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.