It seems my views on masculinity have changed of late. Very recently in fact.
Last week, I was holidaying in Byron Bay and it would seem that there are a lot of tanned, muscular men who don’t own shirts living there.
A couple of months ago, last week even, this would have awakened a deep desire in me that my lack of self-confidence would never have allowed me to explore.
This time though, there was none of that automatic attraction. None of that lustful desire I have always felt.
It took me a few minutes to realise why.
Over Christmas I have been listening to a podcast by a very knowledgeable and down to earth woman by the name of Rebecca Dettman, called Soul Doctor. The specific podcasts were a two-parter on the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine, the second of which talks about the current perception of masculinity as the warrior archetype and how it leads to Manorexia (as she puts it).
It became obvious that there is just as much push from women for men to embody this role of muscular warrior as there is from men for women to be the skinny, beautiful model. This is a sweeping generalisation, but looking at society it’s hard not to make it when that is all we see portrayed on TV, movies and in magazines.
As I looked around the crowd of people enjoying some Saturday afternoon music on the beach, it struck me that many of these men worked hard to become this type of man. Very hard. Did they do it in an attempt to meet society’s expectations? They would probably never admit it, even if they were self-aware enough to see it. Sure, for some it is the expression of their true self, but for many it is a forced lifestyle that can lead to steroids, or worse, in an effort to keep up. They too are under enormous pressure to be a certain way and it was heartbreaking.
It was a major realisation that ‘muscular’ no longer guaranteed ‘masculinity’ for me. It is no longer a healthy archetype to apply to all men, and probably never was.
For me, the question is what does the Divine Masculine look like now, if it ‘looks’ like anything at all?
I think it, like the Divine Feminine, lies in a person’s awareness of who they are as a person, an ability to be truly intimate and vulnerable, to learn and grow from life’s experiences and just BE. Just be themselves. Their true selves. With an understanding that the feminine and masculine reside in us all. It is our job to balance both and see what this means for us.
And it is time society started giving us the space in which to explore our own masculinity and femininity for ourselves. We also need to stop dictating to men and women who they should be and how they should express themselves. Stop telling boys not to cry and girls they aren’t brave enough. Stop telling boys and men they need to be physically strong and girls and women that they need to be petit.
Let each person work it out for themselves and give them the space and opportunity to do so, and when they do, the freedom to express it.
In this, we can finally learn to access and express our own divinity.