I came across these two discussions of the lack of friendship among males, particularly white, heterosexual males. The dearth of male friendship is a serious problem in our modern world. The average American has only 2 close friends. While, as per the Salon article above, white, heterosexual males have the fewest friends.
This lack of friendship comes from a variety of factors, but there are three specific to men. The first is the confluence of both philia and eros under the word love, and the resultant conquering of love by eros. Due to this, in our present language “manly love” might as well mean queer. Related to this is the rise of the homosexual lifestyle in popular culture.
The Slate article almost gets this:
Chalk this heart-squeezing shift up to our limiting ideals of masculinity, which define themselves in opposition to all things feminine. Friends are empathetic, affectionate, not afraid to leave their tower of self-reliance for occasional support. You know who else is like that? Women. “Being a good friend…as well as needing a good friend, is the equivalent of being girly,” Wade writes, so the boys end up opting out.
Wade doesn’t mention the rainbow elephant in the room, but I wonder whether men are less afraid of girliness here than homosexuality. In many ways, it’s a distinction without a difference, since homophobes tend to imagine gay men as effete. But if a man ever is allowed to relax his stone face, it’s around his romantic partner. Being open, communicative, vulnerable—all of these behaviors evoke love relationships. It makes a sad kind of sense that boys trying to assert their masculinity would steer clear of playing the “boyfriend” around other guys.
But as usual, they miss the mark, and make a demonstration of the third reason:
Friends are empathetic, affectionate, not afraid to leave their tower of self-reliance for occasional support. You know who else is like that? Women. “Being a good friend…as well as needing a good friend, is the equivalent of being girly,
Affectionate and empathetic? It just sounds queer.
The reason this sounds queer is these are not masculine friendships, these are feminine friendships. (Not that the feminine mode of friendship is wrong; it’s good, but for women).
The third reason for the decline is male friendship is the colonization of the language of friendship by the feminine. The words used to describe friendships in the above articles are good examples of this: empathy, affection, intimacy, emotional support, etc. are all womanly or would be reserved for your lover; to apply these to a masculine relationship sounds gay.
If this is what friendship is painted as, of course men are going not going to have friendships. Who the hell wants to gather around in a sob circle with their male friends?
But by defining friendship as the feminine, the modern world is pushing out (has pushed out?) the ability to express male friendship through the English language.
To reestablish male friendship, we need to reestablish masculine relationships. We need to retake friendship, retake philia, retake manly love.
(Bro is a decent attempt at this, but bromance just sounds retarded and queer).
For the theoretical framework of masculine friendship we can go back to Jack Donovan’s Way of Man. Male social bonds were formed as a part of the gang. Men bonded through hunting and war parties. They bonded not through faggy emoting, but through shared action, shared virtue, shared goals, shared suffering, and shared victory. They built each other up to work together against the common foe.
Obviously, we can’t go back to the old warband model. There’s no opposing tribes to make war against anymore outside of the ghetto (at least not until the happening), and if you tried to do so, you’d go to jail. But men can attempt to rebuild the same pattern through the creation of a gang. Read the Way of Man for more on this.
We can rebuild the male friendship without the need to go murdering our neighbours. Aristotle outlined the virtuous male friendship many centuries ago:
Perfect friendship is the friendship of men who are good, and alike in virtue; for these wish well alike to each other qua good, and they are good themselves. Now those who wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of own nature and not incidentally; therefore their friendship lasts as long as they are good-and goodness is an enduring thing. And each is good without qualification and to his friend, for the good are both good without qualification and useful to each other. So too they are pleasant; for the good are pleasant both without qualification and to each other, since to each his own activities and others like them are pleasurable, and the actions of the good are the same or like. And such a friendship is as might be expected permanent, since there meet in it all the qualities that friends should have. For all friendship is for the sake of good or of pleasure-good or pleasure either in the abstract or such as will be enjoyed by him who has the friendly feeling-and is based on a certain resemblance; and to a friendship of good men all the qualities we have named belong in virtue of the nature of the friends themselves; for in the case of this kind of friendship the other qualities also are alike in both friends, and that which is good without qualification is also without qualification pleasant, and these are the most lovable qualities. Love and friendship therefore are found most and in their best form between such men.
