Man Up

I find it hard to focus on strictly masculinity issues when we are in the midst of the unprecedented virus pandemic.   However, listening to the many health professionals and politicians I detect a message that sounds like as a society we need not to panic, not to ignore scientific advice and essentially to “man up.”   Have we evolved sufficiently to understand that man up is not short hand for emotional denial nor is it synonymous with toxic masculinity?  

When we man up in the light rather than the shadow following Moore & Gillette’s archetypes we are expressing the best of masculinity.  Although  the archetypes have traditionally focused specifically on masculine behavior they also provide a useful model for understanding what a more gender neutral man up can look like that  also applies to women.  The four archetypes, king, warrior, lover and magician are operational singly or in combination and relate to how we handle ourselves in our daily lives. 

 The King – reasons, plans, focuses, manages, uses logic, seeks vision.

   Light (I am) – empowering leadership, facilitator, generative, value driven

    Shadow (I want)– dictatorial, egotistical, amoral, grandiose

The Warrior – takes action, confronts, commands, motivates. 

Light (I do)– change agent, protector, disciplined, assertive, leader

  Shadow (I take) – violent, bully, uses aggression as primary strategy,

The Lover – nurtures, sexual, connects, passionate, joyful. 

  Light (I feel) – intimate, sensual, emotionally expressive, compassion

  Shadow (I need) – exploiter, selfish, emotional blackmailer, victimizer

The Magician – creates, solves problems, makes it happen, transforms, intuitive.

Light  (I fix) – win-win, creative, applies acquired wisdom

  Shadow (I con) – manipulator, hustler, cheater, means always justifies ends

Compare the actions and words of our political leaders, the media, government officials  and the scientific community of both genders and ask yourself are they “man upping” in the light or the shadow as we confront the challenges of the coronavius pandemic.   .

Give Me A Break

Protests against a star of  West Side Story that recently opened on Broadway reveal a “MeToo” saga gone amok.  The show has seen protestors wielding signs leveled against a lead actor Amar Ramasar.   One sign in particular, “Keep Predators Off The Stage” really underscores the excesses created by “Me Too”  zealots.  Ramasar, who is also a dancer in the NYC Ballet Company, is facing renewed heat for admittedly exchanging nude images of two women years ago without their consent.  He was suspended by his ballet company and then reinstated after an investigation.   His girlfriend, whose pictures he shared, has accepted his apology and forgiven him for his actions.

Let me be clear.  I am not defending his behavior.  It was dumb, immature and insulting to the women involved.  However, labeling him as a predator is what got my attention.  When we glibly toss out labels we weaken the meaning of the actions that truly deserve to be labeled.   Sexual predation is serious and encompasses crimes such as rape, sexual assault, protracted sexual harassment and child pornography.   Sending nude photos of your girlfriend and another women to a few friends does not rise to the definition of a predator.

Over use of judgmental words like predator and misogynist that do not fit the behavior of the individual being labeled creates the unintended consequence of weakening the meaning of those labels.  Focusing on behavior rather than judgmental categories creates the appropriate atmosphere for a discussion of which  behaviors are inappropriate and how as a society we should respond to them.  Calling any man who does something stupid like sending a few nude photos of his girlfriend a predator obscures the nature of that behavior and creates a defensiveness that avoids exploring and understanding the underlying cause of that very behavior. 

Men Need To Listen?

The answer to gender equality is simple according to Dr. Kimberly Probolus the inspiration for the “Women’s Project.”  According to her we just have to teach men to listen to women.  In a newspaper article in the New York Times she admonishes all men concluding that we are bad listeners, we talk too much and that if we would do a better job of listening to women the world will be a better place.   The fact that the Times chose to publish this piece on their editorial page is frightening.   Not necessarily that the Times specifically agrees with her point of view but that at least the Times  thought it was at least worthy of being fit to print.

I understand that everyone is entitled to have an opinion but if that opinion is to have any credibility – which would merit publication in a quality newspaper –  it should be based on something factual or data driven.  Calling out men as the only gender that needs to be better listeners is as bogus as labeling  all women as man shamers.   Frankly, we all need to be better listeners and follow  Stephen Covey’s habit #5 “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.”

The non nuanced rhetoric by Dr. Probolus does little to bring a greater understanding of gender issues and how we can move forward to  having a constructive dialogue on gender equality.