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Thu May 16, 2013, 01:45 PM

 

What is masculinity?

Over the years, many threads have erupted in various groups (often if not usually authored and driven by women) attempting to define what masculinity is. My typical response is something like "that's not it, and besides men are the only ones with the moral authority to create that definition".

... but in fairness, there hasn't been much progress in that regard. Perhaps it isn't enough to say that the definitions offered are wrong, if we can't create and agree upon some parameters which might be right.

First up, I suppose should be the concept of aggression and violence. I'm perfectly prepared to exercise both aggression and violence in the protection of the community and those less able to defend themselves, so I think the term is being loaded with inappropriate negative connotations. After all, the term for a person unwilling to do so is coward.

I suggest some others;
- service to causes transcending self
- fidelity and consistency to a vision and a moral code
- willingness to take calculated risk
- leadership
- strength (especially of principles, i.e. work ethic)
- accepting responsibility for one's actions and role
- extending and expecting respect, but not necessarily unconditional.

51 replies, 13358 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 51 replies Author Time Post
Reply What is masculinity? (Original post)
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 OP
galileoreloaded May 2013 #1
ZombieHorde May 2013 #2
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #5
ZombieHorde May 2013 #9
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #13
ZombieHorde May 2013 #41
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #42
Warren DeMontague May 2013 #6
ZombieHorde May 2013 #10
Warren DeMontague May 2013 #14
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #16
ZombieHorde May 2013 #18
radicalliberal Feb 2016 #48
radicalliberal Jul 2016 #50
noamnety May 2013 #3
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #4
seabeyond May 2013 #7
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #8
seabeyond May 2013 #11
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #15
seabeyond May 2013 #17
galileoreloaded May 2013 #20
seabeyond May 2013 #24
galileoreloaded May 2013 #29
seabeyond May 2013 #30
galileoreloaded May 2013 #32
seabeyond May 2013 #33
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #21
seabeyond May 2013 #25
Major Nikon May 2013 #44
galileoreloaded May 2013 #19
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #22
galileoreloaded May 2013 #28
lumberjack_jeff Jan 2016 #47
seabeyond May 2013 #26
ZombieHorde May 2013 #23
seabeyond May 2013 #27
ZombieHorde May 2013 #31
lumberjack_jeff May 2013 #34
ZombieHorde May 2013 #35
seabeyond May 2013 #12
MadrasT May 2013 #36
Bonobo May 2013 #37
MadrasT May 2013 #40
Warren DeMontague May 2013 #38
RiffRandell May 2013 #39
HuskiesHowls May 2013 #43
Warren DeMontague May 2013 #45
westerebus May 2013 #46
scubasteve76 Feb 2016 #49
here2help Jul 2016 #51

Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:05 PM

1. simply

 

not being afraid of your testosterone

not giving a shit if other people are because they are less than you

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:10 PM

2. I answered this question in another thread:

Masculinity is a rhetorically constructed set of cultural rules and imposed norms for people with penises. Some of these rules change every so many years.

In the US, some of these rules include:
1. Provide for your family.
2. Protect your family from outside attackers.
3. Eschew the feminine.
4. Love having sex with women.
5. Don't be too affectionate with other adult males.
6. Enjoy the right sports. Football is right, couples figure skating is not right.
Plus lots of others.

men are the only ones with the moral authority to create that definition


Should we, or anyone, create that definition? Many of myths we live by, such as "the people" and intuitional authority, definitely have their uses, but what use is the myth of masculinity in today's world? Perhaps we should just let that myth go, as opposed to reconstructing it.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #2)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:27 PM

5. I think if you're not creating that definition for yourself, you're missing the key point. n/t

 

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #5)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:46 PM

9. What is the benefit of defining masculinity? nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #9)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:54 PM

13. Self esteem.

 

If you're a man and inclined to accept that men tend toward masculine and that "masculine" is a set of negative character traits
...no good comes from it.

I don't accept these three statements together.
Men tend to be masculine
Society defines masculinity
The consensus markers of masculinity are bad things

In fact, I only accept the first statement.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #13)

Fri May 17, 2013, 04:14 PM

41. The part about self esteem seems right to me.

I don't accept these three statements together.
Men tend to be masculine
Society defines masculinity
The consensus markers of masculinity are bad things

In fact, I only accept the first statement.


