So there's this blog I've read off-and-on for the past few years, The Art of Manliness, that I have very strongly mixed feelings about. Those mixed feelings aren't exclusive to the site, though -- they're feelings I have about a lot of lifestyle communities I would like to admire and wholeheartedly participate in. Communities like /r/LifeProTips, SteamPunk or the Maker movement. But in those communities, the problem I have is just a popular interpretation of the core ideals (variously: self-reliance, character building, opposition to throw-away culture and low-quality mass market products) whereas at The Art of Manliness, it's the premise.
That premise, one of the more popular manifestations of internalized sexism[1. And racism, homophobia, and a whole bunch of other kinds of bigotry.], is that culture would be better if it were more like some point in the past. For The Art of Manliness, that period is the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Like I said, that premise is popular in a lot of this kind of movement, and that sucks because in the right light there are a lot of pretty good ideas beneath the awful ones. There are a lot of aspects of culture that (at least seem like they) used to be significant forces, but due to accelerating social change, have eroded.
That erosion has, basically, been a good thing, but for all the problems it's mitigated, new problems have emerged or worsened. The response that a lot of these movements have to that rise in new problems is to try to switch back to the old way of doing things, to some degree or another. But since going back to the old ways is so obviously a bad idea, they've been forced to come up with a cover story -- and that cover story actually isn't awful.
Ideas like promoting sustainability by using more permanent, well-made objects in life rather than participating in what is essentially a system of object rental where the return box is a landfill; consciously developing social skills and striving to build character rather than maintaining the illusion of decency; learning how to make a positive contribution to the world around you, rather than expecting that world just to contribute to your own wellbeing.
They're great ideas, but they don't belong to the past. They don't belong in the past. The Art of Manliness suggests improving social skills by learning decades-old social graces. They suggest building character by striving to conform to their preferred manifestation of the male gender expectation. They not-so-subtly imply that self-reliance means being able to live in the woods.
Occasionally they produce great articles. Most of the time, they produce content that has some proportion of useful information to be appreciated and gender-conformist bull████ to try not to internalize. A lot of the time, it just feels like reading the MANLINESS version of Cosmo.