here’s a scene in Godfather I where Don Corleone chides Johnny Fontane about his “whining” for a movie part.
He grabs him, shakes him, and then slaps him exclaiming, “You can ACT like a Man!” Then he scolds him for crying like “a woman.”
The next scene is Don Corleone asking Jonny Fontane if he visits with his family, stating that any “man that doesn’t spend time with his family can never be a real a man.”
There’s a lot to unpack, good and bad, in those two scenes.
These stereotypes, the bullshit we men have been fed since birth is killing us…
As a teenager I laughed at this scene, just like Tom Hagen, all my male buddies laughed because Jonny Fontane was crying like a woman.
Little did I know at the time we would slowly model our behavior on these types of movies. You know, the manly ones. The war ones. The violent ones. The ones where we take by divine right.
We thought that’s what acting “like a man” meant and we wanted to “act like men!” Yet it never occurred to us what acting like a man is at its most basic and truest form.
Looking back now I can see it was Hollywood perpetuating stereotypes, the strong silent man, the emotional woman that needed to be dominated by men only she didn’t know it yet. The toughness of killing your enemy. To the victor the spoils of conquest! GET SWOL!!!
These stereotypes, the bullshit we men have been fed since birth is killing us, and it has to stop for the sake of the world.
We were the three Musketeers, our lives were filled with adventure, exploration, and happiness.
Seriously, the survival of the world rests in Men’s hands because of the system we’ve created.
It dawned on me. We’re out of balance, especially us men.
But we’re asleep and we unknowingly keep preserving a dysfunctional and unsustainable system. We keep patching up the structure against the wind of change and in the face of extinction.
The Pecking Order must be Preserved
I spent my early formative years with my nose buried in a book. I read a lot and before I got interested in girls I spent all my time outside, playing music, fishing with two friends, and riding my bicycle. I was never interested in team sports and only had a small circle of close friends.
The bullying has changed and the sad fact is that the pecking order is preserved
We were the three Musketeers, our lives were filled with adventure, exploration, and happiness. It was the zenith of our inner children and I could write a book on those times. Sadly only this Musketeer lives on to carry that torch, but that is for another story and another time.
It was the summer before Middle School. Sixth grade. The year that all the girls started carrying purses in school and my male classmates started a lot of team sports. I remained happy doing what I did before, reading, fishing, and playing music.
Somewhere around the first or second week of school, the bullying started. I was thrust into a pecking order. The next seven years of my school life were hell and I have almost no happy memories of High School at all.
Granted, things are different today but many of the problems remain. Bullying is still there no matter how many programs we make school kids attend. The bullying has changed and the sad fact is that the pecking order is preserved.
My teenage kids feel it. They live it every day and they hate it. My daughter gets leered at by boys. My son is shunned because he’s one of those smart kids.
Let’s face it, I didn’t have it that bad. I wasn’t a woman or a woman of color or even a transgender woman.
But I notice a difference. There is a difference in the pecking order for girls versus boys. Boys tend to be higher up in the order than the girls. The boys maintain their order and the girls, ruthlessly maintain theirs.
Everywhere I look I see a pecking order. I see it in the schools, in my community, at work, in society at large. It’s everywhere and every one of us suffering from it.
Let’s face it, I didn’t have it that bad. I wasn’t a woman or a woman of color or even a transgender woman. I was always higher in the order than them. Why should I care? Right?
I have White Male Privilege
Just by being a white man I had enough privilege to be above women in the pecking order. I got lucky when I was born. What if I were a black make? Would that be any different? You bet.
But I have a problem with those words, pecking order. Boy does that sound phallic. It’s like we’re all getting fucked by it and we don’t even know it.
Let’s get to the point and call a spade a spade. Pecking order is nothing more than the patriarchy. It’s a system that perverted Masculine energy and its protective power to keep us all under its thumb.
It’s what holds women of all colors, all genders, and men down.
Yes, it holds men down.
My Gawd, it’s like a raging fire. The feeling of strength and raw power is intoxicating.
This realization came to me when I watched the infamous Gillette commercial.
Holy shit did my male friends flip out.
“Not all Men!”
“How dare they attack me like that! I would never treat a woman that way.
“Those are other guys! Not me!”
“If I saw bullying I would step in and stop it!”
“If that was me I’d do something about it!”
“Do something about it.”
We need to do. We need to do better.
We can Act like Men
For the readers that carry Feminine energy, I can’t fully describe to you the feeling of Masculine energy.
