The Lost Art of Masculinity.

Via on Aug 10, 2010

Father and son surf lesson in Morro Bay, CA 12 of 12

In the heart of the divorce boom (starting in the ‘60s, peaking in the ‘70s) a generation of women ended up parenting (mostly) solo, and a generation of boys ended up being raised (mostly) without a positive father figure, if they had one at all.

Maybe it was partially a reaction to “women’s lib” that led men to feel less-than-needed. And maybe it was the grey flannel rebellion, personified by the whining tone of the dissatisfaction of the Playboy Men of the ‘50s, that led women to feel fed up enough to stand up and say, “To hell with this!”

How far back this winding battle for self-actualization as war-of-the-sexes goes is a question that can’t be answered. But irrefutably, while entirely necessary, the attempt towards a leveling of the playing field has resulted in some serious casualties.

In the absence of a paternal figure, an inadvertent, angry, faux matriarchy emerged; one that was bound by the confines of the walls of the home, because outside of the home all the old rules still applied.

But in the home, woman ruled. Boys (and girls) grew up with women, angry women, women who were (righteously) angry at men, as the alpha and omega of their young lives. The mother became the sole ruler of the world that is childhood.

A generation of men really did fuck up. They left, fucked around, used women and dumped them. Fathers bailed, leaving an abscess as often as an absence.

And the absence of men, of good men, of real men, of responsible men, left a nasty taste not only in the mouths of overwhelmed mothers, but of boys raised in a world of righteously angry women.

This group of boys would grow into men. Men who still had a bad taste in their mouths. A bad taste about men. Which is hard to live with; especially if you’re a man.

For these reasons and more, a generation (or three) of sensitive and careful men have had to struggle to reclaim their man-parts. And the women of that same generation have had to cultivate the ability to trust men who, themselves, don’t trust men.

The struggle goes on.

As women have defined and redefined feminism, femininity, the feminine, men have seemingly struggled to keep their heads above water in the shifting tides of what it means to find equality. We’ve all had to learn that equal does not mean the same, that sharing responsibility and control means both men and women can be strong and vulnerable, and that there are things – some perhaps genetic, but most almost certainly social conditioning – that women want, and things that men need to step up to.

Vive la différence!

These desired things have come as a surprise to a generation of women who were raised with slogans like, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” batted around. But under the stratum of fear and distrust lies a substrata of desire.

A desire to be desired. A desire to be seduced. A desire to be taken care of.  A desire to be matched and met. And, most surprisingly, a desire to be stood up to, while being stood up with and stood up for.

The Lost Art of Strength

Women want strong men. I’m not talking about a man who can bench press their own weight, I’m talking about men who are not afraid to say yes, and not afraid to say no. I’m talking about men who aren’t afraid to take control of the wheel when the boat is drifting off course.

Strength comes in many forms. And the kind of strength a woman is looking for in a man is rarely, if ever, showy or flashy. That sort of display is more often insecurity masquerading as strength. Yet, most women aren’t looking for the “strong, silent type,” either.

There’s a ground between aloof and overbearing. That’s where most women want to see a man standing. Better yet, it’s where she wants to see a man walking toward her from.

Women are tired of men who are scared to be men. They’re tired of playing mommy.

When a woman says, “You decide!”, she’s most likely not trying to trick a guy. She’s requesting that he make the decision at hand. Too often men of generations X and Y (and some late boomers) would rather say, “No honey, it’s okay. You decide.” In many cases this dynamic leads to the woman feeling like she needs to take responsibility for everything, and the man feeling disempowered. So if you’re a man, next time a woman says, “No, really, you decide!” just do it.

Once a guy gets the hang of that, he may even graduate to the level of being able to take the reins without first receiving permission.

That’s the lost art of strength.

The Lost Art of Chivalry

There was a time not long ago that a man opening a door for a woman may have been met with scorn. For most of us, those days are over.

News flash; it’s safe to offer to pay the check. Offer to take her coat for her. Offer to walk her to her car – not to cash in on a kiss, but just to make sure she’s safe. The kiss may just come naturally as an expression of gratitude.

Furthermore, a man shouldn’t feel afraid to protect a woman’s honor. There’s nothing as sexy as a man speaking up to defend a girl’s reputation.

Whether it’s a stranger, a catty bitch at a party, guy friends, or The Mom who’s speaking ill of the object of a man’s desire, he should decide carefully whose side to take. You can bet that the object of admiration will notice when the chivalrous man admiringly corrects someone’s misconceptions about her personality, attributes, or intents. Not only will she notice it, she’ll remember it fondly.

This attitude should not be abandoned once a man is safely ensconced in a relationship. These proper niceties will go a long way in making a woman feel safe, taken care of, adored. And all of these things are likely to lead to a sense of more stability and more freedom of expression and actualization in any relationship.

