The Broken Picture of Modern Masculinity…
*The original version of this post appeared on Man Talks – see here.
For a long time we’ve had a picture of masculinity.
A narrow and broken one, mind you.
It goes like this: Be tough. Control your emotions. Sort things out yourself. Asking for help is weakness. Success is reflected in more money, sex, and power.
In this picture you talk to women about certain things and men about others.
Or some rough version of this.
This picture has conditioned us to chase meaningless things and leads to conformity of an ideal that just isn’t us.
Sex, money and power seem great, but after speaking with thousands of men on this point I can say that blindly chasing these ideas doesn’t fulfil us.
If we don’t dig deeper we end up feeling hollow. Something is missing.
That something is connection.
It’s not surprising that our idea of connection is also broken. We think it means hanging out with a few
close mates over a beer, poking fun at each other, and making lewd comments about women.
But we sure as hell don’t mention anything emotionally difficult.
So we remain macho, tough, brooding, and emotionally controlled.
Many of us live our entire lives deep behind a mask of this macho type masculinity and it’s causing male depression and suicide in intolerable quantities.
Be a man.
Don’t be a girl.
Don’t be a pussy.
This thinking has led to mass confusion about what it really means to be a man. We’ve become a frustrated and disconnected generation of men.
We keep our feelings to ourselves, don’t let people in. We isolate ourselves and don’t ask for help unless things get dire, ignoring obvious problems within us and focusing our energy outwards, solving others’ problems.
Sure, we get stuff done. We achieve security and some level of happiness but at what cost?
When we put on the mask of faux masculinity we easily lose ourselves. We lose who we actually are underneath that need to, ‘be a man’.
A new definition is needed.
Men are dying for change and a different model to measure ourselves against.
We’re dying for a new ‘north star’.
Enter the ‘New Age Masculine’
I think ‘New Age Masculinity’ can be useful to a lot of men, but it’s not accessible to the average man.
What do I mean by that?
New Age Masculinity can be daunting and too fluffy. It’s often too much of a stretch for many of us blokes to get our heads around let alone work on.
Let’s look at these opposite ends of the spectrum…
Down at the pub with the boys, it’s familiar and comfortable. The chat is light-hearted banter. You’re taking little digs at each other. The talk is about women, sports, tech, and other ‘man stuff.’
One of the guys says something about a nearby woman that you think is way out of line. You want to say something to him but your better nature is over-ruled by the pressure of being ‘one of the boys’.
And now this:
You’re sitting in a circle, barefoot, deep in conversation that feels like a rabbit hole of spirituality; talking about masculine and feminine energies, of being in service to light and love, breathing into your balls, and being one with the universe.
Now think about these two scenarios from the perspective of the average man – this might very well be you.
The second one can be too much.
These two different ends of the spectrum leave us stuck, floating in a confused place, and slightly lost as to what it is to be a man.
Men are yearning for something that resonates, something that invites us to take on as our own. Something we can live with and use to set an example for the next generation.
Zeus Energy — The Accessible Middle Ground of Modern Masculinity
We need a middle ground that allows us to step out of the broken macho and go gently down the rabbit hole of a new masculine — without being new age and fluffy. And we need to be able to individualise it.
The ancient Greeks nailed this long ago. They spoke about ‘Zeus Energy,’ which they defined as – “male authority accepted for the sake of the community” (as stated by Robert Bly in Iron John).
I don’t know about you but this is a ‘north star’ I can work towards and take ownership of.
I can gladly call this my own and pass it on to the men I work with, and any boys that follow me into manhood.
But first, we must agree that we NEED a new model. Only then can we work together through our conversations, and then, more importantly, actions to create one.
What about you? What do YOU think this accessible middle ground should be?
How do you define healthy modern masculinity? Share with us below.