The first statement seems really simple and obvious, but my brain is making it really complex for some reason. Perhaps I am having a hard time with it because masculinity is so subjective that I think the statement can mean many different things.

The second statement is difficult for me because we have not agreed upon what masculinity actually is. In my view, masculinity is rhetorical, so it is defined by individuals, all conscious humans with a concept of masculinity, and by our language.

I believe "bad" comes from the observer, as opposed to the thing/situation being observed, so I also deny the third statement, but my reasons may be different than yours.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #41)

Fri May 17, 2013, 06:58 PM

42. I think I'd agree that masculinity is mostly if not entirely subjective.

 

Not unlike say, "Muslim". If a person self-identifies as muslim, I think it's primarily incumbent on them to define (especially, but not entirely*, for themselves) what that means.

Some negatively-disposed outside observer might think "muslim" roughly translates to "woman-hating terrorist", but their opinion shouldn't be internalized by muslims generally, because one of three things will occur to those who accept external authority to define the term.
a) it becomes either a self-perpetuating view or
b) a source of self esteem problems for those who want to continue to be muslim but aren't woman-hating terrorists, or
c) it compels moderates Muslims to abandon the faith

I think we've seen this with the term "liberal" and the negative connotations that conservatives have effectively applied to it. Radical liberals want to raise taxes to x% without really worrying overmuch about how much government we really need. Traditional liberals now call themselves "progressives" to avoid the implications of "liberal", and many, many people who hold traditionally liberal (i.e. JFK liberal) views are openly hostile to the term (i.e. "keep your government hands off my Social Security"

When you initially responded to the question, fully half of the defining markers you provided were negative. In my humble opinion, this is exactly what happened to liberals who internalized the definitions provided by others and decided that they weren't actually liberals but were instead "progressives".

The thing is, "progressives" are still vulnerable to the ongoing demonization of the new and improved term.

Back to "masculine". Men have jumped from "masculine" to "chivalrous" to "gentleman" to "feminist" to "feminist ally" in a vain attempt to keep up with social convention as each is denigrated out from under them. I suggest that the very act of doing this is to surrender the primary defining marker of virtuous of masculinity; fidelity to ones principles, even at tangible personal cost.

"not entirely" to me means accepting that others are going to have views but that they're not entitled to be treated as if their view is either valid or correct or acceptable.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #2)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:32 PM

6. Hmmmm. Okay, I've got #4, down.

#1 is a mixed bag.

#2... Well, we had some racoons on the back porch that I chased off not too long ago. Does that count?

#3 requires a definition of "femininity", too, doesn't it?

#5. Meh. I'm not exactly a people person, but that applies to everyone.

#6 Don't give a shit about any sports. Which is funny, because I'm fairly athletic. Maybe it ties back into being a misanthrope.

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #6)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:49 PM

10. If racoons weren't up to no good they wouldn't feel the need to wear those masks. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #10)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:01 PM

14. Those things freak me out.

I suppose I should be glad they just stole the cat food, and didn't try to take my car.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #10)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:07 PM

16. The solution isn't to shoot them, but shoot *near* them.

 

They skulk back to their no-goodnik lair and tell their buddies which neighborhoods to avoid.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #16)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:17 PM

18. Good advice.

I plan on replying to your other reply; I just wanted to think its philosophical implications first.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:17 PM

3. To me those should be adult characteristics

 

" - service to causes transcending self
- fidelity and consistency to a vision and a moral code
- willingness to take calculated risk
- leadership
- strength (especially of principles, i.e. work ethic)
- accepting responsibility for one's actions and role
- extending and expecting respect, but not necessarily unconditional. "

I guess I'm trying to contrast that with femininity, and what that list would look like.

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Response to noamnety (Reply #3)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:26 PM

4. "I guess I'm trying to contrast that with femininity, and what that list would look like."

 

I don't think I have standing to create that list.

