We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

What’s going on with men’s magazines these days (not the naughty kind)?

Time and again multinationals and public companies turn out to be as happy as junior members of the Royal Family to sign up to an ideology which will come to eat them next. If anyone is in any doubt about this trend, they should look to the men’s magazine GQ – or what we should more properly describe as the former men’s magazine, GQ.

Douglas Murray.

By the way, a guy in the US called Brett McKay became so fed up with men’s magazines, because they were often about how to get “six-pack abs”, implausibly expensive gear and full of ads, that he decided to create his own website, Art of Manliness, which adopts a deliberately retro look. It’s actually pretty good, with plenty of podcasts to tune into. I get the impression it is pretty conservative (small c) politically and culturally, and has a slightly worrying admiration for that old monster, Teddy Roosevelt, but a lot of it contains content a lot more thoughtful than you will get out of a glossy at WH Smith. Here is an interview with McKay by the inimitable Mark Rippetoe, the “Starting Strength” strength training coach, who is based out of Wichita Falls, Texas.

By the way, Rippetoe is not very “woke”.

18 comments to What’s going on with men’s magazines these days (not the naughty kind)?

  • Fraser Orr

    Much as I don’t care for Teddy R’s politics I think you can see why an magazine called “Art of Manliness” would idolize him. He is the very epitome of the manly man. I watched Ken Burns’ documentary on the Roosevelt family recently. Soporific as all Burns’ documentaries are, if you can pound a few cups of coffee to stay awake it is pretty interesting. They suggest for example, that TR’s boundless energy may well have come from ADHD, and thus, today, would be medicated out of him.

    (BTW when I say “soporific” I should say that if I am suffering insomnia I literally watch one of his documentaries and it puts me out like a light. I highly recommend it over Ambien. It isn’t because they are boring — on the contrary, the history is engaging — it is the music, style and commentary that just knocks me out. BTW, the guy who narrates is called “Peter Coyote”. He changed his name to Coyote when, on an magic mushroom trip, his spirit animal demanded that he honor him with the name change. Take that for what you will….)

  • Peter Melia

    When you say “literally” watch …documentaries, is that more attentive than just, say, “watch”?

  • pete

    I have never bought a men’s magazine. I buy magazines about topics which interest me – cycling, motorcycling, football, rugby league, politics, history and old toys.

    I won’t be visiting Mr McKay’s new website about the art of manliness because manliness is not an art.

    It is just how men are.

  • When you say “literally” watch …documentaries, is that more attentive than just, say, “watch”?

    Clearly the ‘literally’ refers to to the fact they literally put him to sleep, rather than just figuratively bore him (i.e. the figurative use of ‘put to sleep’)

  • bobby b

    “I won’t be visiting Mr McKay’s new website about the art of manliness because manliness is not an art.

    It is just how men are.”

    But . . .

    Men aren’t born knowing how to properly use a straight razor, how to block and clean a felt hat, how to play a harmonica, how to iron a dress shirt, how to tie obscure but cool tie knots, how to frame your mustache shape to your face shape, how to sew on a button, how to cut your own hair, when to wear pleats, how to care for leather . . .

    You’re letting the site title shape your opinion too much. It’s an interesting site.

  • neonsnake

    how to sew on a button, how to cut your own hair, when to wear pleats, how to care for leather


    Masculinity is knowing when to use your size, and when not to. It’s knowing when to call your engineering degree girlfriend to help with why the BBQ isn’t working.

    It’s about being able to take care of yourself, without needing your mum – and being confident enough in yourself to ask your mum how to sew on a button if you don’t know 🙂

    It’s knowing how to care for the leather jacket you bought twenty years ago, or the car that’s older than you are. And not being ashamed to ask when you don’t know.

    Not all of this is built in to us. Some of this, we need our Dad. Some, frankly, we need our Mum.

    GQ is just responding to market forces. Whatever. It was shit before, it’s still shit now. It never should have been a barometer for masculinity. It’s for adolescents. Fine.

    I quite like Art of Manliness. If nothing else, it at least understands masculinity as a state of looking after oneself, and of being a gentleman.

  • Julie near Chicago

    My gad, neon, you can’t possibly mean that it’s laudable to any degree at all to be a gentleman!

