A zoo is the analogy that comes to mind when I think of man in our modern world. In a zoo they’re hundreds of animals. Some of these animals don’t seem to be bothered about being trapped in small artificial environments. A giraffe is one those animals. It gets fed regularly and doesn’t have to worry about predators. That’s almost an upgrade for the giraffe.
However, it’s a different story for predators like the tiger. When you see a tiger at the zoo it doesn’t seem to move around as carefree as the giraffe. It sulks and moves around lifelessly. Like the giraffe, the tiger gets fed regularly and doesn’t have to worry about being attacked, but the tiger isn’t able to hunt. The artificial environment of the zoo prevents the tiger from acting in it’s true nature the same way the modern world prevents man from acting in his true nature.
What is man’s true nature? What does it mean to be a real man? Your grandfather would have been able to answer these questions. Your average millennial cannot.
With each decade, the definition of what it means to be a real man (masculinity) gets watered down. Most definitions of masculinity are constructed to fit the mainstream narrative. Today, masculinity is defined by how men should fit into a femcentric World.
In The Way of Men, Jack Donovan defines masculinity in way that speaks to any man no matter age, race, or creed. Donovan’s doesn’t water down his message. You don’t have to try to make his definition work for you. It’s what you suspected masculinity is, but just couldn’t put into words.
Here are a few important concepts from the The Way of Men:
The Way Of Men Is The Way Of The Gang
“Being a man has more to do with man’s ability to succeed with men and within groups of men than it does with a man’s relationship to any woman or any group of women.”
Living in giant cities is a rather new concept for humans. For most of human existence we have lived in small tribes. The women of the tribe cooked and took care of children. The men of the tribe hunted and protected the tribe from predators and other tribes. The men usually broke up into smaller groups of 2 to 15 men. This number of men worked well because it was socially manageable and it allowed strong bonds to be formed. When the number of the group rises(modern world) connections become superficial, trust breaks downs, and it’s harder to keep groups together.
Within these small groups men had to count on each other. The men in the groups who were the fiercest warriors & best hunters moved up in status. You wanted men around you that you could rely on when things got tough, and you didn’t want to be the weak link that let the other men down.
The way of the gang is main premise of Donovan’s book. Basically, there are men you know will have your back, men you respect, and then there are men you can’t trust.
The Tactical Virtues
“Strength, Courage, Mastery, and Honor are the alpha virtues of men all over the world. They are the fundamental virtues of men because without them, no “higher” virtues can be entertained.”
Donovan states there are four virtues that make up a real man. These virtues make a man dependable to a group of men when shit hits the fan. In order to be a revered by other men you need:
Strength: Strength defines masculinity. Yes, women can demonstrate strength too, but men are physically stronger then women on average. Nobody cares if women are strong, but there is a societal expectation that men should be strong, and there is no doubt that men respect other men with physical strength. “Strength is the ability to exert one’s will over oneself, over nature and over other people.”
Courage: Strength is physical. Courage is mental. Courage exercises strength. A man can look tough and appear physically strong but if he’s unwilling to step up it means nothing. “Courage is the will to risk harm in order to benefit oneself or others.”
Mastery: To put it simply, “being able to carry your own weight.” Man should add value to the group with certain skills. The more skills a man possesses the higher status he will have in the group. “Mastery is a man’s desire and ability to cultivate and demonstrate proficiency and expertise in technics that aid in the exertion of will over himself, over nature, over women, and over other men.”
Honor: The culmination of all three previous virtues. To be honored is to respected by one peers for displaying strength, courage, and mastery. You gain honor when you become a man that other men look up to. “Honor is a man’s reputation for strength, courage, and mastery within the context of an honor group comprised primarily of other men.”
On Being A Good Man
“Do you truly believe that men who negotiate a violent, all male world every day are less manly then a nice guy who works 9 to 5 in a cubicle farm and spends his free time doing whatever his wife tells him to do?”
Being a good man doesn’t necessarily mean being good at being a man. There are plenty of guys who always do the “right” thing, but it doesn’t necessarily earn them respect from other men. There is also plenty of prisons filled with men who embody some if not all of the manly virtues. Societal standards are not an accurate way to measure a man. Once again, it comes down to whether a man is someone that other men can depend on when shit hits the fan.
Other Important Concepts In The Way Of Men
Thug Life & The Story of Rome: Why Rome became a great empire and why it collapsed. What happens to society when men lose their way.
A Check To Civilization: What happens to men during peacetime – simulated masculinity, vicarious masculinity, and intellectual masculinity.
The Bonobo Masturbation Society: Why modern society resembles bonobos (matriarchy) rather than chimpanzees (patriarchy).
The Crisis Of Masculinity: The balance between a domestic world of comfort and a world of manly strife.
Start The World: How to start your own gang.
The Way of Men should be mandatory reading for any man. This book doesn’t read like an AskMen article. Donovan isn’t going to give you 25 tips and tricks to becoming a better man. Instead the book is more of a paradigm shifter. He lays down the core of what it means to be man and the problems that modern man face. The steps you take to becoming a better man is up to you.