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Appropriate Masculinity

I am not happy writing this essay. I do not like that the society in which I live excuses immaturity in women. But since it does, maturity becomes a part of appropriate masculinity.

My essays about appropriate masculinity are written primarily for my sons. So I acknowledge that being able to understand and draw up appropriate masculinity can be beneficial to both men and women, but may use male pronouns inclusively when refering to someone trying to be masculine.

Maturity link to here link to tables of contents

forest path

Maturity is important for everyone. If you are mature the people around you extend more trust, respect, and desire to spend time with you.

Despite this, women are not required to mature. Immature women are socially acceptable. They may be considered attractive. They are often portrayed as ready for marriage.

Not only does society excuse immaturty in women, but it also gives women a lower standard than men for being called mature. Women are completely excused from some types of maturity. For many other types, women are given a token expectation of maturity but are allowed to act immature if they apologize afterwards. (A man who tried to apologize would not be pardoned.)

I cannot explain this, but do know why it happens. (That will be described in future essays.)

Examples of the Double Standard link to here link to tables of contents

Social Responsiblity

I have never found one woman who altered her life by one iota for me or my opinions.
    - Florence Nightengale

I'm a princess, I don't wanna be the queen

A man is unattractive when he is passive, reactive, or even lacking a firm opinion. A woman or child is allowed to wait for guidance.

Example: "You need to pick which leftovers we are eating for dinner tonight. I have no preference. That is your job. You are not helping!"

A man is unattractive when he expects help, including his good deeds being reciprocated. A woman or child is allowed to expect help even before it is requested.

Example: "I was struggling with putting my luggage in the overhead bin and no one offered to help me! Men are so rude these days."

A man is unattractive when he does not offer help to a woman he does not know. A woman or child is not expected to help strangers, and may even "help" friends by volunteering someone else to do the work.

Example: "At the park today I saw a man sitting by himself on a bench, crying. It was frightening. I stayed far away. Oh, my co-worker is moving to a new apartment next weekend. I told her you have a truck."

A man is unattractive when he relies on other people. A woman or child is allowed to be so reliant on others that she may expect people to offer the right help before she tells them what she wants.

Example: "I hate telling my boyfriend how to make me happy. He should just know!"

A man is unattractive when he needs to be shielded from the consequences of his choices. A woman or child is excused from such responsibility. This is especially true if the irresonsible choice in any way is unpleasant to any child.

Example: "I should have know he would not stick around after I got pregnant. Thank goodness for social services."

A man is unattractive when he makes a decision without a logical reason. A woman or child is allowed to act irrationally when their emotions are intense.

Example: "Sorry I stormed out of the house during our argument. You made me so angry!"

A man is unattractive when he ignores valid criticism by redirecting the conversation with a criticism of someone else. A woman or child is excused from responding to criticism with counter-criticism.

Example: "How dare you criticise people who skateboard while drunk! Sober skateboarers also get hurt. Skateboards should be safer."

A man is unattractive when he pushes boundaries just to test the boundaries. A woman or child is excused for "testing relationships".

Example: "I don't want to marry a pushover. I want to make sure he is strong, confident, and able to protect me. That's why I play hard-to-get, nag him, and push him to buy me expensive things."

A man is unattractive when he is not entertaining the women around him. A woman or child is allowed to be boring.

Example: "I hate when my husband just relaxes on the couch. I want to poke him or say something. When he is quiet I want him to do something!"

A man is unattractive when he admires a woman but does not approach her and politely inteact. A woman or child is not required to risk discomfort and rejection by interacting with everyone whose appearance she appreciates from a distance.

Example: "That man just smiled at me from across the room. He is just standing there. It's creepy. I feel so objectified."

A man is unattractive when he does not politely listen to a woman talk about her obscure interests. A woman or child is allowed treat boring conversation topics as boring.

Example: "The date was going well. But then he did not want to talk about my fan fiction. He rolled his eyes! Can you imagine?"

A man is unattractive when he has many sexual partners during his college years: even official college policy assumes he is taking advantage of his willing sexual partners. A woman is excused for identical behavior. Only women Alcohol are made less responsible for their actions by alcohol.

