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. Sandy Conley says:

    Oh, that is beautiful! I can't add anything to it. Thank you!

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed. Please share it with your friends!
      peace and passion,

      -Lasara http://www.lasaraallen.com

    • Here Is Apassionéa says:

      As a man who is a romantic, strong, and a "gentleman," I find this article provocative yet revolting. The author does not explain what it was about feminism that alienated men, nor does she offer any facts to support it. The president of the United States was raised without a father and does not fit the author's bill. Why not? For me, the photo encapsulates the total distortion of female expectations of males: how many white women marry black men or would consider it? Why did the author not use a photo of a black woman with a white man? Why are men accountable for the loss of chivalry, etc.? I do not think a woman can say she is a feminist if she expects a man to pay for dinner. For example: The author could write, "A woman should expect her partner, male or female, to show his/her love by doing romantic things like taking him/her out to dinner…. the same way a male should expect his partner to do the same." I would really love for someone to explain how a feminist can justify getting a free meal because one is female. I want to think that chivalry is cute and it is easy to want to be the "bread winner"…. but sexism is sexism. I would love to hear some feedback from women and men about this… very important issue. By the way, my mother and father are happily married… and my mother is more educated and equally successful, if not more, than my dad.

  2. e.b. sarver says:

    Hi Lasara,

    I like the article, and wanted to give a link for readers interested in more like the above. There's a decent article about men and shame available here: http://mensightmagazine.com/Library/shameshenk.ht… I think it relates very much to what you're writing about in your article.

    Evan

  3. Kara Noel says:

    I wonder what Camille Paglia is doin tonight.

  4. Be careful what you wish for! Despite the good intentions, seeking “the lost art of this” and “reclaiming that” has a nasty habit of replicating old problems rather than opening up the new horizons of possibility you rightly seek.

    You can read my take at The Masculinity Conspiracy: http://masculinityconspiracy.com

  5. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Via fb:
    KrisEllen Sensualist: beautiful dearheart, thank you.

  6. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Via fb:
    Achilles Poloynis: Once again your writing strikes a chord. I hoe to have a chance to write a thoughtful response to your article on masculinity

  7. Carol Horton Carol Horton says:

    I think that men need to take the lead not so much in reclaiming masculinity – as the old models won't work – but creating a new realization of masculinity that's relevant to and powerful in our time. The more that women are supporting them in this, the better it will be.

    As the mother of two boys, I think about related issues a lot. Boys generally do much worse in school than girls, and colleges are having a very time recruiting enough males. We really need to turn our collective attention to the healthy empowerment of males. The days of believing that male empowerment is necessarily a bad thing need to end – but we need to find a new paradigm.

  8. Kiwi Yogi says:

    In my view yin and yang are always balanced. If the man leaves the family then the woman takes on masculine qualities like independence, authority, control etc, thus maintaining the balance.

    So if a woman wants her man to be more masculine then she should be more yin and automatically he will become more yang. As a man I guarantee you that this works – this balance is always there. If I be more yang (genuinely, not just superficially), then in front of my eyes women become more yin. It is fascinating to watch.

    If a woman says she is sick of mommying her man, she is probably expressing a masculine kind of mommying – taking control, making decisions, being in charge… Same solution. Tip the balance one way and the other side rises automatically.

    Personally, I was cured of the unnatural PC nonsense that I was raised on by reading The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida.

    • FWIW, I outline the basic problems with Deida here: http://masculinityconspiracy.com/book-chapters/ch

      • Kiwi Yogi says:

        I just read your chapter 3. Are you saying that duality is not a self-evident fact of nature?

        I'm not sure what you criticism is of Deida. Are you saying that Deida is presenting some fixed ideal of what a man should be?

        • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

          @Kiwi, I agree with a lot of what you said. Although I think we can move beyond the work that Deida has done as men find their own individual and authentic expressions of self.

          This is an interesting debate. I'm going to sit back and watch the two of you sort it out for a while. I'll pitch in with my .02 as I feel inspired to.

          • I explicitly state answers to these questions in chapter 3.

          • Kiwi Yogi says:

            Just a friendly tip – I read a lot and enjoy this topic, but found your site and writing style difficult to read. Perhaps an editor would help in getting your message to an interested audience.

