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Manly blog challenges modern views of masculinity

Published: Monday, May 20 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Screenshot of Brett and Kate McKay's blog, The Art of Manliness.

The Art of Manliness

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TULSA, Okla. — Whether it’s how to make a manly hunk of sandwich or live a life reminiscent of Mr. T, minus the gold chains, the Art of Manliness blog is something your grandpa could be proud of.

Just ask the 6,000-plus followers of the blog. And while they are working on their fitness, handyman, interpersonal and outdoor skills, they’ll tell you that one of the most appealing things about the content is its focus on traditional values.

The Art of Manliness is the brainchild of Tulsa, Okla., resident Brett McKay, who was tired of being inundated with the declining moral values found in so many popular men’s magazines today.

“There is so much sex in the men’s magazines that are out there. It just didn’t register with me as a man,” said McKay. “As a young father, I didn’t want this stuff around the house.”

And thus the blog was born, with inspiration pulled heavily from McKay’s grandfather’s era to create a vintage look and feel.

“The Art of Manliness is about bringing back the idea of manhood and masculinity that is not like what the media portrays,” McKay said. “It’s not about being big and buff and conquering the ladies. It’s about being a man of virtue, honor and courage.”

Those core values — virtue, honor and courage — are woven throughout topics aimed at helping men become more proactive in every area of their lives, whether it’s wiring an outlet or surviving a bear attack.

“We want men to be engaged in the community, to see beyond themselves,” McKay said. “The media portrays narcissism. We want men to think past that. It’s about sticking with something even when it’s hard.”

Many readers are men looking to become better fathers.

“Many readers didn’t have a father involved in their lives,” McKay said. “They hurt because of that. Some have gotten their life on track, but a lot of guys didn’t have a father and they are troubled.”

Kate McKay, Brett’s wife, co-creator of the Art of Manliness and Brigham Young University alumna, said many readers don’t want to repeat the mistakes of their own fathers.

“They want to be (involved), but nothing provides them the skills and lessons they need,” she said.

When it comes to inspiring young men to live lives of virtue, the McKays said all it takes is a lesson from the past.

“It helps to go to the history … to show great men who were super manly. Teddy Roosevelt, Aristotle, George Washington, Fredrick Douglass were all masculine and still tried to live these values,” McKay said.

The belief that these values are still applicable today is what keeps the McKays going.

Kate McKay said she was surprised that many magazine distributors didn’t understand that a large group of the population wasn’t interested in the content being produced.

“I think it’s interesting how it’s an untapped niche,” she said.

Jordan Bowman, a father from Seattle said he reads the blog because he can find content that interests him without all the trash.

“A lot of other sites online like GQ and Esquire have cool stuff, but are also full of trashy stuff. I don’t go there and read that,” he said.

Bowman said he feels inspired by the number of men that follow the Art of Manliness.

“It’s good to see that there are other people who are probably my age who are on this site and follow along and believe in the same values as I do,” Bowman said. “In the ‘world’ it doesn’t feel like that’s the case.”

Because of the values found on the blog, Bowman has made plans to start his own men’s lifestyle blog. His focus will be similar: promoting good values without the trash.

The future for the Art of Manliness is promising. For now, the McKays plan on creating more quality content. And while they don’t claim to be experts, they do claim to have done their homework.

“We make our posts as research intensive as possible. We give good advice, but make sure it’s backed up,” said Kate McKay.

And since the blog, which is at www.artofmanliness.com, was started in 2008, that homework has lead to two successful books and a Spanish version of the site.

Emmilie Buchanan is an intern for the Deseret News with Mormon Times. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Email: ebuchanan@deseretnews.com

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