Manliness finally has a modern definition. A meaning we can all measures ourselves by thanks to an academic description pulled from the chronicles of decades of Hollywood parody.
Somewhere, up there, maybe James Dean is applauding.
It was Dean’s most-memorable role in the 1955 classic “Rebel Without a Cause” who asked his father: “What do you do when you have to be a man?” But his father didn’t know. Dean’s character was trying to prove himself, to grow up, but there were no guides or even real answers for him. They were all gone. That was the point of the movie. But the thing is that’s where manliness has been left, at least as far as pop-culture is concerned, ever since. And the feminists, the academics, and even the screenwriters, seem happy to leave it right there.
But now The Daily Beast has run a story, “How Machisomo is Keeping Bros Up at Night” by Samantha Allen, that’s about a study that found that men with “traditional views of masculinity” tend to believe more than other types of men—whomever or whatever they might be—that high-octane energy drinks can make them into the heroes of their stories, or something.
The thing is, in her reporting, Allen doesn’t question the big premise, the stupendous sociological underpinning: How did the four Texas psychologists who published this study in the November issue of Health Psychology define “traditional masculinity”?
As the author of The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide—Recovering the Lost Art of Manliness I had to unearth how they defined traditional masculinity, as it could finally be the answer to Dean’s question.
This led me to an online questionnaire designed to determine if participants in this study have “traditional masculinity ideology.” The psychologists had to determine this before they could find out how these old-school men feel about energy drinks as compared to other types of men.
There are 21 simple questions.
Each question uses a scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.”
The first is: “Homosexuals should never marry.”
The next is: “The president of the U.S. should always be a man.”
The fourth is: “All homosexual bars should be closed down.”
I paused. Hmm, so a man with traditional values is a sexist homophobe?