Husband and wife team tackle manliness

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A law school student walked through the now defunct Borders bookstore in 2008 looking for a decent magazine for men. Disappointed, he realized that most of the men’s magazines focused on “sex and six-pack abs.”

“It really was kind of like the ah-hah moment,” Brett McKay said. “I’d been married for a couple years, but a lot of the stuff in the magazines didn’t relate to me as a married man. I have no interest in getting six-pack abs. When you’re married, you don’t really focus on those kind of things. I wanted to start a men’s magazine that I would want to read. So I started The Art of Manliness, and it just kind of took off.”

[media-credit name=”Photo courtesy of Brett McKay” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]
Brett McKay and his wife tackle the issue of manliness in a new book.
Brett was joined shortly thereafter by his wife Kate, who studied history at BYU. Together they run the website artofmanliness.com.

“He had law school finals at one point and didn’t have time to write a story for the website,” Kate said. “So, using my history background, I wrote a story on Fedoras, from there it grew and the workload went crazy.”

The husband-wife team said it has been a great chance to work together.

“The biggest advantage is we both have different talents,” Kate said. “Brett will write something, and I’ll edit it. It’s good just in general that we are able to throw back and forth ideas. In the end it ends up being better than it was at first.”

Although both authors are Mormon, their blog takes a non-religious approach to spreading good principles and virtues.

“I’m a big proponent of virtues,” Brett said. “I don’t think any religion or culture has a monopoly on the virtues. Religion can turn people off, so I thought in order to reach more people, I would take more of a secular approach.”

Another reason the McKays started the website was because they noticed a lack of men taking on responsibility in modern society.

“A lot of men seemed really lost,” Brett said. “They were in their twenties, but basically their twenties became a continuation of their adolescence.  You’d be surprised how many 30 year olds don’t know how to tie a tie. There were a lot of guys lacking confidence and lacking direction. I thought we could help them along.”

The website covers topics such as money and careers, manly skills, relationships and family. The McKays have had great success with their site, and not just in North America. They currently have 104,000 subscribers to their site, 25 percent of whom are international.

“We’re sort of surprised by the amount of international readers we have, seeing how most of our content is U.S.-centeric,” Brett said. “But I guess our overall message speaks across cultures. I love getting emails from men in Egypt or Mexico or England telling us how much the blog has helped them.”

One of their more popular entries is a guest post from an Egyptian man who wrote an article titled “Lessons in manliness from the Egyptian revolution.” In the article, he gives a firsthand account of the things he and others had to do to protect their families and possessions during the revolution in Egypt, including setting up roadblocks to stop anyone entering their neighborhoods, using axes and Molotov cocktails as their only protection against would-be thieves.

In modern times, emphasizing manliness might be looked down on by some, but the author has chosen to emphasize the principles of manliness rather than the alpha-male perception of manliness.

“My definition of manliness … is simple,” Brett said on his website. “Striving for excellence and virtue in all areas of your life, fulfilling your potential as a man and being the absolute best brother, friend, husband, father and citizen you can be.”

The author goes on to say manhood and womanhood are not opposites.

“There are two ways to define manhood,” Brett said. “One way is to say that manhood is the opposite of womanhood. The other is to say that manhood is the opposite of childhood … I subscribe to the latter philosophy.”

The McKays have produced one book already, which has the same title as the website. They will publish a new book this fall titled “Manvotionals: Timeless Wisdom and Advice on Living the 7 Manly Virtues.”

According to the Art of Manliness website, Manvotionals will draw from lessons in history on how to be a man.

“From the philosophy of Aristotle to the speeches and essays of Theodore Roosevelt, these pages contain the manly wisdom of the ages—poems, quotes, and essays that will inspire you to live life to the fullest and realize your complete potential.”

 

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