KNIGHTS WITHOUT ARMOR - Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D
This book is both a comprehensive exploration of men's issues and a step-by-step guide for reclaiming "authentic masculinity." It provides an good blend of research and the feelings and experiences of men in Dr. Kipnis' group. It offers an excellent balance between the mythopoetic, wound healing, and reverse sexism/political aspects of the "Men's Movement."
The "knights without armor" are the men in Dr. Kipnis' men's group, which began as a weekly poker game. They soon found themselves immersed in the grief and anger arising from the paradoxical experiences and destructive behavior patterns which seem to affect the lives of all men in our culture.
The book follows this group through a 12-Step type growth process. Their first tasks were to admit that underneath their armor there were untended wounds, and to begin to heal them. They then set out to recover some of the ancient forgotten and forbidden sacred images of man, and learn what mythologies from other cultures had to offer to their own lives. They also undertook to rediscover male initiation and to heal the wounds between father and son. This led to new insights into their roles as lovers, workers, hunters, and preservers of the earth. They then began to rebuild male community and heal the wounds between men and women. This book represents part of their final task, to continue their own quest for masculine soul and to reach out to other men on a similar quest.
From Publishers Weekly
Males will find this a powerful volume. Kipnis, a psychotherapist who serves as the co-director of
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"A powerful volume,"
A reader , February 19, 1999
An overview of ways in which men are remaking themselves Aaron Kipnis offers a comprehensive view of all aspects of the men's movement in this 302-page volume. Inspired by issues raised by members of an addiction/recovery men's group headed by the author, the book looks at various male images. Kipnis critically examines the old masculine values of the "heroic" male as well as those of the newer, sensitive man (what Kipnis calls the "feminized" man), and addresses at length the emerging "authentic, integrated" masculinity inspired by Robert Bly and friends. Intertwined with these accounts are stories and vignettes from men in the group, new knights of the round table on a quest for a new masculine paradigm.
The book has much to recommend it. This is the first, if not the only, book that globally looks at all facets of the men's movement. Everything from circumsicion, to myth, ritual and initiation, to the politics of male-bashing, is covered. There is an excellent table comparing the masculine images of the heroic, feminized, and integrated man and looking at how these differ along physical, mental, and emotional lines. There is a section on men's resources, with names and addresses of organizations and suggestions on how to get involved. Also, unlike most books on men's issues, this one actually has an index--a refreshing feature indeed!
from foreword by Robert A. Johnson
A fresh vision that points the way for a new male psychology. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
This book is considered by many to be one of the seminal books about men and masculinity, one that bridges many different perspectives in the "men's movements" of the last decade. Knights Without Armor provides real-life practical ideas for the men who are re-examining their tradtional roles. By far the most comprehensive and practical book available on the topic, its promise is nothing less than the reclaiming of the masculine soul.
Something is stirring in the hearts of men. Many feel angry and trapped by restrictive roles and jobs that just don't fit. They long for more authenticity and meaningful, impassioned relationships. Others are beginning to speak about their grief, their confusion, and their unrealized dreams. All are seeking new ways to express what it means to be a man in our time. Knights Without Armor is a book for all those men - and the women who care about them. It begins as an insider's description of a men's group that started as a poker game and ended in discoveries that radically changed the players' lives. In their group, the "knights" discuss breaking out of old stereotypes of masculinity; healing father-son relationships; facing men's wounds and male oppression; reclaiming ancient, sacred masculine images; creating better partnerships with women; learning to overcome workaholism, alcoholism, and other addictions. Dr. Aaron Kipnis, a graduate psychology instructor and leader of men'! s groups, describes in detail an emerging image of manhood. He examines the costs for men of living up to the old heroic ideal, as well as the problems of the more recent image of the soft, sensitive male. He responds with a third possibility - an authentic masculinity that is strong and fierce, yet gentle and flexible; spontaneous and playful, yet thoughtful and perceptive; visionary and soulful, yet grounded and practical. Kipnis offers "The Twelve Tasks of Men" as useful guidance in examining the major problems men have in opening up their lives. His "Male Manifesto" is a clarion call for a positive image of masculine values. He teaches men how to experience new male archetypes, how to organize support groups, and how to advocate men's social and political rights. Kipnis also ties current social and political dilemmas to destructive historical and mythological images about men. This comprehensive and insightful work is nourishing reading for any man.
About the Author
Aaron Kipnis, Ph.D. is president of The Fatherhood Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to aiding men in developing the skills and resources needed to best parent their children. He is the author of Knights Without Armor, co-author of What Women and Men Really Want, and many book chapters and articles on topics concerning men and masculinity. His most recent book is "Angry Young Men: How Parents, Educators and Counselors can Help "Bad Boys" become Good Men. (Jossey-Bass Publishers, September, 1999)As co-directors of the Gender Relations Institute, Aaron and his wife, Liz Herron, facilitate male/female communication workshops nationwide and hold private consultations with couples in
KNIGHTS WITHOUT ARMOR
“Men are not encouraged to speak out with their feelings. It is the measured, even response and commentary of (note current male leaders) – not the impassioned presentation of Jesse Jackson – that is the vogue of male expression today.
Part I. The Problem with Men
1. The Heroic Male
“The conventional notion that men are somehow more privileged than women is starting to look like a bad joke.”