My Gawd, it’s like a raging fire. The feeling of strength and raw power is intoxicating. It looks at self-imposed limits and laughs at them as it blows past them. It needs to protect, it needs to hunt, and it needs to bond with Feminine energy. It’s playful and warm. Snuggly even and it’s constantly burning. Always so hot.
While I relish every bit of this energy it has one big weakness. It can be easily perverted. Think of a fire, it can burn down your house or it can heat your house. It has to be properly contained and harnessed. Let loose it can be destructive. Contained it can be useful.
It can also be used for evil when contained, like a flame thrower.
That’s what this world has turned us men into, flame throwers.
When Masculine energy is perverted as such it turns into what we know as toxic masculinity and preserves the patriarchy (aka the containment).
This perversion is what I ruminate and reflect upon every day. I ask myself, am I acting like a man is supposed to act? Am I acting like a real man? Where am I being contained? Where is the inequity in the system? Where am I reinforcing it and where am liberating it? Am I good father? Am I good son and brother? Am I good husband and lover?
Honestly, this introspection is very confusing and often I have more questions than answers. On top of that the messages I get from media, friends, family, and work confuse me even more.
It’s always the same message: conform to the system.
They don’t why they’re angry but they feel it and it becomes a time bomb.
Conform to the roles that the system has forced upon us men and women. The system is there to contain us under the guise of protection.
It’s a powerful weight that crushes boys and only gets heavier the older we get. Boys are confused about how to “act like a man” and end up lost. They look to the system and see the metaphorical chains that hold them back and get angry. They don’t why they’re angry but they feel it and it becomes a time bomb.
After I got my ass beat…
It affects everything in our lives. The boys grow up to be men only by age and struggle to form healthy relationships with partners later in life. They can’t navigate changing roles in society. They can’t deal with empowered women. The patriarchy they grew into and were molded for doesn’t make much sense anymore.
This, to me, is the root of toxic masculinity.
I practice Karate and follow a strict set of codes to guide me in my martial arts journey.
There’s one particular open-handed kata that means a great deal to me. It’s called Sanchin Kata and it’s loosely translated to “Three conflicts.”
These three conflicts often mean the physical, mental, and spiritual pushes and pull we have in our lives. Once we achieve balance we can be as one with Heaven and Earth.
You have to dig deep into yourself and overcome.
The Kata requires intense concentration. You are in full tension and your breathing is focused to clear your mind. You dig your feet and toes deep into the earth and pull its energy into your core.
Then, you get hit. You get punched and kicked. The instructors try to break your focus to achieve unity with Heaven and Earth. You have to dig deep into yourself and overcome.
This is where I reached deep down inside me and summoned my Masculine energy. The precise energy that pushes me to overcome any obstacle. It’s the fire that I roar to the world.
After I got my ass beat (like the guy in the video) I had a moment of clarity. If I’m striving for balance, what does that say about the world? What does that say about us Men and our relationship with the world, our mothers, sisters, lovers, and partners?
It dawned on me. We’re out of balance, especially us men.
The world is out of balance. The protective Masculine energy deep inside of us was perverted and used to create a system of control -the patriarchy- under the guise of protecting our womenfolk.
Control and perversion. That was it.
Masculine energy was perverted with the intent to control Feminine energy. We contained the energy of women and placed their free-flowing oceans of Feminine energy into a small bathtub and then we men pissed in it.
It’s no wonder they’re upset. I would be too.
Scratch that, I am upset.
My message is clear for us Men is this, we need to tear it all down. We need to take our Masculine energy and become the liberators the world needs. It’s time we step on the world stage and truly liberate the oppressed.
This is how we can act like real men.
I don’t know about you but I can hear women crying for our help. They are repressed, harassed, treated unfairly. We refuse to listen to them because the patriarchy must be preserved!
They yearn for our true Masculine energy in the purest and rawest form possible to let their oceans of Feminine energy flow free again.
Why? To achieve balance, and balance can only be achieved when there is unity and equality. Yin and Yang are in opposition but in balance.
We must break the dam that holds all of us hostage and we must do it now.
Burn it, men! Burn it all to the ground.
I firmly believe that men need to be agents of change and we can start today.
Listen. Reflect. Change.
That’s all there is to it. These three actions are crucial to our liberation of all sentient beings, but do not be led astray. Seek the purest form of yourself and effectuate the change.
This is how we can act like real men.