A Conversation about Guys from a Guy (2)

Since I can remember there are three subject that when I talked about , that unleashed an unimaginable amount of chastisement and extreme reactions. I will list them for you here, and the responses I got 95% of the time:

  1. The Israel Palestine conflict / If you don’t agree with what Israel does you are anti-Semitic
  2. The Whole Black Experience in America / You have it better than during slavery, your ungrateful and lazy
  3. Talking about the struggles of men nowadays / Men have destroyed the world for centuries, your struggles don’t compare to that of womyn*
*according to a feminist friend of mine, women is spelt  differently (womyn) to emphasis the differences between the sexes.

The issue I have with every movement,(bowel movements excluded) well from what I have seen, is that after focusing so much on the differentiating the follower from those who would oppose them there is never a plan to integrate the various factions, to unify them as much as possible. From what I have read about the different waves of the feminine movement I have never seen any attempt to integrate men or other other perspectives. I feel that both sides at some point have to come together and put it all on the table like I did on a date once, actually that’s how I test to see if the tables are clean; any itchy or burning sensation more than usual tells me the table isn’t clean enough.

A lot of my friends (Caribbean-Black & Hispanic) grew up old school, which for us meant:

  1. No time outs
  2. Behavioural modification through verbal abuse and leather belt savagery .
  3. Living in apt buildings with hundred of people a handful of languages being spoken.
  4. Had to man-up real quick because of living in really rough neighbourhood and frequent sightings of the NYPD

I think that my approach to masculinity was very different than a lot of my friends from prep school (who were mostly Caucasian), because of my Haitian heritage. I have seen that among my friends and acquaintances from post colonial or third world nations  issues like body dismorphia, and gender identity for instance are not as prevalent as in the US and Western Europe. Of course I am basing this on a limited subset of people and my own personal observations.Nevertheless I felt that this quote would be a bit apropos

In the late twentieth century we face a crisis in masculine identity of vast proportion. Increasingly, observers of the contemporary science – sociologist, anthropologists, and depth psychologists – are discovering the devastating dimensions of this phenomenon, which affects each of us personally as  much as it affects our society as a whole. Why is there so much gender confusion today, at least in the United States and Western Europe? it seems increasingly difficult to point to anything like either a masculine or a feminine essence.

-Robert Moore PhDKing, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine

Ok Getting Right into it

I thought I would put out another Iron John Quote, that is related and pick up this thread later. This book was an interesting read but while I have seen a lot of what Bly depicts in my daily life, there are added dimension that of course he cannot comment on since he hasn’t experienced. I think post-colonial literature offers a real interesting counter image about masculinity and femininity. I think personally judging from the multicultural friends I have this issue has many deeper dimensions. Anyway here is the quote

bobbyBlyDuring the fifties, for example, the American character appeared with some consistency that became a model of manhood adopted by many men: the Fifties male. He got to work early, laboured responsibly, supported his wife and children and admired discipline. Reagan is a sort of mummified version of this dogged type. This sort of man didn’t see women’s souls well, but he appreciated their bodies; and his view of culture and America’s part in it was boyish and optimistic. Many of his qualities were strong and positive, but underneath the charm and bluff there was, and there remains, much isolation, deprivation, and passivity. Unless he has an enemy, he isn’t sure that he is alive. The Fifties man was supposed to like football, be aggressive, stick up for the United States, never cry, and always provide…. During the sixties, another sort of man appeared. The waste and violence of the Vietnam war made men question whether they knew what an adult male really was. If manhood meant Vietnam, did they want any part of it? Meanwhile, the feminist movement encouraged men to actually look at women, forcing them to become conscious of concerns and sufferings that the Fifties male laboured to avoid.

There’s something wonderful about this development – I mean the practice of men welcoming their own ‘feminine’ consciousness and nurturing it – this is important – and yet I have the sense that there is something wrong. The male in the past twenty years has become more thoughtful, more gentle. But by this process he has not become more free. He’s a nice boy who pleases not only his mother but also the young woman he is living with…. but many of these men are not happy. You quickly notice the lack of energy in them. They are life-preserving but not exactly life-giving. Ironically, you often see these men with strong women who positively radiate energy. Here we have a finely tuned young man, ecologically superior to his father, sympathetic to the whole harmony of the universe, yet he himself has little vitality to offer…”



  1. Hey Dave. Good to hear from you again. 🙂

    This last paragraph really strikes a cord with me, and one sentence in particular. “There’s something wonderful about this development-I mean the process of men welcoming their own ‘feminine’ consciousness and nurturing it…”

    Why is a man who is gentle, passive, quiet, nonaggressive, and caring “feminine”? Does he really have more of a “female” side if he allows himself to cry over normally upsetting things? If he wants to be nurturing…work with children, run a spa, help the elderly, become a nurse…has he forsaken his entire masculinity for his “womanly” aspects?

    I’d say no. I think that the men of whom Bly speaks…the ones who are thoughtful and gentle, but not free…that they are being told they are no longer a man. If not by more burly/aggressive men, then by societal expectations and the media. Perhaps even women who claim to like sensitive men, then punt them away in disgust when they show normal human reactions to fear/sadness.

