The Story of ManReimagined
The expectations of what it means to be a man has changed dramatically over the last few years. As men we've had to confront some of the more negative aspects of the behaviours of our gender. We've had to reconcile within ourselves the sexual and power imbalances towards women through the #metoo movement. We've also had to witness the abuses, and ineptitude, of men in power as they bundle and bully their way through the many crises of the last few years, looking especially incompetent in comparison to women in leadership. Then, on a more personal level, the way many men have been brought up, that we should be strong, responsible, be the primary provider of our families, and not show weakness, we are told has become an outdated paradigm. We are now expected to be more open, caring and vulnerable but given very little idea of what that means, and often feeling like we are doing it wrong when we try. For a man displaying vulnerability can very often feel like our life is falling apart. It can be hugely scary. As a consequence many men are now unsure of just what it means to be a man, especially as society has become much more diverse than being delineated as just men and women. As such we have to confront questions such as:
How do we relate to women and the many other sexual orientations that society now sees?
How do I relate to other men?
How do I access my strength and feel powerful as a man without hurting others?
How do I be vulnerable without feeling weak?
How do I bring up my sons and what do I teach them when much of what I know seems to be outdated?
Then to top it all off we are also unsure if anyone really cares?
For many men there is a sense of wanting deep connection but not knowing how to make it happen. We want to be appreciated, respected and loved. We also want to feel purpose and a sense of fulfilment and accomplishment.
Why become a standard bearer for this shift in male awareness?
As a man I want to feel proud of being a man, and I want society to feel that way too... but I am not sure how many men and women actually currently feel that way about men. I want to feel like I am strong and capable of taking care of myself and my family. I want to feel like I am a force for positive change and that using my masculine attributes is OK. But I also want to be able to be supported, I want to be able to admit that I need help, and I want to feel proud of the fact that I can reach out to others when I need to, rather than feel shame.
I want men to be a part of the solution to the problems that the planet and humanity currently faces, rather than the problem. Men make up a disproportionate amount of leadership roles across all facets of society, therefore we need to take responsibility for the issues that the world faces. The climate crisis, social and economic disparities between rich and poor, conflict, and corporate greed are all things that have been led predominantly by men.
I dislike having those men being public examples of the male energy. They do not speak for me, nor most of the men I know. Most men I know want social equality, want connection.
I think it is time men write a new story for themselves about what it means to be a man, and we need to take ownership of that new story, of that new direction. We need a story that embraces the best of what it means to be a man, our strength, our ability to take action, our willingness to take on new things, explore life and inspire each other to be better, and invite in the less comfortable characteristics of vulnerability, compassion and empathy.
Men can help create a new society, one that takes care of each other and the planet more completely. TO do that we have to change what it means to be successful, which for a man means changing success from achieving wealth, accumulating stuff, and being held in high regard, or having status, to one where we consider success in how satisfied we feel in our own skin