One of the premises in the book I’ve written titled The TRUE HEART of a MAN is that I believe it is necessary for us to update whatever obsolete, idealized view we have about “masculinity” to a more relevant and enriching experience of what it means to “be a man” in the 21st century.
Despite whatever progress men have made over the past 40 years regarding their masculine sensibilities, there are toxic pieces of Traditional Masculinity that still linger in the dark corners of the male psyche.
Yes, there certainly are some healthy ideals that have been passed down to us as men, but it’s the unhealthy beliefs that men continue to identify with that exert their influence in dishonorable ways toward other human beings in every culture on the planet.
For example, it is easy to point out the extreme instances of misogyny and sexism in other countries that seem so far away and other worldly. Female genital mutilation, dowry murder, honor killings, and “marry-the-rapist” laws are some of the cultural traditions in other countries that are difficult for us in the west to relate to. However, these are all brutal and radical forms of the same misogyny and sexism that exists here in America that is based on the contempt and ingrained prejudice against women.
The vehicle that transmits this noxious legacy from generation to generation of men is the patriarchal imperative that Traditional Masculinity continues to promote, which is a survival-at-all-costs mentality that is disrespectful and oppressive to those who are less physically strong. This has naturally led men to feel superior to women, which therefore “gave them the right” to control women’s lives.
Here in America, there are many examples of the toxic hardship that misogyny and sexism continue to manifest. To name just a few:
- 1 in 5 women have been raped
- 1 in 4 women have experienced domestic violence.
- 9 in 10 women have been sexually harassed.
- 7 in 10 women have experienced street harassment
- Women are paid 80% of what men earn in the same job
Without trying to express any political viewpoints here, the recent presidential elections of 2016 brought out the worst of American misogyny and sexism to center stage. The winning party is represented by a man who has been accused of sexual harassment many times. His narcissistic, degrading, and fat-shaming comments about women only serve to support the patriarchal mindset that many men still have about women.
His derogatory remarks about his female opponent attempted to send a message to voters that a powerful woman represents a threat to our American way of life. Sadly, he is the consummate role model for Traditional Masculinity. Beyond whatever his political viewpoints are, I am appalled at how he brings those personal character traits to his profile as the leader of the free world.
My point is that the presence of misogyny and sexism continues to exist as a hypocritical counterpoint to one of our basic tenets of justice that strives for equal treatment of everyone before the law.
The best way to dampen the effect of this toxic patriarchal influence at a social level is for every man at a personal level to open up to the amazing Truth in his heart that defines his unique experience of Life.
Until we all as men can begin to trust the emotional strength that comes from this Truth-that-lives-in-our-hearts, we will continue to sell ourselves short by only relying on our intellect as a way to evaluate ourselves and the world. And by definition, our intellect is extremely limited when it comes to processing how we feel and what we need to know about other human beings.
Here is my definition of what I call Healthy Masculinity: Giving ourselves permission to allow our hearts to help guide us in our lives in a balanced way with our heads, which in turn will help us treat each other with the respect and compassion that we all deserve.