Masculinity and patriarchy are closely connected, but they are not the same. There is such a thing as conscious masculinity. There are ways for men to be masculine and true to our nature in ways that actually serve society.
I am asking men to help me develop a course on conscious masculinity. I’m currently calling it “the better men project.” What is it that we have to learn in order to make this a culture that is safe for women?
I myself am a straight, cis man. And my central concern is with the harm that men like me are doing to women - simply because that’s what I am, it is what I know, and so it is the best place for me to start.
You can read about our work below, our next men’s call is September 9 at 8:30pm ET.
If this speaks to you, please sign up below.
adrienne has been such an important guide on our journey. I want to invite us to say a prayer for her and wish her a happy birthday. She wrote a beautiful post about it.
Her words in that post resonate with a reflection I want to invite you into this week:
i wouldn’t wish my trauma on anyone.
healing from trauma, feeling peace and even joy in my life, is the greatest achievement of my life
I think we are right to focus our attention on the harm that we have caused. On the ways in which toxic masculinity has made us dangerous in the world. Our work here is to take full responsibility. So that we can become better men.
I was absolutely fascinated by Devin Gordon’s take on Joe Rogan in The Atlantic. One of the things that I have wrestled with since the launch of the Better Men Project is that the men who are called to participate are men who are linked to my network. And most of these men are already “woke.”
We have PLENTY of work to do. And doing this work on ourselves is doing work that makes a difference well beyond just us.
But who is getting to all the men out there who don’t know what to do after coming face to face with #metoo? Many of them we’ll never reach. They are defensive. And reactionary. And they are just doubling down on the same toxic masculinity that keeps rape culture alive.
I am still moved by our last call. It got real. Men talked about being perpetrators. About the harm we have caused. I am grateful for the courage to speak truths that render us so vulnerable. And I am grateful for our group’s capacity to receive. And to hold each other in confidence.*
In Pleasure as Praxis, Corinne Manning interviews adrienne maree brown for BitchMedia. I was struck by the clarity and wisdom of this exchange on transformative justice:
oday I’m thinking about fathers. A dear friend visited this weekend. We are both fathers to young boys. And we were talking about all the stuff that we blame on our parents when we get to therapy. They probably deserve some of that blame. Some of us had parents that truly and thoroughly failed.
But we also talked about the things that they simply could not have known. About the fact that our consciousness is shaped and warped by our cultural moment.
I am a Latino man. The shooting in El Paso was perpetrated against my community. My heart is broken. And I stand in prayer with those most impacted.
But there is a thread to these shootings that runs much deeper than hatred towards people of color. And that is the thread of hatred towards women.
Today we gather again. A group of men committed to the lifelong process of relinquishing patriarchy.
adrienne reminds us to:
recognize that as a man, you are a part of patriarchy. even if you have made some effort to break out of it, the system/insanity of patriarchy is still there for you to fall back into under pressure or duress.
Patriarchy does not happen by osmosis. It is not something that is simply in the water. Patriarchy is transmitted. We are educated into it. Words are spoken. Often by our elders. Certainly by our peers. And always through the culture. Booming through the media.
Feelings and drama are not the same thing. Too many of us don’t even know how to be with our own feelings. So we lack the capacity to be with the feelings of the women in our lives. adrienne names it:
You aren’t encouraged to feel your feelings. in fact, the opposite is the case. you are told it isn’t manly to cry, to need comfort, to feel longing. you are ridiculed for emotions that aren’t weaponized, for gentleness, for what is categorized as feminine behavior.
What is it that comes up for you when you contend with someone’s feelings? What happens to you when a woman expresses her feelings around you or to you?
his week I have been involved in ceremony work with men. I am deeply moved by the love and tenderness that is opening up among us. It is certainly exceptional. It is quite rare for men to express care and affection for each other in the ways that I have witnessed in these spaces. It is deep personal work that truly matters.
We need to work on the way patriarchy shapes our inner lives, our emotional lives, our capacity to be with each other in authentic and vulnerable ways.
We had a powerful first call. I was moved by the quality of conversation. And by our willingness to lean into this effort to relinquish patriarchy. By looking deeply at ourselves. By turning to one another. And by staying curious about an emergent process.
This is an experiment. Here, to be emergent means to focus on “the most elegant next step.” And right now what we want to do is to come together again. You are invited to join us on Monday, August 5 at 8:30PM East. So that we can deepen our conversation.
There is something about the word freedom that appeals to the warrior archetype that lives within us. Many men can be moved to deep emotion by scenes from movies like Bravehart, or a serious contemplation of the slave rebellion that led to Haiti’s independence.
There is something that appeals to us. Something that moves us. This is the same something that can be used to manipulate boys into signing up for wars of Empire. But it is also something that can be made conscious. It is an energy that can move us as we aim for a truer freedom.
Our call is to become righteous. It is not to become self-righteous.