A short history of manhood since 1945.
The current masculine identity crisis finds its roots in a rapid change of social dynamics that began at the end of WWII.
Here’s what happened, where we are today, and where we’re headed tomorrow.
Most of the people and movements cited below have had their fair share of controversy. For the sake of brevity and clarity, I am not discussing them. If you want to understand an ideology, you need not to stop at what hits the headlines but go deep into it and find out the meaning of what’s said. I don’t believe we can accurately discuss masculinity without talking about these movements. Consider that since we’re talking about a lack of masculinity, we’re going to end up in men’s darkest thoughts, which is always unsettling for the untrained eye.
I have tried to remain as neutral as possible, taking the core of each philosophy to see how their development eventually led to the situation we’re in today. Consider this article to be completely neutral on the topic. My purpose is simply to explain, without shying away from controversy, how we got into this situation, and where we’re headed tomorrow.
You can watch this essay in video if you don’t want to read it.
The current masculine crisis isn’t new, and finds its roots in the post-WWII world.
In “ No More Mr. Nice Guy”, psychiatrist Robert Glover highlights several changes that radically impacted boys.
- The shift from an agrarian society to an industrial society. At the beginning of the 20th century, fathers and sons worked together in the fields. 50 years later, the sons were going to school, and the fathers were going to the office, breaking the bonds between them.
- The rise in divorces: kids were most often raised by their mothers than they were by their fathers in case of divorce. As a result, they didn’t have any role models showing them what it is to be a man.
- The educational system: there are many more women teachers than men.
- Feminism: many women, seeing the changes incoming, raised their daughters to not need a man, and raised their sons to be different than their fathers. Meanwhile, radical feminism made men guilty for being men.
Men became less manly. While it doesn’t seem like much, this phenomenon has had a profound impact on Western society and has led to the situation we’re in today.
Two Types of Boys, Three Types of Men
There are two types of boys that grow up to become three types of men.
- The alpha boy: the alpha boy is raised by a strong father with healthy self-esteem and confidence. The alpha boy emulates the alpha characteristics of his father.
- The beta boy: a boy raised by his mother alone, or by a beta father. The beta boy emulates the feminine characteristics of his mother or the beta characteristics of his father.
These boys grew up and became three different types of men.
- The well-intentioned alpha male: The well-intentioned alpha male was an alpha boy. He was taught that power equaled responsibility and does not abuse it when he is entrusted with it.
- The beta male: Also called “nice guy”, the beta man is a grown-up beta boy, full of resentment, anger, and usually passive-aggressive.
- Ill-intentioned alpha male: this man is a beta boy that made it to a powerful position in society. He is unacquainted with the power he now enjoys and abuses it because he’s never felt powerful during his childhood. I call him alpha because he’s at the top of a hierarchy, but his behavior remains inevitably beta.
These three types of men have existed since the dawn of time.
“Patriarchs” come from the first group, men whose kids don’t respect them and whose wife divorced them come from the second group, and most male politicians come from the third group (none of the dictators of this world were raised by strong fathers and loving mothers in a peaceful family.)
Why Are Men Struggling Now?
The dating and economic situation in the 70s and 80s wasn’t nearly as bad as it is now, for several reasons.
- Purchasing power was higher.
- Social pressure compelled the youth to practice monogamy and get married young. There was a wife/husband for everyone.
- People were dating in clusters. The middle-class dated the middle-class, the higher-class dated the higher-class, etc. Today, women from all classes are dating males in the higher class, leaving men from the working and middle-class girlfriendless. Males from the higher class are better than ever before, and males from the bottom are worse off than ever before.
At the time, culture acted as a forcing function for the formation of couples.
On paper, people were free to do what they wanted, but in practice, it was much less the case. My grandfather was furious when my unmarried mum left the family nest to get her own apartment in the 70s.
People married for love, sure, but they also married because they had to. Getting with someone you weren’t super in love with was still better than being alone (it changed today).
