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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.

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“The Man Up Show” Ep.100 – Masculinity: The Problem with Modern Academic Research on Masculinity

Masculinity: The Problem with Modern Academic Research on Masculinity

  • David Tian Ph.D. explains why some approach to masculinity does not appeal to the engineering-type and scientific-type of minds.
  • David Tian Ph.D. describes that some attempts to define masculinity ends up with just basically describing different ways that males live, which isn’t enough.
  • In this Man Up episode, David Tian Ph.D. tells us what it takes to have a good normative concept of masculine.

David Tian: Boom! Stop. In episode 100, I address the question of masculinity. What’s the problem with modern academic research on masculinity?


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 in over 87 countries achieve success in dating and relationships and welcome to Episode 100 of Man Up, Masculinity for the Intelligent Man.

I am in Bangkok. I figured out how to film at night so you get the nice night view instead of just my shades down. Minimal lighting everywhere else in the suite but you see the background a bit until they turn off those lights behind me but holding on still.

So this is Episode 100 and I’m finally talking about the topic of masculinity specifically, so this is originally an exploration into their concept and the area of masculinity but I’ve been getting, inundated, just flooded with questions about what masculinity means.

How to have more of it and so on? I’ve been an active researcher in this area for several years already and active in looking into the academic research on this topic and there’s very little of good quality I’ve been disappointed to find.

I’ve been disappointed to find that there’s very little of good quality. There’s a lot of crap out there on the internet on various websites but even more disappointingly there’s a lot of crap in books. There’s basically two different types of dominant approaches to the question of masculinity in academia as far as I can tell, in books that are assigned in university classes and so on, books and articles and speeches on the internet.

So what I’m going to do in this video is answering the questions of what masculinity is in two parts because I know it’s going to go way overtime and I want to keep this under eight minutes, so I’m going to split it up into two parts and in the first part, I’ll be just like discussing what the problem is and the second part I’ll go into more of or exploring a solution or a better way of looking at it.

The current views or approaches are on the one hand, the sort of new age approach which is I guess, it appeals to a certain type of person, certain type of guy but it doesn’t appeal to an engineering-type of mind, it doesn’t appeal to a scientific-type of mind and there’s a lot of appeal to mythology and like personally it doesn’t resonate with me like I get a lot of bullshit out of that. It seems like there is no authority to it. I mean, it’s just a pure appeal to authority. It’s just like, “Hey, isn’t this a nice story? Is this the way it is?”

There you go, accept it like there’s no proof. There’s no evidence. There’s not even any real philosophical argument for it. So those are a lot of the works that had come up in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s so if you’re familiar with it there are a lot that are taught more in a religious studies context than a science context. So there’s basically no science to it. It’s just mythologies, – Rights of passage. A little tiny bit of anthropology but nothing empirically sound really like empirically rigorous.

So that’s one approach. It seems like that’s the old approach. That’s the sort of the Chicago Divinity School Approach and then there’s another approach. So there are some values in it I got to say so we’re not just going to throw it out. There’s some value in it but it’s not ideal and there isn’t much guidance there.

Also there’s a lot of bullshit mixed in with some truth and then on the other hand, there is like a debate in male studies versus masculinity studies and it’s cloaked in Academies so it sounds more sophisticated but the problem is this, that the people writing it don’t have a very philosophical mind. So what I mean by that is one of the fallacies that they’re using they’re engaging in knowingly or not is the blurring of the normative descriptive distinctions.

So in other words, they’ll take an example of, “Hey, there is this homosexual man. He’s a male. He’s a man. He’s being masculine just like take any random male. He lives this way. We have to fit his lifestyle into our concept of masculine.” I get that. I totally get that, you want to be inclusive.

You don’t want to like ignore some area of humanity like you want to say yes and acknowledge the fact that they’re human and that they’re male. They have a penis and so they have the right to live their lifestyle the way they want and they’re living it in this particular way, great. So that’s wonderful; however, that’s a descriptive use of masculinity if you’re going to use it in that way. So in other words, masculinity just becomes whatever any male; however, any male decides to live his life and whatever values he has.

So he could be a homosexual male and he could wear women’s clothing. He enjoys playing with female dolls, playing dress up with them and I could try out a bunch of other what they would call tropes or stereotypes and then we’d have to just make the concept of masculine so capacious that it can encompass every single male’s view or every single male style of living as long as he has a penis we have to incorporate that into our new concept of masculinity and this is the new masculinity for the 21st century.

And if that’s all that masculinity means or if that’s all that masculine means then it’s not very useful to anyone, I mean, it’s just basically describing different ways that males live and what’s the point of calling it masculine.

