The Integration Elixir
Continued from part 2
In parts 1 and 2 of the Masculinity Revelation series I have gone to great lengths to define both masculinity and femininity. Why should a guy care about the two? Why should he care about the two as complementary opposites? (see part 2)
Masculinity is a force that emanates from the male soul with a burning desire to create, to make an impact, to be a masterful part of the greater world. Masculinity is an act of will. It originates within the mind and manifests through our deliberate choices and actions. Like any force, masculinity can be used to benefit oneself, others and society as a whole, or it can be used to damage others and damage society.
If a guy is going to make the difficult decision to develop and wield his masculinity then he better understand it, and he better understand how to control it.
Males and Men
It’s easy to be a male. The only requirement to be male is to have a y-chromosome in your DNA. That chromosome and its associated genes cause a guy to develop testicles, produce more testosterone than females and develop typical male characteristics like a penis, extra hair and, in general, more muscle mass than women. The higher percentage of testosterone affects a guy’s physical development. It also biases some of the circuits in the brain differently for males than females. (The other genes on the y-chromosome are still mysteries; we don’t know what they do.)
Similarly, it’s easy to be a female. Male or female, it’s all programmed into a person’s DNA. That’s just biology.
As guys, we generally want to be more than just males, more than just defined by our biology. We want to be “men”. (And any female readers probably want to be “women”.) If you want to transcend your biology, read on. If not, then this series of articles probably isn’t for you.
Being a man goes beyond biology and being male. “Man” tends to be a higher level concept than “male”. What makes it so? I propose that being a man consists being a male who chooses to exhibit masculine characteristics, that is, mastery. Similarly, being a women consists of being a female who chooses to exhibit feminine characteristics. The rest of the article will focus on “men”.
Examples, Good and Bad
Mastery is not an absolute. It is a continuum, ranging from mastery of simple tasks to mastery of complex relationships and spirituality. We’ve all seen the typical stereotypes of guys who have only mastered video games, and couch sitting. Maybe they know all the intricacies of game play in Assassin’s Creed, but that’s the limit of their mastery. There are those who take pride in mastery of the perfect high, smoking weed all day long. Their mastery is confined to the clouds of smoke they exhale. Would you want to be like these men? I hope not. Fortunately, these types of men are few and far between.
Nowadays, we’re seeing another stereotype; men who have mastered business or sports or politics, but then abuse their masculinity and make destructive choices. Some will treat business as a zero-sum game and profiteer off the backs of the less fortunate. Others sexually assault or harass women. Even others will take obscene risks for personal gain. These creeps and assholes climb a mountain of money and hide up in the clouds of success. Inevitably, the weather clears and the clouds are blown away, exposing these men. The fall of these men from their heights often is pretty dramatic. Would you aspire to be like these men either? Again, I hope not. Once again, these types of men are fairly rare, despite the notoriety piled on them by sensationalist news media.
Nowadays we have examples of men that range from skilled but unemployable couch potatoes and hipsters to wealthy creeps and assholes. These are the outliers; in the middle of these extremes are millions and millions of men who handle masculinity well, but aren’t newsworthy. They are too normal to gain media attention.
Although the outliers of men might have exhibited mastery, they are not good role models. They are men, but not desirable men. They wield masculinity in ways that society for the most part agrees are unacceptable.
For these men, the yin/yang of femininity and masculinity do not complement each other to form a whole. These men are all out of balance and perform poorly as men.
A man who is out of balance is a bad specimen of manhood. Men who are out of balance give masculinity a bad rap. They act with nothing to temper their mastery and to moderate their actions. When these specimens exhibit bad behavior publicly, the entire concept of masculinity gets attacked mindlessly by the media and society. As a result, all men suffer from these bad specimens of men and masculinity.
Good examples of manhood come about when a man complements his masculine characteristics and mastery with appropriate feminine characteristics of connection. Consider: When metallurgists create steel, they alloy iron together with carbon. The smaller carbon atoms fill the interstices between the larger iron atoms. The result is a stronger, higher quality metal. When the steel is alloyed with other elements, such as tungsten, the metal becomes even stronger. Similarly, when a man decides to alloy his masculinity with select feminine traits like connection and nurturing, he becomes a more balanced, stronger example of a man.
How so? Let’s explore that.
A man can choose to master a skill on his own. He can study youTube videos, practice for hours, record himself and analyze the playback. He can achieve some degree of mastery through these methods. Instead, suppose he makes a connection with a highly skilled coach and changes his mettle to be malleable and amenable to change. He’ll find his mastery goes far beyond what he could do on his own when he has a connection with a coach that can teach him. Rather than force his skills to develop, he allows new ideas to alter his path around his sticking points. Coaching and being coached are feminine skills involving emotional intelligence and connection with other people.
For that matter, a guy can make more stuff happen if he has connections with other men. Connecting is a feminine characteristic, even with other guys. Imagine how much more can be mastered with a team of men in your network. More jobs open up, more opportunities are shared, and more success comes your way. Don’t believe me? Try moving an apartment full of furniture without a team of guys to help!
Of course, if you’re in a relationship, you’ll not only need to make stuff happen (mastery) but you’ll need to make a loving connection with your significant other. Femininity and connection work both ways.
There are a lot of traits society admires in men that I believe are actually rooted in femininity.
Leadership is a highly admired characteristic among men. Leadership stems from the ability to inspire and guide people to marshal the best of themselves to achieve things together. This requires understanding the people you lead; understanding their capabilities, needs and motivations. This means having an emotional connection with others, a distinctively feminine characteristic men should learn how incorporate.
Integrity is often considered a top characteristic among high quality men. Integrity stems from a respect for others. The only reason to adhere to a moral code is because you value the relationships you have with other people. If you cared absolutely nothing about other people, you could change your behavior for any reason, anytime. Caring about relationships with other people is a feminine characteristic that is a root of integrity.
Confidence and self-esteem come from both the ability to succeed at necessary actions and the ability to create an environment of well-being and safety for yourself. Creating that environment is a feminine, nurturing skill, even if it is for yourself.
Some experts like Dr. Robert Glover refer to the ideal of the “integrated man”. I believe it is because strength of character, and strength of manliness stem from the integration of masculinity with multiple elements. Iron alloyed with carbon creates steel. Steel alloyed with tungsten makes steel even harder. Masculinity alloyed, or integrated, with some degree of femininity makes the man a stronger, better person.
In part 4, I’ll discuss how this integration has a role in modern society.