    You surely don’t mean to insinuate that it’s not positively Neanderthalic brutal male oppression for a man to hold the door for a woman! *frown* *grin*

    I am Woman, hear me ROAR:

    Thank you to the many men who, in my long and misspent life, have seen fit to hold the door for me, to ask if I need help lifting the 1964 Lincoln Town Car, asking me out to dinner and picking up the check after without so much as asking, waiting for my 17 toddlers and me — pushing the baby carriage with a baby in it — to get out of the crosswalk rather than simply driving over us, and so forth.

    There are certain other things a gentleman does not do, or at least tries not to do, without attempting to figure out whether the lady does or doesn’t — entirely — want him to keep his hands to himself. These days, I take it that a Real Man is not to get his hands within 1000′ of a female without a written contract signed in blood by the femme and in ichor by the Great Frog, and even then there’s some legal and social risk involved.

    Thus, you write:

    “…[I]t at least understands masculinity as a state of looking after oneself, and of being a gentleman.”

    Very well said indeed. As is the rest of your comment. :>))

  • Fraser Orr

    @Perry de Havilland (London)
    Clearly the ‘literally’ refers to to the fact they literally put him to sleep, rather than just figuratively bore him (i.e. the figurative use of ‘put to sleep’)

    I wish you were right and I could claim cleverness rather than error. But alas, my adverb was a flop.

  • Myno

    The site also taught me the important lesson that my long dream of felling a substantial tree (don’t ask) is way more dangerous than I had suspected. Useful stuff indeed.

  • neonsnake

    Thanks Julie 😀

    I think I came across the site when I was trying to figure out how to knot a bow tie, of all the grrrr hairy chested macho things in the world…

  • bobby b

    Don’t feel bad. My first visit had something to do with facial creams.

  • llamas


    Three weeks ago, on a brief interlude back home (:-() I saddled up the mighty Ducati and went downtown for the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Ride, an annual charity motorcycle ride to supports men’s health causes. Part of the deal is that Edwardian-style dress is encouraged – so no special effort required on my part.

    My sidekick and I developed a bit of a sport, on the pavement outside the Fisher Building, separating the ‘real’ gentlemen from the ‘GQ’ gentlemen – in other words, those who were doing it effortlessly (like us 😉 ) vs those who were playing the part, using purchased props and carefully-judged fashion accessories in order to present a particular affect.

    Our verdicts were sealed by the behaviours of our suspects in the coffee shop – courteous and obliging vs loutish millenial. I don’t think we missed once.

    Best gentleman that we both spotted a mile off and instantly decided – an AA gent, about 35, on his home-built Yamaha 650 bobber. His ride was flawlessly impeccable, with the perfect built-not-bought seasoning, his attire was without peer, with just enough of the ‘might-have-slept-in-it’ to add verisimilitude, and his affect just had me in awe. He could have walked out of one of George V’s shooting parties.

    I’ll bet he – like we – has never read a single issue of GQ. You can’t get this out of a magazine.



  • neonsnake

    Don’t feel bad. My first visit had something to do with facial creams.

    Well, I’ve just single-handedly taken apart, untangled and repaired a garage door, so my Man Points are back in the positive, I think 😉

    Trivialities aside; it seems easy to look at current culture and bemoan a lack of understanding of masculinity (or, I guess, femininity if one so chose). It occurred to me when we were talking about incels re. the Joker film, that it *appears* that kids nowadays don’t really have a good understanding of how to, I dunno, be comfortable in themselves.
    I’ve not regularly read GQ or similar mags, but have certainly flicked through them in waiting rooms and the like, and was never impressed by them. Mainly because I’m not really a fan of being told what “type” of man to be, I suppose, I’ll make my own mind up, thank you.

    But, surely, this isn’t new? Didn’t every generation go through the same thing? Is it just that the internet tends to surface the extreme cases, do you think?

  • Paul Marks

    “Wokeness” – “Social Justice” totalitarianism – dominates the education system (including many expensive private schools) so it is not a surprise that it pops up everywhere – even in magazines bought by the white-heterosexual -men that “Social Justice” seeks to exterminate.

    Why did the Duke of Orleans, the richest man in France, finance the French Revolution and endlessly repeat the egalitarian doctrines of Rousseau – even calling himself “Citizen Equality”. Why could the Duke not see that the
    Revolutionaries he had financed for years would rob and murder him?

