Many men feel disoriented these days. Gender roles that for millennia defined how we act, have been retired overnight.
Yet, in the sexual marketplace, being overly feminine won’t get you far. Masculine-acting men are still in high demand, maybe more so than before.
So, what should you do?
Learn how to be masculine in a modern world, why feminism is not the enemy, and what the “masculine matrix” is.
Note: In this article, I am primarily addressing straight men. But if you are gay, transgender, or non-binary, and concerned with appearing more masculine, you might still get something out of the part about the masculinity matrix.
How We Sublimate Masculine Impulses
Men in the West face a dilemma.
On the one hand, we are expected to have overcome the traditional male archetype. Traits that were historically defined as masculine — strength, competitiveness, self-assertion — are now being labeled as toxic. To reject these traits is to make the world a better place, or so the narrative goes.
Yet, on the other hand, we can’t seem to get away from their allure. Various billion-dollar industries have sprung up to fill the gap — superhero movies, video games, the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
That’s the uneasy compromise we find ourselves with — we can’t act out on our masculine impulses anymore, but it’s okay to project our male fantasies onto these media outlets.
Rambo now owns a PlayStation.
You Can’t Argue With Biology
We would never try to argue that someone with a lot of alcohol in their system could act sober. They are literally “under the influence.”
Yet, we try to make this exact argument when it comes to even more potent substances – our hormones.
Testosterone and estrogen alter our whole existence. Our level of aggression, our capacity for compassion, our sex drive, our body shape — all of these directly depend on the hormones in our bloodstream.
Masculinity is not just an imposed, learned behavior. It is rooted in biology.
I am not saying that social construct does not play into gender. It does. For example, the way we dress or what behaviors we find acceptable in dating certainly correspond with our socialization.
But biology forms the base. Social construct sits atop it. We were beasts long before we got concerned with gender roles.
Nobody Is Happy With the Status Quo
Our dismissal of biology has serious consequences. As the former owner of an MMA gym, I got to witness them on a daily basis. Modern men are not at home in their bodies anymore. They use their bodies like someone walking on stilts for the first time — awkwardly, flailing.
Modern women are not too happy with the results either. In my next career as a dating coach, I talked to countless women — intelligent, progressive, self-reliant — who were all complaining about the same thing — “Men have no clue how to handle me.”
Oftentimes, these women would end up as surrogate mothers to their emasculated boyfriends — a situation they hated, as it killed any sexual spark.
Some of these women would resort to dating “bad boys.” Of course, this came with all the usual downsides — machoism, cheating, and even violence. “But at least the sex is good,” they would tell me.
It seems to me like we have achieved the opposite of what we intended. We have turned regular men into milquetoasts. And we have enabled the worst type of man, the jerk, who now finds himself as a sought-after commodity.
Feminism Is Not the Enemy
It would be easy to blame feminism for this mess.
In fact, that is what a growing number of men do. What started out as a couple of weird subcultures online (the “manosphere,” incels, MGTOW, etc.) has now spilled over into the mainstream. Influencers like Mike Cernovich and Andrew Tate have built their careers on ranting against women’s lib.
But easy answers are rarely true.
Feminism is not the enemy. 1960s feminism paved the way for premarital sex, masturbation, permissive pop culture, and porn — achievements that profited men just as much, if not more, than women. And while many anti-feminists claim they would happily return to the “golden age” of gender inequality, that is posturing. Go live in a traditional Muslim country for 6 months (like I have done); you will come to miss feminist achievements really quickly.
In truth, feminism has acted as a catalyst for what needs to happen in all late civilizations — the rebellion against the “fascism of nature” (Camille Paglia). It sought to extend the freedom of the individual against the ultimate boundary there is — our genes. And we are much better off for it. It makes for a more interesting, more adventurous world.
The problem with feminism is not with the paradigm. The problem is that like all revolutionary ideas, it eventually got corrupted by the herd.
1960s feminism was a rebellion against the status quo, driven by a small number of daring individualists. These women (and men) were not moaning about “systemic injustices.” Rather, they took what had been denied to them — sexual freedom. And they did so with an appreciation for pleasure.
With the mass feminism of today, these ideas have been turned on their heads. Gone is all sense of autonomy. The herd now uses feminist rhetoric to do what the herd always does — to paint itself as the victim. It promotes an “us vs. them” logic — “If you are not with us, you must be against us.” Nuance is the enemy.
The ultimate irony — what started out as the most libertine take on sex in human history has now become deeply puritanical. No orgy rooms, just “safe places.”
It is no wonder that mass feminism has found its counterpart in the mass movement of alt-right fanatics. The two complement each other.
There Is a Third Way
There is no point in lamenting over the situation. The way forward is to develop a new, better model of masculinity.
Specifically, we must overcome the current dichotomy.
On the one hand, don’t relegate yourself to being the “nice guy” who can only act out his masculinity through media outlets like video games. You might get a pat on the head from the woke mainstream, but not much else. Definitely no sex.
