The Roots of Male Duty
If you ask 100 people what it takes to be a man, you’re almost guaranteed to get 100 different answers. That’s because the fundamental and elementary roles of men are rarely correctly articulated. By the end of this book, you will understand the true nature and importance of manhood, you will understand what masculinity is and is not, and if you are a guy striving towards either, you will know every step it takes to get there. Most importantly, you will understand why every able-bodied guy on earth should strive to become a dynamic man and what they need to do to get there.
Before we get to that, however, I believe that you and I getting on the same page about what men used to be in the past will help pave the way for what men should be today, so let’s do it.
Our ancestors had to perform grueling tasks just to stay alive. Early civilizations were organized to ensure survival against multiple threats such as wild animals, unpredictable weather, foreign invaders, harsh terrain, and much more. This led men and women to devote their entire lives to activities best suited to their respective biological traits.
Therefore, men engaged in physically intensive activities, such as tool making and hunting, while women worked on more domestic tasks, such as making clothes or taking care of children. This structure had a significant role in our success as Homo sapiens. Studies show that women in other species of humans, such as the Neanderthals, were hunters. We can argue that the structure used by Neanderthals was less effective than that used by Homo sapiens.
I believe that part of why humans are so plentiful in the world today is that our ancestors did not send groups of pregnant women and children to hunt wild animals and fight enemies while able-bodied men stayed at home. That, my friend, would have been a one-way ticket to extinction town.
Our ancestor’s societal way of life, determined mainly by sex, successfully prevailed all over the world for thousands of years. That is, until about 200 years ago, when a series of disruptive events challenged the status quo.
The first of these was the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, which saw the rise of machines that made it easier to accomplish work that was previously preserved for only the strongest and most skilled men. Meaning, men could no longer categorically justify appropriating work for themselves – if you could learn to use the machines, you could get the job done regardless of strength or sex. This allowed women, who were previously homebound taking care of children, to enter the workforce. Prominent German philosopher Friedrich Engels noted in 1845 that this phenomenon was starting to “turn families upside down.” He continued “The wife supports the family, the husband sits at home, tends the children, sweeps the room and cooks.”
Nonetheless, working wives in the United States were still obligated by law to hand over their hard-earned pay to their husbands. This perceived injustice toward women, amongst many others, laid the foundations for our second series of events, the women's rights movement. In 1848, a group of 300 men and women met at the Seneca Falls Convention in New York to strategize ways to lift women’s harshest restrictions. Within a decade, working wives gained the right to keep their salaries, and by 1920 all adult American women gained the right to vote. For the first time in American history, women had money and a direct say in how society should be structured.
As women’s standing in society improved, men lost their lives in droves due to a string of unending wars, our third and final major set of events. Between 1914 and 1975, the U.S. lost more than a million men in armed conflicts. To put this in context, the U.S. lost only around 7,800 troops from 1975 to 2022. One of the effects of these devastating losses was that even more American women poured into the workforce to fill the gaps the fallen soldiers left behind.
In fact, it’s estimated that about only 5% of women worked in 1810 compared to upwards of 60% at its peak in 1999. Technology, war, and the women’s rights movements broke down the traditional societal arrangements that were established tens of thousands of years prior. In the past, men used to be the only providers, protectors, and decision-makers. Today, men are unclear of their exact role in this ever-changing society. I believe that we can work to reach a state of equilibrium and harmony between the sexes once we clearly articulate the unique value men bring to the group.
So, let’s do it.
First, let me give you some insight into why I am qualified to answer these deep questions. One weekend, when I was about four years old, my older siblings were yelling, fighting, and snatching toys from each other at the dinner table – it was pure chaos. At one point, I had an idea that could resolve a conflict between them, so I decided to speak up and share my thoughts. After yelling to get their attention for what felt like an hour, I gave up and had a profound realization. I thought to myself: “I can spend a lot of energy trying to convince people to feel bad, ultimately solving nothing, or I can be a spectator and silently observe while feeling at peace internally. From that day, I chose to be an observer. I have found peace in deeply analyzing situations, forming theories about life, and confirming or disproving them through experience and research.
