Men! What is a man? How many of you actually know? We live in confusing times. Men are bombarded from every corner with contradictory signals from wives, women friends, mothers, fathers and peers. “Be strong but don’t be macho” says one voice, “Be sensitive but don’t be wimp” says another.
Many of you reading this were raised in the days of the Commandments for Men (Wagenvoord & Bailey, Avon Books 1978) which were:
Thou shalt not cry
Thou shalt not display weakness
Thou shalt not need gentleness
Thou shalt comfort but not desire comforting
Thou shalt be needed but not need
Thou shalt touch but not be touched
Thou shalt stand alone
For men over 40, in the background as ‘role models’ were John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, James Bond, etc. The portrayal from them was that men are dominant, they do not crack, no matter what, they are always a superb lover, they are always sure of themselves and always in control of the women, the money and the situation! Unfortunately all of this is irrelevant and takes men away from themselves.
If we go back to the Agricultural Age, men farmed the land. Sons were raised to help their fathers and thus did the boys of yesteryear learn from their fathers. Fathers handed down their values, and shared their thoughts and feelings. Then along came the Industrial Age and men went off to work in factories. They worked long hours and their sons were left with their mothers. Mothers can raise girls to be women but, in order to learn to be a man, men need fathers and this was the beginning of the time when fathers weren’t around. Then we moved into the Technological Age and the same thing happened. Our fathers went off to work early in the morning and returned home often late at night so their sons were/are left ‘under fathered’. It is said by people like Biddulph (Manhood), Bly (Iron John) and Druck (Secrets Men Keep), and others, that being under fathered is one of the major reasons why our men are hurting right now. Remember the song Cats in the Cradle … where the son would do anything for his father’s attention but the father is always too busy and then the son grows up and the roles are reversed?
For years we have had the Feminine Movement, a time where women have slowly learned to claim and own their power and honour themselves, and they have been forging ahead. Times have changed. Women can get almost any job they want, they can raise children on their own, there are vibrators readily available! Where does that leave men?
Let’s look at some statistics:
Women live longer than men.
From 10-14 boys’ suicide rate is twice as high as girls.
From 15-19 it is four times as high. From 20-24 it is six times as high.
There are more suicides of Vietnam vets than men who died in the entire Vietnam conflict.
Men are twice as likely as women to be victims of violent crime.
Men pay for women about ten times as frequently in restaurants as women pay for men.
The more expensive the restaurant, the more likely the man is to pay.
Men who are heads of households have a net worth much lower than heads of female households.
More men are homeless than women.
Interestingly it was also discovered that men who committed incest with their daughters had “little or no emotional or nurturing input in their children’s upbringing”. And, more to the point, children who were raised by house fathers (the mothers worked) did better on all tests at a Yale Psychological Test. Another fascinating point is that when Mattel created a family of dolls, the children who played with them put the male doll aside and, when asked why they weren’t playing with it said, “Daddies go to work all day”. Does this not tell us that something needs to change? It is important for men to have a great deal of input into their children’s lives from birth on. It is time for the tides of change to swell so that our under fathered men can find a way to be fathers of the future for their children.
Men are deeply caring beings and simply need the roadmap to access the deep wellspring of their emotions, which unfortunately because of conditioning of parents, school, friends, etc., has often not been considered important in the world of men – up until now. Men are the gatekeepers of some of the world’s best kept secrets. They lead secret emotional lives and often hide their deepest fears and insecurities. Some men disguise themselves as Mr. Nice Guy or Mr. Successful Businessman. However, if these inner feelings are not allowed to surface, they can result in ill health, deep unhappiness or simply feelings of confusion and not knowing. In fact for many it is like double jeopardy. Since men are so good at repressing their feelings, women often think that they feel nothing when in fact the opposite is true. It is thought that men are actually more sensitive than women… not because they feel more but since they are often so cut off from the feelings, those emotions pool in the unconscious and become stronger. Many men feel that unlocking these repressions could actually overwhelm them; so they choose not to go there. Men often take a long time to recover from slight emotional offences and often feel emotional shredded, picking the shrapnel from their wounds but not showing it. Thus when it comes to their emotions, men are victims not only of their inability to feel but also of the judgments they make about their emotional ineptitude. Add to all this the patterns picked up from our parents on how to behave and be in the world, and unfortunately, most patterns are subconscious – so we don’t recognise them until we get hit over the head over and over again. Like a friend of ours said: “I had been married three times and one day while I was shaving I asked myself in the mirror what it was those women had in common and of course the answer was me!”