“We’re angry and confused about the double standards we encounter in many arenas, the reverse sexism and rigid gender-role expectations. Many of us are isolated, and uncertain about how to break out of old male stereotypes. Some are simply numb. We lack elders, positive role models, or leaders with vision. In the past we have often turned to women for solutions, which can create different sorts of problems such as dependency and isolation from other men.”
“The answer: everyone of us had attempted to live his life as some type of masculine hero.”
“Codependence: For men this means habitually taking care of women’s needs at the expense of our own; automatically considering them before thinking of ourselves….
Underlying such behavior is often a belief that we cannot be loved by a woman just for who we are.”
“Workaholism: This involves an obsessive overachieving beyond the need for creating what Eric Fromm calls ‘a pleasant sufficiency of the means to life.’
“Numbness. This includes loss of emotional and even physical sensitivity.”
“Addiction to excitement. To counter the numbness, to be able to feel, we take on habits that provide stimulation and intensity, including unnecessarily stirring up conflicts with our relationships.
“Sex addiction. Sometimes men become dominated by various sexual obsessions and romantic fantasies, and often sacrifice relationships that are more supportive and nurturing.
“Loss of soul. Men frequently feel disconnected from an authentic spiritual source of aliveness within us.”
“…In search of a grail within the masculine soul… The first was to admit that underneath the armor were untended wounds. Secondly, through revealing the full extent of these wounds to one another we began to heal them. Thirdly, while regularly meeting separately from women, we began to rebuild our self-esteem on deep, masculine foundations. Our fourth task was to break out of old stereotypes and learn to enjoy our multiplicity and diversity. Next, we attempted to recover some of the ancient forgotten and forbidden sacred images of men. As a sixth task, we sought to learn what these mythologies from other cultures had to offer our lives as contemporary Western men.
Our seventh task was to rediscover male initiation and begin to heal the wounds between fathers and sons. We then attempted, as an eighth task, to develop some new insights into our traditional adult roles as lovers, workers, hunters, and preservers of the earth. Our ninth task was to reconnect to the cultural wealth of our ancestors and elders and to face our own mortality. Building male community and beginning to heal the wounds between men and women was our tenth undertaking. As an eleventh task we reexamined education and psychology from our new perspectives on authentic masculinity. And as a final task, we continue to pursue our own healing and quest for masculine soul and to reach out to other men who are on a similar quest. Each chapter of this book focuses on one of these tasks.
THE HEROS FOLLY
“.. primary techniques we used early on in our group was to risk letting down our pretenses… we tried to tell the whole truth of our experience.”
“What began to emerge was a picture of a culture that carried some deeply rooted notions about the nature of masculinity, which were at best unhealthy and at worst highly destructive to men’s lives and the lives of everyone around them.”
MALE OPPRESSION AND INEQUALITY: MAKING HARDENED MEN OUT OF SENSITIVE BOYS.
“These admonitions are part of the whole complex of subtle and not-so-subtle directions that lead men not to express their experiences of strong emotions other than the expansive, positive ones associated with winning and triumph. If a man is angry, it is seen as a shameful exposure of his inability to be the victor.”
CREATING KILLERS IN HIGH SCHOOL
“… the Vietnam War, in which over fifty-eight thousand American men and eight American women died.”
“The value placed on men’s lives as compared with women’s is greatly depreciated in our culture.”
“The survivors of this war are still trying to heal one another in what may be the only way possible: man to man. At a recent gathering of more than one hundred male therapists who work with men, we performed a small ceremony to honor the continuing grief this issue carries for many of us, more than fifteen years after the end of the war. We simply wailed aloud for a few minutes. Those who could, wept.”
“More than one hundred thousand veterans of the Vietnam War have committed suicide since the end of the war, almost twice the number actually killed in battle.”
“Twenty-five percent of men in prison, including 50 percent of the inmates in one prison in
DYING FOR DOLLARS
. .. excellent book, Why Men Are the Way They Are, he explores the socialization process men receive while growing up as “success objects.” The objectification of men as performers – or succesexuality, as I call it – has the same dehumanizing consequences for men as objectification of women as sex objects has for women.
“… even in this age of equality men are still responsible for approximately 75 percent of the financial support for the average American family. Consequently, the overachieving business hero is applauded for his performance. There is usually little compassion, however, for the man who crashes and burns. He is seen as not tough enough, especially by other men who may be repressing the fear that ‘there but for the grace of God go I.’ “
“… men still die of work-related injuries approximately twenty to one over women.”
“The highest mortality rates in the nation are found among timber cutters, who are 95 percent male, insulation workers, power-line workers, garbage collectors, and miners, who are all 85 percent male; and farmers, who are 79 percent male.”
THE FIRST TASK OF MEN: TO ADMIT THAT WE HAVE BEEN WOUNDED
“As we men of the round table continued our talks, we began to realize that our feelings of having been wounded along the way was not just what some might view as wimping out on our parts. Despite our apparent advantages and priviledges as men, there appeared to be good reasons for our underlying feelings of inequality with women.”
“Our society as a whole suffers a great deal from the unhealed scars of its wounded men.”
“If, as many psychologists believe, rage erupts as a reaction to the deep-rooted pain many men carry, then the increase of violence in our culture may be related to the degree of reconciled grief many of us experience today.”
2. The Wounded Male
“The naming of specific wounds in men’s groups, such as our new knights of the round table, helps to lessen one of the most ubiquitous problems for men in our culture – isolation.”