The gallantry of a fully expressed man is without compare, and that fully expressed masculinity becomes attractive rather than threatening when a woman knows that her man would not only lay his coat over a puddle for her, or raise his voice to defend her, but that he’d put his body in front of hers to protect her.

The Lost Art of Romance

There is no study that can prove whether men or women are more romantic, but I know very few women who feel that their man is too romantic. Besides, for most of us, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing!

A woman is likely to do a million little things a day to take care of her man. They may be things he doesn’t even notice. She’ll offer subtle romantic gestures like reaching out for his hand when walking side by side. Touching his neck while he drives. Stroking his arm gently while engaged in conversation.

It’s just plain courtesy for a man to offer his lover the same. When he pays attention to her, she notices. If he strokes her, she’s likely to purr.

But it’s the larger gestures that make most women melt; a candle-lit bath drawn for her without request. A massage without the expectation of return. A gift offered for no particular reason. A public display of affection. A surprise romantic celebration of a day that’s special to her.

Needless to say, some of these may be scary to try to pull off. But everyone, male and female alike, wants to be treated like the most important thing on earth every once in a while.

We all want to be someone’s everything. More over, we all want the one who is everything to us to show us that we are everything to them.

Reclaiming Masculinity

There’s more and more being written about the divine masculine and the divine feminine. There’s been plenty written about the wounded woman. There’s little to nothing being written about the wounded man.

It’s time for men to claim their wounds, and in claiming them, start healing themselves into wholeness.  I’m not your mama, but as a friend let me entreat you to take this advice seriously.

Many women are realizing that they want to be with men who are proud to be men. So guys, stand up, hold your head high, own those man-parts, and walk forward into the equal-but-different future of a world beyond the sex and gender wars.

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About Lasara Allen

Lasara is wife to her true love, and mother to two amazing young women. She’s also a best-selling author, an educator, and an activist. Lasara’s first book, the bestselling Sexy Witch (nonfiction, Llewellyn Worldwide), was published in 2005 under the name LaSara FireFox. As of 3/6/2012, after a coaching sabbatical, Lasara has openings for three three-week, individual, personally tailored coaching and mentoring programs. She also has slots in a cohort-model group coaching program available for a limited amount of time. Lasara is available for one-session commitments as well. Make whatever commitment feels best for you. Lasara offers individual coaching on topics such as; * Mental and Physical Health and Wellness - accepting your diagnosis (or that of a loved one) - learning to live with awareness of strengths and vulnerabilities - Learning to live gracefully within your spectrum of the possible * Mindful Relationships - self as primary partner - loving partnerships, friendships and connections - marriages - parenting - family * Spiritual Contemplation and Alignment - Entering into and committing to your spiritual inquiry - Learning to listen to listen for and hear the divine in your life - Inquiring into the role that faith may play in informing your path - The role of meditation, contemplation, and prayer in your practice For more information and endorsements, visit: http://lasaraallen.com/about-lasara/coaching-services/

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187 Responses to “The Lost Art of Masculinity.”

  1. Mark says:

    "But everyone, male and female alike, wants to be treated like the most important thing on earth every once in a while.
    We all want to be someone’s everything. More over, we all want the one who is everything to us to show us that we are everything to them."

    STRONGLY disagree.
    can you envision a sane man who occasionally wants to be treated like the "most important thing on earth" !?
    would you ever trust and respect a man for whom his woman is his "everything"?

  2. Scott says:

    There are some valid points in this article. Unfortunately, for some of us men, it's too late to reclaim our masculinity, meet a romantic partner, or experience a rewarding personal life. At a certain age, it's just too late. And don't anyone reply with BS by saying "it's never too late," or I'll be really pissed off.

  3. LasaraAllen says:

    I wasn't just talking about genitals, Thaddeus! There are many more "man-parts" than just those. :-)

    I'll see if our local library carries the book you recommend.

    -Lasara http://www.lasaraallen.com/

  4. LasaraAllen says:

    Thanks, my friend! Paragraph three of your response is a point well taken. I was just trying to help fellas get chicks. (JUST KIDDING!) I like your point better then my own. And, I appreciate your appreciation for my bringing it to the table.

    And yes, artofmanliness is a VERY great site.

    Thanks again, Blake.

  5. Blake says:

    Be your own man!*

    *female supervision required

    And I appreciate your appreciation of my appreciation.

  6. LasaraAllen says:

    via fb:
    Cat – I understand your frustration with my position – or am I reading it wrong? Irony aside, it is indeed a confusing topic for all of us. I just tossed my opinion out there. Write your own! I'm sure elephant will publish it.