Anecdote time. In the first season of The West Wing, Leo McGarry, the president's chief of staff is told by his wife that she's dissatisfied by the amount of attention he pays to her; "Your job is not as important as your marriage!", to which he replies, "yes my job is more important than my marriage".

I think that anecdote does illustrate a difference between masculinity and femininity. Both approaches might be adult characteristics, but they are in irreconcilable conflict.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:41 PM

7. which one of these traits are exclusively male? nt

 

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #7)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:44 PM

8. Are the only valid feminine traits ones that zero men exhibit?

 

None of those traits are exclusively male, nor would I expect them to be.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #8)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:49 PM

11. i am totally clueless about this whole femininity crap, too. i have ask for people to help me out

 

in the definition, as much as i do not define masculinity. though i do know what it is not.

no, i do not think women have exclusive roles any more than i think men do. hence, me not getting all this defining we are so busy trying to do.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #11)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:04 PM

15. I think the same arguments hold true for women and femininity.

 

If you believe that women tend toward the feminine, then it behooves individual women to internalize a personal definition of feminine that encompasses a set of positive character traits.

I think it's unhealthy for men to internalize a laundry list of negative connotations of masculinity, and in fact delegate to someone else the authority to make that definition.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #15)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:10 PM

17. would you really accept the definition of feminine to be nurturer. you, a father,

 

that has equally if not more, raised your boys? that it is a role of woman. and you follow behind without much credit or validity in that role?

man. my brothers would not.

any more than i would take a back seat to my abilities in leadership roles, or moral roles or anything else on your list.

BUT... i am absolutely right there with you in not allowing a negative definition oh say, femininity is being CARED for by a man cause we wimmins just cant seem to do it ourselves.

sigh...

that is why i do not accept any of this crap. none of it makes a lick of sense to me. what i pull out of it is ...

lets take leadership. there are lots of very masculine men that have no desire, ability, or want to be in a leadership role. i wouldnt want them to feel any less a man.

and that leadership role gets awfully close to that leadership role in a family that the rw christian coalition harps on, so i am really weary with that one.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #17)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:30 PM

20. possibly becase you are more masculine than many women

 

look at your right hand laid flat in front of you, palm down. is your ring finger longer than your index? a sure sign of the amount of T that you received in utero. the more T, the longer your ring finger is in relation. good studies on this if you google "d2:d4 ratio" and a place to start.

bio mechanics is god.

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Response to galileoreloaded (Reply #20)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:38 PM

24. nope. my ring finger is not longer than index. yes, i have a very pumped up

 

T family of men. manly men. all that in being a man. and still, both brothers were very much the nurturers in their families, with their kids. they both ended up with custody of the kids and they both were the ones to raise the kids.

i on the other hand, have been told repeatedly i am very feminine. i always felt masculine, cause all those man traits are what i excelled at. competitive sports for two decades. management roles, and nothing passive about me.

but... i get a surprising comment about me being anything but. that i am very feminine. dont know why. clueless.

and the whole T role has been shifting and changing over the last couple years and T does not mean aggression and violence. and also show benevolence and altruism. so, what definition of T are you using in your definition of masculinity?

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #24)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:57 PM

29. serum T is a very apt predictor of male aggression and masculine traits.

 

again, there is quite a body of knowledge on the subject that is well documented and peer reviewed.

also, men have on average 12 times more than the average female. its the elixir of health for a man. you should also read up on inmunosupression and testosterone in males. fascinating stuff.

we all are, after all...monkeys with thumbs and a pre-frontal cortex that allows us to engage higher functioning and well, lie.

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Response to galileoreloaded (Reply #29)

Thu May 16, 2013, 04:00 PM

30. lol lol... ya. i gotcha. the monkey thing. those promoting the T the most are the ones that

 

go to the monkey most often and consistently. i have read a lot of T and E/P/T in women. it is all fascinating.

i am, hands down, the MOST aggressive in my family of four, by far. i call it passionate. hubby, two sons, and i (the mom).

talking monkeys is about the time for me to walk away from any hope of conversation.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #30)

Thu May 16, 2013, 04:13 PM

32. what do they call people that shun science?

 

that's your call.

