposals are outrageous and transgressive, but they will make you think. And isn’t that the mark of any good book?
All men should read The Way of Men, as should all women, in order to understand men. Donovan is able to put into words how so many of us feel but are unable to express. For that I thank him, and I cannot recommend this book enough.
Plus, Donovan interviewed Brett McKay from the Art of Manliness, and anything with Brett McKay in it is okay with me.
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