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?
Click here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com.
Almost 15 years ago the Manhattan barbershop I then went to took the Playboy magazines off the tables in its waiting area. The old Midtown barbershop was going unisex and Vinnie, its veteran barber, was apoplectic. After hearing Vinnie rant I looked at the table with the magazines and realized that I never saw anyone read them. They just lay there like a dare: Are you man enough to open this here, in public? This prompted me to pick one up. After looking and looking, I found didn’t want to stop reading. The old maxim that men buy the magazine for the pictures but subscribe for the articles isn’t just a joke. What was alluring, though, was an old-school gentleman’s point of view that was all over its prose and photos.
Now Playboy says it’s going to drop the nudity.
“You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passe at this juncture,” said Playboy’s chief executive Scott Flanders.
The thing is, even as we can click away on the Internet, Playboy’s totally nude photos have long required that the magazine be sold where children can’t get their hands on it for a looksee. In many places this means men have to ask for it—men don’t even want to ask for directions, let alone ask some 16-year-old cashier to hand them a mature men’s magazine. For this and other reasons Playboy’s circulation has dropped from over 5 million in the 1970s to about 800,000 today.
Given this, it makes sense that Playboy would drop full nudity to compete for magazine rack space and audience share with titles like Stuff, Esquire, and Maxim. Like those titles, Playboy says it will still feature beautiful women showing a lot of skin.
In fact, Playboy’s website has already dropped the nudity. This has given Playboy access to social-media mouthpieces like Twitter and Facebook, which reportedly has already greatly expanded its reach.
All that has been reported. Here’s why, as the author of a book on manliness, I’m applauding this change.
For the rest of this article at Forbes.com click here.
SNL’s parody is a really a parody of their lack of gun knowledge.
Sometimes a Saturday Night Live (SNL) skit says something important altogether by accident.
Last Saturday comedian Amy Schumer lampooned women and others who own guns in an SNL skit. Yeah, gun sales have boomed for so long that even SNL has noticed their pop-culture appeal.
Of course, SNL is right that guns sales are up. Last month, for example, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) reported that more people than ever before in any September had their names run through the NICS database (something people must do before buying a gun from a licensed dealer). The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for firearms manufacturers, said this was 4.7 percent greater than the previous record set last year.
Interestingly, as gun sales have been booming the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports have been showing decreases in the violent crime rate nationally. The FBI’s figures show a 35.2 percent decline in violent crimes over the past 20 years and a 16.2 percent decline over the past 10 years.
Now let’s get back to SNL’s pop-culture critique.
The skit opened with scenes showing a man and a pregnant woman rushing to the hospital, a couple sitting down for a dinner at a restaurant, a lone man in a party, a woman jogging by herself in a park, a man leaning over his desk…. Meanwhile, in the background, a woman’s voice is saying, “Whatever you’re waiting for, whatever you face, whatever you’re looking for, there are things we all share.”
The man at the restaurant then hands the woman a boxed gift as the narrator says, “Love … family … connection … a sense of purpose … and also guns….” The skit next cuts back to all the people it showed before but now they’re gifting each other guns. The man with the pregnant woman, now in the hospital, even gives the newborn baby a derringer.
Click here for the rest of my column at Forbes.com.
While promoting my book The Future of the Gun on radio and television I often made the point that if the Obama administration would just work with America’s 100-million-plus gun owners, instead of treating them like enemies, America could become an even safer place. From promoting responsible gun storage to teaching safe gun use, the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups already do a lot to promote gun safety. Also, the gun industry through its trade association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), has developed a lot of programs, videos and literature to promote responsible gun ownership and use. Why not promote these things that everyone agrees make America safer?
Despite political differences, it just makes sense for the federal government to work with gun owners and their organizations, even to see them as allies who can and are helping to stop illegal sales and to find those few who might do others harm.
When I made this point most of the television and radio hosts agreed and lamented the blinding nature of politics on the issue. A few, however, attacked the idea that the government should work with law-abiding gun owners (see this debate I did with a gun-control advocate); these few argued that the NRA is an evil force that must be destroyed, not parlayed with; still, none of these types were aware that the NRA, for example, has 97,000 instructors and range safety officers, more than 5,700 coaches and more than 1,800 training counselors spread all over the U.S.—in sum, an army of gun-safety personnel ready to do even more.
So it’s marvelous to see, perhaps, dare I say it, a thaw, in the way the Obama administration treats gun-rights groups and those who chose to own guns.
