In the last installment I ended with, “The challenge remains, how can a man be comfortable as a man while accepting the reality of a gender equal world?” The question has become even more timely since the unearthing of the explosive Trump tapes. There has been an outpouring of editorials, media talking heads, elected officials and tweets commenting on how Trump’s behavior and language represents or misrepresents masculinity. Some, including Trump himself, have minimized the impact of his remarks by attributing it to just talk that is common in a male locker room. Obviously if what he said was more than talk we would be dealing with criminal behavior and that can never be justified. However, for the sake of discussion let’s assume that what Trump said was just talk and fantasizing. The so called locker room attribution is an attempt to normalizes the notion that when men are in the company of men, especially when juiced by competition infused testosterone, they objectify women and share both real and imagined stories about sexual conquest. Many men, including professional athletes have weighed in on the topic sharing their own locker room experiences. Most, including myself, label this type of banter as somewhat familiar but far more common among adolescents rather than among adult men. One editorial on the subject stated.
“ The aggression that characterizes Mr. Trump’s words and behavior is both a reflection and a cartoonish exaggeration of traditional masculinity. That very idea of what it is to be a man has been under assault for generations. Feminists would argue – contrary to the emotional experience of many of Mr. Trump’s supporters — that reimagining the role of women does not demean or constrain men. Rather, the feminists say, it liberates them.”
A men’s movement spokesperson, championed by many, suggests that there are new ways to define being an American man — most notably by acting against sexual harassment but also by freeing men from the emotional straightjacket exemplified by the John Wayne western character. The thinking is that we will be “better” men when we actively support non-violence towards women and when we are more in touch with our emotions. Nothing wrong with either of these suggestions but the problem is that it does nothing to help a man have pride in being a man different than having pride in being a decent human being. Aspiring to be a thoughtful, tolerant and moral person is a commendable goal for both men and women but it does not speak to any particular masculine attributes.
I again return to the fundamental question of 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? In previous blogs I often wrote about the difference in expressing the masculine archetypes in the light instead of the shadow. If a man values his King, Warrior, Lover and Magician aspects of his manhood and chooses to make sure he acts in the light he can be a feminist but still have pride in his masculinity and be respected by women.