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Response to galileoreloaded (Reply #32)


Response to seabeyond (Reply #17)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:32 PM

21. I accept your definition of feminine that you apply to you as valid.

 

The fact that I see the definition of "nurture" as different from the one my wife uses doesn't mean I have the authority to invalidate her definition of feminine on that basis.

To me, nurturing is to bandage the scraped knee and encourage the child to climb the tree again, but avoid that branch.

And leadership does not mean CEO. At its most basic form, leadership is the conscious decision to promote positive actions by the people around you through whatever mechanism is appropriate. It's putting money in the Jerry's kids jar at the 7-11 despite the fact that making a surreptitious withdrawal would be in your personal self-interest.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #21)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:41 PM

25. ok. that is not MY definition. i do not have a definition. that is the issue. cause your

 

definition of leadership (that i truly love and admire and want to adopt) is my definition of being a mom.

and how you define nurturing is right there too.

i really like you lumber... mostly. lol

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #21)

Sun May 19, 2013, 01:00 AM

44. Nurture can take on different meanings to different people

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #11)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:26 PM

19. i can explain how femininity manifests

 

find a truly masculine male and look at the women that flock to him. the more masculine, the more feminine the woman. its a polarity thing and has NOTHING to do with money.

bio-mechanics is god.

here is a good example in picture:

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Response to galileoreloaded (Reply #19)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:37 PM

22. Without knowing more about the guy...

 

I don't think a costume defines or even necessarily reflects masculinity.

I think Bernie Sanders is masculine.

"I'm right about this, and I won't change my tune -ever- because the issue is bigger than me and my personal interests."

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #22)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:51 PM

28. its rob zombie

 

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #22)

Sun Jan 24, 2016, 01:27 PM

47. The post to which I'm replying is almost three years old.

 

I think Bernie Sanders is masculine.


But it seems that I'm not the only one.

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Response to galileoreloaded (Reply #19)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:42 PM

26. wha??? i see nothing in that picture that lets me know how feminine nor how masculine. nada.

 

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #11)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:38 PM

23. My view of feminity is the same as my view on masculinity.

I think they're both rhetorically constructed.

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #23)

Thu May 16, 2013, 03:45 PM

27. i do too. and the older i get, the more sure i am. raising two boys and seeing how they

 

rejected social conditioning that defined them, and the job well done they are doing in defining themselves, cements it.

men use to not have to be told all the time they were men. something has happened today. and i think it is sad. i do not reject lumbers effort here. i think he is on a very good path, in this discussion. but, i really do not get how we can use these definition for just some.

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Response to seabeyond (Reply #27)

Thu May 16, 2013, 04:02 PM

31. I also like this discussion and in no way meant to reject Lumber's thread. nt

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Response to ZombieHorde (Reply #23)

Thu May 16, 2013, 06:33 PM

34. I don't really disagree that any rhetorical definition is on shaky footing.

 

I'm saying that if someone is going to call me masculine, I'm not going to put all that much weight on their definition of the term.

I don't take masculine as an insult precisely because I don't recognize their authority to create the definition.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #34)

Thu May 16, 2013, 06:43 PM

35. That sounds wise to me. nt

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Reply #8)

Thu May 16, 2013, 02:52 PM

12. but... i do need to say, i appreciate the thread and the effort you make in the defining.

 

as you can see, it is something i have yet to be able to do. but, it is something i am very interested in.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Thu May 16, 2013, 08:14 PM

36. I do not understand why masculinity or femininity

need to be defined at all

Just let folks be folks

All this genderizing makes no sense to me at all

The traits you list are all traits that I hold dear as a female born human

So confusing to me

seabeyond and I have many similar thoughts on this

(sorry again about my busted punctuation keys)

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #36)

Thu May 16, 2013, 09:09 PM

37. This is more the case, in my opinion, of reclaiming

positive attributes in the overwhelming face of negative attributes being thrown at us.

Largely speaking, when most people talk about women, they speak of nurturing, kindness, loving, comfort and when they talk about men, they talk about aggression, violence.

This OP, in my opinion, is a response to that rather than an attempt to limit the definition of masculinity.