The NSSF announced it has been awarded a two-year, $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide firearm-safety education messaging and free gun locks through NSSF’s Project ChildSafe program to communities throughout the country.
Go here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com.
Every day Marina Lamprecht of Hunters Namibia Safaris makes sure the children in Otjivero, Namibia, a shantytown of little self-made buildings with corrugated metal roofs, get meat to eat. All the meat is wild and killed by travelling hunters.
In the emotional aftermath of the killing (possibly poaching) of the lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe by a dentist from Minnesota, Delta Airlines, America’s largest carrier, has made a decision: “Effective immediately, Delta will officially ban shipment of all lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies worldwide as freight. Prior to this ban, Delta’s strict acceptance policy called for absolute compliance with all government regulations regarding protected species. Delta will also review acceptance policies of other hunting trophies with appropriate government agencies and other organizations supporting legal shipments.”
This reverses a Delta Airlines policy decided last June in which Delta said it would accept trophies “in accordance with all U.S. domestic and international regulations, which prohibits the possession of trophies or other items associated with protected species.”
This new decision isn’t the complete ban on hunter-killed trophies Delta opted for after an anti-hunting petition from change.org collected nearly 395,000 signatures earlier this year, but a new petition is circulating and traveling hunters are now watching South African Airlines to see if it will reverse its recent termination of a ban on transporting hunting trophies.
If both Delta and South African Airlines ban the export of taxidermy some hunters might decide not to travel to South Africa or Namibia. Some would cheer this outcome, but perhaps not if they knew all the consequences.
If it becomes too difficult or expensive for traveling hunters to get legally killed taxidermy home they might decide not to go in the first place. This would impact many game species. For example, South Africa and Namibia have both done a good job of using hunting dollars as an incentive to get cattle ranchers and other landowners to reintroduce native wildlife and to let big-game animals repopulate their regions—without hunting many ranchers see kudu, zebra, gemsbuck and more as nothing more than competition for their cattle or goats; without trophy fees from hunters they also see leopards, cheetahs, lions, and other predators only as problem species, as those meat-eaters will kill and eat their livestock.
I witnessed what hunting tourism can do firsthand when I travelled to South Africa and Namibia with Dallas Safari Club in 2013. On one stop on our journey we saw how hunting had transformed parts of Namibia back into how it once was.
While taking photos the author looked over the tops of hundreds of students eating meat at Ben Carter, the executive director of Dallas Safari Club, and Marina Lamprecht of Hunters Namibia Safaris talking to the school’s principal and wondered how feeding these children could be politically incorrect.
Marina Lamprecht of Hunters Namibia Safaris met us at the airport in Windhoek, the capital of Namibia. Her smile was infectious. She clearly enjoys the part she and her husband, Joof, created in the safari business. We followed her out into the sun and were soon driving out of the city. The city is clean and modern. Namibia is known for being a safe and officious country. It was a German colony. The country around Windhoek looks like West Texas’ dry, brushy expanses and escarpments. We saw baboons and warthogs along the roadside and herds of springbucks and wildebeests.
We arrived at a group of thatched-roofed buildings that seem to have naturally grown from a rock outcropping in the camel thorn forest. Inside are posh rooms filled with African art and taxidermy in such an overwhelming collage we have to pause and look closely to see everything. Our private rooms faced waterholes. We sat on patios watching warthogs, springbucks and impalas drink.
“When we started building this outfitting company many of the cattle ranchers told us we’d be out of business in a season,” said Marina. “But in the years since, thanks to travelling hunters, we’ve bought many of those ranchers out and let our now 80 square miles return to its natural state—there are no cattle or men worrying about their cattle on our wild lands. We now tell hunters they’ll see a minimum of 500 animals per day.”
She wasn’t exaggerating; in fact, I’d like to tell you about the four gemsbucks we stalked and killed the next day with Johnnie, a black PH whose charm is only surpassed by his ability to hunt, but instead I have to tell you about Otjivero, a village I’ll never forget.
Click here for the rest of this article.
Jim Shepherd (shown here) is a former CNN founder. He now runs The Shooting Wire. He has thoughts on guns and the media that are worth hearing.
