Gender Part 1: Chapter 2: The Men & The Boys cont'd
Performance-Based Esteem. The term refers to a tendency to base self-worth primarily or entirely on performance. (Compare to Relationship-Based Esteem, which will come up in my post about women when we get there.)
Basically, it means that men tend to derive a significant amount of their self-worth from their ability to DO things and do them WELL. For example, if a man does not make enough money to support his family, he often feels that he is a failure.
Addendum for Clarification: With reference to Terrence Real's book "I Don't Want To Talk About It":
A common result of masculine-driven fathering is performance-based self-esteem. In his book on covert male depression, Terrence Real explains, “Performance-based self-esteem augments an insufficient, internal sense of worth by the measuring of one’s accomplishments against those of others and coming out on top” (182). A father who offers love and respect for his son only after he has achieved something will lead the son to feel he is only worthwhile if he wins the big game, beats another boy in a fight, or, as he grows older, makes the most money or marries the prettiest wife. The son cannot achieve an absolute sense of self-worth; his esteem changes depending on whether he feel he has failed or succeeded.
Real points out, “Psychoanalysts and developmental psychologists have been clear that the capacity to esteem the self arises from a history of unconditional regard from one’s caregivers” (182). When parents fail to offer this regard, the results can be severe and even tragic. Consider the phrase “be a man!” which so many fathers use to chide their sons. From a literal standpoint the command is rather ludicrous -- genetically speaking, it is impossible for the son to not be a man. What the father truly means, however, is that the son must achieve masculinity, by some performance or another, or else he is in danger of losing his manhood -- and by corollary, his father’s esteem. Sons may resent their fathers for this treatment, and yet spend their entire lives continuing to seek that esteem.
What this also means is that if you take a man out of his comfort zone, they tend to not cope with it very well. Stay-at-home dads (SAHDs) can be a great example of this. Even a man who chooses to be a SAHD will, to some degree, have to deal with feelings of inadequacy. Why? Because how do you measure the success of a caretaking job? Happy kids? The house being intact? There is no clear measure of how well someone does at the job of homemaker and caretaker. This is also why men shy away from doing chores that their spouse/partner criticizes their technique at.
Some researchers and therapists speculate that performance-based esteem is a large component of why men tend to die at younger ages than women. To believe that your self-esteem is driven by what you do is to set yourself up for workaholism and stress. Some also speculate that this is a force behind the fewer and fewer numbers of males entering college - they prefer the instant reward of a paycheck. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with either of these speculations, but it's something to think about. Regardless, there is no question that performance-based esteem fuels the "man as breadwinner" ideology.
The second piece of masculinity I wanted to add is what's known as the "One up/One down" mentality. For more on this, check out the work that's been done by Deborah Tannen on gender in conversation, including the book "You Just Don't Understand." Basically, every conversation a man enters into is a "One up/One down" conversation. The goal is to be up. For many men, each conversation needs to make clear the status of each person involved. Things like body language, eye contact, interruptions, and hand gestures play major roles in this phenomenon. When I have a little more time I'm going to search the Intertubes for some pictures and videos that show this stuff and put it in a separate post.
In the meantime, here is a summary of some of Deborah Tannen's work:
“People have different conversational styles. So when people from different parts of the country, or different ethnic or class backgrounds, talk to each other, it is likely that their words will not be understood exactly as they were meant.”  “The desire to affirm that women are equal has made some scholars reluctant to show that they are different .. There are gender differences in ways of speaking, and we need to identify and understand them”. I will get into this a little more deeply when I come to my post on women.
Men often engage the world as “an individual in a hierarchical social order in which they are either one-up or one-down”, a question of gaining and keeping the upper hand. Women are more likely to approach it as “ a network of connections” in which “conversations are negotiations for closeness and people try to seek and give confirmation and support, and to reach consensus.” 
So, to Josh, checking with his wife about a convenient date for a dinner party resembles “seeking permission”; to Linda it is simply a recognition that lives are interwoven and complex.  This is the struggle between independence and intimacy. The modern face of chivalry: holding the door is an act of power - showing that I [the male] grant you [the female] permission to pass through.  There seems to be a male obsession with ‘freedom’ or independence. Women academics value the opportunity to pursue interests; men value the freedom from others’ control. 
Throughout history, women have been punished physically and psychologically for talking too much: yet study after study shows that men talk more and for longer periods. In one study men’s turns ranged from 10.66 to 17.07 seconds, whilst women’s lasted from 3 to 10 seconds.  The difference is that men are more comfortable with public speaking [report talk], women with private speaking [rapport talk]. Rapport talk establishes relationships, seeking similarities and matching experiences. “For most men, talk is primarily a means to preserve independence and negotiate and maintain status in a hierarchical order.”  Men are more likely to tell jokes in public than women: it is another way of gaining centre stage and proving their abilities. 
“Whereas women’s cooperative overlaps frequently annoy men by seeming to coopt their topic, men frequently annoy women by usurping or switching the topic.”  “Women and men feel interrupted by each other because of the differences in what they are trying to accomplish with talk. Men who approach conversation as a contest are likely to expend effort not to support the other’s talk but to lead the conversation in another direction, perhaps one in which they can take centre stage by telling a story or joke or by displaying knowledge ... Women’s effusion of support can be irritating to men who would rather meet with verbal sparring.” 
Women are frequently judged differently even if they speak the same way as men. Hayes Bradley found that women using tag-questions were judged less intelligent than men who also used them. Women who did not provide evidence to support their arguments were judged less intelligent than men who did not. People asked why a baby is crying say - if it is a boy - that he is angry and - if it is a girl - that she is scared.  When women and men are together, women tend to follow the topics the males want: “male-female conversations are more like men’s conversations than they are like women’s.” 
“If you understand gender differences in what I call conversational style, you may not be able to prevent disagreements from arising, but you stand a better chance of preventing them from spiralling out of control ... Understanding the other’s ways of talking is a giant leap across the communication gap between women and men, and a giant step toward opening lines of communication”