Trying to "reclaim" the term masculine and see it in a more positive light so that we, as men, can aim for higher ideals.

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Response to Bonobo (Reply #37)

Fri May 17, 2013, 10:47 AM

40. I had a similar thought several hours later.

It can see usefulness from that perspective for sure.

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Response to MadrasT (Reply #36)

Fri May 17, 2013, 10:07 AM

38. Funny, I say essentially the same thing

and I get called a libertarian poopy-head, or worse.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Fri May 17, 2013, 10:14 AM

39. Too complicated to define just like feminity.

I'm female and take the garbage and recyclables out every week. My husband mows the lawn and I really want to learn but he likes doing it but isn't opposed to teaching me.

I got rid of a half eaten chimpmunk the other day thanks to our cat.

My husband does most of the grocery shopping; he loves it I hate it.

He has never gotten into a physical altercation in his life. Embarrassingly, I have thrown a few punches a long time ago at men and women. It sounds low class, but I had a temper and it was usually sticking up for friends or someone said something really rude that I went off on. You would never know it by looking at me, but I have a mean right hook.

This OP makes me think of William Hurt in The Big Chill. He was my favorite character and I was so attracted to him even though he couldn't "perform."

Shit, now I probably embarrassed myself with inane rambling so I'm out.

Edited to add: I probably didn't respond accurately to what the OP was questioning. Sorry...have been really busy and checked in briefly. My husband is very mellow, low key and respectful to all women and men. I'm the one that will usually battle someone verbally although he gets into discussions about politics with co-workers but they are "friendly." About 5 years ago we went to this huge neighborhood bash and I got into it with another neighbor (I initiated) but it was friendly banter and then another neighbor (who are the only other liberals in our hood and we are now good friends) chimed in. It was when the death panel bullshit was going around. I was pretty under the influence and he (the dem) lives right across the street so he bummed a ride home as his wife left early with their baby and I was like "do yo have any gas money? Oh yeah, never mind I'm not a republican." I thought that was pretty freaking funny on my part. I always fill my guy on certain "controversies" here and he always agrees with me and other members who share the same opinions. He and I have so much in common...politics, humor, music...etc.

I have a pretty foul mouth and my husband rarely swears. He can be a hardass at work (he's referred to as Tony Soprano). I love my makeup and considered certain plastic surgeries which he was against because he didn't think I needed them but said it was my decision.

I just think it's really hard to define. Btw, he does have #4 down as well.

Sorry again for the rant...good topic that made me think.



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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Sat May 18, 2013, 08:15 AM

43. "Masculine" is one end of a continuum of which the other end is "Feminine"

In other words, for me, they are the antithesis of each other. However, no one is truly at one end of the scale or the other. All people fall in between the ends, having both masculine and feminine characteristics in their psychological makeup. How do we deal with, and integrate those traits in our lives: That is the question.

To me, the better question would be "What is it to be a Man".

Or, conversely, for women, the question would be "What is it to be a Woman".

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Mon May 20, 2013, 07:31 PM

45. baby, don't hurt me.

oh, sorry, that's "love"

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Mon May 20, 2013, 08:11 PM

46. Masculinity is a who not a what.

Like the judge that was asked to define pornography who said he did not have a good definition, but, knew what it was when he saw it, so too is masculinity.

I'll take it one step further, the men on DU see it when they look in the mirror and those that know them are better off for it.

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Sun Feb 21, 2016, 02:11 PM

49. to be a man

I don't see anything wrong with embracing things that are considered stereotypically masculine. There is a bit of aggressiveness that I think is part of our pscyhi which may play into some of those stereotypical male things. Do little boys smash bugs because it's powerful, or because they want to kill? This is where a major responsibility comes in. A man has to be compassionate and understanding. Both to others and to themselves. All men are different. Do all men crave power? If so, how is that power defined? Power through peace and justice or power through hurting and oppressing other people.....

Sorry for getting too deep on my second post...... I'll find my voice

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Response to lumberjack_jeff (Original post)

Fri Jul 8, 2016, 04:50 PM

51. it's...

JOHN CENA

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