The Maxims of Manhood: 100 Rules Every Real Man Must Live By

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Self-help books tend to be directed solely at women, so I was fairly surprised, a little amused, and definitely intrigued when I came across the book ‘The Maxims of Manhood: 100 Rules Every Real Man Must Live By”, by Jeff Wilser, during a recent house party. First of all, the guy who owned the book didn’t exactly strike me as the type who would ever read such a thing. This would probably explain why I had to pry it out of his hands, after he initially snatched it from me, insisting that I wouldn’t want to bore myself with knowing what men discussed in the locker room, but I digress.
I already know that most guys think, “real men don’t read books on rules to live by”, which ironically enough is the book’s final maxim – “Never blindly follow rules or maxims”. Modern society, and much of what is accepted behaviour for men and women, however, is undoubtedly governed by a set of unspoken rules that we are socialized to follow.
The book is broken down into ten sections, which focus on general behaviour, sports, women (we actually get two sections – one for women you don’t care about and another for the women you do care about), health and food, style, work, entertainment, buddies, and a list of things real men “don’t forget”. Each section contains ten rules to help guide men “through the difficult, confusing, often paradoxical world in which we live”, and supposedly contains the “fundamental truths of modern manhood – a code of behaviour that leaves your father proud, your buddies in awe, and your girlfriend (mostly) satisfied”.
With maxims like, “you have to read, you have to fight, and you have to own a dog larger than a toaster”, it would be easy to dismiss Wilser’s theories as traditional, chauvinistic, homophobic and misogynistic. Some of them are, but it didn’t stop me from wishing that more men would follow the maxims I thought were relevant. Notable highlights include:
His take on Women
Maxim #27 – “Always hold the door!”
If I had my way, it would also include putting her on the inside, away from traffic, when walking on the street, as well. Some may think that chivalrous acts imply that women are weaker, but I don’t. Men have 14 percent more muscle mass by nature’s design, so I’m not going to complain, if they decide to put the extra testosterone to good use. I think that if you show a woman that you honour traditional values, she will do the same.
Maxim #22 – “End the call first”
There’s no way any sane woman would agree with advice that says, “On the call itself, your role is to silently suffer… you can utter a stream of mmmh hmm, that makes sense or exactly”, or “as you’re checking your e-mail and surfing the web and utterly ignoring her, you say, right but what do you really mean by that?” because it implies that you are not only paying attention, but probing for something deeper.
I hate pretence, and I can guarantee that when a woman discovers you haven’t been paying attention, there will be hell to pay.
Maxim #29 – “Keep the one-night stand classy”
If more guys followed the guidelines for this maxim, there’d be less emotionally scarred women running around. Men who pretend to be really interested, when they only want one thing, men don’t have the balls to tell a woman that they’re not that into her, two-minute men, and those who think “no” means “yes” (it really doesn’t even when we’re drinking) are guilty of grossly misusing their testosterone.
Health and Food
Maxim #33 & 36 – “No classes at the gym” and “You don’t trust this yoga”
I disagree with the notion that it’s unmanly to be “body image conscious”. I have an intense dislike for beer bellies and rum bellies. How hard is it to stay in shape? Unlike Wilser, I don’t care if a man has to take cardio kickboxing and or yoga to keep the pounds off. He can even colour coordinate his gym gear (ok maybe that’s a bit much), but my point is that as long as he doesn’t end up with Homer Simpson’s gut, I’m good.
Style
Maxim #42 & 47 – “Shop without “going shopping” and “Ignore window treatments”
I’m ok with the notion that there are some things that men don’t get, or simply won’t do. I would never  ask a guy to go shopping with me, ask him to help me pick flowers for our wedding decorations, or expect him to know the difference between blinds and curtains. Shout out to the men who watch HGTV, and do know, because they get extra points from me. Let’s just say interior decorating isn’t my forte.
Entertainment:
Maxim #64 & #65 – “Your contacts are irritated; those aren’t tears” and “Control the world with technology”
I’m not going to cosign the ideology that “men don’t cry and that the only acceptable signs of emotion are road rage, drunken man love, sports and movies like dumb and dumber”. Unlike women, men don’t have outlets to deal with their issues. The end result is that for some men, the wounds inflicted by life’s baggage fester like an untreated cut and start oozing puss. Fact: If a guy’s been cheated on, he’s less likely than a woman to trust again, and if he was mistreated by his mother, he’s more likely to engage in misogynistic behaviour.
As a gadget lover, my only complaint with Wilser is his idea that the love of gadgets should end at knowing how to operate and or fix “the dishwasher, laundry machine or oven”. I don’t want a man who doesn’t know how to use a dishwasher or do his own laundry. A ‘real’ man should be able to assist in the maintenance of a household. Any man who doesn’t want to do this needs to make sure he’s making enough money to hire a housekeeper and a nanny.
Buddies
Maxim #79 – “No poking on Facebook”
What does a poke really mean anyway? Like Wilser, I also think there should be a ban on blind friend requests. Personally, if I’ve never met you in person or virtually, I don’t care how cute your picture is, or that we have friends in common – ‘friending’ me is creepy.
Women Revisited
Maxim #90 – “You don’t cheat”
Strangely enough, this is the only rule that doesn’t have an exception. I’m willing to admit that monogamy may not be for everybody, but all relationships should have integrity. Real men and women keep their word.
Like Wilser, I also agree that modern men should have a basic knowledge of current events beyond the latest EPSN headlines. Ignorance is a turn off.
I don’t know any man who adheres to all 100 of these maxims, but admittedly the men I’m most attracted to embody at least 55 of the maxims. Wilser grew up white and middle class, so his experiences and definition of manhood can’t be exactly the same as a guy from an urban environment, or an island like Trinidad or Tobago.
All rules aside, a woman will respond differently to ‘typical’ male behaviour based on her own experiences, and cultural background. If nothing else, knowing the default stereotype should spark an open conversation between men and women about how we define our roles and ourselves. Society didn’t evolve because everyone blindly followed social convention. Real men and women know that there is only one maxim worth heeding: question everything.