The reporting on why U.S. Army personnel stationed at recruiting centers aren’t allowed to carry pistols has to make anyone who knows a little about guns, and the gun issues, wonder if those news outlets are aware of what they’re not reporting? Do they understand why some Americans feel compelled to stand outside Army recruiting centers with guns? Any curious person might then wonder if ignorance or bias is the central reason why the mainstream media so often ignores studies and facts that are inconvenient to the anti-gun-rights point of view? There are, after all, over 100 million gun owners in the U.S., so how can mainstream journalists not be aware of basic facts about guns or of the reasons behind other points of view?
To understand how CNN, in particular, became a media outlet only interested in one point of view on guns I called one of its original seven founding members, Jim Shepherd, now the editor and publisher of The Shooting Wire. Shepherd has held a number of senior news executive positions during his career, including with CNN, the Financial News Network, the Golf Channel, and other television networks. He left CNN in 1985 after he became “disgusted with what they wouldn’t report.”
Jim says, “Part of what happened to CNN is what happened to Hollywood. The news, like Hollywood, became trapped in creating and fawning over celebrities. Getting Anderson Cooper publicized became more important than breaking the big story. When you have celebrity reporters telling you how they feel about being in Iraq instead of reporting on how our troops are doing you begin to lose perspective. With guns, instead of going to gun ranges, gun-owner’s homes, instead of interviewing women who’d stopped an attacker, and instead of really trying to understand the world such women live in and what they’re going through, they just tell us how they feel. Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer, and the rest are stars, not reporters. They’re not hunting for the truth. They’re telling you what they think and what they think all comes from the cocktail parties on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and from conversations with other reporters.”
When I ask about his experience at CNN, he says, “When I was at CNN the lead stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post drove what we covered. They still do that for CNN and network news to a large extent. The cable news’ reporters and producers are intellectually lazy. They’re so busy chasing each other they don’t stop to find the truth.”
Click here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com.
Something monstrous was about to happen. You could feel it coming. Boats were out trying to drag the biggest monster shark from the deep. A crowd was waiting, eager to see the apex predators that still swim in the deep of the Atlantic hung up for them to see. The scene was so retro it was like a black-and-white documentary on shark fishing was playing right there in 3D color on this pier in the now swanky, yacht-infested town of Newport, Rhode Island.
If you don’t know Newport, picture a Hollywood set of an idealized New England town running along the edge of the Atlantic. The main drag is all seafood restaurants with gaudy ship’s anchors and wheels as trimmings, and boutiques with glamor in their storefronts and pubs with dark wood bars and brass taps. Each cross street ends in a pier. A few have real fish markets on them. Most have yachts bobbing off them.
People were saying Celine Dion was on one of the big white yachts with those one-way windows and spacious sun decks—one of the boats without outriggers. Everyone nodded when they heard this, as if it must be true. How can you have a real American scene without a celebrity endorsement?
All around the extras were strictly upper class. You could tell from the brands of their vacation clothes. The men were wearing docksiders without socks, Sketchers or Lanvin sneakers and bright Abercrombie shirts and Patagonia shorts. The women were in Lands’ End skirts, Indigo designer jeans, Ann Taylor blouses and Laura Jean shoes and had Prada and Gouche bags. A few of the older men wore blue sport jackets and vintage white oxford shirts. Some of the men actually had sweaters tied around their necks. They were all coming off the chic street along the blue bay in hopes of seeing monsters.
Of course, hundreds of shark fishermen were in town, too. But few would make you think of the character Quint in “Jaws.” They were mostly men from New York and Boston who have the spare change to run a boat that can motor 50 miles off the coast for sharks or tuna for a day’s fishing with pals or family. Some fancy themselves as throwback, iconic playboys in an age when such men were cultural manifestations of class and manly appeal, to an era when Errol Flynn, Jack London and Humphrey Bogart took their big boats out to the blue water for giant fish.
Still, this is a kill tournament. Its captains might be mostly well heeled, but they’re not afraid of getting shark blood on their office-smooth hands. Well, I found that a few hired first mates with shark-fishing skills to make up for their lack of shark-fishing prowess. These types might pick up a rod after a shark is hooked, but then they might just as likely watch with a martini in their gold-ringed fingers. But, that said, most of these guys fish.
To add spice to the already flavorful scene there had been threats from PETA to show up and do who knows what. The year before—when the tournament was still in Martha’s Vineyard—20 “animal-rights” protestors picked a fight. It seems that some of the spectators started yelling things back. There was no fence separating them. Parents where putting their hands over their children’s ears.