There was also a lot of ignorance. The absence of social media meant it was harder to compare yourself to people in other neighborhoods, cities, and countries. You may have genuinely believed you got a good deal simply because society, culture, and your friends told you so.
So if you were frustrated with your beta husband and your friends were too with theirs, frustration was probably the norm.
Several things happened as time passed.
- The culture changed: women were encouraged to get a career and “be free” (See Sex in the City). Marrying young became almost shameful.
- The cultural’s representation of men became feminized.
- Divorce became acceptable and possible.
Overall, society made it easier for women to date up, which led to an increase in single men at the bottom and the middle of society.
So they looked for a solution.
That solution arrived in 2005.
Men only want three things.
- A good body.
Money and a good body have never been hard to acquire. Build a company, go to the gym.
Women though, have always been more of a challenge.
In the past (and still very much now), the mainstream thinking regarding what women wanted in a man was money. You had to be rich.
In practice though, this has never been the case – except for gold diggers.
Women don’t date rich guys. They date alphas, and alphas often happen to be rich.
Wealth in itself isn’t important (if it was, poor countries would have fewer children than rich countries, which ironically, is the opposite).
In the real world, women date broke alphas over rich betas any day of the week.
Few knew this before 2005.
It all changed after.
Because 2005 was the year that revealed to the world that any chode (a man who can’t get girls), provided he worked a bit on himself, could attract women as well as a natural alpha, thanks to the publishing of Neil Strauss’ book “The Game”.
It amazes me that the cultural impact of “The Game” has not been more talked about than it has.
The early 2000s were also when the Internet began to spread.
Information became abundant now that people across the globe could connect and each contribute and exchange about a given topic.
Of course, you already had lots of resources about seduction on the Internet before 2005, but “The Game” made it to the NYT best-sellers list, hence introducing the idea of “ game” to the mainstream narrative.
“The Game” answered the most fundamental question men had been trying to answer since the dawn of time: how do you get a (beautiful) girl to have sex with you when you’re not naturally attractive?
Answer: with game.
Sex, as it happened, was more a matter of communication than it was a matter of finances (or looks, or even status).
For a few years, “pick-up artists” invaded nightclubs and malls talking to the most beautiful girls they could find, practicing their pick-up skills in an attempt to get lucky.
Most men with enough dedication could go from nerd to casanova in as little as six months.
And many did. For the next few years, they multiplied their sexual encounters by a factor of ten, if not more.
Then another problem came up.
Men realized they didn’t want only sex — they also wanted a relationship.
And they were incapable to sustain one.
The Red Pill
Game taught men how to get laid, but it didn’t change who they were at the core.
As a result, these men would eventually find themselves stuck in a relationship, incapable of understanding what their girlfriends actually wanted.
The Red Pill appeared in the early 2010s as an attempt to answer why men with game could get laid but failed at getting a long-term girlfriend.
The Red Pill is some sort of male-centered philosophical movement claiming to open men’s eyes to women’s nature, feminism, gender roles, and how Western society moved more and more towards favoring women over men in most situations.
Their conclusion was simple: dating for men was harder and harder, living in the Western world as a man was harder and harder, and the future of the middle-class male was bleak, to say the least.
The movement subsequently split into different factions. Three of them are worth highlighting.
- The positive Red Pills: I called it this way because these guys (Roosh V, Rollo Tomassi, etc) wrote books encouraging men to raise their value as much as possible to get the best chances to date the best women out there. Their answer was: “the world is tough, embrace it, because there are no alternatives”.
- MGTOW: MGTOW is short for Men Going Their Own Way. MGTOW is a movement that completely rejects women in society and everything that they have to offer. Some sort of “men’s strike” until gender balance is, to their views, re-established.
- The Black Pill: The Black Pill is the InCels’ movement, a nihilistic philosophy entailing that some men are born to get all of the girls, and some are born to have none. The Black Pill leads young men on a path of self-destruction that often ends up in shooting in schools or campuses.
Weirdly enough, (and it may have been their biggest mistake), the Red Pill was a pro-masculine movement, but obsessed with female nature (instead of being obsessed with bettering themselves.)