On the other hand, you must not join the blind haters. Trump is not the answer (has there ever been a president with more effeminate mannerisms?), and neither is pining for some conservative 1950s utopia (you can’t go back in time, and really, you don’t want to).
“How to be more masculine” must be about finding a third way.
Before we get into this, we have to get something straight. We have to discuss why we want to be more masculine in the first place.
Why Do You Want To Be More Masculine?
There are three reasons why modern men desire to be more masculine (from less to most important):
- A sense of mission
- Male mental health
- Better chances in the sexual marketplace
Let’s look at these in turn.
1. A Sense of Mission
In a pre-feminist society, every gender had its clearly defined roles to play. For men, those were usually the roles of breadwinner and protector.
As a result of new economic realities, these roles have become devalued.
Three quick examples:
- Currently, more women than men are graduating from college each year.
- Women are landing higher-paying jobs than ever before in history.
- There are now a number of truly self-made female billionaires, e.g., Judith Faulkner or Meg Whitman.
Many modern women don’t need to rely on men for financial support. They have plenty of funds available. That is the first major blow to the male ego — your money doesn’t buy you love anymore (or at least less so).
The second blow — women don’t need your protection like they used to. In pacified Western societies, physical violence has become a relatively rare occurrence. Also, there are commercial alternatives now. You don’t need to escort her home — she can just call herself an Uber. And in a post #MeToo world, it is more effective to get rid of sexual predators by exposing them online, than having your boyfriend beat them up.
The two prime male bartering objects — financial security and physical strength — are on a historically unprecedented downtrend.
It is no wonder that many men — especially average Joes — feel lost. What else is there to make them feel special, to give them a sense of mission?
For these men, redefining their masculinity will be about finding a new purpose in life.
2. Male Mental Health
In the Western world, suicide rates among men are 3 to 4 times higher than in women. It seems safe to assume that many men experience a lot of anguish. Might that be related to rejecting our biology?
Looking at my own upbringing, I can at least provide some anecdotal evidence. I had loving parents and teachers, who did their best. But there was never any encouragement of “boyish” behavior. I was told to listen and not talk back. Any display of aggression was discouraged.
I was lucky enough to discover full-contact martial arts at an early age. It provided an environment where (controlled) violence was actually encouraged. And I met male role models that showed me alternative ways of conducting myself.
Most young boys are not so lucky. They never receive any instruction in “manliness.” Rather, they get domesticated. Activities that are fundamental to all males in nature — playfighting, testing out physical limits, going on adventures — are being punished. If these boys don’t obey, they get drugged with Adderall and Ritalin.
Is it really that surprising that many men are suffering silently?
So, mental health might be another reason why you would want to figure out how to be more masculine. It might help you to undo some of the psychological damage that was inflicted upon you early on.
3. Better Chances in the Sexual Marketplace
The third reason why men will want to become more masculine is to have better chances with the opposite sex. Because despite society celebrating the effeminate new man, that is not what gets most women going.
Just observe attractive women in your vicinity, and you will almost always see masculine men next to them. If it was true that modern women prefer the softie over the alpha male, then surely movie stars and models would be dating them more often. But they are dating the Brad Pitts and the George Clooneys of this world.
We can’t get away from our biology. Just like men will always be drawn to a certain waist-to-hip ratio, women will always have a reaction to a self-assured, strong man. On a primal level, that aura of strength is still what feels the most sexually exciting.
So, this will be the ultimate motivator for most men wanting to rediscover their masculinity – to be desired by more attractive women.
On a side note, it is the strongest motivator for women as well. As we saw, women don’t need men for economic or physical security anymore; not like they used to.
But they still need men for sex.
The Gender Matrix
The question “How to be more masculine?” comes down to how we define masculinity in the modern world. It is clear that the emasculated “new man” is not a viable option. But neither is a return to the “good old days” of gender inequality.
You must strike a balance between dominance and vulnerability. The goal is to forge your own brand of masculinity.
A good starting point is what I call the gender matrix:
The Male Half of the Gender Matrix
Men begin this process in the top half of the hexagon which is home to the “provider,” the “hero,” and the “aggressor.”
The provider is maybe the most misunderstood male sexual archetype. We often mistake him for the emasculated “nice guy.” But he is not. Rather, picture him as a hard worker, committed to keeping his family afloat. Unlike the nice guy, he has an edge to him. If you push the provider too far, e.g., attack his family, he will engage in violence. He will also cheat if he can do it discreetly.
The aggressor is exactly what the name suggests. He is a testosterone-driven fighter, who unapologetically takes what he wants. He is one with his body, his instrument of power; there is no disconnect. His raw energy, his disrespect for boundaries, and his high sex drive make him attractive to women. But they can also be turned off by his lack of intellectual depth and his uncaring attitude.
