Monday, July 11, 2016

What We Gain With Healthy Masculinity Is What We Need the Most

Michael Kaufman writes that there is “no such thing” as healthy masculinity. I get where he’s coming from; I really do. But there is healthy masculinity, and finding it will go far to giving us, as a society, what we need the most.
What is achieved in men’s resource groups around the country is the idea of a self that matters, of identifying privilege when we carry it with us into a room, of comporting ourselves as beings with responsibility and accountability in equal measure, deserving to be the role-models we have been deemed.
We need a masculinity that is seen as power and voice. In a world focused on force, this is a little mind-crackingly foreign, but hear me out. This voice can be had by anyone, man or woman, and it harkens more to the original greek idea of phallus, that of power as opposed to penis.
When we value power over force and ultimate come to see force as the enemy of power, the agent by which power is destroyed or shattered or given away, we can come to see ourselves as the truly powerful beings that we are. Once we recognize our own power, we can begin to cultivate power in others. This self-awareness of power and its employment in meaningful ways is itself a healthy masculinity, while I see the nurturing of that power in one’s self and in others as deeply feminine, and giving rise to a far healthier femininity than any we have seen lately.

These ideas of masculine and feminine are not rooted in biology but in spirit, and harken to eastern ideas of balance. Perhaps meditation and t’ai chi and yoga every day won’t save the world, but would it be so disastrous to try? What if we taught balance in schools alongside math, that the idea of personal choices and balance was no different than two trains leaving different stations, and possibly that solving the choices problems were more important than the trains one?

Michael Kaufman, “Any Gender is a Drag,” in Okun, Rob, Voice Male (Northampton: Interlink Books), 2014, p. 363