They spent more time discussing feminism and women’s hypergamous nature instead of finding ways to work taking these obstacles into consideration.
Masculinity was already talked about, but it was more of an identical revendication than it was a solution like it’s presented today.
It changed in 2017.
One of the movements at the forefront of the fight against masculinity was wok…ness(W).
The W started to rise in 2015 during the Great Awokening but were not extensively talked about before the accession of Trump to the presidency.
Several of their theories (such as “toxic masculinity”) gained mainstream support in 2017 with the spread of the MeToo movement on one hand, and the Harvey Weinstein’s case on the other.
Many women came forward and said they’ve had enough of powerful men’s abuse of power to obtain sex from women.
Their point was valid and justified, but the way it’s been expressed was mistaken.
One of the theories of the Red Pill entails that women have boyfriends, or girlfriends. If a male isn’t dating her, then his female friend merely sees him as a girl, not as a guy.
As a result, women’s view of men is skewed. What they call “men” are actually “men worth dating”, that is, the alphas (both ill or well-intentioned).
The betas aren’t considered “men”, and are completely desexualized due to women’s lack of sexual interest.
When these women came forward, they accused all men of toxic behavior and asked for a change in “masculinity”, calling it “toxic”. The mainstream narrative quickly embraced the theory.
They didn’t understand though that the men at the origin of their sorrow were the ill-intentioned alphas, and only made up a tiny minority of all men.
The truth about ill-intentioned alphas is that everyone is suffering from their behavior, including the beta males.
So when the mainstream narrative accused men and “masculinity” of toxicity, making them all responsible for the action of a tiny minority they were themselves suffering from, lots of them (particularly the betas) got angry.
It was around that time that Jordan Peterson entered the stage.
The Rise of Jordan Peterson
Jordan Peterson revealed himself to the Western world through a disastrous interview and made an enormous splash in the pond of political correctness that the new left had imposed on everyone.
The breadth of his influence is hard to judge, but he has without a doubt played a major role in shaping (beta) men’s identity in the Western (and Anglo-Saxon) world.
As the W narrative progressed from 2015 to eventually peak in the spring of 2022, almost all men became increasingly terrified to stand up for something they saw as an injustice for fear of getting canceled.
A small group of intellectuals called the IDW did try to shake things up, and was rapidly ejected out of the mainstream narrative which at the time, was still mainly under the control of the NYT and CNN.
So what did Peterson do?
He deconstructed the hyper-progressive discourse of W, outlined its flaws, and offered an alternative (namely, religious conservatism).
Few understood at the time that the whole culture war was ridiculous. Most of the angry parties were lashing out at another party that had little to do with their pain.
The W, for example, channeled their anger at the white male middle-class for oppressing them, while the real oppression came from billionaires and corporations who, for fear of being rightly identified and canceled, quickly supported W in its battles.
The white male middle-class ended up stuck between the W on one hand, which accused them of all of society’s evilness, and the mainstream elite on the other, actually responsible for everyone’s oppression.
What Jordan Peterson did was clarify the whole thing for everyone.
He brought a much-needed dose of objectivity and rationality that was welcome in a world where ideology, hatred, and feelings were prioritized over debate, civility, and thought.
Let’s talk about W for two minutes.
While some of their demands were legitimate and attracted some sympathy at the beginning, the movement became too radical and too progressive too quickly. They eventually lost support from everyone after some of their policies (such as defunding the police) yielded poor results.
The problem was that, despite the fact it was made up of a tiny minority, the W were given a disproportionate place in the mainstream media. Cancelation terrorized the majority which became “silent” as a result.
When they saw that Jordan Peterson could hit back without being canceled, people started to voice their disagreement with the W narrative.
Peterson realized that not only his audience was way bigger than he had expected, but that the recent alliance of the mainstream narrative with some of the W’s theories had led to many’s disorientation.
People didn’t only need to be told how to think or how to act. They also wanted to be told who they were.
So, Peterson, in a weird way, became the father that so many men (and women) desperately needed.