I walked down the pier and passed cops waiting like bouncers for those jokers. But, oh hum, there weren’t any of those let’s-ban-reality types around. This pier had been rented for the “Monster Shark Tournament” so this was private property. Any protestors would be escorted off like Code Pink activists at a Republican convention.
An announcer on this little boom-box loudspeaker was telling everyone the monster sharks were coming. Fishing boats would soon pull up, one by one, with big dead sharks on them. These sharks would be hoisted up, blood dripping, by this crane with a long steel cable and hook. The sharks would be weighed on a scale that that was officially calibrated to satisfy International Game and Fish Association (IGFA) standards—records, after all, might be broken. The biggest mako, thresher or porbeagle would win the day, but not necessarily the event. There was still another day of monster shark fishing to be done in the waters that inspired “Jaws” and the weights would be added together.
Meanwhile, there was this deep, heartfelt undercurrent. A family from upstate New York was running the tournament. None of them are shark fishermen. None of them planned on doing this just six months before. They had this relative, Steve James, who was as famous as Frank Mundus (the guy “Quint” in “Jaws” was based on) in shark-tournament circles. James had been president of the Boston Big Game Fishing Club and ran this monster shark tournament for the past 27 years, but James died in a duck-hunting accident the previous January. He’d gone out into the mouth of the Westport River in a 16-foot aluminum skiff with two others. The boat tipped over on the back of a wave. Steve and Robert Becher drowned in the white-capped water on that 8-degree morning. Gregg Angell, a doctor, survived by miraculously swimming to an island. A Coast Guard helicopter rescued him. At the time of the rescue the water temperature was 35 degrees and the wind was blowing at 30 knots, creating a 3-foot chop.
Now Steve’s family—his mother, uncle, aunt, niece and nephew and cousins—had come to put on this tournament as a dedication to a man who’d always been larger than life. You could feel their love for him emanating from the scene. All the shark fishermen were telling stories about Steve’s safaris and shark tournaments and the times he went to state capital buildings to tell lawmakers why they should vote this way or that for the sake of the sharks and the world we are a part of.
“He was man’s man,” said one.
“There aren’t supposed to be men like Steve anymore. A total Hemingway type,” said another.
“Steve was an adventurer,” said his mother, Doreen James, as we looked out at a boat coming in with a shark. Her eyes were proud and moist with a mother’s loss as she said, “He’d hunted all over the world. He loved catching huge sharks on rod and reel. He was a gentleman. He was all that a man should be. He was my son.”
Steve had his moment of fame. In 2004 ESPN started televising this tournament. That year it attracted 245 entrants. The next year a boat in the tournament landed a 1,191-pound tiger shark. That got the attention of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). They began a national campaign to pressure Martha’s Vineyard to end the contest. Through all this Steve pointed out that the tournament was good for Martha’s Vineyard, that they operated within state and federal fishery laws and that they maintained limits that resulted in few sharks being brought dead to the dock.
Still, all the trouble convinced James to move the tournament to Newport and that’s just what his relatives did.
The shark in the first boat in was a disappointment—just a 100-pound mako. “I had to kill it,” said the captain in an apologetic tone. “It couldn’t be revived.”
Several biologists there waiting weighed and measured the shark and took samples. “I go to shark tournaments up and down the East Coast,” said Lisa Natanson, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as she pulled on arm-length rubber gloves, slit open the shark’s stomach and reached in to see what it had been devouring. “Without these tournaments we couldn’t learn all we do about sharks. And the anglers don’t kill many sharks. These tournaments are good for sharks.” She pulled out a fish head. “Well, this one was hungry.”
More boats showed with threshers and makos. None were huge. Little kids pushed through the legs of the ogling adults. So many climbed onto the base of a nearby crane to see over the crowd that the dock’s owner begged people to get back, but then gave up as the tide of people washed over him.
This next boat in wasn’t like all the pretty white yachts in the harbor. It is had an open deck and a cabin without the plush bars and couches in many of the other boats. There were suntanned men in rubber fisherman boots on the boat’s deck. You could tell these men fish for a living. They came in slowly as the announcer threw suspense into a microphone and people pushed forward to see.
This boat was the Magellan captained by Frank Greiner Jr. They tied up and the crane hummed and dropped its hook. Up came a 429-pound porbeagle, a big-headed shark that likes the cold, deep waters of the North Atlantic.
Mouths were agape.
Click here to read the rest of my article at Outdoor Life.
Ernest Hemingway wrote in an introduction to Men at War (1942): “Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination.”
