A Holistic Approach to Being a Man
Men want to be happy, but be masculine, too
In the last six months the media has been reporting about how the white male world is changing. Newsweek made it a cover story. Atlantic Magazine explored the meaning of this change. Every day there is another article about the decline of the white man model. You are also seeing the seeds of what might be next.
There are more women graduating from college and graduate school than men. These women are making more money in key professions than men. White men are no longer the default leaders who can just step into entitled positions. Women and minorities are catching up, and the leading economies are now the developing world.
Ever since the birth of Women’s Lib, some men have been asking about their transformation. Not knowing where to start, we looked at women for a way to do it. We learned to be “more sensitive.” We learned to listen, talk about our emotions, be less macho, to co-parent; in short, we learned to become more feminine. We learned to be less masculine as our way of keeping up with the changes.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of good in learning these traits. But in spite of the benefits of our new skill set, we aren’t happy. It was easy to be more feminine when we were still in charge. Now that things have changed, and we’re no longer the default rulers we once were, being more feminine is not working for us or others. We are looking for a way to be masculine that serves others and ourselves. Looking to women for that won’t do it.
More and more men are supporting each other in discovering what it means to be a man. We are blogging, writing books, creating trainings and groups or just hanging out with other men. But we have no enemy to fight against, we have no repressor. Do we fight ourselves? Who do we push back against? I haven’t found anyone.
For more than thirty years I looked for the meaning of manhood, and I supported other men in that quest. I can say we are now beginning to get traction.
I had an added incentive to discover what it meant to be a man. Growing up with Asperger’s Syndrome and dyslexia, I had a difficult time being a macho man. My attempts were akin to Woody Allen playing an Arnold Schwarzenegger role. Many of the “shoulds” of being a man were impossible for me to embody. I had to discover another way. For years I wasn’t seeking enlightenment, I was just trying to survive.
My failures started to show me there was something between the old macho and the emerging “sensitive man.” It took me decades to identify that there was a way for men to incorporate the essence of masculinity that the old macho nature had, with the openness of the sensitive man. There is no current cultural model for that new man. We are defining it as we go.
In my journey I began to realize that for me, or any man, to be the man we want to be, we need to grow up, or “man up.” We need to learn what was never taught to us. As boys we traveled through our childhood, and often through manhood, never being taught the basic skills that being a man demands.
Grow Up – 9 steps to being a man, is my new book, which will be available in the next year. It is the nine key skills a man needs to learn to be a man. They are skills that are taught or modeled, so they are learnable. Men are not stupid or bad. We aren’t psychologically screwed up. We were just never taught by men how to be a man.
Think about it. From my generation on, most of our care givers and teachers were women. Often our main or only parent was a woman. These women, with deep love and a great intent, endeavored to teach us to be men. We got much of our masculine training from women. But you can’t learn to ski from a snow boarder; you need to learn to ski from a skier. How could we expect our moms to teach us to be good dads?
Now as men we are attempting to fill the holes in our maturation. Kids who are deprived of minerals will eat dirt; as boys, we took what was available as emotional nourishment. We took the feminine model of masculinity as our model of what a man is. Now, we want to learn what it is to be a man from other men.
For the last few years I have written about change and this new masculinity on my site, www.owenmarcus.com. There are more than a hundred articles on the site, and I am constantly updating it with more articles and resources for men—and women—on how to support men in being the men they want to be.
Six years ago I formed the Sandpoint Men’s Group (www.sandpointmensgroup.com, as a local means to learn what was never taught to us. Well over fifty men from our community have participated in these groups. Men tell us that the groups have saved their marriages, and in one case, a man’s life. The group evolved to be a community that extends beyond the men. We evolved to a community of families.
On January 4 at noon I will be speaking on KSPT 1400 AM Newstalk radio on this new masculinity and my book. On January 24 at 6 pm I will also be speaking at the East Bonner County Library about these topics. In the future I will be on our new community radio station, 88.5 FM KRFY. You can also connect with me on my Facebook page where I post regularly about men’s issues.
Please contact me if you have any questions. I want to continue to support the men in our area in being the men they want to be.
Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advance Rolfer, www.align.org and www.owenmarcus.com, 208.265.8440. This article and many more health and wellness articles are at the blog: www.sandpointwellness.com. Go to the blog to ask questions or add your comments any article.