Men, Masculinity, and Manhood

Hello there! Today gender issues have been on my mind. I get the impression that there are a lot of men that are not sure who they are. I want to take this week’s post and talk about what I am seeing with men today. I am going to keep it clean, but I do not want to be so clean as to sanitize my truth. There are some difficult things about gender for me as I am sure there are things about gender for everyone. I am also curious to know what your thoughts and feelings are regarding men. The range of perspectives on the male gender run as deep and wide as the oceans.  If you have a thought please share it.

Men are all sorts of things in this world, but the thing I do not like seeing in a good deal of men is the confusion about what to be. If a man decides to cry is he less? Can a man let another man hold him and be ok with intimate nonsexual touch? Do men realize how healthy that is, and how thirsty they really are for male intimacy? These questions arouse in me a desire to project what I think is true for men.

When I think of what a man should be many things get stirred up. I know several types of men in my life, yet that does not run the whole gamut of the types of men that there are out there. Does strong, tender, and intelligent really encapsulate all that a man should be? I should hope not. What one dimensional socials lives we would all have!

The problem I am having with putting men into a few boxes is that most men do not fit all the way into them. A man with a sensitive heart and an artistic leaning would not identify with a definition of a man that said they needed to be stoic, and therefore think he might not be a “man”. That is unless he was of strong character enough to say “to hell with that!” It appears the reason I am having a tough time figuring out what to do with masculinity in my life is because my definition is so narrow.

The truth that I am seeing tells me men are all sorts of things, and they need every last part of themselves. Sometimes men need to be strong, draw lines in the sand, and say “ENOUGH!” Other times men need to hold new born babies, hold them gently, and smile into their faces like a great big welcome into the world. And there are all kinds of things in between.

I think all men are inherently good. A friend of mine once told me that they would not mind being friends with any healthy adult male. They said that if they were adult and healthy they probably would have a lot to offer no matter who they are. I reflected on this and determined this was the truth. Men are made for relationship, and to be healthy would mean the ability to be in a relationship that was pleasing and edifying to the other. We are not here to be difficult for each other or to hurt each other. That is just not how it works. When it gets to a point of pain chances are something is not working and needs to be addressed.

I also think culture tears the image of masculinity to pieces.  I know great men out there worthy of being honored, written about, and held high as examples. An overwhelming majority of these honorable men do not look like a sit com father or a Spartan. I do not get to see enough good male representation in media. The gender engendering that I see for both men and women is sad. I think most American men think they should be football players, and not talk about their feelings because men are not supposed to have them. This does not seem to be a very good picture for men at all. The intricate machinery inside a man’s heart is inspired and wonderful.

What I think men need is for other older men to tell younger men that they are in fact good men. Young men need to know they pass the inspection, and can now think of themselves as real men. I have seen men be affirmed like this, and the ways that their lives grew afterward were astounding. So men affirm each other! If you are an older man please keep an eye out for the young man who needs your words. A society with men that do not know who they are is a society that is robbed of the goodness of true adult manhood. And in the void adult boys run around making a mess of things waiting for mom, and boy will she be angry as she ought to be!

The last thing I want to say is that I want to have room in my life for all different kinds of men. I want to love and respect the athlete and the artist. I want to know the energetic and the calm and slow. Men are and can be so many different, fantastic, wonderful things. I celebrate that with this post.

The Writer

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6 thoughts on “Men, Masculinity, and Manhood

  1. iamforchange says:

    Intriguing post, it is unfortunate or perhaps fortunate depending on your perspective that many men lack depth character and integrity. At least in the world of “mens, men” I work with and have worked with some of the most physically active and hard men that are tough from many perspectives and to many very strong. Yet as you noted if you gave one a hug as a man they would certainly not know how to react. I give some of my friends hugs at times just to say its love my friend and well.. I walk away with a smile and they well they wonder what the heck is wrong with me. True strength is not just physical and emotionless, it is the love of our souls and the connection to them.Thank you for sharing such a thought provoking post.