“Shame, however, is what we feel when experiencing ourselves as somehow being wrong. It’s immobilizing and destroys self-esteem. Much pathology, including a lot of male violence, arises in an attempt to assuage or repress this feeling. Shame, unlike guilt, is dehumanizing.”
“Men face many double standards. We don’t get the same cultural and institutional support that women do when dealing with a number of important personal, social, and legal issues.
THE SOCIAL-SERVICES GAP: YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO STUMBLE, YOU’VE GOT NO PLACE TO FALL
“One of the reasons we formed our men’s group was that we were unable to find any other context for support in our recovery.”
“One of the dangerous social attitudes that come with the hero myth is that men don’t need the same level of community support that women do in terms of health care, health maintenance, preventative-care education, psychological counseling, parenting education, social-welfare assistance, and advocacy against discrimination.”
“The reality is that a very small minority of men hold a disproportionately large amount of the wealth in this country. When these men are excluded from the statistical mean, it appears that the economic plight of the average man is, essentially, not so different from that of the average women in this country.”
“More women are covered by private health insurance than men, and government insurance programs such as Medicaid cover twice as many women as men.”
“Just as AIDS did not get much attention as long as it was primarily confined to unmarried homosexual men, homelessness also elicited less social concern until it began to affect more women and children.”
“Suicide rates are about four times higher for men than women. Men’s rates increase with age and have steadily increased overall during the last two decades, while women’s rates, which decline after age forty-five, have remained relatively stable overall.”
THE WOUNDED BODY: MEN’S INADEQUATE MEDICAL CARE
“The lack of health-care information for men is indicative of the ways men’s lives are held to be of lesser worth than women’s in our society.”
“There’s a long-standing, widespread campaign to educate women about performing self-examinations for breast cancer.” [no corresponding program for men in areas of testicular cancer or prostate cancer… “which approximates the incidence of breast cancer in women.”
FATHERS CAN CHANGE DIAPERS TOO
“Yet another of the cultural illusions that perpetuate the oppression of men is that women are better parents than men.”
“Although many statistics are compiled by the government concerning the needs of working mothers, none are kept on behalf of fathers, including the special needs of the nearly three million American men who are single parents.”
“Many men feel wounded by the meager support and acknowledgement they receive for attempting to be involved parents.”
THE INEQUITIES OF DIVORCE
“Even though men are often depicted as abandoning their families … the reality is that divorce is frequently just as destructive to the lives of men as it is to those of women.”
“According to the sociologist Annette Lawson, who recently surveyed over six hundred men and women, modern women are usually the first partner to develop sexual liaisons outside their marriages.”
‘Men are generally denied the right to custody of their children in divorce, even though there is no clear body of research that demonstrates that single women are better parents than single men.”
“One difficulty that full-time fathers face is that they seldom receive child or spousal support, even in those cases… where their ex-wife’s earnings are greater than or equal to their own.”
“… contrary to the myth of men’s untrustworthiness as single parents, the majority of violent child-abuse incidents, resulting in tens of thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths every year, as perpetuated by women.”
“Men are twice as likely to commit suicide or have serious mental and emotional problems following divorce as are women.”
“Men are also more likely to develop their social contacts through women. This often results in their being left alone and isolated when the couple’s friends choose sides after a divorce.”
THE WOUND OF THE EXILED FATHER
“…fear of women, and male passivity – seem to be growing in this culture.”
“Thus, well over half of the fathers in
“A study of one thousand children from disrupted homes showed that about half of them had never been in their father’s home, 40 percent had not seen him in the previous year, and only one in six saw the father once a week or more.”
“When they no longer live with the children, they are often dependent upon the custodial mother’s goodwill in order to maintain a good relationship with them. Many men simply give up.”
“One of the deepest and most prevalent wounds many men carry concerns the actual or emotional absence of their fathers when they were growing up.
3. Angry Women and Feminized Men
“One way in which political, religious, and social groups have historically found their identity and cohesiveness is by sharing a common enemy. But men don’t have an easily identifiable scapegoat to rail against in order to create instant solidarity.”
“The men’s movement is not a mere reaction to feminism. For the most part, we don’t view our male predicament as have been created by women’s misandry (hatred or fear of men) or reverse sexism. Male oppression is much more insidious, subtle, and pervasive than that. For the most part we need to look to ourselves as men for positive solutions and transformation.”
ARE MEN REALLY TO BLAME FOR EVERYTHING?
“But in addition to empowering women, raising their consciousness, and educating men about the inequalities women face in this culture, something else also has taken place. A unilateral, gender-polarized approach to society’s ills, with a stance that is often degrading and inimical toward men, has been injected into many levels of the culture.”
“Male bashing is rampant in most feminist literature, ranging from subtle insinuations to blatant rancorous language.”
“Consequently, the growing belief of many feminists seems to be that it is through the female gender alone that our salvation will come. Can the human race be redeemed merely through instilling of feminine values in both men and women?”
“Over forty years ago Margaret Mead warned that if we perpetuate the habit of focusing on women’s issues in a facuum, we will ‘fail to recognize that where one sex suffers, the other sex suffers also.’ “
“Many men feel wounded by the unrelenting wrath of the new matriarchy. During the last few decades, according to the poet Robert Bly, women have been expressing ‘forty generations of repressed rage.’ “
THE MALE BASHING MEDIA
“… because advertisers gear their ads toward women consumers, and are hearing a lot of anger from them these days, ‘it’s politically chic to dump on men.’ Advertising copywriters feel free to insult men in a way they would never do to women… Despite the changing role of men, advertising continues to ignore their work as care givers and parents.”