          • I often say this, but I would argue that it is the push to constantly reduce complex issues to bullet points and instant insights and being "easy to read" that has got us into our current mess. I have no desire to add to the ocean of simplistic (rather than simple) content out there.

            I don’t say this as a snipe, but maybe it would be more useful for you to meet the content than for the content to meet you? Maybe your not being interested in stretching beyond the usual writing demonstrates how you are conditioned into the masculinity conspiracy which requires people to take a simplistic stance in order to perpetuate itself?

            BTW, I make my living as an editor: all my stylistic choices are conscious ;)

  9. happydog1960 says:

    I thought this was some great, common-sense thinking. Thanks for writing this.

  10. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Via fb:
    Bruce L. Anderson:
    From a man's view, strong women make good partners, however it is human nature that once a person has privilege then they are usually reluctant to give it up.

    I remember when the feminist movement was in full swing aand holding a door open …for a woman had a 50/50 chance of distain or gratitude. I was taught by my father that you hold a door open for women to honor you mother. Simple but not bad.

    Most men try to figure out "the rules" but if the rules change and a man is left with little recourse.

    When a man wants to take a stand in a relationship and a woman says no, the masculine thing to do (if you are not a yeller or hitter) is to leave. It is the only way left to emphasize an intolerable situation. I am not refering to a temper tantrum but failure to come together as partners.

    Most men I know will climb the moutains and slay the dragons for their women, as long as they feel safe when they are at home, ( and yes they will defend the home) but a man has to sleep sometime and knowing he is safe at home with his woman is important.

    The feminist movement didn't work to find ways for men and women to redefine roles together, but went to battle. Many men just decided to go back into there caves and hunt and it will take alot to entice them out.

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      via fb:
      Lasára Allen:
      Bruce,

      I agree with much of what you said.

      Although,

      1. I do not think women have to "give up" "privilege" to come into a relationship of different-but-equal, and make the space for a man to stand up to, with, and for her.

      And, 2. I think there is a third option in the hit or leave (fight or flight) department – work it out! Yes, it may take some clashing of ideas of gnashing of teeth, but all things worth winning are worth fighting for.

      The rules are ALWAYS changing. All I'm asking (or recommending) is that men take an active role in how they change at this point in time. The door-mat days are over. Let's all make an agreement, male or female, not to use each other as one!

    • solfulsoul says:

      Sex is war. Love is Peace. As a fellow man, how thoughtful of you. What I think is most interesting is how we can, in some sense, flex, now. When some time ago men only knew how to be men and women only women, now we understand what masculinity and femininity or submission and domination mean in a new light.

  11. U. Idiot says:

    When a woman says, “You decide!”, it's already too late to be a man.

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      U. Idiot (cute, clever, really!)

      I disagree. It's never too late to man up!

      • Sirious Spaid says:

        Well, actually you're both right on this rather well encapsulated example of where disagreement between couples especially gets horribly relationally mangled:

        Sir Idiot's–{man, you're crackin' me up!}–point, I'm sure is, that at such times / point in a relationship, this does all-too-often indicate that "A. Woman" has in fact given up not only on the situation but is already 'taking hostages' as some of us guys have observed, much to our horror and chagrin. & then we never get so much as a ransom note afterword. Some serious amputation of her respect for him has just occurred and they'd better get their relationship to therapeutic triage, a.s.a.p. or there may never be much hope of rehabilitation. Uh, yes, I do speak from some rather horrendous experience. Only in my case, my personal masculinity wasn't so much the real issue as simply not being able to 'human up' under the greatly misunderstood 'emotive' disability of 'chronic depression'–anxiety symptoms of which had little to do with my gender/personal identity, yet was somehow often interpolated into a question of my 'manliness' by an x-girlfriend who was rather unfortunately profoundly emotionally confused at times of poorly coped-with stress about any (inconvenient for her) differentiations between masculine roles in general. (E.g. sibling, father, friend, mentor, lover–the whole ball of 'whacks' shall we say? + i.e. her OWN struggles with the horrendous failure of her highly emotionally abusive, bi-polar disordered father.) = her hyper-sensitized insecurities and paranoia hardly being her fault for the most part. However, very often extreme cases can throw sometimes blindingly obvious highlights on those inner-commonalities in all such situations.
        So, as the man says, in a specific relational situation–for most, given the still rather profound ignorance of the general population vis-a-vie the kinds of professional help which may be available, let alone sorting wheat from chafe on our bookstore and library 'self help' sections–MORE OFTEN THAN NAUGHT, when she reaches such a point, for most ordinary people, it's already a death-knell to the relationship. What she may well actually be (un)saying is that her confidence in him is lost, and she simply doesn't care anymore. Maybe she's 'daring' him to 'make her care' again–which means he damn-well better be ready for a trial by fire, in which the odds are profoundly most-often against him! & if he doesn't at least have the support of 'better men than he' through that, his life with her is bound to become a living hell before the relationship finally goes up in proverbial flames.
        In which case? He really had best start planning the most peaceful departure from the relationship he can possibly 'man up'. The problem here for him, is no matter how much he either can or is willing to stand up for what's right in the relationship, it will never and can never work–his being a man–for a heavily 'character armored' woman who is really, deep in the fortress around her heart, still mostly a girl herself. A relationship between a relatively 'regular guy' and the Amazon girl just isn't going to end in love, nor even mutual respect, unless he truely IS "…from Mars"! [chuckle--UGH, THAT HURT! ; ]

