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For over a decade, David Tian, Ph.D. — a uniquely qualified therapist, life coach, and former university professor — has coached tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries to achieve happiness and success in their relationships, dating, psychology, and lifestyle.
Dr. Tian has been featured in international media, as well as co-hosting a radio show on national radio and a weekly dating advice column in a national newspaper in Singapore.
The show, “Man Up: Masculinity for the Intelligent Man” (https://www.davidtianphd.com/blog/), is David’s way of helping as many people as possible enjoy empowering and fulfilling lives, while contributing to the global understanding of masculinity in modern times. In the show, he takes your questions posed in the Man Up private Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/manupcommunity/) and answers based on his experience coaching tens of thousands of students around the world for over a decade.
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What Is Masculinity? (Masculine vs. Macho?)
- David Tian Ph.D. describes masculinity as opposed to femininity.
- David Tian Ph.D. discusses that in Asian culture, there is an equally strong mythology of what masculine and feminine is.
- In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. explains masculine and feminine polarity.
David Tian: Boom! Stop. In episode 101 I address the question of: what is masculinity? Or masculinity versus macho? What’s the difference?
Masculinity for the intelligent man. I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and this is Man Up!
Hi, I’m David Tian, Ph.D. and for the past 10 years I’ve been helping tens of thousands of people from over 87 countries achieve success in dating and relationships and welcome to Episode 101. This is sort of like Man Up 101, Masculinity 101 and we’re continuing the second part of the 2 parter answering the issue or the question of, what is masculinity?
So we’re moving into what is masculinity? In the earlier video, earlier episode I talked about the fact that a lot of the modern academic research has been making the mistake of fallacy of confusing the normative with the descriptive, the is and the at and also mentioning even earlier research in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s that are more and new agey and more about religious studies background referencing a lot of mythology. It’s not very empirically rigorous or just academically rigorous. So what is there? And it’s also like a lot of this is a history of old white men sitting around, out of shape asking himself, “What is masculinity?” Clearly you don’t know what masculinity is. I look at you I don’t feel very much masculinity coming from you. I don’t want to be like you and if that appeals to you, if you just want to be like that then go do their thing but to me I don’t feel power from it and that’s part of it.
We’ll get to it now, what is masculinity as opposed to femininity? Here’s something I’ve noticed that’s really bad, the lack of awareness around the fact that being feminine is a good thing like for so long women have had to fight being feminine in order to get a head into the world and their becoming more masculine that’s great in terms of acquiring power and influence in the world and demanding their fair share of the rewards of the work and they ought to have equal opportunity but let’s not confuse the fact that both poles are essential to human flourishing like having children like the feminine and masculine are like poles and people are somewhere along these continuum between being masculine and feminine and that they’re both necessary to have life really like you don’t want this imbalance even in an individual. To be too far and masculine is not good either. To be all the way masculine, like you’re not going to be able to have very much like emotional connection with people if that were the case. And to be too far feminine, you’re going to miss out some things in life too. So I think males if they want to experience being sexually attractive to majority of women or to most women they need to be closer to the masculine pole and for the females the same thing goes for the feminine pole.
But what am I talking about like what are these things? What is masculine? What’s feminine? Let’s just get to it. I was going to bring this up to the end. So I started out originally in my academic and research as a scholar of Chinese Philosophy, Chinese Religion, Asian Philosophy and Religion more broadly. I taught at the graduate level. Taught graduate courses on Buddhism, Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist epistemology, metaphysics, and so on and Buddhist ethics. My specialty was in Neo-Confucianism, so this Confucianism that dominated China and East Asia more broadly for about 2000 years before the Fall of the Chinese Republic and then the World Wars. So during that time there was a very influential book and I would still say its influential now and prior to that time as well.
So the early China, it rose actually in early China so I would say it’s influential for almost 3000 years in East Asia and it‘s called The Book of Changes or the I Ching and in the I Ching it’s a very complex book. People say that they know what it is but there’s a lot of competing theories on it. So it takes you all the way that far back. Go ahead and look it up if you don’t know it already. In the I Ching it’s basically an analysis of hexagrams. I don’t want to get into, I’m not going to teach Chinese history and philosophy right now. Basically it’s a book about Yin & Yang, I mean, it’s not only about that but that’s the basis of these hexagrams. They’re either a full line or half line and those denote either masculine or feminine and then there are different combinations of those.
So those are different ways of defining the future originally, competing theories again on what it actually was used for but it’s a book that has different combinations of Yin & Yang, meaning different things and they’re very evocative. And from there we go on into in Chinese history the history of philosophy, and Asian history of philosophy more broadly a theory of the feminine and masculine in terms of Yin & Yang. So whether you think that applies now is pointless.
