I constantly hear about how women are exploited and misrepresented in marketing.
The ads are full of skinny little women who have more in common with mannequins than real femininity. And all the mothers are constantly portrayed as happy and able to do everything. This is a false portrayal of life, and is also happening to men.
Men have to face ads, television shows and perspectives that we must have strong jaw lines, chiseled chests and abs, be able to conquer the world, party all night, and be a sexual lion ready to pounce at all times. We must also smell good all the time, and be very sensitive and caring, and be able to step out the door like a warrior to slay any demon.
And just as women are waking up to the fact that the media damages our self-esteem, men are also waking up to the same fact that what is portrayed as the normal male is a delusional fairy tale. But for us guys, it is harder to see and accept the damage because it happens at an emotional level that we are encouraged to not feel or recognize.
The common vision of masculinity is incomplete.
Not everything portrayed by the media is wrong—there are traits that men are valued for that need to be recognized and appreciated. Our courage, strength of heart, passion for life, endurance and long-suffering, and the ability to serve with love our family and society. Generosity, compassion and sensitivity are also masculine traits appreciated by the feminine. But the ironic thing is that men appreciate women who have the same traits.
The most masculine trait is presence.
All the traits I mention are spiritual in nature, and have nothing to do with physical appearance, body odor or hair, or the length or aptitude of sexuality. Everything physical and mental is preceded by the presence, the essence of who the soul is. The expression of soul is infinite in variety, and those outward aspects are the domain of surface attraction and fleeting passion.
The qualities of spirit cannot grow by changing surface level ego traits.
No amount of clothing, fast cars, hair dye or toupees, sexual exploits and notches on the bedpost can compare to or improve the quality of spirit. The surface level expressions will attract people who appreciate life at a surface level. The ego is magnetized to the ego, and women who value money and power will be drawn like gadflies to ego-maniacs. And then, they wonder why they are treated poorly. No amount of doing can change the ego, and a fresh layer of ego-paint does not change the essence and qualities of who a man is.
Presence is cultivated by honoring and recognizing the indwelling spirit.
The man who has presence knows who he is, and is at peace with his positive and negative traits. Even being not at peace, but being truthful and facing his own shadow side, is integrity that cultivates spirit. The man who has presence is not a sexual predator, rather is a lover of the first degree, who puts respect and love before animalistic urges. Sometimes the most courageous man is the one who says no to a woman who desires him, or who does not act upon a woman who is vulnerable.
Presence is cultivated through humility, and the ability to yield with understanding to loved ones and the demands of life. It is quiet, and does not need to be seen or appreciated, and is simply there.
The essential self, the essence of presence, is the individual soul, unique and timeless.
While marketing may have us believe that a razor blade, or new suit, or magical cologne will help us be more manly, the simpler truth is that we must unlearn what we believe we are first.
This allows who we are, our soul, to shine through with greater and greater clarity as we get in touch with and are sensitive to the deeper aspects of our own being, and existence. And in this selfness comes the greatest and most magnetic of all traits, love.
Love is magnetic, and the core truth and expression of soulful presence.
Just as flower draws the bee because of its fragrance, the masculine man draws women not through strutting, but through yielding ego. The man who wears masks is the most vulnerable and fragile, and the man who can stand tall with his soul bared can change the world.
And when it comes to women, their most beautiful and feminine trait is also presence. Yet the feminine expression of soul is simply different than the masculine. A true gentleman does not judge, compare nor blame a woman for having a unique soul, and rather cherishes the individuality that is eternally hers.
But we must first know this truth about our own self, and abide in it with security.
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Assistant Editor: Daniel Garcia/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Björn Bechstein/Flickr