Unfortunately, working with both men and women around the world I see the consequences of the beliefs that both men and women hold about masculinity, and how it affects both them and their relationships.
So many men have lost touch with their sense of masculinity and it’s important for them to be able feel good about reclaiming their masculine power without feeling that they will be criticised for doing so, without misunderstanding what that really means (and therefore not wielding the power honourably) or that the burden of the mantle of the label ‘masculine’ will be too big.
The best way to navigate and avoid these potential challenges, is to truly understand what ‘the masculine’ means, and sometimes the best way to begin to understand what something is, is to understand what it is not.
So to celebrate that yesterday was international men’s day, here are the remaining biggest misperceptions of the masculine:
8. Masculine is not Invulnerable
Vulnerability is a real hot topic and major trigger point for many men. The belief that masculine equals strong, and vulnerability equals weakness creates a lot of misperceptions that the masculine cannot be vulnerable. In reality, vulnerability does not mean weakness at all. Vulnerable means ‘open to attack, harm or damage,’ which while a little scary does not imply weakness. In fact to risk being open to attack, harm or damage for the purposes of being also open to love, passion and connection takes real courage. Being vulnerable is courageous, and inside every masculine man beats the heart of a hero, ready to take brave risks for the purposes of a reward that’s worth it. Connecting with another’s heart takes courage, and the masculine is ready and willing to take that risk knowing the reward will give him more than he could possibly imagine.
9. Masculine is not Superior
There is this HUGE misperception that somewhere along the line someone decided that masculinity was in some way superior to femininity, and that the feminine was somehow less than its masculine counterpart. As with all opposite forces in nature, the masculine and feminine are EQUAL and opposite. That does not make them the same, it means that neither is better or worse, stronger or weaker than the other. The true masculine knows and respects the power of the feminine, and would never seek to diminish or demean it. The masculine does not feel more masculine by diminishing the feminine, and in fact understands that to diminish either actually disempowers them both. The real strength and power of the masculine and feminine comes when they combine, complementing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, where the whole becomes more than the sum of it’s parts.
10. Masculine is not Selfish
The masculine and feminine relate to their own needs in very different ways. The feminine, because of its nurturing nature, has a tendency to do its best to ensure that everyone else’s needs are met first, and because of its awareness of everything at all times gets easily distracted from its own needs. This means that the needs of the feminine tend to get met as a ‘last resort’ i.e. That the feminine meets its own needs when they get urgent, which tends of be at the last possible moment. On the flip side, the masculine tends to meet its needs immediately that it first becomes aware of them. If a masculine man is hungry, he eats (irrespective of whether dinner will be ready in 10 minutes), if he’s thirsty, he drinks, if he’s tired, he rests and if he needs the bathroom, he goes – the moment he’s aware of the need. As such women can sometimes view masculine men as selfish, putting their needs first above all others. What’s interesting is that in reality a big part of the reason the masculine ensures his needs get met immediately is because of the sense of responsibility he feels to provide and protect. If his needs aren’t met, if he’s hungry or tired, or needs the bathroom, this could impact his ability to provide and protect, meaning that he wouldn’t be able to look after the feminine and the family to the best of his ability. Often this process is happening at a subconscious level, he’s not even aware of it, but he looks after himself first to ensure that he can do the best job possible in taking care of the things he feels a responsibility for.
11. Masculine is not Inferior
Last, but by no means least, in the same way that the masculine is not superior to the feminine, it is not inferior either. Over the last 20-40 years the role of men in our culture has often become that of ridicule and mockery. The subconscious fear from many women that men won’t know how to wield their masculine power honourably and in a trustworthy way has led to them wanting to take this power from them. Emasculation in the form of humour has become a dominant part of our lives, and in the same way as undermining women disempowers both men and women, the same is true in the other direction too. If either sex believes it needs to take power from the other to feel powerful itself, it doesn’t understand the true meaning and nature of power. It comes from the inside out, not the outside in – you can’t take it from anyone else, and the attempt to do so only demonstrates an underlying feeling of insecurity and disempowerment. The jokes, eye rolls, and put downs at the expense of men and masculinity are equally offensive and damaging to men, women and relationships, as the equivalent slights against women did and continue to do. The true masculine and feminine seek to build each other up, rather than tear each other down, because it’s in combining our strengths that we really see what’s possible together.
So I’m curious, what are your experiences of the word masculine? Do any of the misperceptions I’ve mentioned above ring true for you? Have you felt that any of these were true at one point or another, and what did that mean for you and your relationships? Are you aware of other misperceptions about masculinity that have created some challenges for you?
…and watch this space because in the next couple of week’s I’ll be sharing the other side of the coin for you to understand what true masculine and real feminine is really all about…