The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, October 30, 2009

The Man Project

Intelligence. Support. Honesty. Fierce love, emotional openness...these are the things women (all, I believe, over 20) have been saying they want from men. All we need to do, then, is coordinate this with what younger girls say, and see where the two overlap--this will be the generative material to attract women all your life.

Comfortable in their physical bodies. Prepared to defend their ideas and principles. Unafraid to be honest and open. Capable of total intensity, and total relaxation. Deep self-love and self-acceptance, enough to spill over to all those around him. Can walk with Alphas without intimidating Betas.

So secure that he has no need to dominate others...but God help you if you try to dominate him, or hurt the helpless. Polite to a fault, but capable of being a total kid at times.

Highly sexual--no guilt or pain in this arena. Capable of controlling and guiding those sexual urges (CRITICAL if you want to have a successful marriage. Hell...if you want a successful LIFE! Note "The mystery of sex transmutation" from "Think And Grow Rich").

Unafraid of his power. Unafraid of a powerful woman (and in fact would settle for nothing less!)

Talking to both boys and men, sons, fathers and grandfather and seeing what they ALL agree upon, will provide the generative material to gain the respect and admiration of men.

WHERE THESE TWO CIRCLES, MALE AND FEMALE OVERLAP is the generative material for a mature male human being, capable of sustaining a healthy relationship with a mature adult human female, and raising and protecting children.

Note: what does this mean for gay men? Or those who don't wish to have children? Separate from some social rituals, I can't imagine why the basic truths don't apply. Women seem attracted to most of the same characteristics that gay men are attracted to. And even if you don't WANT children, one or two of the little monsters should be safe in your care.

##

For the last year I've been canvassing the real MEN I've known. This means both searching my memory, histories and autobiographies, and making new interviews. These would be the kind of men boys want to be when they grow up. When they walk across a playground, the kids follow them.

When they drop their kids off at school, the mothers check them out. Little girls like to sit in their laps, and are totally safe doing so. They will be responsible financially and personally--they don't hurt women (although they are VERY much catnip to the ladies), are capable of long-term relationships. They don't lie to get laid. Ass-kickers but don't start fights. Have faced life-and-death conflict without becoming brutal or brutalized. Take responsibility for the children they have created. Are intelligent to a fault (although not necessarily intellectual). Most will be over fifty--I want men who survived the teen testosterone flush, have raised families, and are often grandfathers--these are the ones who understand what the Game of life really is, from a masculine perspective. Most of them have lost their parents. THAT grows you up pretty damned well. All are self-supporting, all generate enough income to support a family.

ᅠTheir lives should be reasonably balanced, and they should have physical and intellectual discipline, even if only moderate.

ᅠThey should be capable of being intimidating. If not physically, then intellectually or morally. They must be kind and loving. VERY sexual (if married, I should be able to SEE the air shimmer between him and his lady, and her eyes should get slightly smoky when she talks about him,)

His face should soften when he holds a baby, and must be perfectly comfortable changing diapers and playing silly games. They should have MASTERED at least one discipline. Not "good". Not "excellent." MASTERED, dammit. Life is too short for mere excellence. The price we pay at the end of it is one death. I can think of no level of success that is more than we deserve, so long as it does not impose on the rights of others. They should be teachers, or have taught men who follow him willingly. Preferably, he has raised a son to be a good, strong, gentle man. Either an Alpha, or someone who can deal with Alphas handily.

In other words, a worthy mate for a Beta OR Alpha female. Either, helpless and pregnant, should have confidence that Her Man Can Handle It, or will die trying.

These are the things I'm looking for, as I sort through the hundreds of teachers I've had. I'm creating my list now. This will be easy: I was so wounded, so hungry to understand what I was, to find a way to draw out my own masculine energy. All my life, when I've met men who struck me as being both balanced and MALE (and that means being capable of being threatening: either physically, intellectually, spiritually, and/or financially. If you can't scare/fight the wolves from the cave door [or maybe know how to Build A Better Door], the children are not safe.)

Boys want to know how to obtain and handle power. To "raise it" through all seven chakras, and "run it" through the ten steps of the Hero's Journey. To attract the kinds of girls who attract them. And to be respected by the boys of their tribe. Later, to be responsible adults without losing their childhood aliveness. And to be able to attract and hold a good woman in an honest, mutually supportive relationship, and simultaneously have the respect of men. And frankly, if men are just a little wary of him, that's fine with me. A touch of the predator is all right, if it's under his mental/emotional control. The most attractive, intelligent, and powerful women often have that "lioness" energy. What a lioness needs is a LION, not a damned dog.

I've been blessed to know a number of men who fit these conditions. Not all have had children. Not all are physical paragons. Not all are drop-dead brilliant. But all are good, and strong. All have made their mark in the world. All have taught boys to be men, one way or another. All are catnip to the ladies. All can laugh, and cry. All would stand between a woman and harm, in a heartbeat.

None apologize for their lives.

