What is masculinity? How does a male act? What are your definitions for being manly?
His question was answered in a liberal modernist way. In the following exchange a commenter calling himself "The Pigman" and another commenter "Alanna" run the line that there is no such thing as manliness and that any attempt to define it is a subjective, arbitrary power play. I briefly respond to them (as "melb22"):
ThePigman: No support here. Last thing we need is a flood of trolls from the manhood academy telling the rest of us how to live. As for being manly, it's all remarkably easy - if you are an adult homo sapiens with a body full of y chromosomes you are being manly.
melb22: I'm curious as to why you would say that. Is there really no masculine ideal for men to strive for? What about courage, for instance? Is a man who stands up for himself not more manly than a man who timorously takes orders?
ThePigman: Courage is not manly, there are male cowards and female heroes, though not many of the latter. The wimp is a man, the tough guy is a man, and claims of anything else are just an attempt to manipulate men not doing one's bidding. Why any of this needs to be pointed out is beyond me.
melb22: I disagree with you. There is a masculine essence that men succeed in cultivating to a greater or lesser degree. It is this that makes us spiritually men or not. The wimp might be male but he is not a man.
Yes, an appeal to masculinity can be used to manipulate, but that doesn't mean that masculinity itself is false - just that we have to discriminate between worthy and unworthy appeals to manhood.
Alanna: This seems completely arbitrary to me, and you can see that in the fact that different cultures define "manly" in completely different, often contradictory ways. Your definition is as subjective as others.
ThePigman: Where is your evidence for the existence of this "masculine essence?"
What I find interesting about this exchange is the chasm between my understanding of reality and that of The Pigman and Alanna.
The latter two seem to have this basic attitude that there is just me as an abstracted individual and my own subjective desires and anyone who asserts anything beyond this is just trying to get me to follow his subjective desires rather than my own.
It's a modernist brew that seems to be made up of an extreme nominalism (i.e. that there are only individual instances of things that can't be grouped together meaningfully); extreme scepticism (we cannot know anything about the objective world, all we can be certain of is our own subjective will); extreme liberalism (what matters is that I'm left autonomous to follow my own subjective desires); and extreme scientism (i.e. "I won't take the existence of something seriously unless there is some scientific like proof for it").
The scientism in this case is particularly misplaced, as science has demonstrated beyond doubt that there are hardwired differences between men and women. It is moderns who deny meaningful sex distinctions who have to explain themselves before a court of science - not traditionalists.
What is also striking about The Pigman's take on things is just how empty and alienating it is. There is just arbitrary, subjective desire not connected to anything beyond itself.
I admit that the view of masculinity I put forward in the exchange is a deep form of traditionalism that not everyone might accept. However, I suspect that the more spirited young men would much rather lean toward my traditionalist view than the modernist one espoused by Alanna and The Pigman.
And that's another reason for those of us opposed to modernist trends to stay hopeful. As the modernist view becomes increasingly radical it is bound to become unacceptable to some younger members of the political class.
Our job is to keep working to build up an increasingly visible political alternative, so that we are there to attract those who become alienated by an increasingly radical modernity.