A female friend, wondering what it meant to be masculine, averred that masculinity was about three things: exhibiting authority, being disciplined and only fighting with equals.
While any of those things will win you masculinity brownie points from other men, unfortunately, I do not think that you need to do any of these things to be masculine. You don’t really need to exhibit authority, though if you are masculine enough, you tend to generate that authority anyway automatically if only through fear and intimidation.
You don’t have to be cool under pressure either, although that helps. My father always fell apart under pressure, and he was regarded as masculine. But you should not wear your heart on your sleeve, you should not be too nervous or defeated-looking, you should not always be deferring to women, you should not talk about your problems, and you should never admit that you are depressed.
There is a masculine way of exhibiting depression which is to be very cynical, complain in a helpless but tough guy, what can you do sort of way about things, and act like it’s hopeless in a cynical way. This stoic attitude is called “surviving.” You go out with that attitude, and guys will ask how you are doing. If you are depressed, you shrug your shoulders stoically. The other guy nods his head and says, “Surviving, eh?” It’s ok to be “surviving.” Even if you are depressed, you are supposed to be “surviving.” You are always surviving. You have never given up. That’s masculinity. A man survives.
It’s also ok and masculine to have this sort of “Life sucks”, “Fuck life”, FTW, badass sort of mindset, once again, rather stoically. The message is: life is tough. Life is hard, but you’re toughing it out. Masculinity means you are always toughing it out. Sure, life sucks, but you carry on anyway, hope for the best and look forward to the future maybe being better.
Don’t complain too much. Men are not supposed to be bitching and complaining all the time. If you complain about your job, a lot of men will say, “Go get a new one then.” If you don’t like where you are living, men will say, “Well move then.” If you are miserable with your girlfriend, a lot of men will say, “Go get a new one.” If you complain that your girlfriend is a bitch, a lot of men will say, “Show her who’s boss! Don’t put up with that shit! Put that bitch in her place!” Though marriage is a lot trickier.
A masculine man does something about it. Whatever it is, he does something about it. No matter the problem, he tries to deal with it to make it better in some way or another.
Unfortunately you can pick on weaker people and still be seen as masculine. A lot of masculine guys beat up women and hit their kids. If they act macho enough, no one cares. In Mexican society, it is considered macho to beat your wife. I asked about a job for a friend of mine once at Walmart, and a Mexican asked, “Does he have a criminal record?” I said yes. He asked what for. I said, “Domestic violence. Beating his girlfriend.” And I shrugged my shoulders as if to say, “What the Hell kind of crime is that?” The Mexican laughed and acted like, “LOL that’s not a crime.”
It would be nice if masculinity was really about exhibiting authority, being disciplined and picking on people your own size, and indeed, displaying obvious evidence of any of these things brings you great respect points from other men, possibly because they do represent masculine behaviors.
Really, being masculine is all more just a walk the walk and talk the talk sort of thing. If you walk the masculine walk and talk the masculine talk, most men assume that you are masculine right there. That’s really all you have to do. Masculinity is more about a surface behavior of “putting on a show.” As long as you put on a good show, other men figure you are masculine enough to be ok.