    He could not see it for the same reason that the “Woke” rich in the United States finance the people who want to rob and murder them (and their families). “Social Justice” dominates the education system – even the rich are saturated with SJW “Woke” death-to-white-male-heterosexual-capitalists doctrine – no counter doctrine is taught.

    One is more likely to find supports of capitalism in East Tennessee (out in the hills) than on Wall Street or Silicon Valley – because Wall Street, Silicon Valley (and so on) are dominated by the “educated”.

    My fear is that the decent areas of the United States will end up as the Vendee and other such areas of Western France ended up in the French Revolution – overwhelmed, and their population slaughtered.

    Although as the corruption that is “education” is now all over the West, a worst fate than being killed may be the fate of people who are not yet “Woke” – they may live to see their children hate and despise everything that is good.

    This goes back a long way – remember that beast Woodrow Wilson (a far worse man than “Teddy” Roosevelt – who at least was personally brave and tolerant in relation people he actually met) argued that the purpose of “education” was to make young people as “unlike their fathers as possible”.

    The “Progressive” hatred of capitalist society goes back a long way – indeed long before Woodrow Wilson or even Rousseau, it goes back to PLATO.

  • Philip Scott Thomas

    I discovered The Art of Manliness accidentally a few years ago while looking for something I no longer remember and found it rather a useful reference site. I still dip in from time to time to see what’s new.

    At its best it serves the same need as Jordan Peterson’s lectures*, in that both could be re-titled How To Be A Grown-Up, or Stuff Your Dad Should Have Taught You.

    * If, that is, you gloss over Peterson’s reliance on Jung (an absurd combination of Freud’s nonsense-on-stilts with an extra side-helping of woo) and, God help us, Nietzsche.

  • Julie near Chicago

    PST, so good to hear from you!

    My I give more thumbs up to your *’d (last) paragraph than I have thumbs. :>))

    . . .

    Yes, Paul, and if the old idea of usury — lending money and charging interest — was, as I understand it, illegal in so many places for nearly 2 millenia, wouldn’t that in itself already give capitalism a bit of a black eye?

    Anyway, here’s the logic:

    Some rich men down through the ages have gotten rich through theft, fraud, plunder, or other evildoing.

    Therefore rich men are bad.

    Capitalists are rich.

    Therefore capitalists are bad.

    Therefore Capitalism is Bad.

    There, wasn’t that simple? [Sigh….]


    Good comment. :>)

  • Dr. Caligari

    Why do you think about Teddy Roosevelt as a monster? I don’t get it, sorry.

    If you take a look on the writings of this former president, you would see another kind of man:

    He was, of cource, a hard political incorrect person and at last no philosopher or a scholar or intellectual, as Thomas Jefferson or Adams. At this time, prejudices was quite normal.
    In the early 20th century, Indians were seen as primitives.

    Nothing to be proud of, but you have judge a historical person with the age in the mind.

  • I’m surprised no-one on this thread has yet mentioned one obvious explanation: that the ‘woke’ men’s magazine writers are practising Sarah Hoyt’s “Roll left and die” manoeuvre.

    Suppose you are a standard PC arts type working in some media gig that, till now, has partially limited your scope for preaching due to the need to retain your audience. Suppose you think your employer is slowly heading down. Maybe they’re a magazine that is losing money. Maybe they’re in a niche that is shrinking. (Perhaps your PC principles encourage you to believe it is shrinking – and should). One day you decide to stop caring about delaying the inevitable and start caring about your CV.

    Once upon a time, keeping your former employer going as long as possible might be seen as a virtue. But who cares about that now. You very much want your new employer to be in the media domain, like your current one – not the local MacDonald’s. That new media employer is very likely to assess your PC virtue(-signalling) first and your practical competence second – even if the specific work they hire you for does not need PC preaching; even if that work requires a degree of public restraint (accepted pro-tem by your PC employer and you). All the jobs you want need you to clear the PC hurdle before you get the chance to show any practical skill. Keeping out the ‘wrong’ type of people matters more every day – especially to those ‘right’ (left) kind of people who infest HR.

    So, as your current job is dying anyway, why not “roll left and die”. Virtue-signal to your new employer by making your current employer history a bit quicker. And you even get to feel virtuous while doing it. 🙂