Thursday, July 11, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: The Way Of Men (2012) - Jack Donovan

What is masculinity? This book claims to have the answer, and Jack Donovan gives his version of the truth in a way that reads unbiased. He even prefaces the book with commentary, stating that the book is less about touting and self-pity, and is more geared towards answering the simple question: "If men are a certain way, and there is a way to be manly then 'What is The Way of Men?' While reading, I found truth in Donovan's words even when I didn't want to, and although the book claims to be a treatise on masculinity, it reads more like a commentary on modern Western society.

It delves heavily into the concept of alpha and beta males, and one of the more interesting epiphanies of the book is it's discussion of how most men who would have been considered alpha, and spread their seed successfully in primitive days are now the men behind bars.

Boys need to run, play, and engage in their environments in ways that offer danger, struggle, but most importantly, risk. Donovan describes how modern society has made war too dangerous, how technology has driven exciting jobs into safety and boredom, and how, for the first time in history, the average man can afford to be careless. "Would pornography lose it's appeal without the possibility of sex?" Donovan asks, and offers similar questions about war and survival. This isn't just about men, though, this is about our society as a whole. There is a world outside of the cubicles and boxes many of us find ourselves stuck in, a world full of danger, hope, and love, but because of that awful thing - comfort, many of us will not find it.

In regards to masculinity, this begs the question, can masculinity exist in an intellectual society? What I mean by this is, can we ever reach an equilibrium that offers a world where boys can experience life, in all of its danger, at the same time that we live in a world that maximizes efficiency? I remember going camping as a young boy, and my friend and I, much against the wills of our parents, would go climbing on the side cliffs above Lake Superior. If we fell, we would have most definitely died, but it was fun, exhilarating, and remains a fond memory. If we coddle and protect each other too much, we'll find ourselves lacking both experience, joy, and passion throughout life, which also affects efficiency. So, in essence, yes, masculinity is necessary in an intellectual society even though it is painted as a negative or is only socially acceptable when it's been emasculated or feminized.

The Element Of Women In Competetion

One of my favorite sections of the book talks about how placing women in competition with men changes men's focus from impressing other men to impressing women, or losing interest altogether and doing just enough to get by. Either way this inevitably ends up changing strategies. Being someone who doesn't particularly enjoy peacocking, I can relate to this apathy on the grounds that I've seen what a pair of breasts does to coworkers.

Yet again, though, this begs us to answer how to integrate masculinity into modern society. We live in a world where all jobs and careers are viewed as competitions between sexes (some more than others... see: Engineering and Nursing). This applies to college, especially. We say things like, "Oh, more women are going to college than men and getting degrees, that must mean that because we now live in a more feminized society that men are just becoming lazy." None of these answers strives to look at the "WHY," behind why men are dropping out of society, colleges, marriages, commitments, fatherhood, etc. and they only further attempt to say that the only way we can get them back is by teaching them "compassion" and "non-violence" and "how to be a good role model (as long as that role model is a feminized version of a man)" 

The Demonization

Here's the thing I think Jack and I both agree on - masculinity and femininity are not subjective things. You can't do one thing and say that that's your redefined definition of masculinity or that that's your definition of femininity. Life, biology, and history just don't work that way.

Masculinity has become something that is progressively demonized by modern culture, but is still heavily respected amongst men, which has lead many men into a depressing silence, where they feel they must comply with the expectations and demands of society in order to properly be integrated and accepted in the modern world. You don't have to look much further than the recent, "Don't Be That Guy," campaign to see that men are always the default aggressors and women are the default victims. Strange, how that seems so anti-feminist in and of itself.

The second half of the book spends much of it's time focusing on how one can stand up and be a paragon of masculinity in the modern world compared to the days of tribes. You might have to sacrifice comfort, especially since you're more than likely to deal with radicals claiming that by you acting a certain way that you're imposing on their rights, but it's worth it in the end, and you'll be a much happier man for it.

There's too much fantastic content in this book for me to review it all. I could honestly sit here all day, and type half a novel myself on all of the amazing points in gender topics that Donovan brings to light, but I'd be doing the book a disservice, so I'll just recommend it highly. It's a great book for men to know that they're not alone, and it's a great book for women to better understanding the modern male, how gender relations have worked in the past comparatively with how they work today, and how they benefit a lot more than they probably think from our current government.

1 comment:

  1. Rumor has it, that this book is easily available as an ePub, through a simple search... ;)