I mean, my point is that there is in Asian Culture an equally strong mythology of what masculine and feminine is. So I’m not drawing on some culturally conditioned view which is what most modern academic researchers are doing. They’re saying, “Hey look there’s a male who lives this way. We have to incorporate him into our view of masculinity.” No we don’t. We don’t have to just by virtue of the fact that he has a penis. So he may not be masculine, he may just be a male. There’s a big difference between male and being masculine. Being male is a biological category, you have a penis.
So masculinity, Yin & Yang and the theories around Yin & Yang I think are instructive. So if you just look at it briefly because I go into so much more detail in my live events on masculinity ever, a weekend event, 18 hours called Masculine Mastery. So just briefly for the sake of this video and to keep it short, the Yin or the feminine is marked by looking to be filled with love and emotion, spontaneity so you might have seen this in the girls that you admire who are in that energy of, “Hey, let’s play. Let’s do this. Let’s play.” It’s just spontaneity, going with the flow, carefree, sensual. So we’re moving into like the dancing, a female who loses herself in that in the moment in the dance, in the movement.
Being emotionally expressive that sort of roller coaster of emotions that when she’s just feeling that can take you from extremes of emotions pretty quickly. Not so quickly, that would be neurotic. Being lost in the emotion, being lost in the moment and expressing it through the body being central with it and then of course being also expressing affection through the body, being affectionate and being sensitive to other people’s emotions that’s in a nutshell sort of summarizing what the feminine polarity, feminine pole is like. Now in so far as a male with a penis and so far as a male is in that energy he is now skewing towards the feminine pole and that’s great. Sometimes we will need that.
Sometimes the male needs to skew to the feminine especially when he’s raising his own children and our body and our brains will do this. There’s a lot of evidence that shows that we nest biochemically with our hormones once we’re rubbing up against a pregnant female and we will start to nest and the testosterone levels will go down quite dramatically and this is a good thing. We don’t want to be out like hunting and killing stuff when we need to take care of this kid and make sure it doesn’t die and he gets good nurturing to have our genes pass on. So that’s the feminine. The feminine is an energy, it’s an essence. The masculine is an energy and is an essence.
Male and female are biological categories, so within a male so a human being with a penis minimally you can be more or less masculine and feminine. So there can be feminine males. It’s pretty common especially in Academia. So looking to be field with love and emotions, spontaneous, going with the flow, carefree, and then being sensual, physical expression of that sensuality, being emotionally expressive, being affectionate, being sensitive to others – those are all examples of femininity. I think its best encapsulated in the idea of the dancing lover. So intuitively you should get that. I think this is cross culturally you get the idea and I’m going to state it that way because from the earlier episode we saw the distinction between the normative and descriptive academics in the past or right now actually I’ve been caught too much on the descriptive and not having any idea what the normative should be.
I’m telling you right now, if you want to be attractive to women sexually and the reasons for this in terms of the biology and evolutionary psychology and all that, I’m not going to get into that at all in this video but I’m just going to state it boldly just boom! An assertion, if you disagree with me, too bad. This is my assertion, it’s my opinion. It’s my view and try it out, because I’ve been doing this for over 10 years, helping the guys out with this and getting great results. Which is to say that, so the view is that’s the feminine, that’s the feminine polarity, that’s the feminine essence and energy. The closer you are to that the more feminine you are and if you want to attract feminine women and you’re in that energy you’ll attract them as friends but there’s not going to be sexual energy there because you’re both on the feminine side. To have polarity like a magnet you have to have the plus and the minus, so that’s the part of the word polarity.
So what’s the masculine pole? The masculine pole is the Yang energy and with the yin-yang energy. So the masculine energy is this and as I say these words ask yourself, does this resonate with you in terms of what you feel is if you see somebody who’s like this you feel like, “Yes, that’s masculine energy.” So I’m just start giving you some descriptive terms right now, evocative terms I mean, independent, somebody who’s independent. The more independent you are that is you’re self-reliant. You’re not driven here and there by different emotions, you’re reliable, independent. Somebody who is driven by a sense of mission or purpose, clarity of purpose, clarity of vision, a sense of direction, and assertiveness, thus far knows further, courage, discipline, so facing fear and moving forward anyway.
In the face of fear you step up. Disciplined like being arrows being shot into his body and he move forward, that view, the fighter, the warrior, fighting for freedom, the desire for freedom, the desire of breaking through the finish line so to speak, knows all the big male sports or about you somehow take the ball and you break it through the line, you try to penetrate the line.
American footballs are great example of this because it happens all over the game. There’s a line and one line’s up you try to get the ball, you’re actually penetrating the line if you’re on the offense like you’re trying to penetrate the offense line and you try to penetrate the goal line; soccer, football is like this, basketball, the hoop, there’s that line, it just goes on and on like hockey. Fighting to get pass the line and finally freedom and putting it all on the line, betting big, risking, taking risk – those are all evocative words or phrases to describe masculinity.
