Masculinity Is It The Problem or A Programed Expectation?

Samson by Ernst Fuchs sharded by William Floyd

Samson by Ernst Fuchs sharded by William Floyd

This blog came about due to conversations and comments sent to me about my March 2018 blog post, which was titled ‘A Conversation on Masculinity, Society, and Change” located in the Male on Man section of SiteOfContact. I thank my faithful readers for their comments, responses, and interest in the subject.  This article also takes on its particular tone of delivery, due to a deep probing conversation with a client over an article written by David de las Morena’s from his Website called: “How to Beast,” his blog titled - “ How to Increase Masculine Energy and Rebuild Self-Esteem.” (At the end of this piece you will find the link to David’s blog article

I really don't want to get into a critique of Mr. Morena's concepts especially his concept of 'No More Mr. Nice Guy'  other than to say it was the touchstone for my client and myself to engage in a deeper conversation on 'Masculinity and Gender.' David de las Morena ’s comments. per se. have more to do with self-respect and self-worth, rather than perhaps a focus on a root cause of gender (mis)label. Personally, I must warn you that some may find David's manner of expression distasteful and rude, yet beyond his style as a 'straight heterosexual,' he does make one or two valid suggestions to gain self-respect and self-worth.   But again that is not my central theme. I am wanting to address  the early social conditioning that gets associated with expected behavior or expected gender patterns coming to us as early as our  nursery days, and in the stories we are told which we then (mis)label as "masculine."  

 

What is Masculinity? How is it measured? What are its demands? And how is that person meant to look, think, act, and feel? and should that be according to the mores of society?

 

We have a lot of opinions about being a “Man” or more to the point having “Masculinity “.  Now to surprise you, you could say Masculinity is not, gender-specific, I say this because I have known some masculine women, including my Mom (not to look at her), but that woman had balls.  This is all to say, what are we focusing on?  The word, or is it behaviors that get labeled as Masculinity?

Masculinity comes up a lot lately and unfortunately, you can expect it to be related to trauma in an experience. Or sometimes in ‘How’ to integrate the Masculine aspect of oneself into a more positive and holistic lifestyle

This piece of writing is not to diminish any circumstance where trauma has occurred, we can all see how under various circumstances the word masculinity has been misrepresented by men caught in stereotypes, causing the word to lose luster, respect, and aliveness. We could say Masculinity is lost due to diminished meaning.

 

I could see how some people can be caught up in the illusion that to be masculine only meant to be aligned with bathroom bullies; politicized pulpits; with privilege; overt racism or sexism; or with bigotry toward groups of people. That kind of action portrayed by a few men is not a true representation of Masculinity, and yes if that is a view of the word, it needs to be tanked in the toilet.

.

 

I have seen, in my work as a life coach, the effect of the above description of what masculinity misrepresented can do to some men, for example, the issues of self-worth become diminished. Abandonment and loss of manhood become issues. Male childhood developmental trauma, which can color men’s interactions with other men and women. The clue to the problem is "early childhood trauma." 

 

Clipping a Childs Wings.jpg

This is not the first time in history were maleness appeared to be vilified. I can recollect in my own history, in the 1950’ s, being taunted by a younger sister who loved to recite repeatedly, a portion of an old nursery rhyme called “What are folks made of?” by Robert Southey writen in 1842.  The segments of the rhyme my sister loved to taunt me with was the portion called - "What are little boys made of?"  and “what are girls made of?”

What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.
And what are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And all things nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

This was a common nursery rhyme of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This rhyme deserves our attention in part, due to its negative descriptors of the male gender, described as slugs, snails, snips, and frogs depending on where in the world the rhyme was told.

 

The rhyme by Southey in two additional verses goes on to say:

What are young men made of, made of? 
          What are young men made of? 
Sighs and leers and crocodile tears; 
          That's what young men are made of.
What are young women made of, made of?  
What are young women made of? 
           Rings and jings and other fine things
     Sugar and spice and all things nice; 
          That's what young women are made of.   
 

I think you get the jest of it...

         

Old Nursery Rhymes.jpg

Nursery Rhymes play key roles in how we explain to children our cultural attitudes about themselves and gender behavior. Reciting Nursery Rhymes to children is one of a series of first steps to providing children's education about self-esteem and what is expected of them.

 

It can implant gender shame and things not good in the youngest minds of our society before (arguably) they have the critical function to question such assumptions and provides children with ideas of masculinity and femininity to which they may well not conform (thank heavens) yet creating a pressure towards adopting gender stereotypes which, frankly, toddling tots could have done without.  Here is a place to start, with a new vision, stories, and Nursery Rhymes.

