There is a lot of talk about how women face a multitude of problems that men do not (something that is still true, even in most developed countries). In the past 100 years, feminist movements of many different stripes have made great progress on everything from legal and economic equality to the personal empowerment of women themselves.
One unintended side-effect of all this attention given to women is that many men are feeling ignored or invisible AS MEN. They feel their manhood is not appreciated anymore – that, in fact, it is considered a liability! There has been a growing resentment and backlash against feminism and women’s empowerment as a result – as though women’s empowerment has disempowered men – when the problem really has to do with men feeling as though, now that things have changed and shifted so much, they have no place to contribute to society as “men.”
Instead of trying to shoot down feminism, I believe men should actually copy the consciousness-raising aspects of feminism. The negativity and despair often expressed on the male side of this debate reflect a lack of positive alternatives offered to men when they are told “don’t be this” and “don’t be that.”
Here below is a list of 15 positive attributes that I would like to see in my fellow men, which I try to cultivate in myself as a man. I wrote this as a manifesto, envisioning myself as part of a group of men who constantly work on themselves in these key ways – thus I use the “we” pronoun.
- We are solid, strong men – strong enough also to openly share our emotions, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses.
- Regardless of whether we choose to lead or follow in a given situation, we have a firm grasp of both sides of the spectrum, and a respect and empathy for our partners in interaction.
- We are PATIENT. We do not rush things unnecessarily; nor do we allow ourselves to be rushed by others.
- We do not need “game” to satisfy ourselves or others. However, we are always open to learning new SKILLS for enhancing our interactions with others.
- We are ALWAYS LISTENING. We understand that without listening, there is no point to human interaction. We understand that listening is one of those things that one can never get too good at. It’s a lifetime skill that you can always refine.
- When differences arise, we choose the road of UNDERSTANDING and EMPATHY over debate and discord. Even if it is impossible in a given moment to empathize with somebody… still, we strive as much as possible to ask questions, to take on the other’s point of view, so that we may be in a better position to facilitate communication and avoid destructive conflict.
- We LOOK OUT FOR OTHERS. We don’t take advantage of situations that will not end well for those we interact with.
- We are SECURE in our being. We do not need to threaten others with our strength to show that we are strong. In fact we use our strength to DISPERSE threatening energy, so that people around us can feel this strength in a safe, nonthreatening way, and thus become less bound themselves to fear and threat.
- We know that the ability to heal is a hundred times less coveted than the ability to destroy, yet a million times more valuable and sorely needed on this Earth. Thus we strive to be HEALERS.
- We are POSITIVE thinkers. In every situation, be it a celebration or a hardship, we draw out the things we can LEARN, and how we can use such events in our lives to move FORWARD and GROW, and assist others to do the same.
- We REFUSE to be prisoners to the EITHER-OR mindset. With patient reasoning and critical thought, there’s always a way out of the “Sucker’s Choice” between just two polar opposites. The world is not black and white.
- We do not try to control others. We know that, no matter who you are, the only person you can have any control over is yourself. And so…
- We do not let ourselves be run by our emotions or cravings. On the occasions that this is not completely possible, we do our best to be honest about what’s bothering us and alert those around us so that they may understand.
- We are NOT AFRAID to be wrong, and to admit that we are wrong. It’s good to learn something new – even if someone else had to teach us! :-)
- IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT US – and thank goodness for that! The world is much more interesting when our egos do not dominate the energy around us.
I do believe that men are very much necessary and useful to society. As a man myself, I have seen how my masculine power touches others, and have found my place in society, in harmony with female empowerment instead of against it. If you like what I’ve written here, please spread it around.