What is a real man?

There are many common answers to this question, and most include service, and sacrifice for others. Usually, for a collective, or for others who are socially superior to the “real man” making that sacrifice.

This is already a slippery definition. Because how do we define socially superior? We might assume the clearly defined hierarchies such as between employers and employees, or elected officials and voters explains this. But in those cases, status is not always so well defined. In fact, it is fluid, and depends on the context in which it occurs.

A hired hand, normally lower than their boss can take on higher status than the boss in the light of hazardous work, hostile workplace, worker dispute and so on. The postures people take in different situations change their relationships of power.

Sometimes a child has more power than a parent. In some cases a victim has more power than who victimizes them. Sometimes more power than who rescues them. In this picture, women are victims needing protection, as we imagine them socially inferior to men. They’re smaller, weaker, and in most minds, the low position in the power relationship.

A “real man” is the one who carries the load created by changes in hierarchy, while everyone pretends he is The Man.

This is the dynamic of power, hierarchy, and expectation placing a “real man” in a position to set aside his own needs, his safety, even his humanity. Serve, protect, sacrifice, and (when convenient for anyone except himself) die.

In a top to bottom social relation, the bottom controls the positive identity of the top. Does this sound like the politics of sexual fetish? It is the same. The control of identity in any top to bottom power dynamic is identical. The weaker party controls the social identity, and the human value of the stronger party.

Of course, everyone knows this deep down. Except that nobody knows any of it, and when pressed – will deny any such dynamic exists.

The social contract demands denial of the truth.

The social contract is the label for a view that an individual’s moral obligations depend on an unstated agreement to form the society in which they live.

One obligation, for men, is an unstated demand to protect women. Even at the cost of hazard, injury or possible death of a “real man” must fill that demand. This is why men carry the legal onus to register for selective military service in the US. Women, face no such demand. It is also why in event of violence towards a woman, men are expected to put themselves in the path of it. Absorbing, and dispensing violence on behalf of a woman. A man who doesn’t disregard his own safety, or dispense violence on behalf of a woman under threat, he’s no man at all. He’s a coward, a shirker, hell, he’s damn-near doing violence against that woman himself if he doesn’t protect her using whatever level of force is needed.

This is a basic element of the social contract. It is not just an expectation to assume risk, but to engage in direct violence because somebody else’s actions created a situation of threat to a woman, even when that woman’s own actions are the cause. Step up, protect, and pay, that’s what a man does. And what he gets in exchange is a social identity, to be a human – not despised. Just that, nothing more. Just recognition as a human being. At least, that used to be the deal. Scanty and one sided and deadly as it was, it was enough. It worked. But that is in the past. That is no longer the case.

Roll the clock forward for 50 years of a narrative in which men are bad, and women are not just good, they’re victims. They’re victims of men.

Men’s role in society was always to protect, serve, provide and dispense violence in protection of weaker individuals or in protection of women. Or to absorb violence for all those motivations and (when convenient for anyone but themselves) to die – We’ve spent a half century re-characterizing all that into a story of male oppression of women. And male identity, which was traded – your recognition as a human being if you were male – for your sacrifice, your provision for others, sold to you as if it was a privilege – this identity has been taken out of the bargain, a piece at a time.

Now we arrive in the present, where it is perfectly acceptable for little girls in kindergarten to wear t-shirts, purchased by their mothers, which say “boys are stupid, throw rocks at them”. In which day time talk shows with live studio audiences laugh openly at the mutilation of a human being who happens to be male.

When movie reviewers losing their audience deem it logical to market themselves by telling the male half of the human race they’re inferior. When men are publicly derided as incomplete females, as walking abortions; aborted at the gene stage. To be male is to be deficient, emotionally limited; maleness is a deficiency disease and males are emotional cripples.

Oh, yeah, but men are still expected to keep on keeping on, to step up, to serve, to disburse and to absorb other people’s proxy violence, and (when convenient to others) to die. That’s the other half of the social contract, the one still in force.

And men, for their part, are increasingly alert to this one sided rotten deal. A deal, or a contract if you will, a social contract in which men are shit, men are aggressors, men are rapists, men are worthless, but oh yeah, they’d better still step up because otherwise, they won’t have a worthwhile social identity, as determined by the fiat of the weaker sex.

And what is the only possible answer to this state of affairs for sane men, human men, humane men, and self respecting men to give to everyone else still participating in that old, crooked, broken, and one sided deal which for men amounts to you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t?

Fuck it, I’m out.

And now let’s talk about the social consequences of a practical ethic of non-violence.

For many men rejecting the dysfunctional and toxic model of acceptable male identity, self definition includes a rejection of violence. This means a rejection of their own utility as receptacles for violence, as well as use as dispensers of force.

In addition to having no accepted path to positive identity, men are increasingly not afforded the protection of law. Men can be murdered, mutilated, and raped – and these events are treated as comedy – not just in fiction, but when they happen to real men in the real world. When men are killed by women, our courts, in the face of proven culpability – manufacture histories of abuse. Obviously, past grievances, when they’re real, have always been the basis for justifiable homicide. Indeed, on my way back from work today, a man driving a Toyota cut me off in traffic. Two intersections farther on, I signaled him by blinking my headlights. We fought to the death on the boulevard; when the police arrived, I simply explained his rude driving and they understood. They gave me a medal. Nice job slugger, you’re a real man.