        Of course, the Lady Allen is also quite right, it is never too late to expand upon the breadth or depth of our own personal variation on our archetypal gender identity themes, nor to learn more about relating better to our compliments either–WHICH IS IN FACT A MOST PROFOUNDLY FUNDAMENTAL component of our own gender, that so-called 'opposite' gender which not merely contrasts our own but actually makes it worth bothering in the first place. ; ) Sir Idiot, I'm afraid, however it is very likely time for you to move on to finding that chronologically suitable, 'adult' female, who's genuinely interested in supporting someone who's making a real on-going effort to be 'that man', because, sadly the war-zone of these battles are strewn with at least as many female as male casualties–NEITHER of whom is really up for even simply just 'growing up'–for real, themselves. That's just unfortunately basic human-animal nature. If you want a chance to be 'the man' in a relationship, better make sure you're with someone who's equally committed to being a woman. & I wish you both a great deal of luck, sir.

        • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

          Good points. "sadly the war-zone of these battles are strewn with at least as many female as male casualties-" — too true.

          Let's all be human/e to and with one another!

  12. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    via fb:
    Al Polito:
    As usual, LaSara, you hit it out of the park. I have read some works dealing with the male wound. Robert Bly very powerfully brought this to our attention in 1990, and Robert A Johnson has also explored it with much eloquence.

    One issue men… have with the male wound is that we're taught specifically not to deal with wounds at all. The culture systematically abandons men to their woundedness. Look at the reluctance of the military to take care of men (and women, to be sure) who suffer PTSD from their tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. It's truly criminal.

  13. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Via fb:
    Kate Golson:
    This post was great. Many of the comments are worth a read as well. Screw the divorced chaos of the 70s! We ALL need to take our power back and create the truth in relating to each other that we know is possible if we just make it so.

  14. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Via fb:
    Mariah Brown Charbonneau:
    This is an amazing article – and so eloquently puts into words EXACTLY my thoughts. Beautiful!!! Thank you!

  15. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Via fb:
    Paul Druce:
    getting tired of the constant sexual in nature thumbnails in Elephant posts on FB. As much as I usually enjoy sex and the female form, it seems to lessen the point of ElephantJournal, which when pointed out to me by Bud Wilson, I admired for its eco and planet / civilisation saving outlook. sigh.

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      Via fb:
      Lasára Allen:
      Hey Paul – I was just trying to level the playing field with some hot man-flesh! :-) For reals tho, I hear you. And agree. But hey, it gets the hits.

      Did you read the article?

  16. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Via fb:
    S Conley:
    First, I want to say that I’m really happy this page feels like a safe enough space in which to have this debate. Other places I’ve been, it would quickly devolve into name-calling and nastiness. I’m glad I associate with people who have cooth.

    But second – while I do understand LaSara’s point about the lost generation of men who needed to re-learn how to be men,* that really isn’t the main point of the article. I see the point being the idea that when all the rules fell apart, we lost the ability to relate to each other effectively. Once upon a time, there were rules for everything – where and when a man could wear a hat, how to walk down the street with a woman, even stuff like who got out of an elevator first! It was all written up in books and enforced by social convention, and people who didn’t follow the conventions were ostracized. Then all that fell apart. Women started snapping at men who held doors for them that they weren’t that weak, thank you very much. Men were told that staring at women in miniskirts was sexist and they shouldn’t do it, and were made to feel like monsters if they were caught at it. And if a woman did want to be treated in an old-fashioned way, her “sisters” were liable to turn on her too. The rules really did go to Opposite Land for a while.

