From the outset we need to decide on a definition of desirable masculinity, one that both men and women would agree with. There is not one ‘right’ male quality that works indiscriminately all the time regardless of context (e.g. aggression is a male quality and sometimes aggression is needed to protect others, but is not desirable in many contexts).
It’s all about balance - having the right amount of male and female qualities (a Ying and Yang if you like) to draw upon as befits the circumstances. The best minds in history – Socrates or Pericles for instance – had a good balance of both the right and left hemispheres. They were logical and creative; scientific and imaginative. The idea was to have a general balance between ‘healthy body and healthy mind’, not the over-specialisation seen in today’s sports figures or 2-D action heroes.
In many senses therefore, a healthy man is a paradox. There are times for a show of strength and there are times for compassion and gentleness. There is strength in gentleness and also knowing when not to engage in a fight. A good martial artist typifies this paradox. A good martial artist is very skilled in causing harm if need be but always seeks a path of non-violence where possible. They are both pacifist and warrior. If need be they can use appropriate violence to prevent more violence, and if they decide to use violence they would do so decisively.
So a healthy man wears different hats well. One hat might be in business where they have energy, drive and are not afraid of competition. Another hat might be as a husband – protector of the family (“if there is a noise at night, it’s up to me to protect my family”); income earner and educator of children (another hat is also a ‘playmate’ with them). A healthy man is at peace with all these different qualities and accepts them.
Conversely, an unhealthy man is unsure of his role and what is expected. We see this in politically correct cultures like Sweden where men are being feminised into a middle gender-neutral path. They are almost apologetic of male qualities. Consequently many Swedish women I know tell me they despise Swedish men because they don’t possess enough ‘manly’ attributes.