The Beauty and Benefits of Masculinity
He #Me too movement has made clear what many of us have known for a long time: there is a problem with the culture of masculinity. In the past, it was debatable, it was ignorant. It can no longer be ignored and there is very little real debate about whether or not the traditional culture of masculinity is problematic.
Thanks, women, again. Thank you for having the courage to do what men could not do. Thanks for making it clear that something has to happen.
Now that we agree that there is a problem, what do we do about it? There are underlying symptoms and causes. What is the symptom and what is the cause?
I read a comment in the NYT arguing that masculinity is fundamentally brutal. I hear many variations on this argument. “Male sexuality is fundamentally predatory.” I see this perspective as neither accurate nor helpful.
This view leaves men with two options. First, accept the brutal, predatory nature, in a kind of “boys-will-be-boys” and “this is just a dressing room conversation.” This leads to the acceptance of brutal and predatory behavior. The other option is for men to repress the very nature of their gender experience and sexuality. This leads to isolation, insecurity, and the inability to connect with others.
In my more liberal community, I see a lot of the latter. In my experience, depression and anxiety come from repressing what is a natural part of being human.
Instead, I think masculinity is fundamentally beautiful. I think male sexuality is a gift that can be offered when needed.
But people see men doing bad things and take the logical step that they are bad people. It’s easy to look at #Me too publishes and assume that most men are sexually insane, insensitive, idiots. But what if his behavior was actually a symptom of a deeper illness?
I believe that the deepest cause is an unhealthy culture of masculinity that locks men out of their feelings, objectifies and dehumanizes women, is violently homophobic and misogynistic, that has a right and an addiction to power.
Men have grown up receiving “don’t be a pussy.” We have been told not to cry. We’ve hardened where we used to be sensitive and it’s no wonder we have trouble reading the intuitive signs of intimate interaction.
Men go hungry for physical affection. We live in a world where all contact with women is sexualized and all contact with men is violent or stigmatized as gay. Any biologist will tell you that humans need human connection.
Desiring human connection, men resort to pornography where they receive dopamine blows to the brain for overly sexualized and dehumanizing depictions of women.
Men are threatened, harassed, beaten, and forced to accept violence as a means of survival. Men who perpetrate abuse are often people who have been abused but do not recognize it as abuse because it is normalized. So they perpetuate the abuse without knowing it. As Rohr put it, “Injured people hurt people.”
I say this so as not to let men down. Quite the contrary, I say this to call men to action. Because, your conditioning may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility.
Many of these #Me too cases were committed by “normal guys” who didn’t know it better or had become empathetic to their own wisdom.
Toxic masculinity isn’t just “out there,” it’s right here. Like it or not, or we are perpetuating an existing masculinity culture or evolving into a new context. Guess which one is easier?
I hear guys say “I’m married, so that’s not relevant to me.” And I say, “Oh, really?” Because people can have different symptoms of the same disease. The same culture that prevents men from respecting boundaries is the same culture that keeps men from emotional vulnerability in relationships. It keeps men from total honesty and integrity in relationships.
Even after almost 10 years working for men, I am still amazed at the energy of disconnection and the right. I join a group of men, with a subconscious fear of violence being at the bottom of the social hierarchy, we strive to be at the top. I compete and create an energy of disconnection from my brothers rather than an energy of non-hierarchical brotherhood. When I do this, I degrade others and degrade myself.
Toxic masculinity isn’t “out there,” it’s in here. But I don’t want to stop the conversation there. I read so many articles and posts about toxic masculinity that I get tired of it. I get caught up in focusing on what’s not. be more than I want to be. Do we know what toxic masculinity is like, so what is the alternative? How is healing masculinity? What is beautiful masculinity like?
It seems to me guys aren’t afraid to hug other men. Beautiful masculinity seems to be that boys have a close friendship with other men. Beautiful masculinity to me seems like men who are willing to take responsibility for each other, and able to support each other in difficult times so that men do not depend on women to do all the emotional work of life.
Beautiful masculinity seems to make men relinquish the power that is attributed only to gender so that others can thrive.
Beautiful masculinity looks like men asking if they can sit next to someone. They are guys who can feel if someone is uncomfortable and can adjust their behavior accordingly. Men seem to recognize power differences in the relationship and, seeing differences in power in the relationship, investigate whether these differences would interfere with total consent for intimacy.
Beautiful masculinity seems to be those men intuitively read the energy of a connection and move forward or take a step back to honor all involved. They seem like men who are in touch with their deepest desire and can make clear requests of what they want. Men seem to honor the “no,” the “maybe,” and the “YES!”
Beautiful masculinity seems more curious than persistent men.
Beautiful masculinity, it seems to me men who are not afraid to feel pleasure and feel love, to celebrate the pleasure and love of others. It is men who are left vulnerable and find the joy and power of vulnerability.
They look like men who are able to hold another person in their strong arms with compassion and care. They are men willing to be arrested, willing to let go of control.
The beautiful masculinity for me is men willing to laugh, cry, sing and dance.
But that’s just my perspective. How do you like beautiful masculinity?
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What is masculine beauty?
The ideal of masculine beauty is a collection of cultural norms for a male appearance that vary depending on the historical period and geographical location. Men are raised with these expectations to improve their perception of their physical attractiveness.
What is perfect masculinity?
Healthy or positive masculinity is the idea that men can be emotionally expressive, have female friends or mentors, and express their emotions without feeling emasculated.
What is the masculinity beauty standard?
The male beauty standard in Western culture is centered on hyper-masculinity; golden skin, ruggedness, and a strong body are viewed as more attractive. Social media sites like Instagram and Tiktok uphold the ideal of male beauty.
What masculinity is toxic?
The theory of toxic masculinity holds that certain people’s definition of “manliness” supports oppression, homophobia, and hostility. There are cultural expectations placed on men to act a specific way, which is toxic masculinity. And it’s possible that all boys and men will experience this in some way.