Now if you see somebody who’s in that energy, do you not feel that that’s very different from the feminine energy, of the nurturing, sensual lover, who dances. I hope so, I think that’s quite obvious and I’m just stating it to you now. There are scientific reasons why men who are more in the masculine energy are sexually appealing to women who are more in the feminine energy, those two poles. People who are on those two poles, there’s a lot of sexual energy and passion there and the more that they are at those extremes, the more they will be drawn to each other in terms of passion.
In order to feel the connection though, you’ve got to relate and so that’s when the masculine male needs to develop his emotional intelligence and play with his young daughter because in order to play with his 3-year-old daughter or 4-year-old daughter he’s going to have to enter the feminine side and play dolls and stuff and be gentle and sensitive to her feelings and all that while still remaining independent and rock solid like the pillar and I think that’s a great analogy of what that masculine and feminine energy should be like in a relationship. The father with his young daughter, baby daughter, being strong and sturdy and a strong daddy who’ll always protect her and keep her safe and is reliable and independent and then there’s the young daughter who is able to be at play and carefree and spontaneous, sensitive, and so on.
Obviously I don’t mean that as a sexual metaphor at all please but in terms of the energy of how a masculine male can play with a feminine female that’s a great example of that and how they both need each other. The feminine to soften the males, its hard exterior; otherwise, it’s a pretty miserable life because you’re always fighting and crying like discipline and all and you need to sometimes just kick back and have some chocolate cake, have a beer – these are all examples of like in a way of indulging the feminine part of you and I think like the mature individual is able to balance that when necessary but the males also should be able to if he wants to be sexually attractive and if he wants to feel masculine he needs to be able to balance and call upon the masculine energy whenever he wants and I lecture on this.
I teach this extensively in our flagship course Limitless and I also have a separate module on this in our newer course called Invincible on masculine energy and I take guys through exercises where they can learn to control. They learn to call up the masculine energy then control it very easily. Some great examples of masculine energy that you might not have thought of and if you’re an Asian guy, Bruce Lee.
So you often think of macho guys but Bruce Lee used to be a Latin dance teacher, salsa or maybe some ballroom in Hongkong before he got into movies and because it’s like what Conor McGregor says is like all movement, it’s just movements, martial arts and dances have a lot of similarity.
It’s just movement of the physical body and of course when you’re dancing Latin especially with your hips you’re going into that feminine energy but still to be the male in that dance especially in ballroom like tango or something you need to be strong and sturdy and that’s another great metaphor for how that works with the masculine and feminine and though empirical reasons for why in the real world a masculine male will be more attractive to feminine females.
So if you are looking to attract women you should pay attention to being more on that masculine energy that I just was outlining for you. If you want to attract like masculine men and you’re a male so you’re a gay male who wants to attract masculine men then you shouldn’t be like being a masculine man won’t attract sexually other masculine men whether they’re gay or not. So I understand they’re all males and if you want to make the term masculine so capacious it can encompass everyone’s views of masculinity including the gay males then you’re just watering down the concept and making it irrelevant to us modern men.
So one of the thing I want to point out, don’t confuse masculinity with machoness and in fact I should have started with that because that’s the probably the biggest misconception, the biggest myth, that being masculine is being macho. So no, let me just give you some examples of this and how historically contingent what being macho is. So some great examples of masculine males in Asian history. I’m [INAUDIBLE] a lot of Asian history because there are so few people who know about it but so many people are Asian. Maybe they’ll draw some strength from it. From the great works of Asian Literature, Chinese and Japanese that I‘ve had to study, The Tale of Genji.
Genji himself is like a 12th Century Japanese work of literature written by a woman, describing a playboy lifestyle of Genji and this is the character of the dandy. He’s got some rakish qualities for sure, definitely a dandy as well. A dandy is a sexually attractive male who dresses more flamboyantly and who has a very highly developed aesthetic sense. The dandy is playing in between those poles but don’t get them wrong.
The dandy is not a feminine male. He is a masculine male who is playing with the feminine essence to create that mystery and ambiguity, that intrigues people and creates curiosity and that’s how they get started. That’s how women get hooked in it and it obviously gets people attention and so on. Modern examples are like Prince, any guy who are in glam rock like Steve Tyler that kind of like Axl Rose kind of thing where they paint their faces. They got make up, mascara, whatever it is and they paint their fingernails. They have long hair and they dress flamboyantly, lots of colors and they move their hips and they’re like really sexual but they’re anorexic because they’re all doing drugs.