One of the early topics I chose to observe closely was the expectations of men from society. It all started with my mom and what she would praise me for. According to her, I used both of my hands to push myself up off the bed to readjust my head on a few different occasions the day I was born. This is something that babies typically don’t have the strength to do until they are around six months old, so she was reasonably impressed. Every time she told that story, I would gain admiration from everyone around, which would then give me a great sense of joy. I started to believe that as long as I showed superior strength, others would respond in a positive manner, which would give me more joy.
This belief was strengthened by our next-door neighbor at the time, who was a middle-aged doctor with a family of his own. My father would often take me with him on his after-work evening visits to watch the news and sports with them. The doctor often singled me out amongst the other kids and challenged me to arm- wrestling matches, which I always accepted. He would sit in position with his sleeves rolled up just enough for the hair on his forearms to show and call my name. I would walk over to the dining table, sit down with my feet dangling from the chair, and get in position. Face to face, we would then lock hands. “Ready, set, go!” The struggle was epic; however, I always pulled through at the end with the last of my strength to win. At this point, his kids would rejoice and cheer me on, which in return brought me a lot of joy. This solidified my belief about the importance of strength in my personal life.
While I felt joy from showcasing my strength, my older sisters and female cousins would make me feel the opposite for a different reason. On a couple of different occasions when my parents were away, they applied my mother’s makeup to my face and even draped me with her dresses. They would then parade me in front of the bathroom mirror, call me beautiful, and laugh hysterically. I hated the way I looked, but I was powerless against them so I would simply cry until they took it off me. I loved my mom, but I wanted to look like my dad, not her!
You see, my dad wore suits five days of the week for work, and whenever I wore suits like he did, everybody cheered me on, including my sisters and cousins. I would always feel a lot of joy when that happened.
Figure 1.1 Yours truly looking dapper in one of my childhood suits
I began to make the connection that when my appearance was more like my mother’s, people would mock me, and I felt shame. However, when I looked like my father, people praised me, and I felt joy.
These experiences made me understand that appearance, alongside strength, would play a major role in my male identity. From that point on, I meticulously observed what others valued in boys and men. This book is part of a lifelong journey of deeply analyzing and questioning myself and others about the process of going from boyhood through to manhood.
So now that you know a little bit about me, let’s jump back into defining what a man is or should be. I have come to realize that there are only four classifications human males can fall into for the purposes of this book.
Phase 1: baby. You’re born a baby and rely on someone else 100% to survive. If you’re a male reading this now, that means someone took the time to feed you, wipe you, and bathe you month after month, year after year until you became a young boy.
Phase 2: young boy. You become a young boy when you are capable of surviving on your own for at least a few hours at a time; meaning you can find food to eat then feed yourself, bathe, and go to the bathroom on your own.
Phase 3: boy. You become a boy when you’re a few years into puberty. Many never leave this stage. Your body is almost fully grown, your strength has significantly increased, and you can drive a vehicle and work to earn money. This is the final stage before you can make the leap into manhood.
Phase 4: man. You become a man when you embody and live by the five primary masculine qualities which we will cover later.
Phase 5: man amongst men. You become a man amongst men when you gain the ability to lead other men.
As I previously mentioned, a man is a male who has successfully activated the five primary masculine qualities. The textbook definition of masculinity is a set of qualities or attributes regarded as characteristic of men.
So, what are these masculine characteristics? We’ll have to do a little male and female comparison to get there. I’ll start by saying that no matter what you hear, the truth is that human males and females are biologically different. These differences have always existed and as mentioned earlier, have been used to strictly determine our role and duties in society.
For the purposes of this chapter, I’m going to focus on the two most fundamental biological differences between males and females from the male standpoint:
- Male physical superiority over females.
- Male freedom from physical, mental, and emotional hardships related to childbirth.
The first biological advantage of physical superiority means that on average men are taller, heavier, and stronger than women.
I’m fully aware that there are women who would beat me in a fistfight or wrestling match blindfolded with one hand tied behind their backs and who are significantly taller and heavier than me – I’m just referring to averages.
With that said, scientific records have shown that men are 67% stronger than women. If a boy and a girl of the same stature begin lifting weights at the same time and follow the same routine for a year, the boy will likely outperform the girl over time. This is because of two reasons. The first one is that human males typically have larger type one, type two, and mean muscle fibers than females. Secondly, females tend to have a lower proportion of their lean tissue distributed in the upper body.