He took to the task to educate young men about the nature of women (Eve in Eden), about their own nature (turn yourself into a monster), and about their role in society, namely taking responsibility.
The main appeal of Peterson’s discourse has been by far his call to the notion of responsibility.
In a society where the government is omnipresent, and where laws and rules are every day more numerous, the call for the need for more responsibility (and its corollary, freedom) became a breath of fresh air in an environment oppressed by the tyrannical (and somewhat violent) character of W.
Despite the best efforts of the mainstream narrative to shut him down, Peterson’s was so subtle that he became bigger than the narrative itself, which makes him now impossible to cancel.
Ironically, Peterson’s discourse, despite growing more radical by the day, became more accepted after spring 2022, when W peaked and began to decline.
While he had always been an outlier, Peterson is slowly becoming a narrative of its own, a bit like what happened to Joe Rogan.
The politicization of the mainstream narrative has ended up disappointing so many people that their search for alternative views led them to create several other narratives in parallel to the mainstream one (which explains the success of podcasts and newsletters).
Tyler Cowen accurately called the peak of W in spring 2022.
The fear of cancellation decreased. Coinbase succeeded at cutting all political discussions by becoming a “mission-focused company”.
Kraken forbade their employees to call their colleagues racists.
Rationality and freedom of speech are slowly coming back.
As the hatred and pressure decreased, and as the mainstream narrative was losing grid on the mainstream, one man saw the power of Peterson’s philosophy and the collapsing of W as the perfect opportunity to steal the spotlight for himself.
Entered Andrew Tate.
This is where I am going to lose most readers.
To anyone that has watched 30 seconds of him, Andrew Tate appeared to be a buffoon earning money off misogynistic remarks and a view of gender roles dating back to the Middle-Age.
Which isn’t false in itself.
But if there’s something I have learned from the success of W, OneDirection, or Fifty Shades of Grey, is that any movement that experiences momentum contains something that will help you understand society’s psyche.
Twilight and Kim Kardashian taught me that things at the top don’t get to the top randomly. Phenomenons at the top get to the top for a reason: people want them there.
The fact that Tate has had the success that he did means that there’s something to highlight here.
So let’s disregard for a moment all of the things Tate has said about women to focus on the things Tate said about men.
Andrew Tate appeared out of nowhere during the summer of 2022.
Out of nowhere may be an exaggeration.
Tate had already gone viral in 2017 for saying on Twitter that depression wasn’t real.
But much like the Red Pill movement, he remained a niche phenomenon (which is why the mainstream narrative took so much time before banning him).
Now, why am I speaking of Andrew Tate? Because in effect, his discourse is the exact same one as Peterson’s, just targeted at a different audience (and expressed in a different style too).
While Jordan Peterson talks to people with intellectual leanings, Andrew Tate talks to the teenagers and young adults that lack the culture to understand Peterson.
Eg: Peterson highlights the importance to define different roles in the family; Andrew Tate declares that men are there to provide for their family and protect women, and women should in exchange, cook, clean, and raise children.
Same thing, different ways to express it.
While Peterson brought back the philosophical significance of Christianity in the West, Tate is the one that veritably brought back masculinity without the emotional baggage it suffered back in Weinstein’s time.
Search for all of the podcasts with Tate as a guest, and masculinity will appear in the keywords in the title.
So, why masculinity?
And why now?
Because we’ve been full circle.
Think about it.
Game didn’t work. The Red Pill didn’t work. W didn’t work.
Everyone is unhappy.
Men are deeply unhappy because they don’t feel like their working wives need them, and the terrible economic situation in which we’re now has rendered obvious their condition: they’re the beta slaves working for the alphas on top.
Masculinity (or the lack thereof) has, as it happens, always been the origin of the problem, which Glover understood more than twenty years ago.
Tate took Glover’s and Peterson’s theories and distilled them in a comprehensive and highly entertaining speech that hooked dozens of million people.
Consider that Tate is one of the few people that managed to link in one podcast episode history, psychology, evolutionary biology, responsibility, religion, entrepreneurship, and ethics in a way that resonates with 18-year-olds that hang out on TikTok the entire day.