They’re not macho men but the great distinction is they are independent, self-reliant and a great I word to describe that is they are like the killers. That is when the time comes they go in, boom. They go in for the kill so to speak. Women can depend on them because they can assert themselves.
They’re very assertive. It’s just like Elvis Presley with his hips. It looks like he’s in the kind of feminine energy because he swings his hips but boom you get the idea that he’ll swoop in for that kiss. He’ll just go for it. He sees what he wants and just goes for it and in ancient Japan, the man would send letters to the women and they would lace it with their own cologne or perfume in his own scent and the women would get in to say, “Oh, this is the scent of Genji” or something like that.
They would associate that scent with him and they have this long sleeves that were sort of like showing the sexual part of yourself. This is like 12th century Japan. The same is in The Pillow Book Sei Shonagon, great depictions of dandy’s there. Jia Baoyu from The Dream of the Red Chamber, Holomo is a classic, one of the four great works of Chinese literature is an excellent depiction of a dandy at work who is like he’s spending most of his days with women doing feminine things but he’s screwing them all. He’s having sex with them all because he’s a killer. He goes in there and does it.
Now here’s probably in my mind the best encapsulation of this or embodiment of this idea. There’s a movie called Emperor and the Assassin by Taimo, a very famous Chinese director. This stars Gong Li and some very famous mainland Chinese actors and actresses, classic movie now based loosely on historical work from Ssu-ma Chien, Record of the Historian and there’s a character in it. So basically real quick I’ll tell you the story.
The king who eventually became the Emperor of China, that king’s mother was a total slut and she was fucking all the ministers and then the ministers came to the King and said, “You know King this is looking really bad on you because you’re mom is fucking all of us.” So the king said, “What am I supposed to do about that? It’s my mom.” So they said, “Let’s try to fix the situation.” So they scoured the kingdom and they found this dude who had attached a wheel like from a wheelbarrow to his penis and was dragging it through the town.
So basically it was like a way of saying he had a gigantic penis. So they recruited this guy and just gave him to their Queen Mother then he just occupied the queen mother. So she’s just like this nymphomaniac Queen Mother and she’s just having sex with this big dick guy of from the villages and eventually they had a couple of kids and he then organized a rebellion to take out the king because now what happens is his children are the offspring of the Queen Mother which is basically like the kings claim to legitimacy in a way, like half of it at least.
So if they kill the king they can usurp the throne. They have a right to the throne. So the king started to suspect this and now the big dick thing was not in the movie at all. So instead this guy that they put with the Queen Mother they played him as a really effeminate figure and he comes off like effeminate homosexual.
So he’s got very white painted face. He talks like a girl and he’s very, very effeminate like way over the top effeminate. The point is you wouldn’t see this coming at all that he created a rebellion, that he organized a rebellion. So he’s just like this guy who’s just like, “Oh you know, my God.” And about 2/3 the way through the movie you see him charging through the palace to take the throne like with a sword and am army behind him and then he gets into the final area and then the trap happens and the king appears, archer show up on the tops of the walls and then they surround these guys immediately and so then they kill them all. I’m sorry to ruin that part for you if you didn’t know.
And then they kill the two kids which is very sad. The Queen Mother just goes insane and they have to lock her up in the tower. That’s how the story ends but then that guy becomes emperor but my point is this, that’s a great depiction of an effeminate man with a killer instinct who is actually masculine in his essence and is playing with the feminine energy and the way I say it, you can play with both energies.
Once you understand what they are and once you know how to access them you can play with them. You can use them when you need to for your own purposes and then you want to choose an energy to reside in and if you’re a male and you want to attract feminine females that’s just one consideration by the way but I know a lot of guys watching this video want to attract feminine females then you should make your home energy the masculine energy but you can play with it. Play with it, that’s what I do. I mean look at my shirt. Look at this, this is a gift from someone special. So, there you go, man. But I’ve got like this feminine, and there’s the masculine. Just joking.
Okay so join the private Facebook group I’ve gone away too long already but I thought this was important. Good thing I cut it up into two episodes right. There’s a lot more to say, a lot more say. I could do an 18-hour nonstop video on this. We do that live in Singapore. At some point when I believe it’s ready, when I feel it’s ready we’ll make an online course on it but it’s not ready yet. We’re going to be doing lots and lots and lots and lots of beta testing before I would even think of releasing it as an online course. That’s what we do for all our courses. Rigorous, rigorous testing. Even then we continue to improve it, improve our courses. So join the private Facebook group, you can interact with me there. I’m always honored when people ask questions and I try in the comments if I can answer it right then and there I’ll do it; otherwise, I’ll make a video for you to answer your question. So I’ll see you in the private Facebook group. Love to hear your feedback on this and any other episodes. In the meantime, Man Up!