Martial Artists. Soldiers. Teachers. Therapists. Writers. Lawyers. Doctors. Business people. In traditional societies this would have been a CIRCLE OF MEN: fathers, uncles, grandfathers. When the young men of the village wanted to know what a man was, they needed look no further than the Men's Hut.

Now? Thirteen year olds get their advice from fifteen year olds. They watch cinematic images and mistake them for real life. They follow sports figures who are NIGHTMARES as men, but have advanced motor skills. Whoopdy do. That's like expecting Woody Allan to be a role model because he is a brilliant writer/director. They think sex equals love, and money equals maturity. That fear equals respect. That making a baby makes them a man.

They are wrong, and they are swarming our streets.

ᅠ have been BLESSED. God knows I needed role models like roses need rain. And I'm going to take what I learned from them about sex, love, life, and power, fitness and intellect...overlap those models, overlap that with what women of all ages say they want, and what I'll have is something I would be proud to give my son.

And if I love it, my son would love it, my teachers and mentors love it, and...well, not to put too fine a line on it my WIFE loves it...

ᅠI have the right to share it with the public. And only then.

Is there ANYTHING I've said here that raises alarm bells for anyone, male or female?

26 comments:

mjholt said...

Steve, no alarm bells, so far.

I find that I am loved or liked, and appreciated by men who are "real men" by your definition.

Here's one definition that perhaps you know, but I didn't see in your list:
REAL MEN don't try to make others less to make themselves more. I wish I had a positive statement to translate this into, so perhaps someone else can do that.

Bennett said...

Quite the opposite of alarm bells. This sounds consistent with what every woman I've known has said she wants--or I should clarify, every /healthy/ woman I've known. I don't really want to be what an Omega female wants, n'est ce pas?

It's also interestingly correlative with the depictions of male leads in some romance novels (in many ways the most honest portrayal of what women really want). Take the character Roarke from the "In Death" series--pretty much fits your definition of Real Men to a T, except for his age.

And most importantly, it's the kind of man I'd like to grow into being. No sense in becoming something you don't want to be just attract a mate. Isn't it wonderful how nature wired us, so that excellence in ourselves facilitates excellence in relating to our partners?

josephrobertlewis said...

My primary concern is that you haven't explained yet how you intend to travel back in time and distribute this book to boys in the 1980s and 1990s. Other than that, you're good to go!

josephrobertlewis said...

New title suggestion: The MANifesto

Rory said...

One alarm bell- when canvassing for what women (or anyone, for that matter) say they want, take a good hard look at what they actually pursue. Self-reporting might be the least reliable way to get what you want.

Mike Ralls said...

Nothing that raises alarm bells in me. Fear; fear that I don't fully live up to that standard, yes. Alarm bells no. It's a good standard.

Marty S said...

Maybe there is something wrong with me, but some of the standards you seem to set sound to me like they would put too much pressure on a young man. They certainly don't resemble any advice, I ever gave to my sons. Frankly, I have no idea how sexually attractive women find me and except for my wife I don't care. I haven't for forty-six years. I do not consider myself a master of anything, but I consider myself excellent in several areas. I don't see this as less desirable than being a master of one area and no better than mediocre in anything else.

Irene said...

You mention 'Alphas' and 'Betas'. But do you believe there is an intrinsic difference? As in, some people are born to be alphas, some are born to be betas? Or do you think this a phenomenon of environment?

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"I have no idea how sexually attractive women find me and except for my wife I don't care."

Given that your wife's a woman, isn't it rational to assume that characteristics that women generally find attractive stimulate her as well? Consider the idea that we may more objectively gauge our desirability by monitoring that reactions of strangers or casual acquaintances, as opposed to intimates, who are too compassionate to be brutally honest, or are resigned to love and life a la C'est La Vie.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Given that your wife's a woman, isn't it rational to assume that characteristics that women generally find attractive stimulate her as well?

Given that women vary in what they find attractive, I think, if you already know that you have a particular woman in mind, that you're better off going by her preferences than by the preferences of women in general.

For instance, I, personally, like Brad Pitt just fine as an actor, but he's not, actually, my own personal iconic ideal of sexiest man ever. If my husband managed to change himself to better resemble Brad Pitt, he'd almost certainly be sexy to more women than he is now, but that doesn't mean he'd be sexier to me in particular.

Marty S said...

I'm curious, so I have a question for the women posting. While, I don't have a large population of women I know to have been attracted to me, I do know my biggest attraction to those women was my intelligence. My take is this made me attractive to them as a person, not necessarily sexually. So my question for the women is. Does being attracted to someone personally automatically include sexual attraction also?

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"Highly sexual--no guilt or pain in this arena."

This begs the question implicitly raised by Pagan Topologist: are some religions and philosophies more conducive to healthy masculinity than others? Is Christianity, which entombs sexuality in guilt and denial, more destructive to male sexuality than Islam, which revels in hyper-masculinity (while striving to obliterate female sexuality), or Atheism, which removes all supernatural guilt-trips? If you were a new father seeking to guide your infant son's development with a world-view that fosters the fullest realization of healthy masculinity, which religions and philosophies should be consulted, and which avoided?