realmenSelf-help books tend to be directed solely at women, so I was fairly surprised, a little amused, and definitely intrigued when I came across the book ‘The Maxims of Manhood: 100 Rules Every Real Man Must Live By”, by Jeff Wilser, during a recent house party. First of all, the guy who owned the book didn’t exactly strike me as the type who would ever read such a thing. This would probably explain why I had to pry it out of his hands, after he initially snatched it from me, insisting that I wouldn’t want to bore myself with knowing what men discussed in the locker room, but I digress. 

I already know that most guys think, “real men don’t read books on rules to live by”, which ironically enough is the book’s final maxim – “Never blindly follow rules or maxims”. Modern society, and much of what is accepted behaviour for men and women, however, is undoubtedly governed by a set of unspoken rules that we are socialized to follow.

The book is broken down into ten sections, which focus on general behaviour, sports, women (we actually get two sections – one for women you don’t care about and another for the women you do care about), health and food, style, work, entertainment, buddies, and a list of things real men “don’t forget”. Each section contains ten rules to help guide men “through the difficult, confusing, often paradoxical world in which we live”, and supposedly contains the “fundamental truths of modern manhood – a code of behaviour that leaves your father proud, your buddies in awe, and your girlfriend (mostly) satisfied”. 

With maxims like, “you have to read, you have to fight, and you have to own a dog larger than a toaster”, it would be easy to dismiss Wilser’s theories as traditional, chauvinistic, homophobic and misogynistic. Some of them are, but it didn’t stop me from wishing that more men would follow the maxims I thought were relevant. Notable highlights include: 

 

His take on Women

Maxim #27 – “Always hold the door!” 

If I had my way, it would also include putting her on the inside, away from traffic, when walking on the street, as well. Some may think that chivalrous acts imply that women are weaker, but I don’t. Men have 14 percent more muscle mass by nature’s design, so I’m not going to complain, if they decide to put the extra testosterone to good use. I think that if you show a woman that you honour traditional values, she will do the same. 

Maxim #22 – “End the call first” 

There’s no way any sane woman would agree with advice that says, “On the call itself, your role is to silently suffer… you can utter a stream of mmmh hmm, that makes sense or exactly”, or “as you’re checking your e-mail and surfing the web and utterly ignoring her, you say, right but what do you really mean by that?” because it implies that you are not only paying attention, but probing for something deeper. 

