The way for us to move forward as men is to develop our own norms based on our core masculine characteristics and our response to cultural conditioning not based on the dominant cultural norms; that is create our own personal masculinity.
What is this masculinity? What are the core masculine qualities? How can we create it? As men we are brought up more by our mothers than our fathers and at a certain point in our childhood we are faced with moving away from the feminine perspective to develop our own approach to the world, our masculinity.
This move away from the feminine was achieved in tribal societies through initiation and ceremony. In modern society we have lost this blunting our access to our masculine characteristics and making the shift more problematic and painful. The lack of involvement of fathers in this process makes the situation worse.
The result is increasing conflict between men and women because men either fail to make the transition or they over-compensate and dominate women.
Core Masculine Characteristics
Men need help in dealing with these personal issues. Each man has different needs but there are common steps that can be taken to avoid others feeling dominated. The core purpose of ‘Graham Reid Phoenix’ is to help men find these steps.
In a post Personal Masculinity I said,
“The greater power is in a personal approach to masculinity and male behaviour, what I call Personal Masculinity. This rejects the single approach to being a man in favour of one that gels with our own personality and energy.”
This approach forms around specific characteristics regarded as either essential masculine or feminine. They are:
- Present – Being in the moment and completely attentive to the person he is with or the event he is at.
- Grounded - In touch with reality and able to resist pressure and events around him.
- Contained - Able to provide all his own needs and able to provide the needs of others, allowing them to feel safe.
- Focused – Completely absorbed by the task in hand and not distracted by what else is happening.
- Potent – Being strong and powerful and fully in charge of his sexuality.
- Dynamic – Able keep going, to endure and to be full of energy.
- Free – Open and unrestricted, able to be involved in anything and seeking everything.
- Spontaneous – Reacts from the emotion of a situation and makes quick assessments.
- Intuitive- Acts on an innate sense of what’s happening and able to know beyond the senses.
- Sceptical – Questioning others, particularly those closest to her, looking to be shown certainty.
- Accepting - Will accept circumstances once trust is established, able to conciliate.
- Nurturing - Caring for others as well as herself, finding compassion in any situation.
All of these characteristics are available to all of us. They act as a model to help us understand how we grow. They don’t specify how to be masculine rather they indicate where masculinity lies.
An integrated, masculine man would develop many of the masculine characteristics and some of the feminine ones. Their balance would influence the extent to which a man might be seen as masculine, or not. The key, however, is what qualities he sees as representing masculinity in his world.
To counter the media driven masculine stereotypes and move on from old school masculinity it is essential that men take back control from the dominant cultural influences and develop what they see as masculinity. This will vary for different men and will, in time, develop new norms for men.
There is a four-pronged process for men to achieve this developed on this site, it is:
Developing awareness of our Core Essence, our Masculine Characteristics and of the extent to which we have been subject to Social Conditioning. It is important to distinguish these and understand what is truly us and what has come from others.
To go beyond awareness to acceptance. It is not a question of whether we want to be what we discover but whether we can be. Can we take the discoveries into our life and make them fully us.
Where what we discover is not what we consider to be us we can change and develop what we want to be. We adapt what we are to what we would like to be. Using the qualities is a great way to start. Loop back to awareness and go through the process again as many times as are necessary.
Having come to our Personal Masculinity we need to develop a way of living that authentically represents us. It is not enough to feel it, it is necessary to live it.
“Imagine how different it might be if our sense of self and our sense of masculinity were determined internally (internal locus of control) rather than by others (external locus of control). Clearly, it’s not easy to get to this place in our lives (coaching or therapy helps), but more and more men are doing so and more men are seeking ways to become more internally focused in their identity.”
I finish Personal Masculinity by saying,
“Be bold in your life but make sure it is an examined life, one that you stand by and are willing to defend. But dont put it forward as the only answer, it is just a way, a direction. In helping men to become more masculine in their lives my aim is develop their awareness, test their acceptance, guide their adaptation and challenge their authenticity.”
Go out and be bold.