The strength of a man is determined by the extent to which he is able to confront his weaknesses. This is something we do not value in society. Men are not allowed to show their vulnerabilities. Any such behaviour is immediately viewed as repellent. Masculinity has become associated with invulnerability. But there is no such thing as invulnerability. This is a very dangerous aspect of our culture, because a culture that requires we repress our fears and which affirms repressive activity, is a culture of abuse.
Your vulnerabilities and your so-called weaknesses, are the keystones of your masculinity. Without them, your character as a man has no integrity. Your masculinity is nothing but a mask.
Ask any champion boxer, ask any soldier. Read the Art of War. If a man is not prepared to confront his weaknesses, to own them and admit to them, then he is no man at all. That’s not a value judgement by the way. That is a stone cold fact, a descriptive statement.
Again, this why tribal culture associated a man’s masculinity with a rite of passage. Once a man has had his limitations tested, he is truly powerful. Most importantly, because he has a grounded sense of perspective, a real sense of his place in the world.
This is a physical thing. It is actually about the boundaries of the body. And a healthy understanding of one’s frailties, weaknesses and limitations, gives a young man a natural humility. However, and crucially, it also gives him a genuine confidence. He is not cocky. He does not carry himself with masculine histrionics. He carries himself with a grace and poise, similar to an animal. His place in the world is understood.
Again, this is physical thing, and it brings out the importance of physical activity in a man’s development. It doesn’t have to be sport. But I think every man should confront their own physicality on a regular basis. In that way, his testosterone is balanced, and his physical presence is tempered. It is not deluded and therefore pathological, and the scope for abusive behaviour is reduced to nothing.
We are no longer intoxicated by power, by physicality and testosterone. We have been put in our place by the world around us. By forces bigger and more devastating than ourselves.
We have developed as individuals, in a synergy of limitlessness, and we have not tempered our sense of power with the prospect of a natural world far greater and more powerful than we actually have the mind to conceive. We exploit resources with an arrogance explainable only by our ignorance. The most powerful among us, are yet to be tested, and this explains the rampant imperialism of our politics.
Like prizefighting champions who only take the easy defences, we have not tested ourselves. Masculinity has therefore been lost. It is nothing more than a performance. A vacuous dance. A real champion confronts his most feared opponent. Otherwise he is nothing more than a living breathing marketing stunt.
And this is what has happened to masculinity. It has become simply a PR campaign. There is no substance to it, because it is not something that can be tested. Men who show vulnerability, fear and weakness are thought to be unmanly. So, it is too late for most men, when their lives reach a crisis as a result of not confronting their limitations.
If a man does not know his limitations, his physical boundaries, he knows nothing if his own strength and power.