When it comes to physical stature, men weigh more and are taller than women in 22 out of 23 regions in the world.
The odd one out is Southern Africa, where it evens out because while men are about four inches taller than women, women weigh about four and half pounds more than men.
Now, if you’re a male reading this and you’re thinking to yourself, that’s why men are better than women – WRONG! This is not that kind of a book. Men are not better than women. Flat out, point blank, period! Men are complementary to women.
The second biological advantage is male freedom from physical, mental, and emotional hardships related to childbirth. Meaning men do not have to endure the biological restrictions of monthly menstrual cycles, pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum depression.
To drive home the importance of this advantage, I’ll illustrate the point with an example of a typical family made up of a man, a woman, and their two children.
Let’s say a 30-year-old man, that we’ll refer to as “Dad,” meets and falls in love with a 25-year-old woman that we’ll refer to as “Mom.” After dating for a while, they get married, and Mom gets pregnant shortly after. As luck would have it, nine months later she gives birth to beautiful twins, a boy and a girl.
There we have it, a full nuclear family: Dad, Mom, son and daughter.
At birth, the twins look and sound the same so it’s difficult for anyone to tell them apart. They’re virtually the same being.
Let’s fast forward to 12 years later when they both hit puberty, which is when the male advantages mentioned before begin to show.
I know some might say that boys might enjoy advantages that start before puberty because they are treated better than girls in certain cultures. Because that varies so much from place to place, I chose to not factor this into the example. Puberty is the first instance of clear male advantage, regardless of culture. As soon as it begins, Twin Boy and Twin Girl will each experience respective biological changes. Twin girl will start her menstrual cycle, a period of seven days when hormone production, her uterus, and ovaries change to make pregnancy possible. Twin Girl will experience mood fluctuations and physical pain as part of this process.
This is the first instance of clear biological male advantage related to childbirth because Twin Boy will never experience the physical, mental, and emotional hardships that are caused by menstrual cycles.
What that means is that from the day they both hit puberty, Twin Girl will have to overcome an obstacle to living life that Twin Boy will not, month after month, year after year.
Let’s say both stayed up until 2 am on a Sunday school night, doing whatever kids do these days, and woke up at 6 am to get ready for school. If Twin Girl started her period at that time, the pain is something that would make it even harder for her to get out of bed on top of being tired from staying up so late. Twin Girl must deal with an extra layer of difficulty for the entirety of that day and week that her male counterpart will not experience.
Let’s say Twin Girl will experience this pain for three days a week each month of her life from now on. Fast forward 10 years, when the twins are 22 years old. During the decade that passed, Twin Girl will have experienced roughly a year’s worth of pain and mood fluctuations that Twin Boy will not.
The second instance of biological advantage related to childbirth is pregnancy. Let’s say now that at 22, Twin Girl marries a man, and they decide to have children.
From the moment she gets pregnant, she will experience physical, mental, and emotional hardships that her husband, the father of the same child, will not have to tolerate. She will be burdened with the “blessing” of carrying a child for nine months. Then she will have to go through giving birth to that child, which is an excruciatingly painful and life-threatening experience. Lastly, she’s likely to experience postpartum disorder due to her hormone levels dropping to normal rates after giving birth. This is a debilitating form of depression that her husband will not experience.
This biological advantage is so important because pregnancies are the basis of human existence. If pregnancies became so physically, mentally, and emotionally unbearable that all women refuse to carry babies for the next 150 years, the human race would no longer exist. Women’s suffering keeps our species going. Again, women’s suffering keeps our species going, both in their menstrual cycles and pregnancies. I do understand that this scenario may not always be true in the future. I understand that technology could be developed at some point that would allow women not to experience their menstrual cycles and allow babies to be grown outside of the female body. I understand that there are theoretical ways to get around this. However, talking strictly from today’s technological standpoint, there would be no more human life if women decided to live exactly like men.
Pregnancy and childbirth are duties, imposed by biology, that women have successfully endured for centuries. We should all be infinitely grateful for this.
In return, men have their own duty that they need to fulfill in order to be in balance with women.