“Men have been notably silent about being so frequently depicted as inept, impotent buffoons or aggressive, dominating, alcoholic, child-abusing, raping, sexist, greedy, wife-beating, power-monopolizing, narcissistic, unfeeling jerks. Within the revolution in the social fabric of Western culture has arisen a published theme of degradation of all things male.”
“Ironically, the majority of men do not feel powerful. In fact, men are just beginning to understand the degree to which we, too, have been powerless in the past.”
“… the [feminist] diagnosis of chauvinism is superficial. More often it is a gross and misleading distortion. Closer examination of a man’s behavior reveals a powerfully masochistic, self-hating, and often pathetically self-destructive style.”
“… media who treat relationships as if they were only a woman’s issue, most men are understandably quiet about the issue. This instance is consistent with the male self-concept that it is not masculine to feel or, much worse, to express pain or shame. Our silence as men has perpetuated the cultural illusion that, for the most part, women are victims, and men are the victimizers.”
“It is deeply ingrained in our collective psyche that women’s lives are more valuable than men’s.”
“There have been other influences in this feminzation. Urbanization has disconnected men from their traditional earthy masculinity. The absence of the father in the post-industrial age home also has aggravated the feminization of men. Men have lost touch with masculine soul and forgotten how to initiate their sons into masculine depth. Many boys have grown up almost exclusively in the domestic domain of women. Others, repulsed by the excesses of men in power, have thrown off the heroic-male characteristics of previous generations in search of a model of masculinity that is more in accord with nature and women.”
“One of the curious ways in which men are coping is by shutting down, becoming numb and silent. Another is by displaying more rugged male-image products, like four-wheel-drive trucks and guns. Some men become more dominating, hostile, uncooperative, and even violent toward women.”
“Some men are actually quite afraid of women’s power to make life difficult for them if they do not acquiesce to them.”
“The strong, deep soul of men has been, for the most part, repressed, neglected, and denied. In my gender-conflict workshops I often hear women complain that men just aren’t manly enough anymore – robust, self-reliant, rugged, and courageous.”
“Some male writers rethinking male psychology today, such as Eugene Monick, caution that ‘it is important at this time to differentiate masculinity from patriarchy to prevent both from going down the drain together.’ “
“In his pioneering book on American manhood, A Choice of Heros, Mark Gerzon suggests that,once ‘freed from the burden of continually promoting their sex’s superiority, men who embody the emerging masculinities can develop a deeper awareness of the mutuality of the sexes.’ “
SEPARATION FROM THE FEMININE: A STEP TOWARD MUTUAL BALANCE
“Feminized men often seem to feel that responding to women’s pain is the primary agenda for men’s work.”
“The reality is that both sexes have lost a deeper connection to nature, myth, and the common rituals that bind most cultures. A living, vital mythology should create a sense of cohesiveness and mutual respect for the different ways in which each gender contributes to the whole. If there is an enemy, it is neither men nor women. Rather, it is our cultural attitudes and the religious and mythological beliefs that underpin them.”
“Men need to experience some separation from the feminine in order to connect with the deeper ground of masculinity.”
“Through attending to our issues and our wounds, in the company of other men, we become better able to return to partnership with the feminine without becoming submerged in it.”
THE LAST ANGRY MEN
“Mostly we are pissed off about the double standards our society holds for men. When unexpressed, this feeling gets internalized, and repetitive patterns of self-abuse emerge.”
THE THIRD TASK OF MEN: TO REBUILD SELF-ESTEEM ON DEEP MASCULINE FOUNDATIONS
“We must change because our lives are unfulfilled, limited, constrained, and circumscribed by restrictive role models of masculinity that don’t work for anyone. We must change our hearts and minds. If we don’t catch uo the changes that have occurred in the world around us, we may not survive – individually as men, collectively as a society, or even as a species.”
Part II. Reclaiming The Masculine Soul
4. Authentic masculinity and the New Male Manifesto
(see the Male Manifesto – separate document)
“… as men we’re also trying to love that which is outcast, both within us and without. We encourage one another to speak about our shadowy inner desires. And we help each other find ways to make amends for past behaviors that hurt others.”
“Individual freedom is ultimately expressed by our ability to become what we truly are. That process – what Jungian psychologists refer to as individuation – is about becoming our unique self in all its depth and complexity.”
“[authentic man] .. uses his strength in the service of community – to protect, serve and support it.”
“…unlike the hero, the authentic male allows himself to feel and to express his feelings to others. But he’s not flooded or dominated by his feelings like the feminized man. He retains his stoic warrior qualities while reclaiming his capacity to feel. He attempts to relate to women as equals, without overidealizing them as the source of his positive feelings or demeaning them as the source of his pain. He’s more likely to be involved and nurturing father to his children. He is sensitive to others and to nature, yet he’s spontaneous and acts consistently with his true feelings.”
“.. a guy who takes his cues from his inner self, while still saying connected to everything around him, said Jim. He believes in himself and listens to his inner voice, while still listening to others and being sensitive to his environment.”
“The braided self weaves many different images of self into an integrated whole. Our notion of the authentic male seems to represent a style of consciousness – an archetype – that is very repressed in the modern psyche. Yet it’s a source of what makes life exciting and vital.”
