Being a man means different things for different men. Except some stereotypes persist. Steve Biddulph’s book ‘Manhood’ takes this apart and invites men to step up. He actually calls it “men’s liberation”.
Until recently, I felt separate from my fellow man. My sister (with whom I have a great relationship) referred to me as “an honorary woman”. I have also usually felt more comfortable in the company of women. I accepted this as normal. I just wasn’t like other men. I don’t like football. I don’t drink alcohol. I experienced myself as permanently on the outside, yet wanting to connect with some ideal of “manhood”.
Biddulph’s book gave me hope. Through reading it, not only did I discover that I’m not alone – but also that there’s a supportive community.
I also found that I had a very fixed idea of what it means to be man. Based on my past, and the archetypes fed to me from the media, I was “meant” to be strong and unemotional. The provider. Dominating. In-charge.
I then spent my adult life rebelling against this fixed definition. I thought I was superior and beyond those immature notions. Of course, the more I pushed against those fixed ideas, the more real they became. Rebellion was my way of defining my version of masculinity. Yet all I did was reinforce the traditional ideals.
By shining a light on my own opinions, this book had me realise that I am free to create my own version of what it means to be a man.
But I don’t mean that the book encourages a “new-age” approach. Men have a deep understanding that there’s more to us than the “all-conquering alpha” or being “in-touch-with-our-feminine-side”. As a man I am capable of acts of strength and force, but also protection and awareness. “Manhood” calls for an authentic embracing of masculinity. To tell the truth and not shy away.
Books like this, websites like goodmenproject.com and articles like “A Master’s Degree in…masculinity?” are part of a general awakening that’s happening. At Manoscopy we aim to contribute to this shift.