What is masculinity to me? It’s often confusing to know what traits are really masculine these days. For most of my male role models growing up, it seemed to revolve around watching sport, drinking beer and avoiding deep conversations or showing emotions. Perhaps also in doing stupid or dangerous things because men are not supposed to care about their physical safety much. Don’t even think about hugs between men…
Adding to that we have so-called “toxic masculinity” which muddies the water even more. There’s a lot to be said on that topic, and there are definitely masculine traits which get distorted and can be toxic. Unfortunately a lot of people misunderstand or misinterpret the message and either surpress their own masculine traits, or look down on others that express them. Also to note, feminine traits are equally able to be distorted and “toxic”.
So what is masculinity to me? Firstly, both men and women have and express masculine traits. I’m not talking about gender or whether or not the person was born with a penis here. It just happens that most of those in male bodies are happiest when they are expressing their masculinity in a healthy way.
I would say there are 4 core masculine traits:
Purpose or direction
Being goal-orientated. Having a specific target or goal and moving towards it with focus and direction. Having a goal to hit in life allows the masculine to feel fully expressed… and not having one makes them depressed, weak and lacking a purpose in life.
Striving for a lack of constraints, limitations and burdens. For example, the masculine seeks financial freedom through making money. Freedom from constraints imposed by the other team when playing sport. Another way this manifests is in a paradox: the masculine loves a struggle or mission, but ultimately strives to be free of it. The normal male orgasm exemplifies this, the experience is something like death, to have no thoughts, no mind.
Not to be confused with being in the present moment or in flow, which is more a feminine trait. Ever been with someone who can focus their entire attention on you in such a way that it feels like nothing else exists except for you? This is the capacity of being an observer and witness of what is happening and “holding space”. A strong masculine being is able to sit with a clear mind in the midst of emotional storms (both from themselves and from others) and observe without getting entangled in it.
In tantra and many other spiritual traditions, we have a split between the manifested reality (everything you see around you, matter and energy) and consciousness/spirit. The first is typically seen as feminine and the second as masculine. While the feminine is often “embodied” and flowing, the masculine in consciousness and thought. This manifests in feminine beings often able to be more “in the body” while masculine beings are often “in their head”.
So there you have it, my take on the four key masculine traits. When a man is expressing each in a healthy, undistorted way, he tends to be happy and vibrant. Without them, he feels withered and wistless. I’ll explore in a future post how each can be distorted.
Thanks to the great David Deida and his work, particularly “Way Of The Superior Man“.
If you want to develop your own masculine traits, let’s have a chat about coaching and see if you’re a good fit to work with me.
What do you think? What does masculinity mean to you?