5. Beyond Patriarchy and Matriarchy: Our Ancient Roots in the Earth
THE ROOTS OF PATRIARCHY
“Our new image of authentic, sacred masculinity is of a creative, fecund, generative, nurturing, protective, and compassionate male, existing in harmony with the earth and the feminine, yet also erotic, free, wild, fierce, and undomesticated. This image is a far cry from the invincible, rigid, partriarchal, war-making hero of old, or the suffering martyr.”
AUTHENTIC MASCULINITY AND THE GAIA HYPOTHESIS
“The modern Gaia hypothesis posits that the earth is a living organism that is feminine. This increasingly popular metaphor exemplifies predicament of our current fision concerning the relationship of culture, soul, and gender. To envision the earth as solely feminine does the same injustice to the male psyche as the exclusively male, sky father hypothesis does to women.”
“… viewing the soul of the earth as a feminine entity, Gaia divorces the male psyche from its own fecund, life-affirming nature.”
“Many men today have been attempting to become more balanced by getting in touch with their femininity. Yet a man’s individuation is in danger if he bases his development solely on a return to mother – whether through worship of a female earth or a goddess image, or by idealizing a particular woman or feminine characteristics. He risks becoming dependent and disempowered, as have many feminized males.”
“The male initiation process, through which young men in earlier cultures connected with the masculine powers in the earth, is for the most part lost in this culture.”
“ ‘Save the Earth Mother’ is a proclamation we see frequently these days. This thinking reflects the male-degrading fashion of our time. It ignores the ancient connection with the earth that men always have had. It makes us appear as outsiders, intruders who don’t really belong to the earth or care for it.”
“One of the tasks our new knights began was to return the Earth Father archetype to our psychology, philosophy, and spiritual lives.”
THE DESTRUCTION OF THE EARTH FATHER CULTS
“The perversion of the phallus from a sacred image of Earth Father in union with the Earth Mother into an image of the intellectual, unfeeling man who dominates the feminine culminated in the early Christian era.”
“The phallus began to become depicted as bad, shameful, dangerous. This sentiment persists into the present. Today phallic images are considered either pornographic symb ols of patriarchal dominance or objects of homosexual fascination.”
THE TAMING OF THE ANCIENT WILD BULL-MAN
“So the new knights discovered, through looking at this historical information, that there once existed a sacred image of masculinity distinctly different from the one that dominates our collective consciousness today.”
6. Forgotten and Forbidden Sacred Images of Men
Part III. Revisioning Masculinity: Men’s New Roles in a Changing World
7. The Nurtured Son and the Initiated Young Man
OUR FATHERS, OUR CHILDREN, OURSELVES
“Most of the new knight’s fathers had been pretty distant.”
“Most of us reported that in addition to their being absent most of the time, there was little in the home that marked their presence.”
“All the knights grew up with father hunger. Just as we receive milk from our mother’s body, there is some sort of invisible milk of the father that emanates from his being. We all felt something ineffable when we were physically near our fathers, and we missed it when they were gone.”
THE GROUNDED FATHER
“In the knights we have fourteen children among us. In various ways we’re attempting to be different sorts of parents than our fathers. Yet we face the same obstacles that they encountered: divorce, custody disputes, economic hardships, lack of community, and the powerful demands of the workplace, which often take us outside the home.”
“Parenting was something for which our fathers rarely got any acknowledgement or support. In the new knights, however, we support one another to become the best possible parents we can be.”
“… we received most of our information about being a parent from the women in our lives. They were the experts.”
“Most of us in the new knights felt that our mothers were overly involved in our upbringing in a well-meaning attempt to compensate for our fathers’ absence.”
“Men don’t seem to nurture in exactly the same manner as women, but that doesn’t mean that what we offer is any less significant. It’s separate, different, and equally important.”
“… but we’re also more likely to engage our children physically with the outer world.”
“We serve as examples for our sons about how to become men.”
“Boys who grow up without a healthy, grounded father or other adult male who is present and involved in their lives often have a very distorted notion of what it is to be a man or how to relate to women.”
“I believe that most of the antimale invective today comes from women who have had a negative relationship with their fathers. A girl’s positive relationship with a present and involved father builds the foundation for balanced relations with the men in her adult life.”
TO BECOME A MAN
“For the most part we had initiated ourselves as men.”
“The only remnants we have of these ancient rites inour modern culture are initiations into the masculine cult of the hero.”
“Little is said by the elder men to the younger ones about soul, nature, tenderness, health, the body, sexuality, desire, dance, poetry, beauty, deep feeling, suffering, weakness, fear, or failure.”
A BOY NEEDS A TRIBE AND ELDER MALES
“In this simple event was transmitted the entire essence of male initiation.”
“The role of the adult male initiator is to wound a young man’s typical sense of unlimited ability without inducing shame in the process. The young man was acknowledged as a member of the adult male clan – capable and worthy of producing magic, yet still protected by the strength and guidance of the elders.”
“He is taught the limits of youthful endeavor an given a vision of his potential in the future. He’s both limited and encouraged at the same time.”
“You belong. You are welcome. You have magic. You don’t know how to use it yet. You will learn. There is a place for you by the fire.”
“What has been lacking for us until now, however, is a sense of a traditional male brotherhood into which young men can be initiated.”
“The masculine field to support that experience – the underlying mythological ground – has not been lively in the collective consciousness of contemporary Western males.”