The only difference between the duties of the respective sexes is that those of the female are clearly biologically imposed on them, while male duty is vague and ever-changing.
Duty is defined as a moral or legal obligation that someone is required to fulfil. To expand on that, duty is an obligation that oftentimes comes with hardships to overcome for the greater good. Nine months of pregnancy followed by childbirth is the epitome of this.
Reproduction is not a duty that is biologically imposed on men. The only act required of men to initiate pregnancy is sex, which lasts about five minutes on average.
Five minutes of pleasure enjoyed by the man cannot be referred to as duty in comparison to six to nine months of the woman carrying and birthing the child.
A man could essentially fly into a country, have sex with 15 women in a span of 30 days and impregnate all of them.
For the next nine months, those 15 women would be incapacitated by pregnancy while the man could fly into a different country and repeat this process every month for the rest of his life without any physical constraints or anything to overcome for the greater good.
To further make my point, take Winston Blackmore, who is 65 years old at the time of writing.
Winston is a Canadian polygamist who has 150 children. You heard that right, 150 children. Let’s assume that 10% of his children are twins, that would still leave us with 135 pregnancies, or roughly a century of pregnancy across the 27 wives he has had.
Please let that sink in. While his 27 wives have been pregnant for 100 years’ worth of time, the one man did not have to endure a single day of morning sickness, mood swings, back aches, or other ailments that come from being pregnant. There is no stopping him! He still has a couple of decades in him, and I don’t expect any slowing down.
Women are physically incapacitated for a week every month for half of their lives due to their periods and for nine of the 12 months in a year when pregnant with a man’s baby. On top of that, women’s hormones fluctuate in both cases, which causes mood swings. A man deals with none of these biologically imposed hardships.
So, by all accounts, most men have greater freedom to perform, at the very least, physical tasks solely because of this reason.
Childbirth is the most important duty because it delivers human life into the world.
Whether you want children or not is beside the point. All I’m saying is that if no children were born in the next 150 years, there would be no more humans left. Everything that we have learned as a species would be completely lost in one generation.
Apart from the very rare occasions where a human pregnancy occurs between males and intersex people, the vast majority of cases require the input of a male and a female. This means that if we want to continue to survive and enhance our quality of life, men and women must get along.
This entire book relies on these three fundamental statements:
- Men are stronger, taller, and heavier than women.
- Men are freer than women from biological obligations.
- Childbirth is the most important duty for humans, therefore both sexes should seek to get along.
So, if childbirth is the most important human duty which women fulfill, what is the role of men in this?
At its core, a man’s duty is to proactively and reactively use his innate advantages to remove difficulties for himself and those closest to him. Doing so successfully creates the stable environments that people need to achieve the most basic and the most important human duties, which are childbirth and child-rearing. Men exist to introduce, maintain, or restore stability for children, women, and other men in that order. A man’s duty is to solve problems.
These are bare minimums. This does not mean women are only baby-making machines and men servants or bodyguards. This is simply what our most elementary roles have been for millennia. It worked for our ancestors and some version of this still works for us now.
To drive my point home, let’s revisit the example of our 22-year-old twin girl who got married, decided to have children with her husband, and is now nine months pregnant. Her mom and dad decide to rent a cabin a few hours outside of the city to give their expecting daughter a break from city life.
Twin Girl climbs into a car with her father, mother, and husband and off they go on their vacation together! They arrive at the cabin, and it’s beautiful; the scenery is breathtaking – they couldn’t have asked for more.
They spend six amazing days together in the cabin telling stories, hanging out, and relaxing. On the seventh and final day, Mom, Dad, pregnant Twin Girl, and her husband decide to go for a walk in the nearby mountains.
Unfortunately, an hour into the walk and away from their cabin, there’s an emergency. Twin Girl’s water breaks and she begins to experience severe pain, which turns out to be contractions.
The family decides to walk back to the cabin so they can reach the car and drive her to the nearest hospital.
On their way back, Twin Girl experiences contractions so severe that she believes that she’s close to giving birth. She decides to lie on the ground and get ready for the possibility of giving birth right there on the side of the mountain.
Out of nowhere, a hungry mountain lion appears and prowls towards the family.
