Caricatures of Masculinity

Men are rejecting the emasculating nature of post-modern western culture. That’s a good thing.

But in our zeal to reject the effeminate zeitgeist, we have created subcultures which elevate traditional manly virtues to the point of excess and self-parody. We have turned ourselves into caricatures of masculinity.

This reaction is understandable, maybe even desirable. In a world gone mad, there is a lot to be said for enthusiastic and reflexive iconoclasm. When you live among creatures who believe that physical beauty is a disease, the cleansing thereof we should celebrate, it is rational to define yourself as the exact opposite of what they say and do. The Red Pill community has rejected the anti-health, anti-strength, and anti-muscle activists completely. The result is our first caricature of masculinity…

The Bodybuilder

In a world of #FatAcceptance and vegan hipster men in size 26 waist skinny jeans, the Gym Rat stands opposed. The official arbiters of culture and taste – whom we can observe to be some combination of evil and insane – are advocating complete and unconditional surrender to sloth and gluttony. In response, the Gym Rat has adopted the inverse of these values. He defines his masculinity and self-worth based on his strength and physique. But too often, he uses the gym as an excuse to avoid further improvements to himself and his lifestyle. You don’t want to be like an (ex) friend of mine who works a crap job and lives with his obese girlfriend, but has an amazing physique that he bases his self-worth on.

Lifting weights is a great habit and one that you should get started on immediately. Getting in great shape will cost you one or two hours per day, and you will probably get those hours back in the form of more energy and focus in your non-gym hours. But once you have built a healthy routine that includes regular weight training and healthy eating, it’s time to add new challenges to your life.

The Pick-Up Artist

The seduction community is another outlet for the misdirected energies of modern men, and the pick-up devotee is another popular caricature of masculinity.

Men who discover and quickly demonstrate some proficiency in the game want to go out every night, test the limits of what is socially possible, and generally revel in the raw power of perceiving and manipulating social dynamics. The result is a critical mass of young men going out with their friends wings to spam approach, turning walkable downtown neighbourhoods into Day Game Carnivals, putting on a dehumanizing, artificial, and – once the calibration clicks into place – ruthlessly effective pantomime of genuine social interaction.

There is great value in the seduction community, and even more in the practical application of its teachings. But the space monkey, crash-and-burn, approach-machine phase that most new converts embrace is not a stable end point. “Pick-up artist” is not an identity, it is a temporary crash course.

The Digital Entrepreneur

In the late aughts, there arose a new class of location-independent online marketers and entrepreneurs, who have now created a viable and lucrative marketplace in which they sell ebooks to each other and their gullible audiences of despairing office workers.

Their goal is the creation of something called “location-independent passive income”, also known as money from thin air. The core belief of this cult is the idea that opportunities for easy money are widespread, and accessible to the masses. Anyone who denies this, well, they’re simply not doing it right.

The reality is that very, very few entrepreneurs actually rely on passive income “lifestyle businesses.” The vast majority of entrepreneurs work long hours, struggle for years before (maybe) having some success. They experience far more stress than any nine-to-five office worker. For a lot of men – myself included – it’s worth it. But it’s certainly not an easy path, and there is nothing wrong with working a nine-to-five if that suits your risk profile and temperament.

The Solution

The best defense against this mistake – the psychological over-investment in vanity, lust, and greed – is a regular effort to create and experience the sublime: Spend time with people you love; read great books; get a dog; do something artistic and share it with the world. Improve yourself and pursue your goals, but do it with a light heart – not the sullen, joyless, grim-faced resolve of of a self-improvement cyborg.

The purpose of this post is not to dissuade you from weight training, approaching women, or entrepreneurship. On the contrary, these are the most essential tools that young men can use to live a purposeful life: I have been lifting weights since I was in high school, and I consider it one of the six habits that have made me a man; I have been studying and practicing game for years; I’ve written the truth about making money online, and I traded the cushiest of cushy office jobs, for the chaotic and uncertain life of a full-time entrepreneur. The bodybuilding, pick-up, and entrepreneur subcultures are valuable and positive attempts at carving out specific facets of masculine identity.

But precisely because these tools are so obviously and virtuously masculine, we are liable to make idols of them, and forget that there are higher levels of awareness to work towards. When we take our reverence of virtues too far, we turn them into cults, and we create caricatures of masculinity.


  1. says

    Very well stated.
    It is so often easy to disregard the need for balance in our lives.
    That balance is one of the most difficult to attain and eludes us almost all of the time. However, that is no excuse to discontinue looking for it.

  2. Seth Rose says

    Very interesting article. It’s interesting that these sub-cultures have all popped up in recent years and are all closely tied together.