Example: "Don't judge me. I need to find myself and discover what pleases me. Men who are players are the problem with campus relationships."

Honor

Date the bad boys, date the crazy boys, but do not marry them. Marry the boys who are going to change half of the diapers.
    - Sheryl Sandberg

A man is unattractive when he has done wrong and does not offer a sincere and unqualified apology that admits his guilt (and this apology does not reduce the consequences). A woman or child may offer insincere apologies, and may expect explaining instead of apologizing to minimize consequences.

Example: "Now, do not get mad. I did not mean to do that. It was an accident. Why are you being so mean?"

A man is unattractive when he uses shame to influence someone. A woman or child is allowed to shame other people, especially if she can maintain plausable deniability.

Example: "Why are you upset that I told my friends you should not have volunteered to do that? Oh, I did not mean it that way."

A man is unattractive when he avoids judgment by pretending he is not responsible for his actions. A woman or child may claim to be unaccountable because she was caught up in the moment.

Example: "I'm not that kind of girl. It just happened."

A man is unattractive when he lies, unless the untruth is a tiny "white lie" with no practical effect that protects someone else's feelings. A woman or child may lie any time it protects her own feelings (including avoiding criticism), even if the lie leads someone else down the wrong path.

Example: "It is nothing about you. I just do not feel like dating anyone right now."

A man (or boy) is worse than unattractive when he uses a lie to avoid responsibility, or when he asks someone else to be responsible for his actions. A woman (or girl) may falsely claim to not want to do something while using body language to tell a more dominant woman or man that she wants them to push through her token resistance and by doing so accept all the responsibility (and potential blame) for whatever happens.

Example: "I would never tell my boss I am sick just to spend some time with you. (Puppy dog eyes.)"

A man (or boy) is unattractive when he does not play by the rules, and winning a game by disobeying the rules invalidates the win. A woman (or girl) is encouraged to break the rules until she has at least an even chance of winning.

Example: "We played boys versus girls dogeball at recess today. The boys won again so next time the girls get to start with even more points."

Finances

I inherited my ability from both my parents; my mother's ability for spending money, and my father's ability for not making it.
    - Anonymous

A man is unattractive when he refers to his wife's possessions as joint property. A woman or child is excused for believing almost everything owned by the family is "ours", except for those personal items that are "mine".

Example: "He earns more than me. So my salary is for stuff I want to buy. House payments, car payments, and utilities all come from his salary since that's our family money."

A young man is unattractive when he has no career plans. A woman or child is allowed to have no career plans.

Example: "I am not sure what I want to do for a living. In college I'll explore options and find my passion. I can always marry someone who is wealthy."

A man is unattractive when he has not saved enough money to deal with unforeseen emergencies. A woman or child is excused for not having significant savings.

Example: "I do not understand how a guy could say he would not marry a girl with college debt."

A man is unattractive when he is not wealthy enough to spend money on other people. A woman or child is allowed to receive instead of spend.

Example: "Even though I am a very modern woman I still appreciate when the guy pays when we're on a date."

A man is unattractive when he purchases something just because he wants it. A woman or child is excused for her impulse buys when shopping.

Example: "Isn't this cute? And it was on sale!"

A man is unattractive when he purchases something but very seldom uses it. A woman or child is excused for owning seldom-used purchases. For the woman this is especially true if the item is clothing or jewelry.

Example: "I should be able to get this necklace. You know I protested when you bought new skis that you will only use a few times each year."

A man is unattractive and irresponsible when he works to support a family but refuses to purchase life insurance. A woman or child is not required to have life insurance.

Example: "Only 70% of single moms have life insurance? Well, no duh. It is hard enough to make ends meet without that expense."

Stability

To change the mind is a lady's privilege.
    - Stanley Weyman

A man is unattractive when he becomes grumpy because he is hungry or tired. A woman or child may use hunger or weariness as an excuse for grumpy behavior.

Example: "Sorry I did not reply when I said I would. I was too worn out at the end of a hard day."

A man is unattractive when his desires fluctuate. A woman or child may change her desires as often as it feels appropriate.

