One of my favourite clients to work with are men who are transitioning out of the toxic constraints of the gendered scripts of masculinity. Witnessing men as they rewrite their narratives in a language that understands the poisons of gender and the privileges it affords while carving out a new narrative territory is a gift I cherish.
Most men go through a period of rage in their lives when confronting the brittle fragility of masculinity. Many men lash out and project onto women, vulnerable people, "unmanly" men, and "weakness" this rage, blaming the "other" for all their pain and suffering. Rather than look inward and accept the pain, they turn outward and lay the blame elsewhere putting into effect a lifelong negative feedback loop of "when I feel pain I blame you" and all the negative sequelae of behaviours that ensue.
We all bear witness to this expression of male rage everywhere and everyday to the point that male rage has become a normalised and acceptable social expression of "masculinity".
But then there are the men who see the cracks and let the light in. These are precious opportunities which if recognised as liberation, illuminate the egress and ingress of how to express experience not posited on a concept of masculinity but on the lived experience of inhabiting a male body in a gender scripted society. These are men who need to be cherished and nourished with understanding and compassion.
I have learned long ago that as a woman there is only so much I an offer my brethren who struggle with the burden of masculinity. As in all things we are limited in what we can offer people we love as they struggle toward insight. Especially when we have been artificially divested from one another through this gendered script.
What men need are other men to show them they way out not because they are men but because of the mutually shared experience of oppression they share and thus the experiential knowledge they can pass on to other men. I don't live in the scripts so I don't have the experience of finding my way out of masculinity. But I am an ally, I have wisdom, I have witnessed and I am here to support men in finding their voice when they are truly ready to lay down their burden of masculinity and see it for the poison it is.
Truly nothing is more terrifying for a man than to let go of the toxic lie that life is all about power and the power play, to a man invested in the masculine script to give up masculinity is literally the same as experiencing death. This is why it is such a difficult script to disrupt and change, especially for those who wore the mantle with ease and unwittingly accepted it as the "correct" way to be and live - that is where privilege solidifies its hold and is the most difficult bond to break.
Remember, all male rage has a seed planted in early childhood when they were beautiful little boys, soft, lovely emotional gorgeous little creatures full of life and love - like all humans we are born with an innate ability to love and to reflect love back to each other. I am more aware of this than ever before having a son and witnessing how profoundly emotional and beautiful he is. I want more than anything to save him from the poisons of masculinity by cherishing and nourishing his open hearted nature. But indoctrination begins young, be it through religion, belief, values, morals or the simple focus on genital difference, the act of othering and centering is a fertile ground in which the seeds of rage and anger are easily planted.
To teach boys and men that life is not about power but about love is the core lesson here. To plant a different garden than one that blindly repeats gender scripting would be the greatest gift as a parent I could give both my children. As we have witnessed over and over in our human history a world where masculine rage is at the helm is a world of ash and ruin.
I read this article in the Guardian today, which is what inspired me to write this piece today.