    I believe that one needs to definitely put in their dues to achieve success in those categories, but as you said “the psychological over-investment in vanity, lust, and greed” will never lead to good things.

  3. Swordfish says

    PUA-artists and game-students dedicate vast amounts of time to approaching women, effectively giving worthless women way too much attention. How beta is that? A man’s world should revolve around himself and the people worth of his love, not some drunk girls of the YOLO generation.

  4. says

    Good wake up call for some. I myself have caught myself stressing and overinvesting time into at least one of these. Balance is the key. Personally, while I loved college and had a great time, I think too much self worth into the sluts I would be banging only to hit some depressive lows when on a cold streak. Developing different areas at the same time has given much more inner peace to my life.

  5. says

    This is perfect. Being focused on those things where you can measure your progress is great but it’s best to have a few things you like to do for their own sake… Reading good books is good because it just is.

    Also, to get a sense of what a non-cartoonish masculinity looks like it’s worth reading old biographies of people like Teddy Roosevelt, Benvenuto Cellini (renaissance artist/metallurgist), Feynman etc etc etc… I.e, life is packed with opportunities to do things that aren’t covered by the manosphere.

  6. LaidNYC says

    Another one of these caricatures is the SHTF/Fight Club model of masculinity.

    A guy would do well to taste his own blood and know how to start a fire, but to reduce a man’s worth to how well he would survive on the african savannah in 4000 BC is a caricature. In a previous post you mentioned the curiosity of Jack Donovan and Chuck Palahniuk writing so well about masculinity while being gay, I think part of it is that this type of raw hypermasculine hierarchy might appeal to masculine gays in a way it doesn’t to the average straight man. The typical straight man instinctively will have those paleolithic drives to tap into, but they see it as a means to an end, not the romanticized model of the world that the aforementioned authors believe it. This is evidenced further by the fact that Palahniuk writes women very unconvincingly and Donovan doesn’t write about them at all, showing an entire section of the straight man’s brain that they just can’t empathize with. This is a tough criticism for me to write because I like both of these authors and they both provide deep insights. I like that they offer a model of masculinity that goes beyond the modernist “bang chicks” metric of self-worth. But its tough to pardon the civilization-as-shackle mentality, as civilization is itself the highest masculine accomplishment, and the very reason that the masculine virtues have value. Of course, without the protection of offspring and family to concern oneself with (or the possibility thereof), it is easy to miss that point.

    Tangentially related to this is the Art of Manliness model of masculinity. The old-timey “men-peaked-in-1910” type stuff clearly shows a confused guy looking for role models of manhood to follow, and finding modern media coming up short, so he is trying to romanticize his great-grandfather instead. The mustache nostalgia type stuff misses the essence of manhood and instead tries to imitate men. The result is something like a 5 year old putting on his dad’s shoes and work belt.

    • Tom Kaye says

      Very good points. Authenticity, also known as “to thine own self be true”, is a hard target to hit. Especially because, if no one notices when you do achieve it, will you still be proud and satisfied with yourself?

  7. Gruesome says

    Well, well.

    This is one of the finer articles to come out of the manosphere in recent times.

    There is one another caricature worth adding to the list: World Traveler/International Playboy.

    It would appear that all these caricatures have one thing in common: No material improvement to the world. Let me expound that: the use of the mind’s intelligence to create a material good with the hands (manual intelligence) that has definite value. So, no great art, music, machines, gadgets, food, furniture — nothing that can be seen anymore. Just e-books and click-throughs.

    MAN-ual stuff is hard. It means you can’t sit in front of a computer screen all day posting and evolving into a “self-improvement cyborg.” On the other hand, what’s the use if it all goes to shit, cunts or taxes?

  8. Xman says

    Also, the heights of Top PUA’s amd bodybuilders are simply unattainable for most. Better to aim for efficiency. For example, I train with weights for 30 minutes twice a week, to failure, and approach girls in various situations after studying the best daytime material out there, Daygame Mastery. This gets me 80 percent there in both goals – girls and pussique – and these actions don’t interfere with my life at all. It has to be said though that you should still pick up as a top PUA and train the way you believe is optimal for muscle gain because the results will be small and slow anyway. Essentially, if you don’t train specifically for a goal, your results will be zero.

  9. Dokter Mayhem says

    In some ways, I think the caricature may be the most effective means of combat. Case in point: Vladimir Putin. He knows that he’s taking his masculinity over the top. He knows that he brought it to the point of ridiculousness. That’s because he knows that Russian men need a role model and the Russia itself needs something over the top.