    I remember when one of my friends was watching a movie with me at the theater. His father had recently died, and there was a very touching goodbye/death between the father and son in the movie. My friend started crying…not all out sobbing, but I saw the tears on his cheeks before he covered his face. I simply held/stroked his hand until he stopped and we resumed watching the film. About a week later he brought it up…uncomfortably apologizing to me for being “so unmanly and weak in public.” He acted like I should be disgusted with him for it. Obviously I wasn’t, because I know that people have emotions. I mean, come on now. Duh.

    Why are we making our menfolk afraid to be human? Why is aggression, strength, bravery, will, and lack of outward emotion “Male”? Why is passivity, diplomacy, caring, love and softness “Female”? My opinion is that they are not inherently sex linked traits (unlike true biological ones that are).

    So many things that others say are decidedly Woman or Man, are things I’d label as simply being Human.


    • I have read your response a few times and I will try to respond as best as I can. But first before all that.

      How are ya, it’s nice to see you and be seen too of course. How’s the weekend 😀

      Okie dokie

      Biologically there are distinct differences between men and women. I think it should follow that in the psyches of both men and women there should be differences as well. Within the male and female psyche there are different energies manifesting themselves at different time during the course of one’s life. It is believed based off some scientific cross cultural studies that “the trajectory of personal development is radically different for men and women and that has to do with our biological hard-wiring.” [Reclaimed Powers: Toward a New Psychology of Men and Women in Later Life by David Guttman] The issue I would imagine would be that as a whole we are not in touch with the happenings of the subsconcious in a way that’s more than just information gleaned from books. It is not as alive and real for us in modern timese as it had been for human beings for millennia. Why that is how it is is another story but (That last sentence should be called Heideggars nightmare) I think this is in part due to the decline of Initiation rituals that served to harmonize the sociological, psychology, and personal changes of a person. Without the initiation, without that harmony between the psychological, sociological, personal etc its hard to be self-aware. Jung makes a really good point in The Undiscovered Self about self Knowledge. Lemme get the book I don’t want to mess up the quote:

      Anyone who has any ego-consciousness at all takes it for granted that he knows himself. But the ego knows only its own contents, not the unconscious and its contents. People measure their self-knowledge by what the average person in their social environment knows of himself, but not by the real psychic facts which are for the most part hidden from them. In this respect the psyche behaves like the body, of whose physiological and anatomical structure the average person knows very little too. Although he/she lives in it and with wit, most of it is totally unknown to the layman, and special scientific knowledge is needed to acquaint consciousness with what is known of the body, not to speak of all that is not known, which also exists.

      I think it is one thing to read about the process of individuation and its different stages, it’s another thing to recognize them in our lives and to be able to consciously take part in what’s going on. If I am not self-aware i.e if I dont have an experiential knowledge of my self it is easy to be lead into supporting some idol of what I should be. It is easier to identify with ones ego-consciousness at the exclusion of the psyche etc. I think that society doesn’t put us in the proper orientation so that we can grow in self awarenes.

      So then

      1_ Why is a man who is gentle, passive, quiet, nonaggressive, and caring “feminine”? Does he really have more of a “female” side if he allows himself to cry over normally upsetting things? If he wants to be nurturing…work with children, run a spa, help the elderly, become a nurse…has he forsaken his entire masculinity for his “womanly” aspects?

      I think language is a barrier. I would say that there is the denotation of gentle – mild in temperament or behavior; kind or tender and then there is how gentleness is expressed through the archetypes (Primordial, structural elements of the human psyche) – that empower the male psyche and the female psyche. If the above assertion is correct that the male and female psyche are different than I would imagine that gentleness as expressed through the male and female pyches should be distinct from one another. I think our behavior/action bear the mark of whats going on in our psyche this leads me to believe that acts in an of themselves are not masculine or feminine, the energy we imbibe them with when we do them will determine whether they are perceived as masculine or feminine. Because a dude wants to be a nurse, or cries, or wear pink doesn’t mean he has a more feminine side.

      I looked over this a few times I hope this made sense and wasnt more of my incoherent babbling



      • Before I reply, I need to know two definitions from you…because language IS a barrier.

        First, Psyche: are you defining it using cognitive psychology, psychoanalysis, or Plato’s Phaedo? I’m assuming you’re equating Psyche to Mind, but I want to make sure.

        Second, can you tell me what you mean by “energy” in your response?

        Third, my weekend is going ok. Today is usually my day off, but we have a Manager meeting *and* a Staff meeting, so…yeah. Fun. 😛


  2. “The issue I have with every movement,(bowel movements excluded) well from what I have seen, is that after focusing so much on the differentiating the follower from those who would oppose them there is never a plan to integrate the various factions, to unify them as much as possible.”

    That sentence is brilliant, man, and I agree fully. All ‘movements’ do is fight for the opposite extreme. No one ever wants to find a balance.

    My wife and I were talking about this the other day, and we both agree fully with everything you said above.


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