    Then it shifted again, and it’s still shifting. I think – I hope! – we are moving towards a model where people can feel safe relating to the opposite gender naturally. It’s been years since I’ve heard a man get snapped at for opening a door for a woman, and too, I’m just as likely to open a door for a man. Women can want to be protected; often men want to protect. That’s cool. It’s not anti-feminist…it’s not saying we’re not capable of taking care of ourselves should the need arise. It’s playing with the role; enjoying it rather than letting it drag us down and munch us up between its wheels. That’s what we have to avoid and not let it get the upper hand again. Gender roles evolved for a reason. Some of them may be irrelevant now, but we can still adapt them to suit ourselves. They should be things humans choose to do, not inescapable traps.

    I read a funny survey once. It looked at women born at different times and what they did in restaurant situations. Apparently women born between 1950 and 1960 will try to grab the check, when they are out for dinner with a man. Women who were born between 1960 and 1965 (me!) will pick up the check, waffle a bit about splitting it, and then let the man pay. Women born from 1965 on will let the man get it. That should be a clue for guys…we don’t know what we’re doing either. It’s all groping in the dark. But groping in the dark can be invasive and nasty, or it can be cuddly, fun and wonderful if we all have good intentions and trust each other. It’s a struggle but it’s something I really try hard to do, because the rewards are so well worth it.

    *The article she linked to about the “generation of men who fucked up” – that was my dad too. He was the wrong generation to be a hippie, but he’d been raised by his grandmother away from his father, and had no clue about what a father was supposed to be like. All the things dads are supposed to provide – fatherly advice, support, etc – I never got any of that. I wouldn’t have a clue how it would feel to receive any of that. And I imagine he wonders now why his grown kids pretty much ignore him…it’s not because we hate him, dislike him or are even angry with him; it’s just because we have no idea who he is or how to interact with him.

    • Kiwi Yogi says:

      >First, I want to say that I’m really happy this page feels like a safe enough space in which to have this debate. Other places I’ve been, it would quickly devolve into name-calling and nastiness. I’m glad I associate with people who have cooth.

      Yes, these comments reflect very well on you Lasara.

  17. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    via fb:
    Bruce L. Anderson
    I wholly agree though the privilege of men, which many men have given up, being told it was wrong and oppressive was held on to and is held onto still by some men. We tend to see them as archaic Cretans.
    However the privilege of women can be seen the same by men.

    I refer to the similar situation we see in politics of "all or Nothing"points of extremes, It is when efforts have been exhaust and no compromise is met that men walk; (I am not referring to a " I just got to get out of this situation" type of thing. I that case there probably was not much of a relationship to start with.) I think it goes with the gentlemanly training of withdrawing from the field of conflict if nothing can be gained as partners or as an individual. Everything changes and grows or declines, the choice is whether we are active participants or just fulfilling a societal role. There has to be a middle ground.

    When a partnership is good, it will have ruff points and good times. The point where it is vulnerable is absolutes whether realistic or unrealistic to the nature of each. That is where honesty comes in and even at best, fate can tip a partnership past the breaking point, and the chance of it not breaking is worth the effort to see it to the end if need be.

  18. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    "And really, all there is to do is learn from it, be grateful that we're alive to see another day, and endeavor to love better today. "

    Hear, hear!

  19. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    And, I will also cop to my amount of blame and indignation. We all have wounds, and I'm doing my best to own mine and heal through them. <3

  20. liz says:

    thanks lasara…what a great article! you put into words (quite well) some great solutions to a really common issue. thank you thank you thank you!

  21. John says:

    "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."

    Well, no, not a generation. Not even most of a generation. In 2007, 26% of children were in single-parent households, so almost three-quarters are not raised by solo women. In the 70s, the number raised by single parents was even lower. It's not helpful to universalize your own experience on others, and it's false to claim that the historical development of radical feminism is the result of men abandoning their families.