HAMLET: THE UNINITIATED MALE
“One of the tenants of archetypal psychology is that through the study of myth one can gain insight into various human psychological complexes. Mythology gives shape to the dimensions of various human tendencies, possibilities, and so-called pathologies. Mythology can lend insight into etiologies (origins and causes as well).”
“But a man who’s initiated into masculine power can stand up to life without violence…”
“… In most cases, he need only show his sword, not use it.”
“That’s how I see it….violence is usually an expression of weakness, not strength.”
“Hamlet, as an uninitiated man, is incapable of being a warrior and slaying Claudius. He is a scholar who’s more concerned with words and ideas than committed action.”
PROBLEMS WITH THE UNINITIATED MALE
“… most men are Hamlets today. …Hamlet has no roots in the instinctive world…”
“The narcissistic male, unable to wield the power of the father, cannot generate and protect life or transform the world, only devalue it.”
“The ghost of Hamlet’s father is fierce. His apparition can ‘freeze thy young blood.’ He attempts to rectify the wrongs that have been done, advising his son from a position ‘more in sorrow than in anger.’ He reflects the perspective of authentic, deep masculinity. But he cannot initiate his son.”
“The feminist perspective is that Hamlet is dominated by patriarchal, masculine values and unable to respond to feminine, life-affirming influences. However, from the perspective of authentic masculinity, which affirms and protects life through the committed actions on an ethical warrior, just the opposite is true: Hamlet appears to be overly feminized, in the manner of many New Age men who are emerging from a culture in which the influence of an initiating, nurturing elder male is almost completely absent.”
“Yet Hamlet had not been allowed to grieve for his father…”
“A young man must be protected and held by the magnetic field of the father or other caring adult males at every stage of his development – from birth and weaning through latency, puberty, and individuation as an adult male.”
“It’s the lack of male initiation that may account for some of the life-negating forces in Western culture, which are now no longer merely subduing the earth, but destroying it.”
THE SEVENTH TASK OF MEN: TO REDISCOVER MALE INITIATION AND HEAL THE WOUNDS BETWEEN FATHER AND SONS
“What we’ve learned from one another about child-rearing and initiation is that there is an enormous value to simply spending time fully engaged with our children. We don’t really need a lot of fancy rites and rituals. We do need to pay attention to and honor the lives of our children. Our young men need to know that there are men in the community, other than their fathers, to whom they can relate, from whom they can learn, and by whom they can be accepted and admired. Through creating brotherhood with other men we create community for our sons, and respect and protection for our daughters.”
8. Love, Work, and Dreams
MEN WHO GIVE TOO MUCH: THE MALE SIDE OF CODEPENDENCE
“Wholeness is something that emerges through contact with our own essential nature.”
THE ZEN OF WORK
“Some studies indicate that as many as 80 percent of male workers in our culture feel that their work is both meaningless and oppressive.”
“… according to our new manifesto, our worth as men is not measured by what we produce. It’s measured by who we are. Our recovery, our families, our relations to others, or connection to soul, and making space for the sacred dreams are as important as making our way in the marketplace.”
“We also encourage one another to find humor in our various predicaments at work.”
“Fear of competition keeps men apart. We’re afraid to be vulnerable to someone who later may use our weakness to his advantage.”
THE EIGTH TASK OF MEN: TO LOVE AND WORK IN WAYS THAT HEAL OUR LIVES
“Now we’re challenging one another to strengthen many aspects of our lives: our courage, authenticity, commitment to a vision, our determination , flexibility, inner direction, ability to fly in the face of convention, our honesty, capability, passion, ferocity, strength, ability to create community, and openness about our wounds and failures. We are attempting to enhance our connection to nature, our capacity for pleasure, joy, our spirituality, soulfulness, capability for multiple modes of expression, access to a wide randge of emotions, our life-affirming protectiveness, our ability to hold power as a trust while simultaneously empowering others, our kindness, generosity, receptivity, playfulness, and responsiveness.”
9. The Elder Male: A Nonrenewable Resource
THERE ARE NO OLD HEROS – ONLY WISE OR FOOLISH OLD MEN
“Men over sixty-five have the highest rates of suicide of any group in the nation. The rate increases steadily with each year they age.”
“My generation of men has had a lot of distrust and anger toward the generation of men who came before us. The Vietnam War, the squandering of natural and economic resources, global pollution, and many other ills have been part of their legacy.”
“A number of scholars who have written about the historical development of masculinity in Western culture mark the onset of the industrial revolution as a crucial time in the transformation of men’s traditional roles. Prior to this period in history, men were more connected to the home and family.”
“For one thing, a grandfather can offer a boy or young man a softer image of masculinity. This is not the softness of the new male who never masters his potency. Ideally, this is the softness of a male who has found his strength and then tempered it with wisdom.”
“They’re often not merely seeking the lost fathers in their lives. They’re hungering after soulful elders.”
PLUMBING THE DEPTHS OF THE MASCULINE SOUL
“ … we can live life today better through coming into a peaceful relationship with aging and the end of life. As Jim mentioned earlier, there’s an old man within our psyches. The old man is both our future and the racial, collective memory of all men who’ve grown old and passed before us.”
“We’ve tried to meet the old man within as a guide to the depths of masculine soul.”
“The dread and resistance which every natural human being experiences when it comes to delving too deeply into himself is, at the bottom, the fear of the journey to Hades.”