 

These new stories, to be made then in part for the cultural socialization process,  would not expect transgressions of young males but does expect exploration, and do not dismiss and expect ‘boys to be bad, and then require them to do more 'to prove themselves otherwise.' While shaping young girls into passive restrained toys that need do nothing but be pretty for worry not you can do nothing wrong attitudes, that does not prepare them for a life of diverse opportunity that may not always need sweetness and passivity. These  kinds of stories had fallacy, any conscious mother of children of both sexes could debunk and tell you that, 'it was a  pile of the well-known stuff.'   

The bad behavior displayed in teen males may come from early unconscious childhood expectations. Expectations that come from the nursery. A more positive model is needed to be created and employed.  Nursery rhymes that re-imagine, re-envision, and ground masculinity in a self-affirming way.

Tom Tom.jpg

 

Often a male child, if traumatized by his childhood environment is then expected to, on his own, “get over it, “to “outgrow” it, or somehow zap it away.  Yet it is that very trauma that will freeze him into isolation, into not seeking help, into not allowing himself to talk about it.  because he feels it is expected of him to bear up especially if viewed by other males. Yet, there are some things that happen to men that they never “get over,” and must reach out to their culture and other men to correct the concept.

 

So, to refocus this discussion for the conscious adults amongst us, I ask, that Masculinity not be looked at as the Problem, but perhaps as your Expectation?

If it is the Expectation, then where did that expectation come from? A change of the approach, to re-envision Masculinity is needed.  We must begin by realizing that both males and females are comprised of Male and Female components or as Carl Jung called it Anima and Animus. We are both Masculine and Feminine in attributes, some of us more of one than the other and by God, we should not all try and fit a cookie cutter visions of what that is going to manifest as. It is not one definition fits all.

 

Okay, we have Men,  beyond the age of nursery rhymes, that have the pressures to refashion a new sense of them-self, of self-being.  Let's be bold here and strip everything away and start with an identity as individuation of consciousness, with emotional intelligence. This concept is of course for the person who wants to have dominion over their own life, then he can start by  re-inhabiting his maleness even in the face of disturbing experiences, as he then weaves a more "integrated" narrative of his life for himself.  Re-authoring the sacred story of ‘who am I’ and calling forth a new future for himself not yet known

Trusting the worth and validity of his expression of masculinity, and in that expression a self-love, that will be able to soften the callus wounds of the body, mind and the heart, embracing a fully realized masculinity by his design a vision of masculinity, designed for him by him, so it becomes alive within his being as a force for good. This allows for a profound empowerment, that for anyone is revolutionary, if lucky enough even contain bits of humor, and sometimes bold in its persona. These skills will be needed to then start writing and telling  the New nursery stories for those yet unborn.

Hawaiian Dancer.jpg

 

The goal then is not some fixed, “cured” state where we have successfully purged masculinity which is an aspect of our self-experience from what we are, as if it were some wretched foreign substance, but rather to find a larger home for it within our concept of the self. Slowly, we can allow what has become frozen and solidified to thaw and become flexible. To make the masculine force rightly seen within us and children to come, as a valued and balanced energy.  A refocus of our attention and thoughts, to break out of that cycle of trauma, blame, and shame. To move towards a balanced identity, that has a stable, and positive context for humans with masculinity, who are given an expectation to be a force for life-sustaining good.

David de las Morena’s Blog post - https://www.howtobeast.com/how-to-reclaim-your-manhood-and-rapidly-cultivate-masculine-energy/

Blame It On Theatre'

comedy tragedy mask.jpg

It is fall, here in Southern California, as such the days are growing shorter, and the need for physical recreation now turns to mental recreation, as the daylight hours decrease, and hours spent indoors increases.

One preoccupation besides the Football games that can move one indoors is the Fall-Winter Theater Season: This can include anything from state-of-the-art theaters to a world-renowned symphony and a multitude of live performances. I’d suggest giving a live stage performance a go. Much that I have learned about human interaction, or what I now know about my own inner-personal interactions was revealed to me in a non-combative observational way, presented to me as a live on-stage event.  

Granthan Coleman Playing Hamlet 2017

Granthan Coleman Playing Hamlet 2017

I began looking for these revelations about life in earnest, after hearing my Teacher Thane, tell about these insights in his class lectures for the Prosperos. (lectures on self-observation and self-awareness.) He would reference live theatrical performance or musicals as a way to unlock some unknown factor, to perceive something about our situation that we normally would not see, a place of authenticity, or Truth based reality rather than based on sense testimony alone.

foot lights publication.jpg

In the FootLights LA, a theatrical publication handed out to me at a recent musical performance of Cabaret, besides information on the cast and production of Cabaret, the publication had a story that will illustrate my point. The article was written by Peter Finlayson, and was called “Blame it on Theatre.” The article had a resonance with me and this concept of seeing beyond sense testimony as well as the function of Theatre. -Calvin

"I’ve found myself in an interesting position of late. Through the genius of social media, I’ve had the opportunity of being reacquainted with people I’ve not seen since I came to California. Back in 1981, it means I’ve had a bit of catching up to do. The first thing I discovered was that for those that were true friends, well, we are still friends. Getting past all the ‘what have you been up to’ took about a nano-second before we were back to conversation and feelings we shared as if we hadn’t missed a beat in 35 plus years.

