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Measuring Masculinity by the Size of a Paycheck

John Collier, "Tannhäuser and Venus," 1901

536 words

This morning I made a post on The Spearhead titled “Is Masculinity a Matter of Money?” in response to conservative radio talk show host Dennis Prager’s recent essay on the four legacies of feminism.

The question was rhetorical, of course. My answer is “no.”

Masculinity isn’t merely a matter of money. If it were, any woman (or any man) with money would be regarded as manlier as a result of wealth alone. Is Bill Gates the epitome of manliness? Mark Zuckerberg? Oprah Winfrey? Justin Beiber? Karl Lagerfeld? All are successful and have access to substantial resources. None, with the notable exception of Oprah Winfrey, would be regarded by most men as being “manly.”

(The Oprah bit was a joke, fellas.)

My favorite comment on The Spearhead came from user “Corky Again”:

Funny, but when I think about the most admired men I know from history, none of them are admired for being married or for having money.

They’re admired for winning battles, inventing stuff, creating beautiful paintings or sculptures, writing great poems or novels, exploring new territories, going to the moon, scoring the winning touchdown, expounding a philosophy, founding a religion. Etc.

Many of them were only able to do those things because they eschewed marriage and the bourgeois lifestyle. They were loners, outsiders, men going their own way…

The idea that full manhood is achieved only through financial stability, marriage and family is a womanly way of looking at manliness. It makes women the center of the male universe, and implies that success or failure as a man is directly related to achieving female approval.

This isn’t what feminists were supposed to have wanted for men. In The Forty-Nine Percent Majority, a 1976 book that I believe to be the source of many enduring feminist memes about masculinity, a whole section is devoted to breaking down the idea that men should confuse their masculinity with their earning potential.  In an article reprinted from Ms. magazine, psychiatrist Robert Gould wrote:

“In our culture money equals success. Does it also equal masculinity? Yes – to the extent that a man is too often measured by his money, by what he is “worth.” Not by his worth as a human being, but what he is able to earn, how much he can command on the ‘open market.’”

Gould finished his thinking on the matter hopefully, hoping that one day “masculinity will be equated not with moneymaking prowess but with a man’s power to feel, express and give love.”1

Gould’s warm fuzziness aside, feminists have been kicking this issue around for a while.

These days, they seem to be on the other side. Now the liberal Kimmels and Hymowitz’s and the Garcias are aligned with neocons like Praeger and Bennett.

Today, the message from all of them is that a man is not a real man until he gets a good career, makes some money and gets married.

Sounds kind of old fashioned, really.


1. Brannon, Robert, and Deborah S. David, eds. The Forty-Nine Percent Majority : The Male Sex Role. Gould, Robert. “Measuring Masculinity by the Size of a Paycheck.” Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1976. 113-18.


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  1. icr
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    “Today, the message from all of them is that a man is not a real man until he gets a good career, makes some money and gets married.”

    I think this bunch is only addressing their message to *white* men. Anything else would be *racist*.

  2. Michael
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Just as the reader CorkyAgain remarked, manliness has never been associated much with money-making abilities before the advent of the capitalist economy, at least not in so far as the money made was the end to all means. Although manly endeavors are certainly driven by basic instincts of survival and procreation, manliness has transcended biological purpose. What makes us human, is what renders us distinct from all other life: reason, foresight and hindsight. What makes us human, is that we have indeed stepped out of the sandbox of evolution, in which every species competes. We might still be a mere vessel for our genes, but we sure as hell have taken over the helm.

    Manliness is the essence of humanity; man’s genetic make-up has driven him to transcend its very self. Manliness is behind the ingenuity, abstraction, inspiration and all other ingredients for cultural evolution. It may be said that due to sexual specialization, man, not woman, was predestined to become the driving force behind our cultural evolution. For better or worse, manliness is what got us as far as we have come. It is also the only thing, that can move us on from here. It will certainly not be the “empowered” female, nor homo oeconomicus. Both are mere outgrowths of the final stages of an empire. Its fall is imminent, and a new era of manliness will spawn heroes again, who will embrace their potential to drive us forward with their creations.

  3. Posted November 5, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    The goal these feminists are attempting to accomplish is one in which men behave with the discipline and devotion Tradition demands but in the service of Modernity. Women are to enjoy the best of both worlds, thinking and behaving in a Modern manner while enjoying the chivalry and financial support for them Tradition demands.

    All men, whether they’re Traditional or Modern in orientation, are obligated to reject this framework. It amounts to a sort of ruling caste of decadent Amazonian overlords digging their heels into the servile caste of humiliated and disempowered males. Women must be forced to choose between Modernity and Tradition. It’s my belief that if deprived of the best of both worlds, they’ll choose the dignity and community of Tradition over the licentiousness and gluttonous consumption of Modernity.

  4. Sandy
    Posted November 5, 2011 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    In the immediate future the answer to Is masculinity just a matter of money? the answer for us is sadly, yes. It is a difficult question because I don’t want to be accused of insulting the $5 crowd for we have all been there. Jesus Christ Himself was impressed by the widow and her two mites and told her that her reward would be great because she gave from her substance and not from her spare cash – she had none. But even she recognized that money was a weapon in the struggle and was determined to do her bit. It is for us to be inspired by this old woman and for us to do our bit.

    Money is a quiet weapon in a silent war. War is for men and in this sordid little war to regain our racial dignity masculinity is measured by the weapons we yield. A well placed shot from a small gun ($5) can be as lethal as a doze of carpet bombing by the Daddy Warbucks ($6,000). If we stand together and lock our shields (I saw most of The 300 on the plane coming over) we can help Greg, Michael and the others stand firm before the multi-racial juggernaut that is laying waste to our way of life.

    It is not the size of the weapon that measures masculinity but the willingness to use it. Skill will come later.

  5. Alfred Rosenberg
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Masculinity consists of the ability to originate ideas. It is best complemented by determination but the lack thereof doesn’t preclude its existence. It may cause it to go unnoticed to a relative degree. The determination that makes it shine is most often what requires the assistance of inspiration and/or encouragement. Feminism has destroyed the devotion that has traditionally been used for this purpose.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted November 6, 2011 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      I think this is too intellectual a definition. Surely women can come up with ideas too. And doesn’t masculinity have something to do with male hormones?

  6. Alfred Rosenberg
    Posted November 6, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Of course it’s those male hormones that drive original thought. As for women having the ability, well, I’ve never known one but there very well may be women with an overabundance of male hormones, most of whom still couldn’t direct them properly. I’d still bet on the lottery first.

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