What do you think everyone in the group should be doing at this moment? I’ll give you a minute …
Should all four circle the mountain lion and attack?
Should the men leave the women behind and run to the cabin to get help?
Should the family send the pregnant woman to fight off the mountain lion by herself?
These all sound pretty ridiculous, don’t they?
Take a minute to think about what you think should happen.
If you thought that the men should stand in front of the two women to keep the wild animal away, you and I, my friend, are on the same page.
The men must trigger the five primary masculine qualities to keep their women, soon-to-be-born child and grandchild, and each other safe.
They must be courageous, strong, mentally tough, resourceful, and dependable. Those are the masculine qualities required to be considered a man. These are the dictionary definitions for each keyword listed:
Courage – The mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Strong - Having or marked by great physical power.
Mental toughness - A quality of mind or intellect characterized by, among other things, a refusal to be intimidated, a determination to finish a contest even when things are going badly, and an ability to control emotions and remain highly focused when under the pressure of intense competition.
Resourceful - Having the ability to find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties
Dependable - Capable of being depended on; worthy of trust; reliable.
These are the five primary qualities from which almost all other masculine qualities derive.
A boy becomes a man, therefore dependable, when he uses his freedom to be courageous, strong, mentally tough, and resourceful in solving problems for himself and others.
Being a man means that you are someone that other people can depend on for physical, emotional, and mental support, security, and resources, financial or otherwise. This is hard to accomplish without first activating the other four primary masculine qualities mentioned.
We can test this out with the scenario from earlier. Let’s recap – a mountain lion is approaching a group of four people: a nine-month pregnant woman, her husband, her mother, and her father.
What is the masculine thing to do for both men in this scenario?
The first masculine action to take is to be courageous, which means they must be able to do something that frightens them and show strength in the face of pain or grief. In this scenario, the fear is getting injured or killed by the mountain lion. However, they need to face that fear and decide that it will not stop them from protecting the women. They should place themselves in a position where the possibility of getting injured or killed is higher for them than the women and children. So, they need to be in front of the women and shield them. This works well because as men are typically bigger and weigh more than women (which is a male advantage) they can cover the women’s bodies with theirs.
The second masculine thing to do is to be strong, which means they must have the power to move heavy weights or perform other physically demanding tasks. They must overcome their fear and proactively confront the wild animal. They might throw rocks at the mountain lion, which works out well because men are typically stronger and can throw bigger rocks than the women – another male advantage.
The third masculine thing to do is to be mentally tough, which means making a firm decision and being resolved not to change it. Even if the mountain lion has not backed off from rocks being thrown at it, the men must control their emotions, stay focused, and be willing to continue their attack. This works out well because men encounter less hormonal and mood changes than women and should have an easier time controlling their emotions.
The fourth masculine thing to do is to be resourceful, which is having the ability to quickly find quick and clever ways to overcome difficulties. If the men were courageous enough to step in front of their women, strong enough to throw rocks at the animal, mentally tough enough to keep their composure and not panic even in the face of failure, but still, there’s a threat, that’s when they need to find other quick and clever ways to combat it. This means finding a stick with which to beat the animal. If that doesn’t work, they could start a fire to keep the animal away. If that doesn’t work, they could light the stick with the fire and continue to beat the animal. If that doesn’t work, they need to move to something else or keep going until it does the trick. The key here is that they need to quickly find ways of fighting the animal and not stopping if they fail. This works out because the pregnant woman experiencing contractions is going through too much pain to do any of these. Which leads me to the final male advantage, freedom.
In a perfect scenario, the men will be courageous, strong, mentally tough, and resourceful long enough to drive away the immediate dangers so that the mother can give birth free from danger. This would result in the women knowing that they can depend on the men and the men knowing that they can depend on each other.
Across the country, a man and a woman who live up a remote mountain in Colorado come back home from the hospital after the cesarean birth of their first daughter. When they get home, officials are strongly recommending evacuation to avoid an incoming blizzard. In their bliss, they decide to stay and deal with the weather as they imagine it won’t be too bad. Unfortunately, this is the worst blizzard recorded in decades. All their neighbors evacuated. Within a few days, there’s only enough food left to feed one person. They do not have charge on their phones, nor do they have electricity. They do, however, have enough wood to burn in their fireplace to stay warm. There’s a decision to be made. They need to grab their truck and go into the city to find help.