What was a little surprising was that even though I am still most assuredly a child of the 60’s and an unabashed left-leaning liberal, many of my old friends had adopted a more conservative position. So has always been my want, political discussion quickly ensued, and the current political climate certainly added fuel to the debate.

At the same time, I’ve also had opportunity to engage with my more recently acquired friends, mostly theatre-makers, on the same topics. The resulting conversations really bought me to think – how did I, a radical loud mouthed protester who’d marched on Washington, the capital not the man, suddenly appear to be opposed to both right and left, positions that were being vociferously expressed to me by people I assumed to share values.

I’ve become a centrist? Not possible!

Thank god, those that were friends are still friends, and no permanent scars were created. But why was it that I was arguing against both sides, this is all in regard to free speech, and I was essentially saying the exact same thing to both, and being met with exhaustive fervency in opposition.

I blame it on Theatre!

What? Yep! My passion for change has been tempered by my passion for theartre. For a while I was feeling a bit like Data on Star Trek, Next Generation, rapidly scanning my memories as to what has influenced me the most to seek a position of principal with the understanding that the principal has limitations.

Theartre always serves as an allegory, and in the 3-plus millennia of recorded history, there is an over-riding principle that is essentially the moral of virtually every play. Moderation. Heroes become tragic when they act in haste or out of self-interest. In comedy, heroes become fools when acting for the same reasons.  Causes are not noble if concern for “others” is not part of the equation

Photo Jimmy Flint-Smith  Actor Model

Photo Jimmy Flint-Smith  Actor Model

Before you scream foul and yell that theatre is not a voice of caution, hear me out. It is not caution that drives theatre, it is understanding. It is the demand that for me to reflect upon the evil men do, I must first understand that they come not from a position of evil, but from a position of self-interest. “My morals are more important”, “my wants are more immediate”, “my judgement is superior”.  

Theatre teaches us the nuances, the difference between caution and moderation. Theatre teaches us that we may be individuals, but are more assuredly a par of the whole. What impacts us, impacts everyone.

In its very process of creating a living play, the moderation I speak of is demanded of everyone at every level. A play, a musical, is the very essence of the social experience.

The participants, from writer to stagehand, are individuals. Each has a vision and a want to execute the play to bring a sense of fulfillment to the audience.  Yet the writer ultimately knows that there are words that will change. The actor knows that the director is there to make sure the performance fits the scene. The designer may want the best set he or she has ever created, but it must serve the play.

Individually we are as the theatre-makers. Our will, our reason, our logic, dictates that certain things must occur for the betterment of humanity. The merits of the effort are determined not by the contributor, but the reality of value perceived by those around us. In a very real sense it is the whole of humanity that determines what is best.

Stage Production of Blood Brothers

Stage Production of Blood Brothers

For more than 3,000 years, theatre has expressed the position that the consequence of action is more important than the action itself. It demands of both artist and audience to take a journey of understanding and at conclusion, become aware that intent is never the cause of the conclusion, intent is only a catalyst to a journey.

The beauty that is expressed in theatre is that we must take the journey. We must examine the life we witness, we must encourage action, but we must do so with the weight of humanity upon our shoulders.

So what’s the take away? Jacques in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” tells us, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players….” While the monologue is about Life played out in stages . . . I think it also an admonition. Play the role; fit into the moment.

Respect ourselves for the roles we play, but accept that our wants will not be the determiner of accomplishments. Theatre teaches us to moderate our expectations to see beyond the vista of our eyes, and then act.
 

the end.jpg

Expanding Your Limits

HOW TO GENTLY EXPAND YOUR LIMITS

submission by ROBERT MCEWEN, H.W., M.

Robert McEwen I am happy to introduce to SOC blogs pages. He is a longtime friend, fellow Prosperos Mentor, and a nationally known Astrologer.