Example: "When I said that Thai food 'does not interest me', you were supposed to know that I was only talking about that night."

A man is unattractive whe he expects a woman to be his strength and shelter during hardships. (She may indeed be that strength and shelter, but it is always her choice to act strong and selfless.) A woman or child may expect such support from the men they are closest to.

Example: "I had a really hard day. After dinner I will need you to be with the kids because some time to myself to unwind and destress."

A man is unattractive when he agrees to do too many things and fails at some. A woman or child is excused from this failure to be resonsibile.

Example: "Sorry I did not get that done. I had too much on my plate. I only offered because I was trying to be helpful."

A man is unattractive when he becomes emotional because of a brief inconvenience. A woman or child is excused from this short-sighted self-centeredness, and usually does not notice how ugly it is when she vents frustration about a problem that lasts only a few minutes.

Example: "Arg! I hate when the phone rings and it is a solicitor. What a bother!"

A man is unattractive when he displays an emotionally intense response to what a woman says. A woman or child may react emotionally to what men say.

Example: "How dare you raise your voice at me! I am just trying to explain something. You are frightening me."

A man is unattractive when he makes a decision or changes his mind without sharing a logical reason. A woman or child is allowed to be impulsive, intuitive, and even flaky.

Example: "Sorry to cancel our plans. I have decided to stay home tonight instead. I just felt like it."

Personal Awareness and Growth

The great question that has never been answered...is "What does a woman want?"
    - Sigmund Freud

A man is unattractive when he claims he wants something to make him happy or make his life easier, but after acquiring it does not see benefit. A woman or child is excused from this lack of self-awareness.

Example: "I might wear that dress again. I won't return it. I still think it is cute. But it does not make me feel as pretty as I hoped it would."

A man is unattractive when his hobbies, interests and opinions do not continue to develop and deepen. A woman or child may keep the same hobbies, interests, and opinions for as long as she likes.

Example: "What non-fiction books am I in the middle of? Well, I read the news online, and some fashion blogs."

A man is unattractive when he complains that his choices close the doors to other options. A woman or child is excused from ignorantly believing all doors will always remain open for her.

Example: "Of course I want a career and kids some day. What am I doing while at college to become a better mother or wife? What a silly quesion! I'll worry about that later."

A man is unattractive when he becomes moody or frustrated because he is forced to alter or abandon one of his plans. A woman or child is excused from this inflexibility.

Example: "But I was going to make macaroni and cheese tonght. I cannot believe you forgot to buy more at the store. Dinner is ruined!"

A man is unattractive when he does not stay in shape and no longer has the energy to properly lead his family. A woman is allowed to love her body whether or not her choices decease her fitness and energy, and she should not be shamed for gaining significant weight even if her weight gain has no medical excuse.

Example: "I need you to take more initiative around the house after dinner. I am too tired at the end of the day. No, I am not up for going for a walk. Take one of the kids."

A man is unattractive when he treats a woman as a child. A woman is expected to treat men (even her husband) like children: viewing them as irresponsible and unable to look out for themselves, and appropriate targets for behavior management with positive and negative reinforcement.

Example: "How dare he make me take the bus home, just because I was an hour late to meet him! It is not a husband's place to discipline the wife. Tonight he sleeps on the couch without even a good night kiss!"

A man is unattractive when he hold grudges or shows resentment. A woman or child may hold a grudge when she feels her resentment helps a man become a better man.

Example: "A week ago I caught you looking twice at another woman while at the store, and now you are doing it again!"

A man is unattractive when he focuses on success or failure in social situatins instead of displaying confidence. A woman or child is expected to cautiously avoid disappointments and failures.

Example: "I can't just go up to him and say hi! What if does not want to talk to me?"

Maturity in Our Family link to here link to tables of contents

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man I put away childish things.
    - First Corinthians 13:11

Sheet mustic for Children Will Listen from Into the Woods

My sons, you have many advantages compared to your peers. Most of these are because of the choices and priorities made by your mother and I.

(Tangentially, be wary of people who insist that all advantages are "privilege". Privileges exists. But so do accomplishments and consequences, paid for with years of effort and sacrifices.)