I hate pretence, and I can guarantee that when a woman discovers you haven’t been paying attention, there will be hell to pay. 

 

Maxim #29 – “Keep the one-night stand classy” 

If more guys followed the guidelines for this maxim, there’d be less emotionally scarred women running around. Men who pretend to be really interested, when they only want one thing, men don’t have the balls to tell a woman that they’re not that into her, two-minute men, and those who think “no” means “yes” (it really doesn’t even when we’re drinking) are guilty of grossly misusing their testosterone.

 

Health and Food

Maxims #33 & 36 – “No classes at the gym” and “You don’t trust this yoga” 

I disagree with the notion that it’s unmanly to be “body image conscious”. I have an intense dislike for beer bellies and rum bellies. How hard is it to stay in shape? Unlike Wilser, I don’t care if a man has to take cardio kickboxing and or yoga to keep the pounds off. He can even colour coordinate his gym gear (ok maybe that’s a bit much), but my point is that as long as he doesn’t end up with Homer Simpson’s gut, I’m good. 

 

Style

Maxims #42 & 47 – “Shop without “going shopping” and “Ignore window treatments” 

I’m ok with the notion that there are some things that men don’t get, or simply won’t do. I would never  ask a guy to go shopping with me, ask him to help me pick flowers for our wedding decorations, or expect him to know the difference between blinds and curtains. Shout out to the men who watch HGTV, and do know, because they get extra points from me. Let’s just say interior decorating isn’t my forte.

 

Entertainment

Maxims #64 & #65 – “Your contacts are irritated; those aren’t tears” and “Control the world with technology”

I’m not going to cosign the ideology that “men don’t cry and that the only acceptable signs of emotion are road rage, drunken man love, sports and movies like dumb and dumber”. Unlike women, men don’t have outlets to deal with their issues. The end result is that for some men, the wounds inflicted by life’s baggage fester like an untreated cut and start oozing puss. Fact: If a guy’s been cheated on, he’s less likely than a woman to trust again, and if he was mistreated by his mother, he’s more likely to engage in misogynistic behaviour. 

As a gadget lover, my only complaint with Wilser is his idea that the love of gadgets should end at knowing how to operate and or fix “the dishwasher, laundry machine or oven”. I don’t want a man who doesn’t know how to use a dishwasher or do his own laundry. A ‘real’ man should be able to assist in the maintenance of a household. Any man who doesn’t want to do this needs to make sure he’s making enough money to hire a housekeeper and a nanny. 

 

Buddies

Maxim #79 – “No poking on Facebook” 

What does a poke really mean anyway? Like Wilser, I also think there should be a ban on blind friend requests. Personally, if I’ve never met you in person or virtually, I don’t care how cute your picture is, or that we have friends in common – ‘friending’ me is creepy.

 

Women Revisited 

Maxim #90 – “You don’t cheat” 

Strangely enough, this is the only rule that doesn’t have an exception. I’m willing to admit that monogamy may not be for everybody, but all relationships should have integrity. Real men and women keep their word. 

Like Wilser, I also agree that modern men should have a basic knowledge of current events beyond the latest EPSN headlines. Ignorance is a turn off. 

I don’t know any man who adheres to all 100 of these maxims, but admittedly the men I’m most attracted to embody at least 55 of the maxims. Wilser grew up white and middle class, so his experiences and definition of manhood can’t be exactly the same as a guy from an urban environment, or an island like Trinidad or Tobago. 

All rules aside, a woman will respond differently to ‘typical’ male behaviour based on her own experiences, and cultural background. If nothing else, knowing the default stereotype should spark an open conversation between men and women about how we define our roles and ourselves. Society didn’t evolve because everyone blindly followed social convention. Real men and women know that there is only one maxim worth heeding: question everything.

 

Image credit: http://www.demiandashton.org

 

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Dzifa Job

Dzifa Job is a freelance writer and the voice behind the blog Musings of an Empress (www.dzifajob.wordpress.com). Her writings have appeared in One Love Houston, The Good, The Bad, The Ugly In Sports, The Integrationist Quarterly, and Caribbean Axis. Dzifa is a graduate of Syracuse University, and holds a Bachelors degree in Public Relations from the Newhouse School of Communications. A Trini, living in New York, she spends her downtime writing, training for fitness challenges, and going on adventure vacations.

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