 

 

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn
to relax and wait for the answer.” 
–William S. Burroughs

 

All of us have an “inner limit”, a point where we stop our advancement and say “that’s as far as I can go.” Our minds cannot realistically imagine certain things being possible, and so they are relegated to the realm of fantasy. Sometimes it’s things we never thought of as possible, such as becoming a multi-millionaire, and sometimes it’s things we once thought would be easy that have become a chronic struggle, such as a rewarding career or good physical health.This inner limit is partly our comfort zone, and partly our pain zone. It is our comfort zone because it’s within the realm of what feels safe and familiar. It is our pain zone when the thing we hold back from is something we deeply want and suffer in its absence.

The inner limit comes from beliefs about who we are and what we can do. Such beliefs can be viewed as navigation tools, the same way our proprioceptors signal where we are in a room in relation to other objects. The beliefs that compose our inner limit give us a base sense of self to refer to as we encounter the world and we need them in order to orient to our environment.

Because these beliefs are so essential to our identity, trying to change them can feel very threatening to our survival mechanism. If you try to talk over your beliefs, such as by saying affirmations, you will find yourself pushing against an impenetrable inner wall and encounter anxiety as your unconscious perceives it as a life or death struggle.

There is, however, a very simple way to avoid this exhausting fight and to help your beliefs evolve without struggling.

Ask questions. Your brain is a vast power source at your disposal. It will do whatever you direct it to do, but only when it feels safe. The way to preserve the feeling of safety while reaching beyond your limits is to ask questions. Questions employ the mind and give it a job, statements confront the mind and fight whatever constructs are already in place.

It’s the difference between asking, “How can it be easy?” and stating “It’s easy” when addressing a challenge. One is a conversation that proactively engages the situation, the other is an argument that ignores contrary evidence.

Useful questions are a gateway that opens the mind to new perceptions and beliefs on their own. You give your mind a job and send it on a quest to find an answer. You might not immediately know the answer, but just asking a question implies that one exists and it is merely a case of solving a puzzle to figure it out. You are now giving your brain a job that engages its creativity and intellect, areas that induce the feeling of fun.

Depending on the situation it’s often better not to try to find the answer when you ask the question, but to use it as a prod to move your mind in a different direction. Simply asking how it can be easy will tune your mind to find ease in the situation, without you having to try and think of an answer which might not have obvious solutions. For example, I asked this question often when house hunting in a difficult market and ended up effortlessly getting my dream house. I could not have planned how things came together, only prepared for them by aligning myself with the sense that it could be easy despite all rational evidence.

“How can it be easy?” is one of my favorite questions to use when addressing a difficult situation. Other excellent questions are:

How can it be fun?
What is the most useful thought I can have right now?
What is the most useful thought I can have about this difficult situation? (e.g., my relationship status, my job, my kids, etc)
What am I not seeing?

I also like “what if” questions for situations where there is no additional action to take. Asking, What if it’s easy? What if it’s fun? can help center the mind in a different direction when preparing for a job interview or other anxiety-inducing task.

When you notice your mind start to spin about something in your life or the world, say, “thank you”, and ask a question from the above list. This way you acknowledge the worry and redirect your mind, as one redirects a toddler having a tantrum by introducing a game.

You don’t have to believe something will work to ask if it can, yet asking the question will lead your mind to convince itself it’s possible. This way you work with it as a friend and ally toward your dreams.

F R E E D O M

 

F R E E D O M  by Calvin Harris, H.W.,M.

 

It is summer, and for many adults that is the season that recalls memories, the freedom of childhood, such as being outside in the woods, or on the river or seashore, free to feel the warmth of the sun on their naked body parts as they laugh and play. Summer is a symbol for many adults, who, let’s face it are really closet kids at heart, yearning even today for that sense of freedom to course through their lives in their efforts to live fully.

 

I have selected some definitions of the word freedom from the Merriam-Webster dictionary to share with you

1:  the quality or state of being free: as

a :  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action

b :  liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another :  independence

c :  the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous<freedom from care>

d :  easefacility <spoke the language with freedom>

e :  the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedom>

f :  improper familiarity

g :  boldness of conception or execution

h :  unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>

 2 :      a political right

b:  franchiseprivilege.

 

 

We all have ideas about “FREEDOM”, and how it should play out. For right now I would like for you to consider “Freedom” as something personal to you. Something in your control as far as it plays out in your life.  I have selected some of my favorite quotes for your deliberation and consideration for your summer of Living FREEDOM.

 

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first.” Jim Morrison

 

"The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off." Gloria Steinem

 

 "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream…"

Ronald Reagan

 

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
Nelson Mandela

 

 

"It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."
Samuel Adams

 

"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Benjamin Franklin

 

"Freedom lies in being bold." Robert Frost

 

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.”            Coco Chanel.

 

It is considered that one of the tenets of Freedom is Happiness occurs.  So I leave you with this thought from Mahatma Gandhi: Happiness is when you think, and what you do are in harmony.”

 

Aloha

Calvin