    • Sirious Spaid says:

      Dear John, though statistically correct, little doubt about the numbers of 2 parent house-holds, these numbers only account for quantity rather than any qualitative evaluation. If we consider what Mrs. Allen is saying even as 'merely' on the anecdotal level, or even in oranges-to-oranges 'presence in-spirit' point, I do believe anyone would be hard-pressed to prove convincingly otherwise. The only meaningful counter-point here which you've made to me, sir is simply this, likewise statistically speaking:

      That PERHAPS fewer than 33% of NON-absentee fathers are actually present and holding themselves accountable to their fatherly duties. Hardly heartening.

      = Which translates to:
      otherwise, it's hardly any great stretch of the imagination to believe that more than half of our fathers (according to the U.S. census, among other such insightful governmental resources?) are a.w.o.l. of their direct parental emotional involvement in the lives of their offspring. Far from incredible.

      Of course food+shelter are basic givens-
      -but as 'The Good Book' sayeth, "Man does not live on bread and water alone". So much the less so for children.

      & it simply cannot be considered a mere pop-cultural fad {for the last 4-6 generations since the industrial revolution at least} that there are indeed precious few who cannot personally relate to the image of that tired, irritable and eventually worn-down+out father figure who either lounges in the living-room with his newspaper and evening t.v. spending more hours per week devoted to his favorite sports teem than interacting with his allegedly 'loved' children. & that's of course assuming he doesn't also either have a job which includes frequent travel, or just long commutes–nor is highly active in his own community in his so-called 'spare time' either.

      Simple sad fact of the matter is that this image we have of that (part-time) 'present in body', 'in-absentia' spirit which probably the majority of U.S. families rather disheartenedly–if not angrily–refer to as "Dad" can scarcely be seen as what any might be tempted to believe is only a manifestation of 'pejorativized' mass-hysteria. These sadly fallen-from-grace figures must be almost omnipresent, or people would simply change the channel as it were.

      Also, in a recent survey by the U.S. National Institute of Health, 1 out of 4 U.S. in over 10 thousand participants {I believe it was} reported having no–that's zero–friends. Meanwhile, also a recent A.M.A. study has found that 60% of Americans had what they deemed to be failing scores on their basic empathy test, which is down significantly from over 60% passing a generation ago {i.e. in the early '90s}. Now we can attribute these last to a certain amount of immigration of refugees from the world 'round–perhaps, especially, Mexican N.A.F.T.A. 'refugees'–however, one way or another, we're shoulder to shoulder with who ever these 'failed' are, and to believe it doesn't, won't or has not already 'affected' our society with considerably nasty consequences for everyone's 'familiar' well being is merely wishful thinking, I'm personally assured everyday from where I live.

      Yes this is a crisis, John.
      Sooner we stop kidding ourselves it isn't, the sooner we might be able to save something worth saving.
      Good Knight, and good luck, sir.

      • Sirious Spaid says:

        Re: "PERHAPS fewer than 33% of NON-absentee fathers are actually present and holding themselves accountable to their fatherly duties."

        Excuse me, correction:
        "PERHAPS fewer than 33% of NON-absentee fathers [though] actually present, are holding themselves NO MORE accountable…"

        (If there's an edit button hiding around here somewhere, I haven't found it! Sorry for the confusion.)

  22. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    via fb:
    Bob Whelan:
    An insightful article that is spot on. In my lifetime I have watched men become bimbos as women have become stronger. Instead I had hoped that we both would evolve to become empowered and aware so that we could celebrate our differences. Masculinity has been redefined as some shallow machismo that is an adolescent view of maleness. This has resulted from men fleeing their hearts and responsibilities leaving boys to teach boys what it is to be a man. It is to confuse strength with power as a force rather than power to love and protect. And to develop that power in order to better love and protect. Thank you for the encouragement and support to value male energy.

  23. Kara Noel says:

    It's really not a battle. Interests specific to women and interests specific to men are not mutually exclusive.

  24. Ben Ralston Ben Ralston says:

    Lasara,
    This is a very beautiful article. When I say beautiful, I mean full of beauty.
    I can feel your awareness, and your intention, and I welcome them with open arms.
    I wish you every success…
    With love,
    Ben

  25. Love this. Beautiful thoughts. Listening is key. Reciprocity works wonders. Giving is a lovely thing. Learning to receive is a gift.

  26. Kawabata says:

    And what is it a man looks for in a woman? How can women do better by their men? Ideally, it is a relationship. If it were as simple as being stronger or more romantic it would have been perfected long ago. When two minds, two sets of goals and desires, and two sets of standards, the level of complexity increases by an order of magnitude. Unless there is understanding and compassion. Then it can be simple.