We value education and arrange our home and routines to stimulate your intellectual growth, so you are knowledgeable and clever. You do not flounder when evaluating options or making decisions.

We value culture and spending time with healthy and levelheaded people, so you are sensible and discriminating. You are not shallow or attracted to unhealthy people.

We value saving money and wisely investing it and using it to help others, so you have your own savings and know how to manage that money. You are not confined to those careers that earn the most, but may dedicate your time to your God-given vocations.

We provide you with trust and security while letting you explore and test your own boundaries, so you have developed faith, fortitude, and independence. You do not measure your worth by what other people think of you, or by how much attention or commitment they give you.

We celebrate family accomplishments, so you are overflowing with deep reasons for self-worth. You do not suffer from the self-esteem issues of a life in which challenges were watered down or successes were taken for granted.

We have done our best to help you become whole and self-sufficient. You do not cause problems because you feel needy, incomplete, or obliged to test people.

I raise you with a parenting style that was calm and consistent, so you are unusually patient and self-controlled. You are not impulsive.

I raise you while demonstrating a life that is playful, imaginatve, and constructive, so you are happy and know the contment of building. You are not slaves to trends or fashions, nor stuck living as unsatisfied consumers.

I deal with your needs and requests positively and rationally, so you are sensible and optimistic. You are not moody or petulant, reacting to needs or wants too emotionally.

I handle crises calmly and with integrity, so you also trust difficulties as opportuities for growth and self-analysis. You are not insecure, and do not become a different peson when under stress.

I have taken care of my body to keep it strong and handsome as I age, so you can expect to be able to make choices that let you age gracefully. You are not afraid of or depressed by aging.

I try to be make your days brighter with silliness and wit, so you are fun and have a sense of humor. And you know how to be masculine by farting to release stress, instead of crying to release stress.

My sons, you are more mature than average because of these dozen reasons, as well as those many ways described above that growing up male demands above average maturity.

Neither your mother nor I use our family name in our parenting style. Some parents teach "We do this-and-that because we are Smiths!" or admonish "A Jones should not do that!" Although that is not our style, we do hope that you share our priorities and appreciate our choices, and thus gain your own respect for our family name. We are above average, a fact we need not be ashamed to recognize because it comes from the ways our family has valued responsibility and virtue for generations.

When Charisma Suppresses Maturity link to here link to tables of contents

What is the best English word for something you did not agree to but it happened anyway? The right answer is "consequence". Some people will use "accident" instead. It is not that far afield. But it completely ignores how part of being mature and responsible is learning how to avoid accidents.
    - Dad

There are situations in which a person's maturity and responsible decision-making can be suppressed by a sufficiently charismatic male.

These days admitting this truth is unfashionable. But it used to be advice shared by each generation to its children and grandchildren.

For Young Men

darwin award logo

Boys and young men will act immature and irresponsible when a sufficiently charismatic male encourages to do something physical and daring. Usually this happens outdoors.

The affected boy or young man will not actually say "yes" to the irresponsible behavior. But he will be unable to say "no".

How much charisma is required to suppress maturity and responsible decision-making? It varies by person. Some boys and young men are quite succeptible to this dynamic. Others have such a high threshold that they might never experience it in their entire lives. Alcohol will lower a person's threshold.

Parents know about this dynamic. They dread the conversations that happen afterwards.

Charisma Suppressing Maturity—For Men

Parent: "Why did you smear honey on yourself and run naked around the beehive?"

Boy or young man: "I don't know. At the time it did not seem so stupid."

Parent: "How could you do something so reckless? That is not like you!"

Boy or young man: "I'm not like this. It just happened."

Parent: "Why didn't you just leave?"

Boy or young man: "Adam seemed so cool and calm. At the time his ideas seemed thrilling and fun. A part of me knew I should leave. But I got caught up in the moment. I just couldn't leave."

My sons, your mother will never understand these episodes. She, during her days as a girl or young woman, never became lost in the charm of a charismatic leader and led to do stupid and dangerous outdoor physical things that were not like her normal, mature self. But I can relate. There are stories I could share about climbing a tree to high, scrambling down a dangerous river, or riding a bicycle off too high a wall.