But it is natural that such friendships should be infrequent; for such men are rare. Further, such friendship requires time and familiarity; as the proverb says, men cannot know each other till they have ‘eaten salt together’; nor can they admit each other to friendship or be friends till each has been found lovable and been trusted by each. Those who quickly show the marks of friendship to each other wish to be friends, but are not friends unless they both are lovable and know the fact; for a wish for friendship may arise quickly, but friendship does not.
The friendship of the good too and this alone is proof against slander; for it is not easy to trust any one talk about a man who has long been tested by oneself; and it is among good men that trust and the feeling that ‘he would never wrong me’ and all the other things that are demanded in true friendship are found. In the other kinds of friendship, however, there is nothing to prevent these evils arising. For men apply the name of friends even to those whose motive is utility, in which sense states are said to be friendly (for the alliances of states seem to aim at advantage), and to those who love each other for the sake of pleasure, in which sense children are called friends. Therefore we too ought perhaps to call such people friends, and say that there are several kinds of friendship-firstly and in the proper sense that of good men qua good, and by analogy the other kinds; for it is in virtue of something good and something akin to what is found in true friendship that they are friends, since even the pleasant is good for the lovers of pleasure. But these two kinds of friendship are not often united, nor do the same people become friends for the sake of utility and of pleasure; for things that are only incidentally connected are not often coupled together.
Barring the fact that love in this case indicates philia, but likely comes across sounding closer to eros due to our fallen language in this modern age, does this sound gay? Does it sounds womanly?
No. These are not friendships of men getting together to whine about their woes. These are friendships of men testing each other for shared virtue and working towards the mutual good.
This is manly friendship. This is what we men need to return to: a masculine view of friendship based around shared virtue and goals, rather than emotionalizing.
We need to start speaking of friendship in words that don’t sound faggy. We need to move the language of male friendship from that of a romance or an AA support-group to that of a warband. ‘Bonds of brotherhood’ and ‘shared virtue’ rather than ‘affection’ and ‘intimacy’ and ‘test’ and ‘shared suffering’ rather than ’emotional support’ and ’empathy’.
Now the question becomes, how do we retake male friendship?
We can’t on the cultural level, other than using masculine language for male friendship to reclaim manly love and friendship from homosexuals and women.
But you can do some things on a personal level. Start a gang.
First, you need to find some good men. If you’ve got some good, reliable friends already, that’s excellent. If you don’t, look through your church, your activities, your social groups, and find men of good character and virtue with whom to bond.
Try to avoid half-men, scalzified weiners, psychological eunuchs, pc nutjobs, those lacking virtue, emos,the easily offended, and the like.
Second, start some specifically manly activities together; exclude women from these activities. Some good ones are hunting, fishing, camping, shooting, poker, gaming, etc.
Third, when at these activities talk, but not just of girls, video games, and beer; talk of deeper things. Don’t get all emotional about it, but talk of philosophy, religion, metaphysics, goals, ambitions, virtue, politics,
Once you’ve gotten close to some men, you can talk of emotional things. Again, don’t get all sobby and faggy about it, but there’s nothing out of place with a matter-of-fact discussion of emotions that may be afflicting you once a close enough bond has been formed.
The goal is to build a solid group of men who have your back and whose back you have.
As for myself, some of us our in a book club; when my choice of book comes it will be the Way of Man, to help put the idea of forming a gang in explicit turns in my social circles. I already have a couple solid guys I’ve been friends with for over a decade and whom I’m close to. This will form the core of the gang and there’re others whom could be a part. Over the summer I tried to arrange days in the woods shooting to move some of my friends towards a more warband-esque grouping; it never turned out, but one of the core is planning to buy a gun and the other really wants to but hasn’t been able to on the planned days; others have expressed interest in shooting as well. So come spring, I should be able to get some days in the woods going, and maybe even convince a few to hunt with me next fall. But beside that, we’ve started fishing over summer, we go camping once a year, and we game regularly. So things look well in that respect.
So, go an do likewise. Read the Way of Man to develop an idea of masculine friendship, make some solid male friendships, and try to make those male friendships you do have into a stronger, deeper bond. Form your own gang, your own warband.
For friendship is important, and every man needs his comrades-in-arms.