The Importance of Competence

Of the four core virtues I talk about in my book, competence may be both the easiest and hardest one for many to understand.  It’s easy to understand because it’s not rocket science to see the importance of being good at your job.  It’s hardest because, well, the Dunning-Kruger Effect is an actual thing.


Photo by Ken Walton
Photo by Ken Walton

The sad thing about competence, however, is that it’s far rarer than it should be.

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but in my hometown, competence is so unusual in some industries like fast food that it should qualify is a freaking superpower.  “Do you have x-ray vision?  No?  You’re competent at your job?  THAT’S AMAZING!”

The funny thing is that many of these are the same people complaining about wanting more money for their job because they can’t live off of minimum wage.  I get that, I really do, but if you suck at your job, what do you expect?  Hmmm?

With anything, the creme rises to the top.  It always does. Continue reading “The Importance of Competence”


Paper Claims Women’s Strength Based More On Society Forces Than Biology

I’ve been pretty upfront that my work here is all about men being men, and that I generally feel it’s up to women to work up what it is to be women.  As such, I often don’t get into some of the more bizarre instances of feminism I see out in the wild.

Photo by Greg Westfall
Photo by Greg Westfall

However, over the weekend, a friend sent me a link to a paper’s abstract that had me scratching my head.

In particular, this line:

That is, women in fitness—particularly those who seek muscular strength in the weight room—may find their bodily agency limited not by biology but by ideologies of emphasized femininity that structure the upper limit on women’s “success.”

The implication here is that women aren’t held back by any biological factors, but by society limiting them to acceptable standards. Continue reading “Paper Claims Women’s Strength Based More On Society Forces Than Biology”

Courage, Cowardice, And The Modern World

Pretty much ever culture on the planet respects bravery in some way.  In the tribal regions, brave warriors get special places of honor.  In more modern regions, we honor bravery with awards and medals.  Courage is still revered.

Photo courtesy of jridgewayphotography
Photo courtesy of jridgewayphotography

In American culture, it has typically held a special place.  After all, we’re a nation born out of war who went from upstart rabble-rousers to superpower in a couple of centuries, all through warfare.  It’s impossible to trade on conflict like that and not have a special regard for the brave people who made that happen.

However, we’ve never reserved our reverence for heroism as being just for our troops.  Firefighters and police officers, in particular, have garnered praise for being in occupations that often require heroism on their part.  Many communities will also honor private citizens for their bravery when it appears warranted.

We love heroes and dislike cowards.

It can be argued that I’ve been both. Continue reading “Courage, Cowardice, And The Modern World”

What Men Aren’t

I’ve been guilty of present masculinity as rather one dimensional as of late, and that’s not good.  So far, it’s hard to tell whether I’m talking about men in most of my posts, or the Terminator.  I get that.

Photo by Policedriver2
Photo by Policedriver2

Today, I’m going to balance that a bit by talking about what men aren’t.

Every day, you’ll see guys kidding one another about turning in their “man card.”  They’ll say real men do this, or real men do that.  As a result, guys who are shunning every aspect of masculinity possible are also declaring what real men do.  Honestly, it’s confusing.

However, real men aren’t worried about some things, and I don’t care what your friends say about it. Continue reading “What Men Aren’t”

Some Changes On The Way

We’re about to make some changes here at By Spear and Axe.  Yes, again.  The first time it was just the name, which desperately needed to be changed, but now we’re looking at some serious overhauling.

Photo by Conal Gallagher
Photo by Conal Gallagher

When I started this site, it was with the idea that I would speak solely on masculinity and masculine issues.  I figured with feminists and their male bashing, I wouldn’t run out of anything to write about in the near future.

The thing is, the male bashing is repetitive, so the responses tend to be as well.  That makes things dry up on that front.

That made me want to shift to Plan “B”.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have one. Continue reading “Some Changes On The Way”

Thoughts on Martial Arts

I think about a lot of things.  One of them has been trying to determine which martial art truly is “the best.”  This is a challenge that has been taken up time and again, and even served as something of a premise for UFC 1.

Photo by Edward Dalmulder
Photo by Edward Dalmulder

Yesterday, something occurred to me about the effectiveness of martial arts.

When someone is considering a martial art, many will wonder how effective it is “on the street.”  They want to know if the art will work in a real fight outside of a sports setting.

Many instructors, with the utmost sincerity, will say that what they teach has real applications in an actual fight.  Some may actually regale you with tales of them or their students whooping up on someone who decided to start something with the wrong person.  The thing is, they may well be telling the truth.

Does that mean that art is the best, though? Continue reading “Thoughts on Martial Arts”