If we look at the division of men and women in terms of work, here are the old choices:
Women: Work full time; mother full time; combine working and mothering
Men: Work full time; work full time; work full time
Until recently the options have not been there for men. Whether they liked it or not they were raised with the belief system that they had to get a good job and earn good money and protect and support their families. They are expected to provide and be there financially for women, regardless of whether that is what they really want to do.
Most people are looking for a lasting fulfilling relationship and yet divorce is up to nearly 50% in this country and it is instigated by women in four out of five cases. One of the most common complaints is that men don’t communicate. What women want is someone with whom they can be intimately connected. When they don’t get that it eventually becomes too hard and they leave. Also very few men have real ‘friends’ to whom they can turn in times of trouble. Men have ‘buddies’ that they can talk sports with but not intimate friendships with whom they can share the secret thoughts of the heart.
For men to move into the arena of intimacy they have to feel comfortable with themselves… they need to know that their feelings are safe, that they won’t be laughed at by their best friend or their woman. Contemplating an embrace of the feminine for men means they come face to face with the some of their worst fears… being emotional is to be vulnerable, is to be open, is to be wounded. It is the capacity to be affected by emotions or experiences and thus transformed by it… deeply changed. In the transformation comes the paradox for, to be vulnerable, is actually to be open and receptive and thus strong. Someone once said: “Think about an onion. The outside is hard and dry and crumbly, the first layer is very thick and it progressively becomes thinner until you get to the core which is clear and you can see through it. We are all like that, a beautiful transluscent core which has been hidden by layers of ‘stuff’ and completed with a dry cracked skin, and we think that is who we are.”
It is time that men had the opportunity to feel safe enough to explore some of the areas that might free them and allow them to be ‘real’; time for men to begin to unravel some of the layers that they have built around themselves so that we can recognise the gifts each sex has to offer and begin to live our purpose.
Ken Druck says: “Disclosure is the least exploited form of power known to men.”
Therefore men it is time to tell the truth… to yourself, to your partner and to your parents. You could start with these questions…
Do you secretly yearn for your father’s love and approval?
Have you told your parents and or kids that you love them lately and if not, why not?
Do you define yourself on the basis of what you do for a living?
Do you really enjoy your job and, if not, what would bring you pleasure?
Do you have emotional support from other men?
Do you ever allow yourself the right to feel fearful or uncertain?
Have you ever made love when you really wanted just to be held?
What to do then to move toward wholeness:
1. Read books such as Manhood, Iron John, Flying Boy, David Deida, etc.
2. Find a men’s group in your area.
3. Commit to healing yourself and being totally honest in your life.
Women need to change their assumptions about men and start being curious about what men may have suffered and what caused them to close off rather than complain about it. After all, except for the rarest of occasions, the man sends the flowers, the man pays for dinner, the man initiates sex. The man embraces a woman when she sleeps, she puts her head on his chest, cries on his shoulder, leans on him when she is about to fall, expects him to chase the baddies away!
It is time for both sexes to grow up… for women to stop colluding with men, and men have to give up their pride, stop being ashamed of their fears and start taking emotional risks.
The only thing we can be sure of in today’s society is change and perhaps it is time for men to find a way to access their truth and thus connect with their sacredness. Men have to feel safe being vulnerable and telling the truth. Like it says in The Men We Never Knew: “The reason men think with their pricks is because they have never been taught to feel with their hearts”. Men, it is time to begin to exercise the intimacy muscles of your hearts and live connected with the core of who you really are. Given that this time is being hailed as the Spirit Century, perhaps it is time to come from that place of Spirit. If we can find a way for men and women to live authentically then perhaps we can create a world that works for ourselves and our children.
Diane (The Goddess Within seminar) and her husband Robert Mathews run trainings for couples on tantra. They also run Man’s Inner Journey.
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