“But Hades is also an undertaker – the creep of Western culture. He takes us down. He’s the great leveler of life. In the midst of our crowning glories he’s silently watching, saying, ‘This, too shall pass.’ Our careers, lives, children, accomplishments, and creative works all pale, withered by his gaze. We experience him in the pressing midlife question ‘Is this all there is?’ ”
“To the degree to which we are unable to face death, we deaden ourselves while still living. Carlos Castaneda, however, suggests that we make an ally of death in order to live life fully.”
THE DEATH OF THE HERO: COMMUNING WITH THE DEEP
“As we’ve seen, the underlying condition of many men in this culture is one of unreconciled grief. The expression of that grief is inconsistent with flashy, heroic optimism.”
“When we name the pain of nature, now perpetually wounded by our technological culture, as only our mother’s pain, we can’t fully connect with it as men. Many of us already have been overwhelmed by our own mothers’ pain. However, when we understand this feeling, as also the concentrated sorrow of the masculine soul in the earth, something else in us get mobilized. We’re more response-able. We can identify with it more closely. We somehow have more permission to grieve.
Our group attempts to create a climate of unconditional support for the expression of deep-seated feelings – even those dark, putrid, perverse, and deformed sentiments that often find no other acceptable outlet in the civilized world. Often we meet a brother’s grief with silence – not the silence of apathy, but rather the welcome silence of the Good Counselor, the Hospitable One who understands and willingly bears witness to our grief. This is healing.”
SPIRALING DOWN INTO THE CENTER OF OUR LIVES
“Through finding our soul music, our means of expressing grief, the underworld may become our ally.”
“Although men comprehend the changing nature of life intellectually, there’s nothing in our biological experience that intimately connects us with its cyclic nature.”
THE NINTH TASK OF MEN: TO RESTORE A CONNECTION WITH OUR ANCESTORS AND COME TO TERMS WITH OUR MORTALITY
“We’re getting older and trying to understand how to approach that reality in a conscious way.”
“… we’ve taken a new look at the stages of development in a man’s life: childhood, initiation, love, work, sacred dreams, the quest for soul, and aging. This is so that we, our sons, and our fathers can find a context in which to bless the development of one another’s souls.”
Part IV. Rebuilding the Community and the World
10. Meetings with Ordinary Men
Examples of groups:
1. Men’s rights groups, which address inequities in the social and legal system we raised in Part I of the book.
2. Mythopoetic groups that focus on ritual, men’s spirituality, and building male community.
3. Groups that focus on gay rights and other gay issues.
4. Male codependency groups, which focus on the issues of men who give too much.
5. Groups that focus on recovery, men’s support groups.
6. Other twelve-step-inspired groups working on issues of specific addictions.
“From our point of view recovery issues underlie the work of all men’s groups.”
“So its important to take what you can from this twelve-step work and leave the rest.”
“Regardless of your specific orientation, the most valuable focus in men’s work is the expression of the truth of our own experience.”
“Archetypal forces in the masculine soul have moved me to gather in small groups throughout the ages. Perhaps collectively we can host gods that are impossible for us to know individually.”
“So the forming of groups is not alien to us as men. But the skills for deepening friendships, based upon intimacy, often take more deliberate attention.”
“You also must be willing to face your homophobia, if you have it. And most heterosexual men do.”
NOW THAT WE’RE ALL HERE, WHAT DO WE SAY? WHAT SHOULD WE DO?
“Of course many of us are habitually rational, goal directed, and focused on the content and outcome of things. When men come together there’s often a tendency to talk around issues instead of about them.”
“Our relationship with a woman no longer has to carry the entire burden of our emotional needs. This alone can improve our relationships significantly.”
“.. it’s important to hold confidentiality as a basic tenet of our work.”
“Many men feel wounded by failures to live up to the heroic ideal and by the lack of support for radical change that we often encounter in our environment.”
“In actuality men are never safer then when in a men’s lodge. A group has the power to contain on man’s violence, to mitigate it, to allow violent feelings that have no other safe context for expression to surface and vent. This is healing.”
“It’s a relief to be able to finally let my guard down.”
“Men have a different emotional language and mode of expression than women.”
“For men, being face-to-face often implies squaring off or sizing each other up – competition or conflict.”
“A factor that often inhibits us from forming close male community is the repression many men have been conditioned to engage in around the expression of emotions.”
“One method we’ve found effective is to use a power object such as a stick of wood, a smooth stone, or other item. We agree that whoever holds the power can speak for a limited time – two, five, or ten minutes.”
“Fierceness is aligned with innate healing power in men’s bodies. When we drum, chant, sing, and move together in a powerful way, it engenders a collective force that connects us with the ancestral field of all men who’ve lived before us. Ritual is a context through which we may move into a deeper connection with the spirit of life, the delight of energy and vitality we all possess naturally as a birthright.”
HEALING THE ANCIENT WOUNDS BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN
“We need to begin creating forums for healing the ancient wounds between the sexes in a protected atmosphere of mutuality, respect, and goodwill.”
“The men’s movement will also need to enter this social dialogue to seek new common ground with women.”
11. Toward a New Male Psychology
“The current cultural myth seems to be that since men have more privileges, their psychological issues are not as pressing as those of women.”
“… a number of surveys indicate that women aged eighteen to sixty-five generally report greater happiness in life than men.”
“… the understanding of men’s authentic psychological and spiritual issues has been poorly developed by both men and women in the field.”