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

Does being attracted to someone personally automatically include sexual attraction also?

The way I'd put it is that, for me, sexual attraction involves a combination of physical and mental qualities.

Example 1: I meet two men at a party. One has a body that exactly meets my specifications for sex appeal, and is dumb as a post. The other is more moderately good looking, and graduated Harvard Law School at the top of his class. I'm more likely to be undressing that Harvard graduate in my mind (unless he has other personal qualities which are unappealing, in which case I'm not undressing either of them, even in my mind).

Example 2: I'm at a party. I meet a guy who graduated Harvard Law School at the top of his class, and never bathes and has man boobs. A second guy is brighter than average, though not quite Mensa level bright, charming, and has the most stunning body ever. I'm probably undressing the second guy in my mind, not the ugly Harvard graduate.

So, it's not automatic, but intelligence really does, other things equal, make you sexier to me, not just convince my head that I should pick you regardless of how sexy you are.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

And, yes, I'm enough of an education snob that name brand schools actually do boost your sex appeal as far as I'm concerned, but other signs of intelligence work as well.

Steven Barnes said...

mjholt: real men spend their time improving themselves rather than diminishing others?

Steven Barnes said...

Ethiopian Infidel:
I know Muslem women who would seriously disagree that Islam tries to obliterate female sexuality, so we can't accept that as a given.

Steven Barnes said...

Marty--
There is nothing wrong with you. I stand by my contention that 99% of males want to be sexually attractive, and also wish the respect (or at least cooperation) of the males of their tribe. I think some are natural Alphas, and others natural Betas, but training and circumstance can affect these things drastically. A leader in one circumstance becomes a follower in another.

Steven Barnes said...

Rory--

Absolutely correct. Both men and women MUST look at what is actually done, rather than what people say. An insecure woman will often seek a man she can control--but then yearn for one who can dominate her (sorry--that's just what I've seen, and even been told by the women in question). An insecure man will often desire women to be sexually available--but then refuse to bond with such women. It's sad.

Dan Moran said...

A leader in one circumstance becomes a follower in another.

Context, sure. Put me in a room of code geeks with an intimidating project in front of them, and I'm likely going to run things. I've whipped a bunch of intimidating projects over the years, and I know how to settle people down and get them focused and moving.

Put me on a battlefield with a bunch of professional soldiers, and I'll try really hard to not get in the way, and if the 20 year old private yells at me to do X, I'm going to do X with all the alacrity of a man who wants to get home alive to his children.

Steve Perry said...

It strikes me that adult relationships are about the search for equals. I like to use the ping-pong test as an example of how to tell how one looks at such things. (Yeah, it's a bit simple, but attend:)

Given your druthers, who would you pick as an opponent in ping-pong? Which is the most fun for you?

a) Somebody you can always beat.
b) Somebody who always beats you.
c) Somebody you always tie.
d) Somebody slightly less skilled.
e) Somebody slightly more skilled.

There's no "correct" answer, but which you pick says a lot about the kind of partner you have or will have if the as-above-so-below principle works.

Anybody who selects a) or b) is not looking for an adult relationship. Picking c) would seem to be the best choice, viz an equal partner.

Me, I like e). Because that means I'll have to work harder to keep up, and I enjoy a challenge. And that the goal to win a few is reachable.

But d) is okay, because you can help somebody else get better and become an equal.

Men who are scared of smart, capable women don't deserve to be dubbed "men" at all.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

An insecure woman will often seek a man she can control--but then yearn for one who can dominate her (sorry--that's just what I've seen, and even been told by the women in question).

Oh, I can believe that. When I say women aren't looking to be dominated, I'm more thinking of the kind of wish fulfillment fantasy some men indulge in, where either a) women in general really want a man who will dominate them, yes they do, even if they say they don't, and even if nothing in their behavior shows enthusiasm for being dominated (i.e. there really are no would be alpha females), or b) those women who do want, in some measure and in some ways, to defer to their men, aren't going to be looking for their own price and ways of manipulating things to their advantage.

e) Somebody slightly more skilled.

This was, in fact, a fair number of the men I was attracted to when I was young and single, but then I tended to take the guy's skill as a challenge to try to beat him at his own strengths, rather than just wanting to sit back and admire the ways he surpassed me. I would never have wanted b). And c) and d) also work for me.

Marty S said...

How about f). When I was in college I was good for about 4-6 hours a day of table tennis. My favorite opponent was a fellow who had won the national jrs. championship and played on the tour. He would give me a 17 pt. spot and that made the game even. As long as I could win about half the games with the spot the fact that he could always beat me in an even game didn't bother me.

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Teresa said...

Marty-- There is nothing wrong with you. I stand by my contention that 99% of males want to be sexually attractive, and also wish the respect (or at least cooperation) of the males of their tribe. I think some are natural Alphas, and others natural Betas, but training and circumstance can affect these things drastically. A leader in one circumstance becomes a follower in another.

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