I have been dancing around this question for some time.   How can a man express his feeling positive about his masculinity that is not based on gender superiority or dominance of women?  In previous blogs I believe that I have acknowledged the dark or negative aspects of masculinity especially concerning physical violence expressed either in individual acts or as collective actions.   Men assault their partners, murder, go to war and engage in violent acts of extremism far more than women.  In addition, although men have assumed considerably more leadership positions in business and government than women it is not something to brag about since much of the disparity is a result of gender bias and long standing cultural stereotypes.

However, it is a fact that men, at least for the foreseeable future, will be needed for procreation.   In addition roughly half the human population is currently male so we are not about to disappear anytime soon.   Therefore, we need to promote a positive image of masculinity or men will be adrift and express their manhood destructively to themselves, to women and to society at large.

What then can a man be proud of that is a characteristic of his masculinity?  I will start with a man’s role as a lover.   The lover archetype is that part of a man that deals with his personal relationships and his emotional life.  His ability to nurture, to connect with friends and family, to be joyful and passionate and to be comfortable with his sexuality.   A healthy lover does not exploit or victimize women, is emotionally expressive and can handle intimacy.  I understand that the attributes of the positive lover can also apply to women, but women will operationalize these qualities differently than a man.   The way men and women parent is a good example.   Mothering is predominantly grounded in nurturing especially in the infant and toddler years.  Mothers stress socialization, empathy and safety.  Although many women today are single moms either by choice or circumstance male energy in child rearing is still necessary.   I have mentioned in previous posts of the value of male energy in raising both boys and girls.    Risk taking and expressing physical energy are promoted and reinforced by fathers.   Adolescent boys handle their aggression and impulsivity better when positively fathered.   Girls handle their sexuality more positively when they are validated by their fathers.   Men should be proud to be a an involved father that validates their lover.

How we respond to someone in need is different based on gender.   Men tend to first look for fixes and women tend to lead with sympathy before solutions.   Both can be considered empathetic responses but neither is superior by itself.   Understanding and suggestions for problem resolution are both needed and can best be delivered by a combination of male and female energy.   Men can and should be proud of their motivation to fix and find solutions while honoring that female energy is also needed for successful outcomes.

Men can be lovers in a gender specific way that is seen as the best of masculinity and be proud of being a man.  In forthcoming blogs I will continue to highlight the positive attributes of masculinity that hopefully will help men feel good about their masculinity that is not based in gender discrimination.


People Magazine in a recent issue named Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the sexiest man alive.   The word “sexiest” can be interpreted as the pinnacle of masculinity as defined by popular media.  Although a bit silly to somehow grant this status to one man out of billions on our planet it is instructive to the exploration of masculinity to look at the criteria used by the magazine writers.  Reading through their article to pick out the attributes the writers considered in making their choice and to what men should strive for to be  a perfect man the most obvious is physical presence.  It helps to be a 6 ‘ 5″ 245 pound ex-wrestler and football player with proportionate facial features.  Several but not overwhelming tattoos, bulging biceps and good teeth also add to attractiveness.  The non physical attributes cited by the authors in the article are even more instructive as to what is valued in their conception of the sexiest man.

The writers highlight the fact that he is the father of two girls.  One with his ex-wife, with whom he maintains a business relationship, and another with his current live in girlfriend.   He admits to a somewhat troubled childhood without providing much detail other that having been arrested numerous times.  However there are several mentions of personal redemption.   He reveals that he has learned from his mistakes and that, in his own words,  “I’ve learned that when you love, you’ve got to love powerfully.”  He admits to getting teary eyed when listening to song lyrics and when asked about treating women he said that he always compliments women on little details about her hair or something about her eyes.

Absent from The Rock’s profile is any mention of anything remotely intellectual.  No detail about books he might have read or be reading or social or political philosophy other than he loves his country.  We have no idea if he has any formal education, yet he admits that he thinks he would like to be president.

What can we take away from this cover story of a magazine with a print circulation of 3.4 million?   On one hand it could be considered just a bit of fluff not to be taken seriously.  However, there is a clear message to men that cannot be ignored.  For a man to be sexy, desirable and attractive he should embody certain qualities.  Starting with appearance.  A man should be fit, muscular, have a few tattoos and have a bit of  an exotic look – Johnson has  shaved head, is half Samoan and half African-American.  A man must be physical but only in controlled environments like wrestling, football and playing the role of warrior in the movies.   Sensitivity is a must.   Be able to talk about love and show that you can be sentimental and cry.   As far as treating women – validate their appearance and when a relationship fails make sure to learn from it and reconcile with your former partner.  Be a Dad and tell everyone how important that is without too much detail about your contribution to fathering.  Lastly, avoid intellectual discourse while still copping to lofty social goals as embracing love and wanting to be president.

Guys we now have the formula for being considered by People Magazine to be the sexiest man alive.  Good luck on your journey to be in the running for this illustrious title.