What Qualities of Manliness Stand the Test of Time?

What Qualities of Manliness - 1Cosmopolitan Magazine began its publishing life as a quality family oriented magazine. Unfortunately it has evolved into a “Grocery Store Checkout” magazine that is chock full of what celebrity is being physically altered and what is their favorite food or sexual activity. None of which I am particularly interested in.

However, in August of 1902, a man by the name of Rafford Pyke wrote an article entitled, “What Men Like in Men.” In 1902 you could title an article that way and no one would laugh or even consider the double entendre that it would surely produce if it appeared today. Especially in a magazine like Cosmopolitan has evolved into. Don’t Google Rafford Pyke unless you are looking for the depressing story of his life, the realization that he himself did not act in an honorable manner, and the discovery that Pyke was not even his real name.

Consider what Pyke says: “If you were to ask the average man to tell you offhand just what qualities he likes in other men, he would probably boggle a good deal over his answer. His first impulse would be to say, “Oh, I don’t know!” which is with men a convenient formula for avoiding thought upon unexpected or (to them) uninteresting topics. A little later, after turning the matter over in his mind, he would give you a catalogue of qualities to which he would be willing to swear. His list, however, would bear a strong resemblance to the “hundred-best-book” lists made my persons who sincerely believe that they are expressing their own literary preferences, but who are actually indulging in a bit of intellectual pose. Just as these individuals mention the books which they feel they ought to enjoy reading rather than those which they really read, so the average man will name a number of qualities which he thinks he likes, rather than those which in his heart of hearts he actually does like.”

What Qualities of Manliness - 2It was much easier for Pyke to determine what men disliked in other men. And the character or quality that they disliked was that of being or acting like a “Sissy.” I won’t expand on that today, although I reserve the right to do so in the future!

As always, men in 1902 were not any better at the introspection or self-analysis needed to consider the question of what kinds of men that men like or admire than you and I are today. As proof, Pyke says: “The typical man is curiously deficient in a capacity for self-analysis. He seldom devotes any serious thought to the origin of his opinions, the determining factor in his judgments, the ultimate source of his desires, or the hidden mainsprings of his motives. In all that relates to the external and material world he observes shrewdly, reasons logically, and acts effectively; but question him as to the phenomena of the inner world – the world of his own Ego – and he is dazed and helpless.”

Notwithstanding, his insights into the ways and thoughts of men are amazing and worthy of consideration. But, unless you have an old issue of Cosmo sitting around, let me give you the highlights and the takeaways from that article.

According to Pyke, men like these traits in men:

  • Honor that ennobles – Real men appreciate honor in other men that inspires us to be like them.
  • Justice that insures the right – Real men appreciate justice in other men that stands up for those who need it the most.
  • Reasonableness that mellows and makes plain – Real men appreciate calm and collected men who are infectious in the calming nature.
  • Courage that proclaims virility – Real men appreciate courage that is manifested in real acts of valor.
  • Generous instinct that disdains all meanness – Real men appreciate generosity and kindness that demonstrate grace and mercy.
  • Modesty that makes no boast – Real men appreciate modesty and humility when all the world proclaims look at me!
  • Dignity that wins respect – Real men appreciate and are drawn to the dignity and self-respect that exudes from these men.
  • Fineness and the tenderness that know and feel – Real men appreciate the gentleness and the way that these men treat others, especially the way that they treat the women in their circle of influence.

Could it be, in the end, and throughout all time, that all men like a man who is a gentleman?

Photo credit: fordsbasement / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Photo credit: Thoth, God of Knowledge / Foter.com / CC BY

14 Replies to “What Qualities of Manliness Stand the Test of Time?”

  1. I went through an internal auditing class this past week and we listed out 4 principles that a good auditor must uphold: Integrity, Objectivity, Confidentiality, and Competency.

    We then discussed characteristics: Diplomatic, Patient, concise, trained, Open-minded, and inquiring.