  27. You've gotta bring your balls AND your heart to the party. Too much of one can make you a "nice guy" wimp and too much of the other makes you an horny a-hole.

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      You are too right, Jeffrey. Beautifully said.

      I have to say too, though, that there are many more "man-parts" than just your balls. I hope a courageous and loving heart is one of them.

  28. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    My bad. I'll correct that right now.

  29. Melanie Klein Melanie says:

    Lasara, first and foremost, I respect you. In fact, I adore you. With that said, I told myself I was going to stay away from the comment box at the bottom of this feed because my to-do list is just too monstrously long. I'd love it if we could chat about this article and the response (The Lost Art of Femininity) over tea because it is such an interesting debate. With all that said, hear I am, in the comment box but I'll keep it short. I just have a few questions, food for thought, and a few recommendations. First, where do gay men and lesbian women stand in this debate? This article appears to be oriented toward heterosexual men and women, right? As for the wounded man, that is an issue (well, masculinity and masculinities theory) that has been discussed for decades, beginning with the work of Joseph Pleck. With that said, I'd love to recommend some individuals you may enjoy reading who have a lot to say on masculinities: Jackson Katz, Byron Hurt, Michael Kimmel, Michael Messner and Allan Johnson. Last, I'm concerned about the "wounded men" who are wounded by other men in a culture that values hyper-violent notions of masculinity that culminates in taunting, abuse and murder. I am in the middle of writing about the murder of a 17-month-old boy this past Sunday by his 20-year-old stepfather for being "too girly." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-rowe/what-ihttp://www.harpyness.com/2010/08/09/patriarchy-hurts-babies-too/ Another interesting article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelby-knox/rand-pa

  30. Daniel Claussen says:

    Great article – while I agree with her assessment of the current situation her assumptions about the cause and therefore the conclusions seem limited. I believe the absence of empowered, conscious and dynamic masculinity is mo…re simply due (but not exclusively) to the absence of examples/leaders of these type of men in the generations before us. We're not a generation of "wounded men" (caused by the damage done by absent or culturally misogynistic fathers – though this certainly exists), rather, we have profoundly been left unguided and culturally un-initiated (more key than we realize for men as we have no biological initiation (menstruation) into manhood). Our fathers did their best within the emotionally castrating circumstances of mid-century US culture (a facade of real masculinity – which is strong as well as supple/emotional).

    This is empowering because we shape our futures not from a place of needing to heal woundedness but as whole, healthy and capable men (or potential men) with the opportunity to define direction (for ourselves and future generations) now.

    Women's lib and it's progeny – this generation of women – like it or not – are in the role of leading this movement to health. Which is beautiful. We NEED our strong, beautiful and gallant sisters and lovers to partner and help us in this co-becoming.

    What a great opportunity we have….

  31. Chris says:

    Al,

    Good point. there is a value in stepping back to look at the larger picture and realize that it's not always about us. When I say "she cheated on me" I'm claiming the pain of betrayal and paying for it with my blood.

    To claim another person's actions are directed at you and are not independent of you is to intolerably link your misery to another's whim. Sometimes it's true but but it's rarely helpful to set yourself up in the role of victim vs. injured. A victim may requires the perpetrator be punished for vindication or healing to occur. An injury when cared for heals at it's own rate, but it heals for the injured not as a result of vindication but as a result of care and time.

    That people feel pain from the actions or words of others can be at times a choice on their part. Pain can sometimes be perceived to be preferable to self examination and acceptance. Casting hurtful actions into the light of larger conceptualizations can diminish the very personal reactions that might well be the source of our pain.

  32. Ed Conn says:

    As one of the Lost Boys to Men, I so appreciate your article. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  33. [...] finally, I read a great article on masculinity recently on Elephant Journal by Lasara Allen. Totally worthy [...]

  34. [...] The Lost Art of Masculinity [...]

  35. loved this. Articulate and accurate!!!! Thank you.

  36. Eddie says:

    My concern with the Yin/Yang notion is that it possibly fits too easily into a convenient duality that fosters a false dichotomy. The man is opposite the woman, opposite the man, and in my daily work trying to get men to learn to be something other than this either/or, but a third way, it is very easy to fall back into an acceptable benevolent sexism. As one Marine said in an interview (the source escapes me, but the quote sticks) "to be a good marine is to be a good man" (follow up question: what is a good man?) answer: "not a woman".

