How easy is it for you to be yourself? How much of the person you project into the world, especially in relationships with women, is really a reflection of yourself? How much of this person is who think you should be, rather than who you want to be? I bet, even if you see yourself as a pretty genuine guy, there are a lot of compromises in the image you put out there in the world.
I think of myself as a fairly transparent and honest person. In fact, a lot of my female friends rely on me to be a genuine guy, to be open and expressive. And I am. But not completely. There are certain key areas, where I am still very guarded. The male ego dominates these areas, and will not relinquish control.
The male ego is that part of you that has constructed itself in order to fit in, in order to be seen as acceptable. It is that part of you that makes jokes about being gay with your mates, which uses bravado and humour to smooth over awkward feelings and emotions. It is that part of you that always seeks to prove itself to the wider community, that always has to qualify its beliefs and actions, and explain why some peculiarity in your character is in fact an expression of manliness rather than a weakness. It is that part of you that wants to be accepted, that will play to the crowd, and which will lead you to denounce even your own passions, for the sake of an easy time. It is the part of you that wants to be better, but not too different. It wants to be unique, but not weird. It wants to be its own man, but not isolated. It wants to excel, but it also wants to be esteemed by the pack.
And none of this is actually wrong in itself. Men are pack animals. Masculine culture has always been group focused to an extent. The process of the hunt was always done in groups, and the bond between men in these situations was critical to the survival of the tribe. So let’s get this straight – don’t be ashamed of your male ego. Don’t start pretending you don’t have one either. This is just another aspect of an unhealthy male neurosis. And we “sensitive” guys are all too prone to pretending we are not victim to it, when in fact we are riddled with competiveness, jealousy and aggression. We are just very good at covering it up, for the sake of other interests.
So, I think it is healthy to recognise the male ego as something essential. But to recognise it as a tool, rather than let it run amuck. It is a mask, often an essential one, but it is one that we must be prepared to take off, especially in the privacy of our own thoughts. If the male ego, this person that you have been told that you should be, starts to dominate your own self-image, then you are in trouble. Then it is no longer just a convenient costume you present to the world in order to navigate the bullshit and use in order to play a role in working environments – it becomes a form of psychosis, and it will cut you off from yourself.
There is more I want to say on this, but I think it is suffice to say here that we need to be honest with ourselves, understand the role the ego plays, but not let it become some way in which we compromise our integrity. There are times when a man needs to play a role as part of a group. Especially, with other men. Women should not put this behaviour down, even if they think they can see through it. Of course it is an act, but it is an essential act, developed from a time when men were required to put a brave face on the prospect of death in battle, or the potential extinction in the wild. The challenge we face is simply not to let this necessary game that we play dominate our inner reality and the way we express ourselves in relationships. Because this erodes any chance of authenticity.
We end up with a culture that teaches men that they should never be themselves, that to show weakness or vulnerability is tantamount to annihilation. We need to know the difference between moments where we are hunting or fighting to live, and moments where we are required to express this life within us on an authentic level.
Don’t pretend you don’t have a male ego. You do. You are just as much of an aggressive, competitive and jealous person as the next guy. I guess the best thing we can do is accept it, but not let it become the whole truth about whe we are.