    • requiesit says:

      Thank you for saying so! I am not sure how men got on the path of thinking that there is no emoting to manhood, but it sure does seem strange to me. The sad irony, that you point out, is that men who think strength comes from not expressing emotion tend to be the weakest in being able to maintain meaningful connections. However I think manhood should be called out and honored for the good in it as often as possible. I do not think most men are praised enough to feel worthwhile enough to get their hearts in gear. I have hopes for men, and I want to see each one of them raised to their feet.

      • iamforchange says:

        I would love to see men step up to the plate and raised to their feet. I had to hit the bottom and get my shovel before I found true strength. Most turn to the bottle or other pursuits rather than face the man in the mirror. I have been working on a book to inspire men to reach deep and be the men they are meant to be. I have been finding that the men I would reach don’t read! Yes I agree with you as well that men are often not praised for the good they do. Much good do they do indeed yet just like the women of our world they do what they do out of love in their own ways. Women are given far less credit than they are due as are men. That is one of the issues that society as a whole seems to be lacking as are many relationships. Support of each others qualities and differences, I give Kudos to men and women it is as a man that I feel it is a mans responsibility to lead. Men are capable as are women I choose to encourage in my own way the men of our world. I hope that when they fall they dig deep and change positive! Thank you for looking out for us men I for one am grateful you choose to do so! Thank you!

  2. requiesit says:

    You are a good man for deciding to do differently for yourself. Keep looking out for men in your own way. Men hide so much, they can use all the calling out they can get. Men need safe places.

  3. Ms.Siu says:

    The most important men in my life: my father, my brother, and my husband, have, respectively, defined what it means to be a man (this being my personal standard, not societally dictated norms), continue to add and subtact “manly” traits (as my brother strives to become his best self), and embody everything I love about men (well, this man in particular). I agree with you. Men are often confused about who they are and what they value. Women are the same way and possibly to an even greater extent. Learning to be self aware is the only true way to get to heart of any one person, male or female. Positive role models of both genders is another invaluable resource to discovering which gender roles are of the most value to the individual. I am of the opinion that unfortunately, a lot people, males and females, have no self awarenes, and/or have been deprived of a role model. These people will base their values and worth on how others see them. They are who they are as seen through another’s eyes. If you don’t have the tools and skills to define yourself, then I wil define you based on what I see, and society will continue to perpetuate antiquated gender stereotypes. I am fortunate because I truly admire my parents and they value the individuals my brother and I have become. When I met my now husband I recognized that he had a strong sense of self. I love him for many reasons but we are compatible because of shared core values and help each other be our best selves every day. Perhaps the most important characteristic in both genders is the ability to serve as inspiration for the other to be his or her best self and to applaud and admire them, whoever they are. The fact that you ask the questions at all implies that you are a free-thinking, curious, generous, and intelligent man.

    • requiesit says:

      You bring up an excellent point about how familial roles shape gender identity. Families are perhaps the most important place to find identity that a person will have. Those that are fortunate enough to see a good gender role model up close and personal will be more secure in themselves and their own gender. Like you, I get the sense that there are a great deal of empty handed (more like hearted) men and women who did not get to be secure in their gender identity. As you pointed out these unfortunate people will rely on what they see around them. Others can do for each other what primary parental roles were not able to for them. If these other people are also secured then the results would be affirming and healing if not the result is more like the blind leading the blind into the dark or drifting out at sea. The great news is that those that are aware can affirm those that are not and help them start their journey. There is power in loving others from a whole hearted place.

      I really like how you connect the importance of the opposite gender in helping to give shape to each other too. “Perhaps the most important characteristic in both genders is the ability to serve as inspiration for the other to be his or her best self and to applaud and admire them, whoever they are.” This is so true and very beautifully said. What a loving thing to say!

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