Being a modern man in this day and age is not easy. Roles have changed, societies have changed, men have changed. More than ever before men are required to go within, to find meaning and purpose.
Unless men can emerge from darkness, we shall continue to wound women and each other, and the world can never be a safe or healthy place. This work we do, then, is not only for ourselves but also for those around us.
James Hollis – Under Saturn’s Shadow
What does it mean to be a man, today? This question has fascinated me for the last fifteen years. How can a man find his own, genuine path to authenticity? What is masculinity – or should one ask: Which masculinity suits me?
Each and every culture in the world has very explicit and demanding ideas about gender, and therefore about masculinity and manhood. At times those ideas provide guidance and clarity, but many men today perceive those same ideas as too constraining, and too demeaning. Tony Porter calls this the man box. We currently live in a time in which men and women question the gender roles they’ve been assigned.
This questioning has eroded the numerous boundaries that kept women and men stuck in roles dictated to them by culture, religion, and politics. But while those boundaries have withered, it delivers a whole new challenge.
Our current times invite men to no longer rely exclusively on the views of others in answering that question – What does it mean to be a man, today? We have the privilege and the duty to delve into our own essence to find suitable answers. The responses need to be individual, they need to grasp diversity as an essential part of being human, they need to come from within. But those answers also need to find a way into the reality of your life. The reality of your family or origin, your own home, your partner and your off-spring, your friends, your professional life. We are not atoms, we are part and parcel of ever widening circles of communities. We affect them, they affect us.
One of the most important steps you as a man can make to facilitate your own spiritual and psychological growth is to explore your own emotional landscape, with sincerity and curiosity. Most cultures have not encouraged men to do so. However, without an embrace of their full humanity men might find it difficult to deepen their own awareness of who they are, what they are and – most importantly – to be of service to themselves, and others.
But how do we as individual men find what might work for us, individually? That journey is called individuation: the process of each of us finding his own, most authentic voice. If you feel it might be worthwhile to explore what it is that makes you a man, then contact me to discuss ways in which I can be of service to you.
Resources for the Modern Man
Here are a few resources that might be worth your while:
- A blog I wrote about midlife crisis in men: myth or reality?
- A blogger on new masculinities in Africa by one of the most profound thinkers and prolific authors I know: Kopano Ratele
- ManKind Project
- David Deida – talking about challenging boundaries
- One of the best shamans, mystics, analysts and generally “wise man” I have ever had the pleasure to be taught by
- A very intelligent male feminist: Michael Kimmel
- And here Mr. Kimmel speaks at a TED gathering
- An interesting piece about male sexuality