  37. Joe Sparks says:

    Mothers and fathers naturally love their male children. Still, from birth, boys in our present societies have been treated differently than girls. From the very beginning, boys are hled and talked to less than girls, under the false assumption that being a man means that boys must be able to handle things "on their own" and must not complain. In the present societies, parents usually " intentionally" prepare their boys to "fit in". Unfortunately this means preparing them to become perpetrators of oppression toward women and "bullies" or "victims" of other men. Boys need to be truly appreciated just for their existence, independent of what they might do for someone else and independent of their families' dreams for them. In most " Industrialized" societies where men are rewarded for overwork and where productivity is valued over humanness, fathers are seen primarily as the providers, who sacrifice for the family rather than being involved supportively in their children's lives. This is hard on both fathers and children, depriving them of closeness with one another.

  38. Joe Sparks says:

    All human claiming intelligence and goodwill need to make a frontal attack on the intensively organized suppression of little boy's natural ability to show their feelings.We need to say clearly and dramatically to parents and teachers that any small child ( female as well as male) can, with persistent, informed support, be protected to emerge as an outstanding individual, universally celebrated for his or her brilliant qualities. We need to call for and launch organizational efforts to see to it that parents, schools, and religious institutions are informed and organized to stop the damage to males at the little-boy stage and to continue to protect them as they grow older so that they can be boldly and powerfully intelligent, kind, and effective.

  39. [...] at play when we assess Sagittarius and Pisces as different facets of Jupiter – the quality of masculine and feminine energies in astrology and in life. Masculine energy is generally more related to [...]

  40. [...] The Lost Art of Femininity. This article was inspired by Lasara Allen’s (serious) The Lost Art of Masculinity. [...]

  41. [...] Which leads me to my point. It is 2011 and men now appreciate yoga as much as women. In many of my classes the male/female ratio is close to 50/50. I no longer have a monopoly on being straight and sensitive. [...]

  42. [...] read and re-read the title, “Taking It Like a Man,” my perplexity increased. I assume that this testosterone filled statement was intended to massage the male ego. After all, is this not the place from which [...]

  43. [...] feel as though chivalry has vanished and that men do not want to act like men [...]

  44. [...] have watched my son for 40 years. I have watched him grow from boy to man. I have seen him in his interactions with women and men. I have marveled at his sensitivity, his [...]

  45. Jack says:

    Interesting article. But how does one grow up in a "world of righteously angry women" as well as absent fathers or "real men" and not become a man who has issues relating to women, men, and masculinity?

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      A starting point:

      As I said above, "It’s time for men to claim their wounds, and in claiming them, start healing themselves into wholeness." We all have had, and have, this work to do.

  46. georgia says:

    beautiful beautiful. thank you. i need to read this in pieces because each bit has me crying.

  47. robbiebow says:

    I think people underestimate the effect of the two world wars in which millions died, were injured and fought. The industrialisation of war, and the following industrialisation of peace with the nuclear family being a neat little package in which to place all the masses dehumanised people; men especially.

    I am masculine because that is my nature; not because you want me to be. It's good that the debate about what makes us human – what we want from life – is being extended to men as well as women now. Moving away from blame to understanding is the next step. Don't bring me problems; bring me solutions!

    Developing trust and fraternity with other men is part of my journey. In the yoga centre, we are few, and there are some passive aggressive men-fearing women there, but on the whole, most people there are going to their own edge, equal but different, letting go of distrust, coming out from the shadow of fear and enjoying life, and becoming better people for it.

    Let us continue the journey (in the Anglophonic world especially) away from mechanisation back to our roots, as people, together.

    Peace out

  48. dpesposito says:

    You mention high divorce rates, that there are single moms everywhere… but fail to mention that a woman cannot raise a man, cannot instill the sort of confidence, fearlessness, loyalty, duty a father can. Women do the best they can, but without the father or a positive adult male in their life, boys will never become men… which is what I see as the real problem

    • Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

      Hopefully become less of an issue as time marches on. I know some very excellent divorced fathers who are solidly parents, and have no intention of leaving that position.

  49. Lasara Allen LasaraAllen says:

    Thanks for posting these comments! I missed them before. Grazi mille.

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