On being a better man

Listening

Listening is the primary skill that boys are taught not to do. In this world, listening is weak. Listening is letting the other person exist. To listen is to be overwritten. So interject as early as possible. Ram your opinion over the others — shout it louder and longer, and it’ll go your way.

Patriarchy

A while back, MeFi linked to an article by Bethany Webster, on the “Mother Wound” both causing and being caused by the patriarchy. It is a way of raising boys that reinforces a certain grown-baby-man as the desired outcome.

Bash ‘em!

The Patriarchy is power-based; we know this. What is less obvious, to both men and women I’ve talked with about this, is that men are beaten into submission, beaten into a place in this hierarchy: taught to both be victim and perpetrator. Required to be both.

Change, and the transition to manhood

Some years ago I asked for recommendations on how to be, at that time, a 35-year-old man. I got some good suggestions. One that stuck with me was King, Warrior, Magician, Lover (hereafter KWML), a somewhat woo-woo book with a really good dose of important stuff at its core.

Sword from the Stone

In today’s society, so many would-be mentors are twisted — sick perversions of boyhood grown to adult size. And peers are taught to make fun of each other for trying to grow out of this rut. This leaves an individual quite alone, and usually we’re not even lucky enough to have a magician take us under his wing (let alone before he’s killed off at the end of the first act).

Last of the Jedi, Iron Man 3, and Dr. Strange

I think this is why The Last Jedi was so impactful for so many men, whether or not it reached the level of cognition. I don’t mean that they necessarily liked it, or that it’s a good movie — it has deep flaws.

This is what start-of-TLJ-Luke thinks of your expectations for heroes.
“I hope you know, I’m doing this for my own benefit.”
Clothes do not make(th) the man. You have to earn it.
“This is my ‘What the hell do you think you are doing?’ face. I will have to use it a lot on you, I can see.”

Quando Omnis Flunkus Moritati

Ironically, some of the best advice on being a man came to me from the Red Green Show, a show about men (mis)behaving in particularly man-ish ways, but in a supportive environment that recognizes what they’re doing, and gently pokes fun at it, in a way that makes it clear it’s not the only way to be.

Finding peers, finding mentors

I think my next step is finding patient peers and mentors. Frustratingly, I think this has to come from a restricted set: people who were raised as male in a society similar to my own. There’s too much to explain to almost anyone else; while writers like bell hooks, above, have a very clear idea of the situation, it feels like being talked at, whereas I need to talk with people who are on the same journey.

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Alex Feinman

Alex Feinman

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Obligate infovore. All posts made with 100% recycled electrons, sustainably crafted by artisanal artisans. He/him/his.