How to be a Man

May 2008

Steve Pavlina tells us ‘how to be a man’. There's some pretty big calls:

A man who claims his #1 commitment in life is his relationship partner (or his family) is either too dishonest or too weak to be trusted. His loyalties are misplaced. A man who values individuals above his own integrity is a wretch, not a free thinker.

And some clichés:

A man is an active giver of love, not a passive receiver. A man is the first to initiate a conversation, the first to ask for what’s needed, and the first to say “I love you.” Waiting for someone else to make the first move is unbecoming of him.

(could be some truth, maybe, I guess.)

I don't think it's perfect, but it helps me begin to shape a few answers to some of my questions.

Fraser commented:

"6. Re-channel sex energy. A man doesn’t hide his sexuality. If others shrink from him because he’s too masculine, he allows them to have their reaction. There’s no need for him to lower his energy just to avoid frightening the timid. A man accepts the consequences of being male; he makes no apologies for his nature."

Raaaahg! I man!

...seriously, what a dickhead!

Matt commented:

I like the bit on channelling energy – "He allows his sexual energy to explode through his heart, not just his genitals."


Christina commented:

Can I quote you on that? :P

Matt commented:

It's not a quote, it's a fact.

KT commented:

Sounds like a 21st century Nietzsche! No wonder Nietzsche didn't like women. And by that I don't particularly mean to disparage what either man has to say. I can see a lot of power and truth in both, and that a man who lived up to all this would be a rather remarkable being - especially if all this determination and path-forging were coupled with sufficient intelligence and good will that he didn't end up a George W or something.

Can certainly see why men need women though. Because if all/some of this is so, such a man is likely to miss out on a lot of the richness of intimacy and friendship, compassion and commitment, mercy, generosity, healing, vulnerability, allowing himself to be loved - and could end up sort of skimming across the surface of life in that sense. These things will seem like distractions to a Zarathustra - which of course they are in a sense, but to be in denial about the reality of 'domesticity' in life seems sort of sad.

And of course it's clear why women need men too. Well anyhow it's clear why I do, this week especially.

Yeah, I guess to me the more interesting question is not 'how to be a man/woman' but 'what is it for me to be a man/woman?' Because in that article I could insert 'Katherine' for 'a man/he' through quite a lot of it, at least in terms of my ideals (whether or not I live up to them). And as you know, I saw a lot of myself in Zarathustra too, and figured out some of who I wanted to be. Part of being a man or a woman seems to me to be a willingness to learn from the other, rather than polarise to an extreme.

Will be interested to see what the women article has to say.

Christina commented:

There were bits of it, that like Kat, I thought were really good and something to aspire to (blokes and girls). But there were also bits that made me think "I hope I never meet a guy who actually follows this to the letter, 'cos he'd be a wan-- er, flanker".

On a less serious note, this site might help you in your wanderings (or not): http://mantivities.wordpress.com/

Nato commented:

KT, I'd like to express disagreement with the sentiment you expressed, when you say that a man without women "...is likely to miss out on a lot of the richness of intimacy and friendship, compassion and commitment, mercy, generosity, healing, vulnerability, allowing himself to be loved..."

It sounds like the underlying assumption is that men aspire to be like Nietzsche argues, or like that article, to be the giant walking penis, to live dictated by logic. I would contend that some men do, but not all. Right now, I'm thinking of three guys who do not fit that description. And as I type, I keep having more popping into my mind. So yeah. All guys are not coldly logical.

Of course I've probably misinterpreted you :)

Matt commented:

Zarathustra has some pretty harsh things to say about the emotional in the specifics, but in general I've always felt it had a huge focus on wholeness, on not disparaging the parts of us that don't fit this cold platonic ideal. (See, for instance, ‘On the Despisers of the Body’.) Nietzsche just couldn't see past his misogyny.

Anyway, it seems to me that to be emotional and integrated requires far more strength than to be coldly rational. It's something I've never been very good at, and I'm sure I'd be a better man if I could learn some of that strength.

I linked this because a couple of points in there did resonate, and in fact helped me at a few key moments this last weekend. As one (or all) of my Carey lecturers used to say, “it's not either/or, it's both/and.” (I feel like I'm barely making sense.)

KT commented:

Nato: for sure. I meant that a man who lived up to Pavlina's ideal would be in danger of missing out on those things. I agree, I haven't met many, if any, men who match that description, and most of the guys I know well are pretty at home with emotion and intimacy.

Matt: yeah, Z was certainly pretty emotional, sensitive to pain and loss and joy and beauty and poetry, and capable of friendship (albeit only with his perceived equals), which was wonderful. Pity he remained a hermit, is all, and failed to rise above despising those he didn't respect. Hm, although he certainly tried, I have to say, and came to that point through disillusionment.

Re. your last paragraph: yeah I noticed :) All very interesting. I shall ponder some more.