Manhood, maleness or masculinity? What is the definition of a Man? Is there a male masculinity definition? What is a Male Man? What is manhood?
Let’s clarify a few definitions from maleness to manhood and lay out the ground.
It means the sex that produces young by fertilising eggs. It is a biological term which has no connotations to it. It is a simple and straightforward definition of sex.
For male and female alike, the bodies of the other sex are messages signaling what we must do, they are glowing signifiers of our own necessities.
Its oldest meaning is ‘of the human race’, although this definition is often now regarded as sexist. In a narrower sense it has also come to mean male and an adult male with associated qualities, such as courage or virility. There are many other shades of meaning but the general accepted one suggests qualities beyond a straightforward sex definition.
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
(Martin Luther King)
The properties characteristic of the Male Sex. These are generally biological properties associated with sex.
How beautiful maleness is, if it finds its right expression.
(D H Lawrence)
The meaning of manhood is the state of being a man as distinguished from a child or a woman. Incorporates manly qualities such as courage, bravery and resolution. This is more of a cultural rather than an individual characteristic.
Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.
This is key, the definition of masculinity. Masculinity is traditionally considered to be characteristic of a man, it is the trait of behaving in ways considered typical for a man. Obviously many people have different definitions of what they consider to be Masculine, all influenced by their personal experience and their culture. So what is masculinity?
In ‘Male eXperience’ I focus on Masculinity and formulate definitions through the body of my writing. Yes, it is my personal view, but it is one born of experience, one that has been tested in the world. It is influenced by the western, patriarchal culture I live in and by my own expereince, but I seek to give it a wider applicability. It’s essence is the concept of a ‘Personal Masculinity’, the discovery of a masculinity for the individual.
Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor.
So although you are a Male, you may not be a Man; you have Maleness but your Manhood may not yet be there. The development of your Masculinity may be lacking and may be causing you problems. If this is the case how do you proceed?
One way is to come back and read this site regularly, over time you will see a picture emerge that will give you directions to follow. Another is to enroll in my mentoring scheme and let me help you. Yet another is to find your own path.
Finding your own path is something I did, it took time and there were many dead-ends on the way. This may be the way you want to go, you may want to find your own interpretation of masculinity, your own approach to the culture that put you where you are as a man. To do this more generally is a bigger task, changing culture is not easy. You need to think carefully about how you think about men and how you respond to men; working with men.
It is not about throwing out the value of traditional masculinity. It is about finding new definitions and role models. You need to reinforce the message that you can be whatever you want to be, and not blame the culture.
We all need role models, mentors, to guide us. I have recently been reading ‘Aikido, Living by Design’ by Mitsugi Saotome. He is a highly respected teacher of Aikido in the US who passes on the lessons of his own teacher, Aikido’s founder. Aikido is a martial art with an emphasis on love and protection. It teaches compassion yet it’s techniques are potentially lethal. Students of Aikido train in self-defence but also in a way of being in the world. Its lessons have have to do with the very nature of one’s relation to the world.
Talking of The Warriors Way or The Bushido Code, Saotome Sensei says,
“The warrior does not hone his skill by deadening himself to the world. The warrior’s art is based on developing heightened awareness of all sensations. … The warrior’s spirit is the struggle for life, spiritual as well as physical. The warrior will not accept a spiritually dead existence.”
Aikido requires creativity to learn how to take care of things and how to fight hostile forces. We must take responsibility for ourselves. These are great lessons for men seeking to find their personal masculinity, seeking to off-load the conditioning from the past and become re-awakened men.
I recently watched the film ‘The Last Samurai’ with Tom Cruise. It is an inspiring film that shows us a different way, a way to connect with ourselves and truly understand our connection with others and with ourselves. The film shows all the traditional ‘warrior masculinity’ of fighting, killing and aggression, but underneath it shows how to recover from a dead existence, how to find your determination and certainty and how to see your own power and strength.
So how do you see yourself as a man? How do you see your own masculinity? What do you need most as a man? What is your vision?