Feeling More like a Man

& Less Like a Little Boy

Not long ago, a friend forwarded a short video to me. It was circulating on social media. The footage was from a workshop focused on helping people access the “sacred masculine” or “sacred feminine” within them.

It was an experiential exercise where a man and woman stood face-to-face about three feet apart.

She was tall and attractive, at least compared to him. He wore a blood-red, button-down shirt with navy blue, polyester pants. Like everyone else in the room, he was barefoot. He resembled Woody Allen — small, wiry, and awkward.

The primary facilitator was the person everyone there had really come to see. It was this handsome and influential man who stood with Woody.

The focus of the exercise was to walk him through the process of tapping into his masculine power. When he did so, they said, he would be firmly grounded in this world, to the degree that his feet would feel rooted to the earth and his legs as firm as tree trunks.

All the while, he and the woman standing across from him maintained eye contact. Standing next to her was a female facilitator, who repeatedly mentioned the weakness in the man’s gaze. “I need to see more killer.” She said that. To Woody.

The leader pressed against Woody’s shoulder. If he could push him off balance, then his legs weren’t tree trunks. He was doing it wrong. They told him they would see much more killer in his eyes if he tilted his head differently. Gauging the response of the onlookers, he must have looked substantially more powerful when the angle between his neck and chin was slightly more acute. They cheered him when they saw more killer. He just needed to tilt his head forward.

What a crock of shit.

Now, let me be clear. If there’s something that will help somebody feel better or be better, I’m open to it. I’m not so arrogant as to think I have all the answers. I’ve been known to burn sage and palo santo. I use mantras. I’m not denying the merit in the concepts of the divine feminine and masculine. I believe there is divinity within all of us. In some ways, my life is a pursuit of what Robert Bly called it- Zeus energy.

But, you can’t tell me Woody Allen felt more like a man after that exercise. And, I promise you, that’s what he wants — to feel more like a man. It’s not going to happen in a room like that, with a woman telling him she can’t see the fire in his eyes; that she might if he lowers his chin.

He doesn’t need one man in the room to test his power, to try to push him over. He needs to be one man among a group of men and to experience their admiration and support.

Then you may see fire in his eyes. You may not see “more killer,” but you’ll see a flicker. He may not yet harness his masculine power. But, he’ll know it’s true source. And, he’ll feel more like a man.

We’re at a point in time in Western culture when we’re desperately seeking a better understanding of gender. We’re looking for this, not only on a societal level, but on the personal level. I wish we had a solution; one that could satisfy everyone. I don’t know what the answer is, especially as it pertains to women. But, what I do know is that we’re pretty bad at teaching men how to be men. So, we’re left with a lot of men who, deep down, feel like little boys, whether they know it or not. And, I have some ideas about what we could do better.

If you ask people what it means to be a man, some common themes will emerge. You’ll hear something about being a protector or a good provider. But, you won’t get a clear, consistent answer. Yet, we gauge males in our world against this ambiguous standard.

It’s not at all unusual for us to make critical remarks regarding someone’s manhood. We say things like “he needs to man up” or “a real man would. _________ .” We ask “why can’t you just be a man?” I could go on.

Think about it. What do these expressions even mean? We don’t really know. They mean different things to different people. For this reason, the real message becomes a shaming one. “If you don’t live up to my particular ideal of what a man should be (which I can’t clearly explain), there’s something wrong with you.”

I believe this is why we see so much of what we now call toxic masculinity. We’re conditioned to carry and live up to all these ambiguous beliefs about manhood. There is no clear ideal. It’s difficult to understand, let alone accomplish. So, how can we possibly measure up? And, as men, we need to feel like we measure up.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize I was asking the wrong question.

The question is not “what does it mean to be a man.” It’s “what does it mean for me to be a man.”

A man finds his true power in his individuality; in the gifts that only he can share with the world. As men, we must define ourselves. When we try to live by “their” standards, it’s hard to think we measure up. When we think we don’t measure up, men will almost always begin to feel insecure, like a little boy. Things can get pretty messy, because that insecurity, if not adequately addressed, breeds destructive and abusive behavior. Given that with most men practically every emotion besides anger is taboo in our culture, we almost never acknowledge feelings of insecurity, let alone address them.

It’s a setup.

There are a lot of books for men out there. If they’re not about finding Jesus, most of them are about how to get laid or how to make money. None of these get to the heart of the issue with men.

All of us need to learn how to better connect with ourselves and with our emotions. In order for men to do these things in a way that sticks, we need other men.

If you want to ensure a man remains emotionally frozen, keep telling him to get in touch with his feminine side.

Be it in love or in friendship, a man will never find himself in a woman. To find himself, he needs to love himself enough to look deeply into the scariest of places — his heart. To muster that kind of courage, men need each other.

Men need men. Men need to connect, really connect, with other men. Men need to love, and be loved, by other men.

Until he can connect these dots, Woody’s legs will never be tree trunks. And, if he’s honest, he’ll tell you he feels less like a man than he does a little boy.

--

--

--

Writer. Father. Podcaster. Addiction Counselor. Recovery Coach. The Path to Authenticity — on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. @the.8th.son @thepathtoauthenticity

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

The Freedom of Speech

HIEA 114 Post 3 Mutual Aid Requires Mutual Understanding

Lamenting the Loss of Hard Men

Supporting #Blacklivesmatter Consciousness Raising in the Brown & Indigenous Community

Bring About A Change

Journal on “To Deny or Not to Deny Disability — What is disability?”

Lessons From South Africa

Being Black Gets More Confusing As I Get Older — Part 1

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Tom Gentry

Tom Gentry

Writer. Father. Podcaster. Addiction Counselor. Recovery Coach. The Path to Authenticity — on Spotify & Apple Podcasts. @the.8th.son @thepathtoauthenticity

More from Medium

System of A Downfall

Here’s Why Some People Have More Anxious Thoughts Than Others

California… It’s a Vibe

‘Don’t Take it Personally’ as a Shield Against Shame and Disappointment