Redefining masculinity by what it is. Not what it isn’t.

A couple of years ago I attended a workshop on relationship counseling.  The room was packed with therapists looking to hear an esteemed author give his take on how to help couples reconcile their relational struggles.  The ratio of women therapists to male therapists in the audience was about 80 to 20, women to men.  The presenter at one point made a comment that made the entire audience laugh. “Hey, guys”, he said.  “You know you aren’t a real man, right?  You’re a therapist for God’s sake!”. Everyone laughed.  I did too.  Of course, he was being tongue in cheek, but it got me thinking.  What actually defines a man?

How do you define a man?

Question.  How would you define a woman?  Maybe you’d say something like “caring”, “nurturing”, or “patient” to describe feminine energy or an ideal female figure.

But how would you define a man? We might hear something like “Well, a man isn’t feminine, he’s not a woman.”  Ok, great.  Got it.  What else would define a man?  “He’s not weak.”  Ok.  But what does this mean?  What about this one.  “A man doesn’t complain and gets the job done.”  Slightly better, I guess.

The purpose in asking the question of “what makes a man a man?” is to point out we really don’t give men a whole lot to work with when it comes to self identity.

To sum it up, it seems in our society a man is defined more about what he isn’t, than what he is. Continue reading…