  7. LasaraAllen says:

    Stereotyping is something we all do. It's not always right, but it is a survival technique. Without some filters we'd be too overwhelmed to live. But yes, choice and action (listening, responding appropriately, etc.) are what makes life what we want it to be.

    I got a good man after realizing I was wounded, healing myself up, and recognizing what I wanted and needed from my man.

    And I agree with you about neither men nor women holding the market on fucked-upedness.

  8. Al Polito says:

    @Corvus,
    True and not true. True insofar as the veterans are concerned. But I think LaSara is also referring to men who came of age after the Vietnam war. Men in their 50s today constitute one such generation. Old enough to have grandchildren, but not old enough to have fought in SE Asia.

    Other private wars–especially overuse of drugs, alcohol, and other addictive things–have diverted many men (and women) from their responsibilities. Big problems always have myriad complex causes.

  9. LasaraAllen says:

    Thanks, Al. Once again, totally on target.

  10. I explain the somewhat tongue-in-cheek nature of "conspiracy" in chapter 1…

    Your "You and Me" issue is one of Subject and Object, not polarity, which makes all the difference when we're allocating values and characteristics to the men and women.

  11. Kiwi Yogi says:

    This experience with Islam sounds fascinating, Lasara. Have you written about it somewhere?

  12. Well, you can't please all of the people all of the time. I sometimes get complaints about not going into sufficient depth, and that pages have historically been too long.

    If folks find it too complex, then it's obviously not for them. I wish you well on you Deida-inspired journey. However, the truth is out there for anyone who chooses not to be spoon-fed allegedly "clear" answers.

  13. LasaraAllen says:

    Chapter 3 was interesting. I will think more on your work.

    I give you the subject/object point. As far as polarity goes, I'm not sure what I think about the psychodynamics of it all, nor the physical or metaphysical aspects. I'm open-minded, though. And five years ago you would never have seen this article come from me.

    However, there is a "new" masculinity to be found, as well as a new humanity.

    To quote Rumi, "Out beyond our ideas of right and wrong, there is a field. I will meet you there."

  14. Kiwi Yogi says:

    I read your work and attempt to engage with you about it, but instead you brush me off in a pugnacious and condescending way. That says a lot about your masculinity.

  15. Sorry, you seemed to be complaining more about the style of the site and the writing than the content.

  16. In fact I think think Cat Dubh pointed out some real incongruence in your position, not frustration.

  17. LasaraAllen says:

    Thank you for your input. As Waylon (ed. here at elephant) says, would love to see an article from you on the topic. Way is sure to publish it.

  18. LasaraAllen says:

    Divorce can be good or bad for women, men, or children. It all depends on the circumstances involved. Sooner or later there will be studies done that begin showing proof of the fact that divorce, when done well, may have a positive effect on family structure, and the well-being of the children (and women and men) involved.
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?stor

  19. LasaraAllen says:

    Feel free to call me (or any woman in your life) on anything. That's sort of the point I'm making here.

  20. LasaraAllen says:

    via fb:
    William Price:
    Love and manliness is self-respect. More Rob Brezsny and a lot less Hemingway. Sewing one's balls back on, is about serving the Goddess, not serving the false male ego. The individual male and our society at large, need to wake up to that.Thank you, both for your insights. And "putting one's coat in the puddle", is a metaphor for putting your body and heart on the line, for truth and beauty, IMO. Loved the article Lasara.

  21. LasaraAllen says:

    As I have said in a few responses, there are many more "man parts" than just one's genitals.

    And yes, vulnerability can also be a beautiful strength.

  22. LasaraAllen says:

    via fb:
    William Price
    All true, especially the part about beingness. Way beyond the body, but body, mind, and spirit must be integrated. That integration of feelings, or heart, mind, body and spirit is what I call manliness. Thank you both, again.

  23. LasaraAllen says:

    Thank you for your response, Amber! Excellent points.

  24. LasaraAllen says:

    I'm very interested in your work. My man and I have had our eye on the ManKind Project. Glad to know you!

    Sorry it took me a bit to reply – but I don't get alerted when new comments who up on old articles. Feel free to find me on facebook, and stay in touch that way!

  25. LasaraAllen says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, Mark. Good stuff. I agree with a great bit of it. This part though;

    "So a women reaches out for our hand, or touches our neck while driving. While we should: 1. draw a bath for you 2. give a massage(I give them, professional table too, and give them well, it's a VERY physically demanding skill to do it right) 3. A gift 4. A public display of affection …stay with me, not done yet! 5. A surprise romantic celebration! Seems like a fair trade to me. Like I said, a ramble. "

    I was writing about men, not about women.

    If you want to write a counter point – and I think you should! – Waylon, the editor here at ele, would surely publish it.

    Thanks for reading, and even more so, thanks for weighing in.

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