What’s healthy about masculinity? (This article is meat-free)
Recently I published an article about the toxic traits of masculinity. If you didn’t have the chance to read it you can catch up here.
In the article I talked about the “ugly” stuff, like the emphasis on physical strength, controlling behaviour or that men avoid non-sexual physical touch from other male friends from a very young age.
But is there anything wholesome about masculinity?
In the search for the “holy grail” of how to express masculinity in healthy ways, there is the tendency to slip back into the same mindset we try to avoid — that it is a prescriptive way to express healthy manhood.
If there is one thing I have learned is that masculinity is a spectrum and comes in many shapes and sizes, that we can even speak about masculinities.
Below are four traits that I’ve learned over the past years in my own journey of defining healthy manhood.
They are not necessarily exclusive about men, but I wanted to share them as they are not the “usual suspects” and are a good start for one’s journey of healthy masculinities. So here we go.
A shift of focus
As a result of transitioning from boyhood to manhood, I realised that life is less about me, my success or what I have or don’t.
The focus shifted from me to others. A boy is on the receiving end, as the world revolves around his needs. Now, that the boy became a man, he cares for others and their needs. Others are the priority.
I also learned that a man should be willing to empower others from disadvantaged or not, family members, friends to colleagues or even strangers.
It is healthy for a man (or woman) to be able to set boundaries in a thoughtful, but firm way either in a personal or professional setting. Having good boundaries and respecting others’ boundaries are good signs of maturity.
A “healthy” man respects others’ boundaries regardless of what “format” they come in.
Brené Brown’s research found that those who have “boundaries of steel” are the most compassionate, even more than those who tend to be available…