“… most psychological doctrine still holds the mother as the primary parent. The child’s relationship with the mother – the dyad – remains the primary, major focus of attention. This mother-centered psychology implies that the father’s fole is secondary, incidental. But this is contrary to the experience of the millions of modern fathers who are as engaged with their families as are mothers.”
“Yet the most popular test of gender specificity in psychology today still characterizes femininity as nuturing – helpful, expressive, and empathetic – and masculinity as controlling – dominant, confident, and assertive.”
“Men in our culture today are undergoing a major restructuring of the basic paradigms governing masculine consciousness and behavior.”
“The father is almost completely ignored in Jungian psychology.”
“In analytical psychology, masculine consciousness is mostly understood as solar: self-effulgent, egoic, dominating, above the horizon of consciousness, with no capacity for reflection and receptivity.”
“Men’s capacity to feel, to touch, experience the interiority, and interact with the unconscious is expressed as occurring through connectedness with anima or the inner woman.”
NURTURE OVER NATURE: IS SOCIETY TO BLAME?
“Feminist researchers assert that there are few essential differences between the sexes, that most of our differences in behavior stem from our acculturation.”
“Feminists deemphasize and devalue biological factors in sex differences for essentially political reasons.’ “
“… for whatever reasons, the sexes are different in many ways.”
“We need to start giving men the same sort of consideration and attention to their gender-specific needs that women have received over the last few decades.”
“The radical feminist response is that men are ontologically flawed.”
“… there’s been an implied tone from many women and men that women are innately morally superior to men.”
“What concerns us here is the cultural influence on a young man’s character during the developmental stages of his life…. Universities….lack even a single course in men’s studies. Meanwhile, there are thousands of courses and over six hundred university departments devoted to women’s studies nationwide.”
“It’s time men began to change this social trend and become more involved in parenting, early education, social services, and mental-health services for men.
ARE OUR SCHOOLS DEFICIENT IN MASCULINE SOUL?
“In many cases drugs like Ritalin are used now to calm boys down, rather than educators taking a hard look at the style of teaching, values, and the structure of the classroom. We don’t give complacent girls drugs to normalize them and make them more assertive. If boys are more deviant, it may point to a failure in our educational system to accommodate the differing gender styles and modes of learning of boys and girls.”
“They usually lack a strong masculine presence that can nurture the development of their deep masculinity and contain their aggression with a fearless, loving firmness.”
“Wild, masculine hunting energy is translated as hyperactivity, nonconformity, and poor social adjustment.”
“Restless hunger for action would meet with praise, be encouraged, and be positively directed by older men in a hunter society.”
“… we at least have some period of the day or week when boys are in the company of only other boys and men? And shouldn’t this be something other than the competitive environment of sports, the aggression training of ROTC, or the punitive environment of social-adjustment classes?”
“Boys need an environment where their rowdiness is occasionally given an outlet, even appreciated, where they’re not shamed or controlled, repeatedly told to be quiet and sit still. Maybe we need to institute courses like boy’s conga drumming, rap dancing, rock-band practice, or some other loud, physical, aggressive, disorderly, noncompetitive activity for which boys could get as much credit as for good spelling.”
“Loneliness, isolation, and low self-esteem are devastating to young men’s psychology.”
“… boys act out just so they can attract some strong male attention in their lives, even if that attention is negative.”
“… The Feminized Male, Patricia Sexton laments that most male teachers are themselves feminized and therefore can do little to offset the damage done to boy’s masculinity by the feminized classroom.”
“There’s a persistent idea in our culture today that feminine virtues are somehow more positive than masculine ones. But this is simply a reversal of the old sexist thinking many women and men have been struggling to eliminate from our culture.”
“But more socially nurturning behavior will come from connection with our ethical depths, not from merely increasing levels of outside constraint and control. Ritual, initiation, male mentoring, wilderness work, and authentic male-lodge society may help young men connect with those depths.”
THE FINAL TASK OF MEN: TO CONTINUE REAWAKENING THE MASCULINE SOUL
“The last thing we want is a new formula for reducing the multiplicity and mystery of the male psyche to yet another system of classification, be it Hero, Wild Man, Warrior, King, or Authentic Male.”
“But I’m also discouraged by how little is as yet available in the way of high-quality books, men’s-studies courses, men’s centers, and institutes or groups focused on men’s issues, as well as research on male psychology.”
“Conscious men need to become more involved in every aspect of our children’s development. We need to create rehabilitation alternatives for the increasing numbers of men who are in distress and coming under the jurisdiction of the penal system.”
“We each have the individual power to create a men’s lodge wherever we are in the world.”
“Our tasks represent a few of the many issues men are grappling with today.”
“We’re reaching out to women and becoming more concerned about our children and our environment.”
In the wake of the recent tragedies – the loss of precious lives, of future possibilities and potentials that will never be, the devastation and fear left behind for students, teachers and parents there are many questions left unanswered and a great need to understand, explain and to begin to heal from loss.
Beyond the unavoidable anguish and worry for the future about, with and for our young citizens, extending beyond our anguish for the families involved…. we must turn towards the future, ask questions and seek answers. Among those questions I would offer these:
Amid so much apparent affluence, opportunity and hope for the future… how can there exist such loneliness and despair?... or anger?
How can we help to recognize when one us needs help so that it can be extended or… even more crucial, what is the source… what is missing or what is wrong with our society to cause such pain in individual lives?