In January 2011, a New Brunswick resident named Crystal Dawn MacKenzie walked free after her acquittal for the knife-killing of her common-law husband, whose name doesn’t matter, because he’s male…and dead.

McKenzie’s lawyer, David Kelly, pointed out that “Of course she had other options,” but that she was drunk at the time, oh and also female, so a violent history between the acquitted killer and her murdered husband was used to excuse making a choice to stab that man to death. Her defender said this, and she walked.

The standard expectation of men to automatically resolve violence affecting anyone else is what, in a world where men are hated, is no longer acceptable.

Dispensers and receptacles of violence, for anyone but themselves, in a narrative where men are no longer humans with rights. No. Protectors whose quiet presence everywhere in life is a guarantee of safety of others. No. Men, those stoic citizens who, in a moment of violent crisis could always be counted on to step forward without regard for their own mortality. No.

The new deal is men, after half a century of public vilification, marginalization, and the ongoing removal of their human rights and human identities – men are saying no to the expectation that they will dispense the proxy violence of others, or absorb it.

At this point, a reader might wonder what men? What weak men, sissy men, failures, and “not a real man” would ever contemplate refusing to step instantly forward in protection of a woman? What kind of faggot would shrink away, considering his own safety before the safety of a woman or anyone weaker than himself? This is the ethic of non-violence, refusing receipt and refusing to dispense the violence of other people’s proxy.

And that is the consequence men must face, who dare to think of themselves as humans worthy of even being considered human, rather than disposable. It surely takes brass balls to be such a sissy. That is the consequence of an ethic of non-violence. A real man is disposable. That’s what real means, at least when the definition of real man sits in the hands of those who benefit from that manly disposability.

This is the driver of an emerging ethic of male identity in which men, awake to their own status as barely human disposable utilities, are saying no. In increasing numbers men are defining themselves, but as men increasingly demand recognition of their own humanity they earn a constantly escalating torrent of public scorn. Men refusing the definition of themselves as disposable appliances are told with rising volume that any move towards their own identity defined apart from their utility to others is not self worth, it is hate. You just hate women. You’re a misogynist. Men told when they refuse receipt or disbursal of the proxy violence of others, that refusal of violence is violence. Men standing up for their own humanity do so against a climate of censure, hatred, and depraved lies. But those lies, vile, hateful, and condemning of men who dare to claim their own humanity; those are the lies denying men any human identity, shaming them back to disposability. Get back on the treadmill, provide, protect, and (when convenient) die – and we’ll grant that you’re “real men”.

And what is the public narrative in response to men declaring themselves human beings apart from utility and convenient disposability? You just hate women.

You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women and you want to send them back to the kitchen to make you a sammich. And the so called men’s rights movement is a hate movement against women.

Who would repeat such despicable calumny? Rebecca Davis of the Daily Maverick:

…perhaps it’s premature to start worrying too much about the “second sexism” when the first one seems so prevalent still.[1]


Soraya Chemaly writing for the Huffington Post claims that male targeted beatings against non-heterosexual boy are actually aimed at women and girls. Oh yes, boys subject to violence are not the victims, girls are truly the victims when boys are beaten. Don’t believe me? Here’s the quote:

“beating the gay” out of children, especially boys who are “more like” you, is aimed at you.[women]”


Rhiannon and Holly; Two Vagendas, One Keyboard of the New Statesman claim misogyny and conservatism:

these men are attempting to fight back against vagina-wielding harpies by reasserting their masculinity in a way that is not only misogynistic but also deeply conservative[3]


According to the Simon Fraser University women’s centre web site “masculinity denigrates women”[4] Jessica Valenti has repeatedly claimed that online men’s rights activism is driven by misogyny. Male self actualization is characterized as hatred of women.

Clementine Ford of “how to spot a misogynist” quacked:

If you’re not trained in the spotting of smug, self-satisfied misogynists, you might not know the general thrust of their shtick.


Amada Marcotte claims:

…if you scratch an MRA, you find a guy upset that someone is keeping him from beating his wife and kids.


That’s right, according to Marcotte, in spite of thousands of blogs explaining the violations of human rights – and male targeting violence, the use of male rape and male mutilation as comedy, it’s really all a ruse so men can get back to beating their wives and children.

According to Arthur Goldwag of the southern Poverty Law Center on the Men’s Rights Movement:

…women haters whose fury goes well beyond criticism of the family court system, domestic violence laws, and false rape accusations.


Goldwag skipped over “misogyny” and went straight for “woman haters” – although at least he managed to name a few of the areas of concern for men struggling for recognition as human beings.

But in every case, and hundreds more not listed here – according to the opposition, men arguing for the human rights of men and boys really just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women. You just hate women, but if you give up on the foolish notion that as a man you can have an identity as a human being, get back to being disposable, we might just allow that you’re almost a human.

No thanks.


[1] http://dailymaverick.co.za/article/2012-05-22-the-second-sexism-discrimination-against-males
[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/message-to-girls-about-re_b_1518849.html
[3] http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/lifestyle/2012/05/mens-rights-zeitgeist
[4] http://www.sfuwomenctr.ca/faqs.html
[5] http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/love-sex/6837194/How-to-spot-a-misogynist
[6] http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2011/09/22/mra-says-yep-were-domestic-abusers/

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