His discourse is a perfect — albeit simplistic — synthesis of men’s troubles and desires.
He didn’t go viral by chance.
After he got their attention explaining them why they suffered, he told them what they needed to do to get what they wanted.
And his answer was the following: you have to be a man.
We said that one of the defining characteristics of masculinity is responsibility.
In a way, the absence of masculinity in society could be tolerated as long as something else (in this case, institutions) took responsibility for doing the things masculine men used to take care of.
But the complete collapse of institutional work quality and of their people’s trust has left a vacuum that needs to be filled.
The rapid changes in our society (the destruction of the middle class, women’s hypergamy, the fast shrinkage of rights) are transforming those at the bottom a little bit more into slaves every day, and those at the top, a little bit more into kings, more so than it has ever been the case since the end of serfdom (probably).
As a result, masculinity is no longer an option for men who want to get out of this trap before it’s too late. It’s become instead, a last resort solution: grow up, or perish.
On Weak Men
Nobody likes weak men.
It’s sad, but it’s true.
Men prey on the weak men.
Women reject the weak men.
Nobody respects weak men because a weak man, from an evolutionary perspective, is worse than useless — he is a burden.
Historically, society demanded women be pretty so they could seek the protection of the highest-status alpha male, and it demanded men be strong so they could protect the women and ensure the continuation of the species (we’re not here to discuss the ethics of such a statement.)
Of course, technology has enabled us to relax in this regard. Society isn’t as dangerous as it used to be, so women don’t need to seek protection as much as before, and men don’t need to be as strong as before.
Deep down, we remained the mammals we’ve always been. The guy at the top still gets all of the girls — actually, even more so than ever before.
The beta male is still a loser.
While a middle-class man was entitled to a house, three kids, and a wife in the past, today’s society entitles him to debt, and nothing else.
How can one rise to the challenges of a harder world, less equipped than his parents were in an easier world?
By getting stronger.
Maybe the hardest takeaway from this article is that most people’s fathers are losers, and most people know that. It’s sad, but it’s true.
The Internet has enabled men (and women) to search for a solution to this problem, and it seems that the most simple one is a comeback to traditional masculinity.
I don’t mean cavemen-type of masculinity. More like 1930 masculinity, a time when enlisting in the army to free Europe from the Nazis was the honorable thing to do — a time when honor still meant something.
The societal evolutions the West has been through since 1918 have been too much too fast.
The extreme pace at which social dynamics have changed has led people to lose their marks.
Nobody likes modernism. Nobody likes social media. Nobody is happier/richer/more fulfilled now than our grandparents were (except for the few at the top).
The 1930s and the 1950s were periods of fantastic artistic, technological, and economic development.
Maybe people that lived then have a thing or two to teach us?
As the saying goes, great times make weak men. Weak men made bad times.
That’s where we are. Luckily, bad times make great men.
That’s where we’re headed.
The Asians were right, and the Europeans were wrong.
Life isn’t a straight line. It doesn’t start, and it doesn’t finish.
Life is a cycle. It’s moving forward like a straight line. But it’s also a cycle. Things get worse before they get better.
It’s been 77 years, approximately one life (and three generations) since the change of masculinity has been implemented.
Now that we have gone full circle, it seems like life is bringing us back to where our ancestors once started.
We may get a glimpse of our own future by looking at India and Ch…na.
In India, Modi has been leading a politics of extreme masculinity since 2014.
In Ch…na, the CCP has recently banned feminized men on TV.
This didn’t come out of nowhere.
Each of these countries looked with frantic interest at the developments of the Western world and want out of everything avoid the mistakes we’ve made that led to:
- Collapsing marriages.
- Collapsing birth rates.
- Collapsing trust in institutions.
- Collapsing percentage of people in a relationship.
- Constant anger
The Lindy effect teaches us that there’s a reason why people throughout history, have always acted the way they did.
Because most of the time, it was how it worked best.
Something to meditate on.
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