The question is there can be a male who is not masculine in that sense and there could be and then there are just various ways of cloaking preachiness like what I’ve seen a lot is old white men, old white, out of shape men who are telling young in shape males (start a conversation) for whom a certain stereotypically masculine lifestyle appeals that, that old white, out of shape male is telling them that they shouldn’t live that way because there is this other way of living and apparently that other way of living if you incorporate that into your lifestyle you’ll be happier something like that right like that’s generally how it goes and everybody will be happy, not just you but everybody. So we want to make everybody happier.

So let’s all cry it out, sort of like that.

That’s really the underlying message but it’s cloaked in academic language so it sounds respectable but it’s not, it’s just sloppy thinking, a lot of sloppy thinking. They all should do a critical thinking course in philosophy department. So what am I getting at, what they’re doing is they’re taking a descriptive notion and try to make it normative.

In other words, they’re saying, “Here is what these males are like, you should be this way.” And of course it just waters it down completely because you can be whatever you like as a male, as a human being with a penis you have the right to live however you like and that’s considered to be masculine by virtue of the fact that you have a penis the more males who’s sharing that and the more lovey-dovey emotions that comes out of it the better it is, the better it is, so that’s the view. What they’re missing is a normative view.

So what most guys who write to me and what I’m interested in and what all the guys like the tens of thousands guys who are looking for guidance in this area, what they’re looking for. And most importantly the guys who want to be attractive sexually to women what they’re interested in is, what’s the type of masculinity that would serve me best in getting the things that I want in my life which include happiness but also include sexual opportunities and also include financial freedom and include independence and self-esteem and all those good things.

So not just, “Hey, let’s all hang out and feel good about like the fact that we’re not hurting anybody (confidence with a woman),” instead what you want is, “Hey, I have these goals and I’m going to strive to get these goals and I want to go and get them.” And what’s the concept of masculinity that would best serve me in those contexts. There’s not much guidance on that in the current world, I’ve looked everywhere. And the type of guidance that’s out there is making that fundamental fallacy of confusing the descriptive with the normative.

So I believe and I think it’s pretty clear that in order to have a good normative concept of masculine, we have to look towards more empirically rigorous or just more rigorous historically, culturally, whatever rigorous like just think harder as well, critically rigorous, philosophically rigorous arguments about what masculinity should be.

So let me put it in a much simpler way, there’s a question of what masculinity, what males are like, so what it is, what the current state of masculinity is or what the males around this world are currently what they are versus what they ought to be, what they should they be in order to get the goals that they’re looking and foremost among them it’s very common, I mean, that’s how I got started in this career.

That’s how hundreds of thousand guys approach me in my work and through my small network of dating coaches like very close friends we easily have millions of people on our databases who have been coming to look for us to ask for help in this area. Millions who are looking for help and guidance on what masculinity should be, how they should be, what they ought to be like in order to be more sexually attractive in the modern world; in order to be more independent in the modern world; in order to have more self-confidence in the modern world.

So it’s nice to say that there’s a homosexual who likes to play with dolls that he’s male and we need to incorporate that somehow into masculinity.

That’s not going to be very helpful to the average 30-year-old male, man who is looking to be more sexually attractive to women in the modern world, in the 1st world country or anywhere really, it doesn’t matter if it’s 1st or whatever the world in attracting women if you tell them to wear dresses and play with dolls and play dress up with them.

It doesn’t help him at all and if you want to go politically correct because that’s where most of this bullshit that I’ve read is going or is it’s not helpful to people in reality.

So let’s face the reality, let’s face the fact that the concept of masculinity in its normative sense of how ought I to be masculine in order to be sexually attractive to women, in order to be more self-confident, what is that concept? What is it? What does it mean and how can I become it?

So that’s the question and you’re not going to get that from what I’ve seen. What I see on the internet is and what I’ve read in the books written by these people is old white men who are out of shape and I don’t get the feeling that they’re killing it in they’re lives. It doesn’t inspire me to watch that telling, preaching from the lectern, views of politically correct bullshit new aged views and even nowadays the new age guys are not as prominent. Those are books that were published quite awhile ago. Those are classics now and they’re classics for a good reason.

There’s value in the new age material but there’s little value in what I’ve seen of the academic material being taught now in various academic departments and universities.

A lot of politically correct new age bullshit is being disseminated in places that are like in websites that have quite a bit of traffic for in sort of aggregations sites like art of manliness, ask men, places like that that have good stuff (ie. Trust in Relationships) in it but there’s also bad stuff in it because it’s uncritical in many places and I’ve just seen a lot of bullshit.

So I started out 10 years ago figuring out dating, psychology, women, flirting, and the moving into a lot of research in relationships and working that out and I found that the thread running through all that, the problems, the greatest factor for success or failure is masculinity.

So in the next video, the next episode I’ll address that and answering the question on masculinity, what is it, and what should we do about it? Join the private Facebook group. Ask more questions. Questions are the oxygen of this show. It depends on your questions. So join the group. We approve request every day. I’ll see you in the group.