“Masculinity is about being a man within a group of men. Above all things, masculinity is about what men want from each other”
― Jack Donovan
In today’s world, genuine masculine friendships have become sort of a rarity. Film writers and directors have realized this and have been able to tap into this need by portraying characters who were surrounded with other like-minded men to go about their business. Band of Brothers, Ocean’s 11, Goodfellas, Sons of Anarchy and Hangover are all examples of such shows that epitomize brotherhood in their own unique way but evoke the same feeling from male viewers who begin to feel an emptiness in their lives if they aren’t truly part of a gang. In traditional times, boys would grow up within a core group who would have shared similar interests and had each other’s back. This came about naturally as men were pushed both directly and indirectly to make close male bonds with others who they would be able to build with. This was further pushed as boys would be given the room to be boys and through mutual struggles, being part of sports teams and fighting, a close bond would develop. However, as the world became more feminized, genuine friendships began to decrease at drastic rates and this can be seen today where millions of men are shown to have little to no close friends.
Due to the West’s prosperity and security, the life and death need (or lack thereof) to have a group of men at one’s side has also played its part. As a result, men have become much more feminine, untrustworthy and unreliable – traits that other men do not value. Added to this, the stark fatherless rates in society for young boys play a massive part as these boys grow up not knowing how to be men and what men do. Thus, masculine traits are not idealized and they grow up looking at the world from a more feminine perspective. It has also become common for men to openly boast about not having male friends or even speaking of the need for friends with disdain because “no one can be trusted”. This thorough brainwashing has created an environment where men do not see other men as individuals to build with but simply competition in the sexual market place as women are prioritized as #1.
This however is not a new phenomena since competition has always been present, but the priority to place women above a man’s interests has made male-only friendships susceptible to toxicity. Moreover, the infiltration of women into traditionally all-male spheres have also made male bonding a difficult task. This was seen throughout history but it was permanently sealed when women began to enter into the workplace in mass numbers. The subsequent female control over men’s meet ups also etch into marriage where men now have to ‘ask permission’ from their wives to have meet-ups with other guys. Institutions that were once home to brotherhoods have now opened their gates to women and this inevitably changes the social dynamic. From a place of solitude and openness, these men are now tasked with keeping up appearances since sexual competition is added to the equation subconsciously. As soon as women enter into a male-only dynamic, the goal changes from growing better to making it comfortable enough for their presence – this ultimately defeats the purpose of these institutions. Though societies such as the Freemasons still adhere to the male-only tradition (at least in my country), there are hundreds of other institutions/groups (such as the Military) that have fallen to such a great test.
Having completed the Band of Brothers series, it was blatant how at ease and comfortable these men were among themselves while in the face of death. These men trained and fought together so much that their friendships would lead them to self-sacrifice for their brothers in arms. These are the types of friendships that have now become unimaginable since men won’t even consider putting themselves in an uncomfortable position for the sake of the other’s comfort/benefit. Having spoken to older men who didn’t see the need for friendships earlier in their lives, they have all regretted not taking the opportunity to genuinely form relationships with other men. They all stated that they have very little chance now to grieve, talk, console and the like with others since these are not genuinely possible with women. Consequently, these men become depressed and unhappy as they are not able to experience being part of a strong brotherhood. This especially affects veterans who went to war and came back home only to experience the world completely different. These guys tend to go into depression and become suicidal if they aren’t properly rehabilitated and meshed into civilized society. But, what gets them to the stage of contentment and peace? Having connected with other veterans who understand and experienced what they experienced. All the emotions and stories that they can’t speak to their wives, girlfriends and associates about would all be buried in their psyche if not for their fellow colleagues.
Jack Donovan’s “Way of Men” is an excellent resource into the benefits of forming a tribe of men to grow with. This group will help build connections that lasts as long or longer than marriage since male friendship is felt more deeply and strongly than female’s. Furthermore, these groups create a level of competition that is needed to truly evolve and become actualized. They push men to hold a standard that needs to be maintained for the sake of the group. It forms a togetherness that refines the masculinity of each member and facilitates in the expansion of their physical dominance, mental dominance and the like. Without the pressure or competition, these men become dull and easily defeated.
The need for bonding and purpose runs through the veins of all men but in the past few decades it has been wrongly channelled toward female companionship which doesn’t yield comparable benefits. Forming genuine bonds will not only make life much more exciting, it will provide opportunities for mutual growth and an edge that cannot be substituted by another.