The Romantic Nature of Men

I’ve sometimes been criticized by my female friends for suggesting that men might be more romantic than women. Women have to remind their boyfriends or husbands to do the little things like remembering an anniversary or Valentines Day, they remind me. Most men don’t want to go for walks along the beach at sunset, and they aren’t interested in dancing or flowers. But that’s not really what I mean by “romantic.”

The history of the term reveals something curious. From about the beginning of the 14th century, at least, “romance” referred to a story about a knight and his heroic deeds. Only from the 17th century did the term begin to refer to the “love story,” and only in the early 20th century was “a romance” used to describe a love affair.   Continue reading “The Romantic Nature of Men”

The Decline And Rise of Authentic Manhood

A friend of mine recently described a first — and last — date with a young woman he met online. Things went fine at first, but then he mentioned that he liked going to the gym and — worse still — that he felt that men should be physically strong. Although this would not offend anyone of any culture prior to the modern era, nor anyone of a non-Western culture today (masculinity is seen as normal and valuable in Middle Eastern and African cultures, for example), my friend found himself being lectured on why this was inherently evil and why he was on the wrong side of history. Continue reading “The Decline And Rise of Authentic Manhood”

When Did We Become Men? Manhood, Archetypes, and Going Beyond

We’ve been wondering what masculinity is for some decades. Is it important? Is it toxic? Has Western society evolved beyond the point of needing it? What about male mentors and the education and initiation of young men? That sort of thing.

During the 1990s, there emerged kind of back-to-nature men’s movement arose, based loosely on the book Iron John: A Book About Men by Robert Bly. As you’ve probably noticed, today, in response to the above questions about — as well as criticisms of, masculinity, especially in the media — a range of groups, movements, and websites have appeared. Continue reading “When Did We Become Men? Manhood, Archetypes, and Going Beyond”