What It Means
To Be a Man


Bill G

What It Means To Be a Man


What a great site!!!!!! Everything I've always felt, and the ideas I never thought others shared are expressed here. The great ideals of the Homeric world and the thoughts of what it means to be a man, not a poser.

I really like everything I've read/seen. It brings back all my old thoughts from when I was growing up. I'd also like to mention a favorite story of mine that I think relates. It is about the death of Marshall Lannes of Napoleon's army. He died in 1809 at the battle of Aspern-Essling in Austria. What happened was that during a particular bloody part of the fight, he witnessed his best friend, beheaded by a cannon ball. Overcome with grief he sat down next to the body and wept. While his aides tried to get him to move to a safer area, another cannon ball ricocheting along the road embankment hit him in the knees. He died a day later after having both legs amputated. This man was no wimp or sissy. The previous day, when his troops were ordered to storm a fortified granary and hesitated, he grabbed a scaling ladder, turned to his men and said, "I was a grenadier before I was a Marshall" and charged forward. The sight of him and then his aides running to the granary alone, inspired his men to charge and overthrow the granary.

These are the ideals that every man should aspire too, but are so woefully lacking in today's world, as presented to us. Your writing on machismo vs. masculinity sums it up. Almost all that people see today in the media are parodies of masculinity, shallow and self centered men. Even worse is the way gay men are presented. I think that is the main reason it took me so long to come to terms with my sexuality. I could not stand the idea of being gay as it's portrayed.

Thanks again for a great site.

Bill G.

Bill Weintraub

Re: What It Means To Be a Man


hey bill

thank you for your post and for your words of praise

that's a great story about Marshall Lannes

his disregard for his personal safety and his grief for his fallen comrade are both expressions of a crucial aspect of the sociobiology of being a man:

"reciprocal altruism"

i'll die for you if you'll die for me

reciprocal altruism is what makes possible the warrior bond

our concepts of nobility and heroism derive directly from this aspect of masculinity, which is not merely cultural, but which is rooted in our biological being

Lannes' disregard for his personal safety in attacking the granary rallies his men and makes him, at that moment, both heroic and noble

as does his grief for his fallen friend

although your story is about events in the 19th century, we need to understand that nobility and heroism, far from being out-dated or old-fashioned concepts, are expressions of our biological masculinity, and men constantly look for those attributes in other men

to not find them is demoralizing

while to experience them is exhilirating, inspiring, and empowering

that's why mass culture provides so little that's truly satisfying

as you said: "all that people see today in the media are parodies of masculinity, shallow and self centered men."

that's right

present-day mass media culture, the culture of celebrity, is in many ways an off-shoot of gay male culture, and not surprisingly idealizes men who are pretty, self-centered, and shallow

these attributes are, in my view, a consequence of the gay male focus on anus, promiscuity, and effeminacy

anal penetration is a selfish and self-centered act of transactional sex

promiscuity engenders shallowness

while an effeminate aesthetic emphasizes prettiness rather than substance

these attributes violate our inner sense of what it means to be a man

for it is the opposites of anus, promiscuity, and effeminacy -- that is, phallus, fidelity, and masculinity -- which make us men

we say of a man we admire that he has heart, or balls, or simply that he's a "mensch"

all references to his gravitas -- seriousness of behavior -- and virtue -- manliness -- those traits which characterize a man

so that nobility and heroism are inherent in manhood

in battle, the heroic disregard for self is experienced by comrades as the most profound form of love

that's why ex-soldiers, veterans of battle, will tell you that the love they felt for their brothers-in-arms was as great or even greater than the love they feel for their wives and children

and that's why we find similar sentiments among firefighters and other emergency workers, like the fireman at ground zero on 9/11, who, when asked about his wife and kids, responded, "When I'm here, my buddies are my wife, my kids, my family, my brothers."

that's the biological power of reciprocal altruism and the warrior bond

and that's why we admire nobility and heroism

to the extent that a culture rejects those traits, it rejects masculinity itself -- and at a biological level

that's why so many of us rebel so strongly against what we see not just in the general culture but in gay male culture in particular

as you said:

"Even worse is the way gay men are presented. I think that is the main reason it took me so long to come to terms with my sexuality. I could not stand the idea of being gay as it's portrayed"

that was true for me too

as a boy i had a very strong inner identification as a warrior and fighter

i wanted to box and wrestle and be a soldier

this spring i visited my childhood home and went through what was left of my boyhood possessions:

a knight in armor, a plastic model of a Viking, an American eagle

those images and archetypes really mattered me to me when i was a child and they still do

like you i couldn't match the boy i was with the stereotypes of gay men

so i went into psychotherapy and tried to become straight

that didn't work -- my attraction to men and masculinity, i soon realized, was and is core to my being

so i came out and tried to adapt to gay male life

but it was never a good fit

though i became a Gay Liberationist and was a good soldier in that fight, i could never accept the effeminacy and the shallowness of gay male life

everything about it felt wrong to me

because even though i was very much part of the gay movement, i still had within me my childhood ideals

which i'd been told to shed -- but which i wouldn't

after my lover died i needed to come to terms with what had happened -- or at least to try to figure it out

and that's how i came to write Hyacinthine Love

two years later, after a lot of arguing with the analist gatekeepers in the gay male press, i finally got Hyacinthine Love published and posted on the web

once it was posted i started hearing from other men

and that's when i realized i wasn't alone

until that moment, i'd thought i was this eccentric gay man who wanted to rub cocks and be a warrior

actually -- i'm neither eccentric nor unusual -- there are a lot of us -- and we're by no means exclusively "gay"

it was through my interaction with those other men that i gained the courage to start Heroic Homosex

the idea of Heroic Homosex had been with me for years -- again, since childhood

but i didn't come to enunciate it till i'd heard from so many others

so this work is a collaboration

and the collaboration which produced Heroic Homosex then engendered The Man2Man Alliance

which moved the discussion out of the purely parochial gay world

and into the larger world of men

it's men like yourself who have given me and others the courage to be who we are

men willing to fight this good fight

if enough men participate -- as you have by both posting and donating -- we can take the Heroic ideals of the Alliance into the larger world of men

and in so doing liberate our brothers

thank you again for your post and your donation Bill -- your words and deeds will resonate for and help many men


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