There are many things in life that we can absolutely live without—however, a real man is not one of them.
I’ve spent some of my life uncoupled, other pieces of it deeply committed to one partner, and at times, I have even been fairly committed to several all at once. I don’t think this is an abnormal experience anymore. People are experimenting with many styles of life these days, so why would we exclude how we love?
Many of us have put a lot of thought into the type of partner we are looking for and wish to attract. We were probably told by our besties to make lists—or maybe even create a magical mood board to summon the “perfect one” our way. However, what we often aren’t realizing is that a list of characteristics does not accurately represent a human being at their core.
And what we need in partnership, more than boxes ticked off a list, is a healthy human being who is comfortable showing up. This is incredibly hard to find, especially in those humans choosing to identify as male.
I’ve listened to many people complain about this, and I have done some hair pulling about it myself—meeting a man who is ready for love often turns out to be quite the challenge. We often blame men for being selfish, immature, and cold—and so, we’ll toss the current one out the window in hopes that the next one we meet will be less of these things.
Because of how our society is organized, men are regularly criticized. The feminist movement is sometimes seen to be a threat toward the very essence of masculinity as it is defined, but it is not meant to. A real man is actually something incredibly valuable, and we are in dire need of them. What feminism actually wants is that we all, no matter our gender, rise up equally.
I say this now, not only pertaining to partnership, but I say this as the aching, yearning of an empty hole that is felt in the world: Where are our men these days? The real ones who know how to fight and love, hand in hand.
It’s hard to say. I know a few. I love a few—but I also have loved many who were not this, and it has left me pondering… Why is there an epidemic right now of disempowered males?
We might think that in a culture that is based on the principals of patriarchy, all men are riding the waves of power and endless possibilities. The definition of patriarchy being, “a social system, in which males hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property.” However, just as much as patriarchy has suppressed women, it has also done so to men.
Patriarchy, I expect, is the major reasons real men have entered the endangered species list.
Knowing this, we must stop blaming men for what we (our culture) has trained them to be. We must forgive men for the things we criticize them for. It is not intentional that men often show up as unavailable, unloving, or fragmented—we never taught them how to be whole. We told them, instead, to be dominant, competitive, aloof, and void of deep connection or feelings.
The desire to connect and feel is not something patriarchy wants men to do.
When men begin to connect and feel, they have a hard time carrying the load of “shoulds” our culture assigns to them. Feelings get in the way of the corporate model, as does love.
If we want our world to heal—if we want deep and lasting relationships with men—we absolutely must begin to demand that, as a society, we support the empowerment of them, just as we have been doing for the last decades with women.
Real men must be fought for by us, protected, and encouraged to come forth. This takes space, time, understanding, and a hell of a lot of healing. It takes us acknowledging that we have been hurting men. It takes us understanding how hard it is for males on planet Earth. It takes redefining an outdated model of masculinity.
The interesting thing about patriarchy is that it values male love over female love. We are shown when we are quite young that a mother’s love is ordinary, given, and regularly expected—whereas, a father’s love is won, measured, and often withheld.
Is it any wonder that as adults we still act this way in our relationships with men—that we are still trying to get the love we learned as a child we couldn’t have?
It saddens me deeply to think that men are just as empty over their lack of ability to love as we are in our lack of feeling their love. How do we solve this disappointing state of affairs?
Well, we demand that our world begins to celebrate a real man. We acknowledge that if we want a whole and healthy culture, we need to start teaching our boys and men differently.
We must allow men to heal.
We all need a real man, because “real” means someone who shows up entirely—and it is, after all, our wholeness which gives us the capacity to save this world.
Author: Sarah Norrad
Image: WikiMedia Commons
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Travis May
Social editor: Callie Rushton