The synthesis of the two is the hero. He has the brutality of the aggressor, but unlike him, he only uses it for “noble” ends. His aptitude for violence is tempered by a moral compass; he is the caring killer. Most superheroes in comic books are based on this archetype, and so are many male protagonists in action movies, e.g., the brave soldier in war flicks.
The Female Half of the Gender Matrix
The female archetypes form the bottom half of the hexagon and include the “good girl,” the “trophy wife,” and the “femme fatale.”
The “good girl” is the sweet, sexually inexperienced child-woman that most (weak) men want to be with. She is soft and kind. Next to her, even a weak man can feel more powerful. There is no sexual aggression in her (or any aggression at all). She never questions the status quo, she never rebels. Her main mode of operation is caring for others — her pets, her parents, her man, her children.
The “femme fatale” is the opposite of that. Not only is she confident in her sexuality, but she actively flaunts it — for attention, for fun, for thrill. She is perfectly aware of the power she holds over men; they are her playthings. Yet, very few men actually get to be with the femme fatale, as they cannot handle her; they are too weak. So, they secretly admire her from afar; or they get angry with her and condemn her as a slut.
The synthesis of the two is the “trophy wife” (for lack of a better word). She has all the attributes and the aura of the femme fatale, but she will only be a “whore” with one man. If needed, she can also access her inner child and show herself as soft and indulging. This richness comes with a price. Her affection can only be won by a man with impressive accolades — strength, status, and/or money.
So far, we are still in traditional gender roles territory. But with any of the three male archetypes, you can cross over to each of the three female archetypes. This creates interesting new hybrid archetypes.
Let’s look at the permutations.
The Provider Crossing Over
|Provider –> Good Girl||You are strong and dependable, but also in touch with your soft, caring side. Family is your anchor point.||Liam Neeson|
|Provider –> Trophy Wife||You are a likable goofball, who endearingly paints himself as the prize.||Jake Black|
|Provider –> Femme Fatal||You are seemingly conservative but then surprise with your clever raunchiness.||Ricky Gervais|
The Hero Crossing Over
|Hero –> Good Girl||You are so self-assured, you come across as aloof. But once you open up, you turn out to be caring.||Keanu Reeves|
|Hero –> Trophy Wife||You want to be a superhero but for the praise.||Tom Cruise|
|Hero –> Femme Fatal||You are a bit of a Renaissance man, but hide it behind an air of flamboyance.||Russell Brand|
The Aggressor Crossing Over
|Aggressor –> Good Girl||You go from being a cold killer to a delicate plant in an instant.||James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano|
|Aggressor –> Trophy Wife||You are a dangerous maniac who must be seen as the greatest of all time.||Conor McGregor|
|Aggressor –> Femme Fatal||You combine both male aggression and unbridled feminine sexuality into an androgynous beast.||The young Marilyn Manson|
Crossing over to the female side opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for men. Yet, nobody would accuse the men in this list of being “sissy.” I think it’s fair to assume that all of these men are in the top one percent of the sexual food chain.
There is no problem with incorporating female behaviors into your chosen male archetype. In fact, it’s a plus. It adds spice.
There is only a problem if you have no male base to build upon.
That’s the mistake of the “nice guy”— he crosses over to being the good girl, without ever developing a male base first. As a result, his femininity is not seen as an enriching addendum; rather, it’s his only thing.
If you cross over to the trophy wife or the femme fatale without having a male base, the effects will be even more self-defeating. Since this is how many homosexual men signal to the world — by acting the “queen” or the “slut” — as a straight guy, you now have taken yourself out of the game. Women will simply assume you are gay.
If you want to be desired by heterosexual women, that male base must be there. There must be a certain level of polarity.
Where To Go From Here
It’s one thing to understand the gender matrix and another thing to apply it. You must actively claim your sexual role.
With luck, you’ll find a male mentor who can coach you along the way. But most people will have to figure it out themselves, by trial and error.
The two tools that I have found the most useful have been full-contact martial arts and talking to strangers.
I have always found that different combat sports appeal to different male archetypes. Striking-based martial arts tend to appeal to the aggressor archetype while grappling sports resonate with the provider type. Crosstraining (MMA) is what the hero is drawn to.
So, by exploring different styles, you can identify your natural archetype and further cultivate those tendencies.
Talking to strangers, and particularly to attractive women, is another tool for self-discovery you can use.
Here, the woman becomes your mirror. By her reaction, you can observe which of your male behaviors have an effect and which fall flat. By following those behaviors with the biggest positive impact, you will also eventually arrive at your authentic male archetype.
It is important to be honest with yourself. Many of us aspire to an archetype that is not in line with our natural inclinations. For example, for a while, I was playing at being an aggressor — with very limited success. It just wasn’t me. But as soon as I embraced my natural archetype (hero + trophy wife), I saw much better results.
Ultimately, any sexual self-positioning must be based on self-awareness. You must learn to see yourself for who you are to amplify your specific male strengths.