My last blog asked, whether it is possible for a man to be proud of his masculinity as separate from being proud of being a decent person? In other words how can a man be a “better” person with a masculine spin? I answered, rather glibly, that if a man expresses his archetypes – King, Warrior, Lover, Magician – in the light he can be a feminist and still have pride in his masculinity.
Upon reflection I realize that I did not fully answer my own question. My response was incomplete. The following question remains unanswered. Can a man feel pride in his masculinity while advocating gender equality? I will begin by defining gender equality simply as non-discrimination in any arena and equal pay for equal work. With that as a starting point I will attempt to highlight what masculine energy brings that is different and value added, but not necessarily superior, to feminine energy. One example is parenting styles. Research supports the notion that fathers are more likely to engage in physical play with their children and encourage risk taking. Mothers tend to stress safety and social skills. Children thrive when they receive both male and female parenting energy. In addition there is strong evidence that girls who have solid relationships with their fathers have a better handle on their sexuality and are less likely to become pregnant as a teen and less likely to be involved in an abusive relationship.
In a previous blog, I presented data on occupational choices by gender. It appears that men will continue to gravitate towards the trades and generally to occupations that are physically demanding and hold a higher potential for risk. As long as these occupations exist men will seek them and derive satisfaction that is not based on gender discrimination. As an aside, unfortunately, in our modern economy, these type of jobs – especially in manufacturing – are in decline and men will also need to seek opportunities in so called “pink” job categories (health care, elementary and middle school teaching social work).
Confidence in risk. A trait that is more pronounced in men than women and most likely a byproduct of testosterone is an asset to our economy and to our technological progress. For example most venture capitalists and those involved in high risk exploration are men. Despite recent decisions by the Department of Defense to open combat related military roles to women few women are applying to the most risky assignments like the Navy Seals and Army Rangers.
The particularly male trait of seeking power, especially in hierarchical arenas is a bit more problematic. Hierarchy assumes dominance. Therefore, how a man expresses his need for power can either be at the expense of women or with greater awareness that achievement can be secured by accomplishment rather than just by winning.
Another example of the best of male and female energy working together an be found in organizations that combine achievement of goals with employee satisfaction. These organizations thrive as a result of the male energy to focus on tasks – at times too singularly – combined with the female energy to make sure attention is given to teamwork and personal relationships.
As the discussion continues I will continue to explore with practical examples how a man can take pride in his masculinity and still call himself a feminist.