Many of the people who step into the street in Pamplona, Spain, to run with bulls fail to suspend their imaginations. They think about being gored. They think about being gutted by a horn. They fall apart.
I’m just back from my third trip to run with the bulls—the San Fermin festival in Pamplona finishes this week. My first run in 2007 went like this. (I wrote about this and much more in my book The Ultimate Man’s Survival Guide.)
Each of us stood alone in an anxious crowd. There were so many of us filling the narrow street in Pamplona I had to turn my shoulders and push against the other runners to move. We were all wearing white clothes with red sashes and bandanas bought from street vendors in the small city. The veteran runners sashes and bandanas were washed-out red and they had patches sewn on them and shiny pins of bulls and runners clustered over them like Boy Scout bandanas. Most of the people in the street had new and clean red bandanas and sashes.
Morning sunlight was touching the tops of five- and six-story buildings that rise up like walls along the narrow streets in this ancient city built on a plateau in the Pyrenees. At each floor above the first are balconies. These were overloaded with people also dressed in white and red, though the people on them had blood and wine, not fear, in their eyes.
Outside the packed street music was building and falling as marching bands moved down the canyon streets closer, then away twisting with the curving byways back into the city founded by Romans.
The bulls run every morning at 8 a.m. for eight days in a row. You have to get in the street before 7:30 a.m., as that’s when the police close the entrances through the wooden barricades to the narrow streets where the bulls run. You think about when you’ll begin to run. Mostly you stand and wait. Thirty minutes is a long time to ponder riding the horns. It had almost been thirty minutes already.
Each minute loudspeakers hung up and down the street were doing a countdown to the planned stampede. They were giving advice in Spanish, English, and French: “If you are knocked down. Stay down. Don’t stand up in front of a bull….”
Click here to read the rest of my column at Forbes.com.
“Maybe Asia would take notice if Africans advertised panda hunts. See how they like that,” said Brian Gaisford, president of Hemingway Gallery and Safaris.
He doesn’t mean that, of course. Brian is a globetrotting conservationist, even a bit of an activist. He said this just after coming back from the front lines of the “rhino wars.” His tone was sardonic. He was clearly in the later stages of grief. Over the past few years he has gone from anger to desperation to hopeless dread as the rhino population in South Africa’s Kruger National Park has continued to plummet from poaching. He isn’t alone.
When I was in South Africa two years ago I spent a day with a game ranger working in South Africa’s Kruger National Park—the place where most of the rhinos are being poached. This South African game ranger said half-jokingly that he’d like to start slipping across the border into Mozambique at night to grab the poachers. He said he would leave little rubber rhinos on their pillows. I got the feeling he would really like to do this.
The problem comes down to demand in Asia. Brian explains that rhino horn now sells for about $95,000 a kilogram on the Asian black market. This is up from $65,000 in November of 2014. Rhino average about two kilograms per horn. This means Rhino horn is now worth about twice its weight in gold. There are an estimated 22,000 white rhinos, and 5,000 black rhinos left in Africa—about 80 percent of those are in South Africa. Those numbers are declining at a rapid rate. One is poached about every eight hours.
Brian says, “If we don’t stop the Asian demand for rhino horn, elephant ivory, and lion bone, the big game in Africa is doomed. Everyone involved in the fight to save the rhino agrees on one thing: the situation is not looking good for rhinos.”
Click here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Heller v. D.C. (2008) that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms and then ruled in McDonald v. Chicago (2010) that this right also restricts state and local governments, the high court has opted not to hear cases that might further define gun rights. This has been a little surprising, as some lower courts have actually produced majority opinions that are critical of decisions reached by other courts. Such conflicts at the circuit level typically force the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in.
A California case—Peruta v. San Diego County—might soon force the U.S. Supreme Court to settle some of the constitutional disputes.
The California Rifle and Pistol Association Foundation brought Peruta on behalf of five individuals who were denied the right to carry a handgun by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Last February a three-judge panel in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the government can’t require residents who want a concealed-carry permit to first prove they really need their rights by showing official documentation, such as restraining orders or letters from law-enforcement agencies.
After a three-judge panel found such requirements to be unconstitutional, the 9th Circuit opted to rehear the case before its full 11-member panel. That hearing occurred last week. You can see a video of the hearing here. Whatever they decide (a decision could come anytime) this case is a very ripe candidate for an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Here’s how this decision, if it makes it that far, could reshape the gun debate in America.
Click here for the rest of my article at Forbes.com.