    As far as I am concerned, that is a list of how I want to live too. The problem with lists, is that they are a stagnant impersonal idea that can contain words/descriptions that have different perceptions to different people. They mean nothing, without action and accountability to the spirit of why the list was made.

    1. Scott, I like the short list from your auditing class. I think that principles and characteristics should stay the same (stagnant, if you will). While I believe that tactics can remain fluid to meet the ever changing environment. That is why it is so important to find foundational principles. Would you agree?

  2. The “how to” is always the most important and also the most commonly failed component in my experience. My company has a simple Quality policy. “Quality is my responsibility” That’s it. It is posted on banners, pasted on hard hats and yet no body understands its the actual Quality policy. They think it is a slogan. Lists, sayings etc. are only as good as the method of delivery and follow up of it’s intent.

    Lists to me are like brainstorming in a sense. A beginning phase of a process, in which hopefully the concepts declared from the brainstorming gain life.

  3. I think the list that was presented is a solid list but in todays world I think that list needs to be augmented by at least one thing. We live in a world that puts so much emphasis on “political correctness” that being direct is no longer an option and it is accepted adn even expected that someone will be offended by anything that is said that is controversial or said in a direct rather than “gracious” or “careful” manner. Man up and look at what prople mean not how you can be offended by it.

  4. First of all it is refreshing to have men discuss this topic since most of the time that I see definitions of what “real men” are, they are coming from women. It is hard to talk to this without making a list, but it is hard to argue with Scott’s list, well done. I wish that I could say that I have always been all those things, but another thing about being a man (and a woman, too) is to make course corrections along the path of life. Somehow in our lives as men, we are expected to be strong and tender, bold and understanding, courageous and forbearing. We do have our weaknesses and strengths, we need to understand and work both. Many years ago, I read a book, “Fire In The Belly”, if you have not read it, I highly recommend it.

  5. I think the premise about liking gentlemen may be accurate. I like Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. We have a tendency to gravitate towards this male role model. Preferring the Bruce Wayne to the Batman. (Of course, some of us are called to be the Batman.) I believe there is strength in being courteous and polite. I always say…it costs me nothing to be nice to people.

    As a peace officer, I have to embody all those attributes listed in the article. Blessed are the peacemakers…

    In our daily lives, the application may be difficult. Scott’s list is interesting. Interesting in the sense, that we can apply attributes to a role but rarely do we apply those attributes to ourselves as men. I am glad Scott showed us the connection. I, too, need to bring that peace officer/maker role into my daily life and embody those attributes.

    1. hmm, do we change values or the perceptions of what those values are in reference to today? Just thinking about the last trait in the article that references how a man treats a woman in their circle of influence. I would hazard a guess that the expectations of competency in what a woman can bring to the table is much different today, than it was when the article was written. Pretty sure in the US, they gained rights to vote in 1920, so the point of reference would be drastically different in a circle of influence between 1902 (article date) and 2013.

      1. Let’s accept your premise that the point of reference is different in 2013 compared to 1902. And even though the original article and my post was about how men perceived men, how do you think the point of reference would impact the home then versus today?

        1. One point of difference would be, I would not consider a man who stayed home and managed the household while the woman brought in the financial needs for the family, as any less of a man. Now while I wouldn’t view another man as any less of a man, I hope to some day grow to a point that I wouldn’t find myself as any less of a “man” if I needed my wife to bring home the money. Always room for improvement.

  6. After I read the link comparing “values” and “principles”, I would tend to agree with you. I was viewing value more in its other definition of what is of value to me, which does change over time. What was of value to me in my 20s was very different than what it is now. Prinicples should not change. But on to another thought, are there differences today in what is expected a good man vs. a good woman? Or should we be talking about what a good person should be?

    1. It is interesting to consider the different use of the the word “Value”. I was using it as a noun, meaning that it is a foundational principle. I did not consider its use a verb, meaning to assign worth to something. I think that has potential for an intereesting article at some point.

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