I’ve perused the website Art of Manliness a few times in the past year. Something always vaguely turned me off about it, with its smug, woman-friendly, safe, feel-good presentation, and those feelings have recently hardened into outright hostility. Simply put, Art of Manliness is neither artful nor manly. It’s strictly a commercial site designed only to make money for its owners, and offers a neutered version of masculinity that would appeal only to pot-bellied, middle-aged keyboard jockeys. These are the problems I have with the site.
Lack of Credibility
Art of Manliness was created in 2008 by husband and wife team Kate and Brett McKay. If you look at the website, it seems like more than half of the articles there were written by the two of them. And herein lies the biggest problem that the website can never overcome.
No woman can offer a man advice on how to be a man. Period. Thou shalt not accept advice from a woman on manliness. There are no exceptions to this rule. It doesn’t matter if her intentions are noble. It doesn’t matter if she means well. The inescapable fact is that the art of being a man is a subject outside of her range of experience. If I tried to write for a women’s blog on the arts of child bearing and child rearing, I would be laughed at. And justifiably so. But only in feminized America can a woman presume, with her infinite arrogance, to offer advice to men on how to be a man.
And it is just when a woman is trying to be helpful, trying to “save” a man, that she is at her most dangerous. Beware that woman who wants to “save” you. She may truly believe it, and she may sincerely want it. But beware her just the same. Because deep down, in her innermost heart, the most secret and cherished desire of every woman is to see a man dethroned, and rolled in the muck. She’ll never admit this, of course. Ask her, and she’ll get furiously indignant in her denials. But it is true just the same. You can just feel it.
On this path of struggle that we men must walk, our woman cannot carry our burdens. We are, each of us, alone. And this is the first law of masculinity. And it is the most important law.
Lack of Suffering
Another irritating thing about this site is its rated G, safe, feel-good tone. There is no angst here. There is no bitterness here. There is no suffering, no anguish, no pain, no conflict, no controversy. We men need these things. We crave them. We need struggle, combat, stress, anxiety, bitterness, and anguish. These things define us. They create us, and make us who we are.
Yet Kate and Brett want to take those things away from me, and reduce me to a neutered goody-two-shoes, like them. Well, guess what, Kate and Brett. You can’t control me. You aren’t going to corral me into your safe, goody-two-shoes world. I’d prefer to whip out my tomahawk and take a few scalps. That’s me.
I need my angst and my bitterness. What makes us so much greater than you, and more profound than you, is that we recognize this. We don’t try to cover up the pain that is out there, like you do. We don’t offer nicey-nice blandishments or opiates to our readers, like you do.
When you read Return of Kings, you are confronted with a raw, bracing, bitch-slapping experience. It is an experience bristling with emotion, sexual energy, anxiety, angst, suffering, and mania. And it is well that it should be so. For this is the raw energy of the masculine masses bubbling forth in all its uncontrolled intensity. We celebrate that. We revel in that. We offer danger. They offer platitudes.
We are the unloved, the unwanted, the dispossessed, and the downtrodden. And our message is more sincere, more honest, and more real, than anything you can offer. We’re living this life in real-time, but you two are just tourists in the domain of masculinity. And it is we, Kate and Brett, who will inherit the earth. Not you. Us. To paraphrase Robert De Niro in Cape Fear: we can out-write you, we can out-fuck you, we can out-run you, and we can out-philosophize you.
Another credibility issue arises from the worldview and lifestyle of the McKays. Kate McKay graduated from Brigham Young University. Brett McKay, in his own words, spent two years in Mexico “doing service.” The name McKay is frequently a Mormon name. A photo of the couple, combined with this other information, seems to indicate that they are practicing Mormons.
I want to be very clear here that I would never criticize anyone solely on the basis of their background, faith, or ethnicity. It makes no difference to me what someone’s background is. But I believe that the worldview of the site’s founders severely limits their ability to offer good advice on certain key aspects of the male experience, namely: game, dating skills, and seduction. A major part of the male experience is the pursuit and conquest of women. To deny that is delusional.
That’s just my opinion. I can’t see how someone who doesn’t drink, smoke, or even use caffeine can meaningfully speak on approaching, female shit tests, text game, data sheets of foreign countries, sex tips, game tips, and other similar topics that are integral to the single dating male experience. It’s simply a matter of someone’s life experiences and credibility. AoM offers zero advice on the topic of recreational sex.
In its overall tone, Art of Manliness seems sterile, neutered, and cold. There is too much of a corporate feel, too much of an appearance of a retail sales site. There is none of the rollicking, Wild West deviltry that you will find in the comments section of a Return of Kings article. One gets the impression that AoM was created to serve the needs of henpecked, middle-aged, overweight fathers looking for a safe, female-approved, “masculine” experience.
AoM cultivates readers that don’t want or seek meaningful challenges. The typical AoM reader is one who will seek the approval of his domineering wife for everything he does, one who will have his wife hanging over his shoulder to make sure he isn’t infected by dangerous ideas on the internet.
When all is said and done, Art of Manliness can’t contribute meaningfully to the debate on male self-improvement. It’s the type of safe, bland, and do-nothing masculinity that leads nowhere. They’re not part of the solution, but part of the problem.
Read More: How Not To Be A Man