In this situation, who do you think should go to find help? Should Mom, recovering from surgery, take over?
As long as there’s enough food for Mom, she will continue to lactate and be able to breastfeed their newborn baby. Mom is a food source for the baby that Dad cannot be, therefore Mom and Baby should stay together regardless. Mom and the newborn baby should be able to depend on Dad to find help. In order to be dependable, he will have to be courageous, strong, mentally tough, and resourceful in his journey. The man must find the courage to leave his family behind to find help in the treacherous weather because that is the role best suited for him in this scenario. Once he is on the road, he will have to use his strength and resourcefulness to remove debris and snow from his path. As he continues to face adversity, he must be mentally tough enough not to give up on his goal. If he does that long enough, he will eventually reach town and get the help the family he left behind needs.
The first role of masculinity is to complement femininity. Precisely, masculine behavior is born out of a need to support the primary feminine functions, which are menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. A man’s role is to remove difficulties when women are in these states. When her mood fluctuates from hormonal changes due to menstruation or pregnancy, it is a man’s role to have the mental toughness to ease her mind. When a woman is pregnant and physically impaired, it is a man's role to be dependable and help in every way that is needed to increase the chances of successful pregnancy. This means opening doors for her, picking up items around the house, or talking to her through anxiety and stress. When the woman is giving birth to the child, a man must have the courage to be there with her and the mental toughness to see her through it. Once a woman gives birth to the child, a man must be resourceful enough to provide all of her food for the six to eight weeks she needs to recover so that she can breastfeed the newborn child. Lastly, a man’s role is to be courageous enough to activate his superior strength to protect his woman and child from external dangers if needed.
The second role of masculinity is to compete against other men. So long as there are other men on the planet, they are a potential threat to you and those closest to you. Therefore, men must outmatch the courage, strength, mental toughness, and resourcefulness of other men if they want to survive. Such standards are set by collective masculinity.
Again, the root of masculinity is to complement femininity and compete against other men.
Because behaving in a masculine way is not tied to the sex you’re assigned at birth, every time a guy backs away from a situation that calls for it, they create a void that forces women and children to step up and do their duty for them, which is unfair and can create lasting negative feelings for everyone involved. Children do not have all the tools needed to take care of situations that call for courage, strength, mental toughness, resourcefulness, and dependability. They cannot win a fight against another grown man. Children should not be working a full-time job at 10 to pay the bills because that could impede their healthy development in various ways. Women have more of the tools needed but on average lack the strength to go toe to toe with an average man. So, if a husband backs away from a situation that he is best suited to handle and his wife steps up instead, he will probably feel emasculated, and she will most likely feel insecure about his ability to defend her and their children in more dire situations.
Guys, we have let this type of behavior go on too long.
This is unacceptable!
I know firsthand that guys are lacking in this area from the countless conversations and situations I have witnessed that showed their complete lack or extremely low levels of primary masculine qualities. Our society needs a revolution to create the types of men that can meet the needs of today. Our society needs dynamic men-- guys who are committed to fulfilling their duty as men by quickly adapting to moral solutions that effectively address the evolving realities that they face.
However, before a guy can become a dynamic man, he must first become a man! He can do that by understanding that his duty as a man is to solve problems. This is why every able-bodied guy should make it a priority to embody the primary masculine qualities of courage, strength, mental toughness, resourcefulness and dependability. As a reward, they will intrinsically gain secondary masculine qualities, such as self-confidence and decisiveness, which can significantly improve their own quality of life.
To recap, it’s a guy’s duty to use his biological advantages to proactively build the masculine qualities, primary and secondary, needed to remove difficulties from his life and that of those closest to him.
Take a second to think about the guys in your life, including yourself if you are one. Are they courageous? Are they strong? Are they mentally tough? And are they resourceful? Can others depend on them? If not, they cannot be considered men nor dynamic men yet. Not to worry though, it may not be too late.
Manhood is the first of many steps that guys will need to achieve to become the dynamic men that our society needs. As much as I would like to discuss how to achieve manhood next, we will need to demystify the concept of masculinity before we do, so let’s do it.