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From the Archives: Stephen Mansfield

Our From the Archive series offers a detailed look at selected previous podcasts in order to give you a fresh take on the episode as well as some actionable notes.

Order of Man Podcast #38: Stephen Mansfield.  Originally broadcast in December 2015.

Who is Stephen Mansfield?

He’s a NYT bestselling author as well as an in-demand public speaker. He was first known for writing and speaking about history, leadership, and the forces that shape our culture, but more and more the subject of men and manliness has been his focus, which is why we wanted to speak with him.

Why did he start writing about manliness?

Stephen did a lot of speaking on college campuses and after a lot of those lectures he would end up out with some of the young men to have a drink and talk more deeply about the issues at hand.  Those conversations inevitably led to the issue of manliness in today’s society and often these men would say to Stephen, “Just tell me what to do (to be a man).”  There was such a hunger and need and desire for this topic that Stephen felt called to write and talk about this.

Ryan shared that often he is asked, “Why you?” about the Order of Man project and he shares the same sentiment with Stephen, which is, “I’m not the expert – I’m just willing to put myself out there and share what works and what doesn’t.”  Reinforcements are not arriving.  We are the reinforcements.

Why is manliness such a “hot topic” these days?

The current models and definitions for manhood are failing.  One particular theory/model was the “gorilla theory of men,” which postulates that society needed men when the West needed to be tamed, and railroads needed to be built, and hay needed to be baled, but these sorts of roles are no longer needed, so men are, like gorillas, relegated to the corner of the cage, lost, bored, and eating bananas.  We see this reinforced in popular culture in which men are lampooned as clueless oafs.

We still need to protect and provide

However, before we protect and provide, we need to examine ourselves and understand how we are made.  “Men are more oriented towards DOING than FEELING,” noted Mansfield.  “Manly men do manly things,” he continued, “and it is those deeds that gets him engaged rather than the emotional management that society tells him is the essence of manhood.”

Tell us more about Manly Men doing Manly things…

Those manly things are things like personal development, watching out for those around them, bonding with other men, and protecting those in their care, be they family, friends, or even simply people in a community.  In particular, men having a team – men he can bond with – allows him to come back into relationships with women energized.  That “manly” time with other men helps create a consciousness of “other” in relation to women that can lead to more intentionality in everyday interactions.

A Band of Brothers

Mansfield noted that not only do we not know about manhood anymore, but we don’t how to communicate and celebrate it.  We must have rituals that do this – if you don’t have such a thing you can create it.  Here at Order of Man we have events like our Uprisings that specifically try to address this issue.

That band of brothers that you forge should be built in a “free fire zone,” in which each member is given freedom to say whatever you need to in order to help each other be better men.  “Manly men build manly men.”  This means there has to be openness and vulnerability in these relationships, but growth can’t happen if walls are still up.

Final thoughts…

Remember, this article series is meant to simply highlight a few of the things covered in a particular episode and there’s a lot more of value in this one, including Stephen’s “Damascus experience” that fundamentally changed his outlook on manliness and building a band of brothers, his thoughts on the real reason that men serve in the military (hint: it’s not about “fighting for freedom”), and how he sees the glory of God as integral to manhood.  You can connect with Stephen on his website or on twitter.  Take a moment to thank him for his time!

This From the Archive episode was handpicked by our founder, Ryan Michler, from over 100 episodes, all of which you can find here.  If this article or episode helped you, please consider writing a review for us on iTunes, as that will allow more men to find out about our work.  Now stop reading and start doing!

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