Most young men have this kind of story. Hopefully we do not get too hurt.

Be aware of this dynamic. Avoid males that are so charismatic that they suppress your maturity, except for the rare few for whom you are really sure that they always handle their influence responsibly.

For Young Women

undressing in public

Girls and young women will act immature and irresponsible when a sufficiently charismatic male encourages to do something physical and sexual.

The affected girl or young woman will not actually say "yes" to the irresponsible behavior. But she will be unable to say "no", and might even obey the requests of the charismatic male. (In one conversation I had, the women with whom I was discussed this dyanmic called it "being paralyzed with pleasure".)

How much charisma is required to suppress maturity and responsible decision-making? It varies by person. Some girls and young women are quite succeptible to this dynamic. Others have such a high threshold that they might never experience it in their entire lives. Alcohol will lower a person's threshold.

Parents know about this dynamic. They dread the conversations that happen afterwards.

Charisma Suppressing Maturity—For Women

Parent: "Why did you go home with him after the party?"

Girl or young woman: "I don't know. At the time it did not seem so stupid."

Parent: "How could you do something so reckless? That is not like you!"

Girl or young woman: "I'm not like this. It just happened."

Parent: "Why didn't you just leave?"

Girl or young woman: "Adam seemed so cool and calm. At the time his ideas seemed thrilling and fun. A part of me knew I should leave. But I got caught up in the moment. I just couldn't leave."

Most young women have this kind of story. Hopefully they did not get too hurt.

My sons, you may grow up to be one of those very charismatic males. If not, in social gatherings with alcohol you will often be more charismatic than the threshold for some of the young men and women attending. Be aware of your potential to fascinate and enthrall.

Do not lead people to do immature, risky, stupid things that they will later regret.

Emotional Creatures link to here link to tables of contents

It wasn't communication in any meaningful sense of the term as I understand it. It was a kind of "emotional badminton." I acted happy, sympathetic, interested and cheerful and then it was her turn to act happy, sympathetic, interested and cheerful and then it was my turn, etc.
    - Dave Sim

My sons, beware of people who are emotional creatures. (Most of these will be women.)

An emotional creature will at first appear to be a normal person. She or he may be initially fun to talk to or dance with. But any more mature and meaningful interaction is doomed to fail.

An emotional creature:

It is easy to detect emotional creatures by asking questions that should lead to a discussion involving logical reasoning and abstract ethical principles.

For example, you could ask, "How much of a pension should state employees earn?" A mature and meaningful reply will move the discussion towards some interesting abstractions and logical reasoning. What size pension do most employees earn? What are the merits and problems of various methods used to determine pensions? How is employment by the state different from other employment? Etc.

Perhaps the reply totally dismisses the question ("I do not want to talk about that."). You can ask "Why not?" and receive a reply involving abstractions and logical reasoning. ("I do not know how pensions are determined. How can I talk about this if I do not know the basics?")

badminton

However, if the response avoids logical reasoning and abstract ethical principles then you are probably talking to an emotional creature. The reply might only includes an anecdote about an individual and his or her specific pension, or what emotions are provoked by the issue. Beware!

Maybe you should try a different question. As another example, you could ask, "Why is it wrong to make fun of fat people?" Of course it is wrong. A mature and meaningful reply will include abstractions or logical reasoning. Bullying of any kind harms communities. Strangers cannot know who is fat because of the vice of lacking self-control and who is fat because they suffer from a medical problem (or medication) that causes obesity. The inclination to ridicule for a quick laugh (instead of extending grace and valuing the other person's joy) reveals deep moral flaws in the speaker. Etc.

However, if the response focuses on anecdotes and feelings then you are probably talking to an emotional creature. "It is wrong to hurt people's feelings" is an obviously dysfunctional ethical principle that ignores "tough love", sound parenting, and the community's responsibility to establish norms and decency.

My sons, try to avoid emotional creatures. They will wreak havoc as a boss or long-term friend. They are unable to mature due to some tragedy of genetics or upbringing. Their inability to deal with abstractions and logical reasoning will bring them an endless series of problems. Seek your close friends elsewhere.