We’re at an age where many of us are beginning to understand the universal principle of gender. As an energetic principle, we all have feminine and masculine aspects working within and around us. Understanding these principles can help us to align with our highest expression of these aspects. Empowered with the knowledge needed for us to step into our highest expression, we become better and better versions of ourselves as time goes on.
Misconceptions & Modern Times
There are many misconceptions around masculinity. We don’t need to look too deep below the surface to find the layers of conditioning; masculinity is often associated with brute strength, assertiveness, courage, leadership and bravery. Now, when we look towards the way we’ve evolved, we recognize that the embodiment of this principle becomes less and less physical. We’ve already invented the wheel, forged new inventions and blazed plenty of trails. Now is the time in human history where we can begin to really refine the masculine principle into its Divine form.
So, here we are, poised with the question of ‘how does the Divine Masculine communicate through me?’
The answer may be different for all of us. Yet there are some basic underlying principles that are important to acknowledge. When we apply the traditional traits of masculinity (strength, assertiveness, leadership) toward these modern times, we see that what’s really valiant is to apply these principles to the way we communicate our truth. Embodying the masculine principle in the way we communicate looks like openness and honesty. Oriented toward truth, we usher in clarity with compassion, never shying away from the power of whatever message we’re seeking to get across.
Compassion and Honesty
Through this compassionate expression of one’s truth, the people we’re communicating with are able to better understand where they stand. When I am embodying the principle of Divine Masculinity, I am not only able to clearly and compassionately articulate my truth and know exactly where I stand on any given matter, but I also allow others to know where they stand in relationship to me. The people in my life always know where they stand with me. I share my message gently, and with care, always orienting toward the importance of the intentionality behind my communication. When honesty is at the core, we calibrate to truth, and that is honorable.
Perhaps you can think of something you’ve been wanting to communicate to someone in your life. This is your invitation to practice a bit, perhaps with yourself first, finding compassion in the way your truth is communicated. Step by step, the Divine Masculine principle will continue to crystallize in your field as you become a stronger and more compassionately courageous human being!
So, we all know the term ‘physics’. Yet, how many of us are adept in understanding the term ‘metaphysics’? What’s the difference? (If you haven’t read our prior post around this topic, dive in).
Bluntly put, metaphysics provide a framework for understanding how our universe works (not just the physical matter that we perceive in our ‘reality’).
Alright, so let’s get back to our topic at hand; ‘toxic masculinity’. When I say that this concept is not real, I am saying that this term issubjective.
All subjectivity is ultimately not real.
The term “toxic masculinity” does not mean the same thing to everyone. There is no shared agreement or understanding about what is toxic versus not toxic. There is also a lot of confusion about what is masculine, but we’ll get to that later.
So when you put two words together to describe behaviors for which there is no shared agreement you end up with not meaning anything at all.
If one person can label a cis-straight male asking a woman out on a date “toxic,” and another person thinks that’s completely acceptable behavior, then there’s nothing objective or real about that distinction. If two people see a man open the door for a woman, and one reports it as toxic while another reports it as him simply being a gentleman, was it toxic masculinity?
“Objective” or “real” means there’s something observable and measurable that does not change based on who’s looking. That there’s agreement based on a shared experience. You don’t have that with ‘toxic masculinity.’
You see, something that is objectively real can’t be changed by your thoughts, opinions, or beliefs.
Conversely, anything that can be changed just by thinking about it, is subjective, or not real.
I can’t think a chair into being a car. I can say it’s a car, tell others it’s a car, and convince my baby brother that if he sits on the chair we can go for a ride, but the reality is, at the end of the day, it’s still a chair. And to my little brother’s dismay, it’s not going anywhere.
This is illustrated in the evolution of how LGBT became LGBTQII2+. If these distinctions were real, then they could not change. The reality is that as long as you can keep adding distinctions to the pile of letters sexual orientation has become, then you’re clearly talking about something subjective, not objective, not real. If the distinctions were real, then they wouldn’t need to be explained, adapted, contextualized, re-defined, parsed out, distinguished in ANY way, and then added onto by successive generations. They would just be…unfettered in their objective truth.
We’re creating new levels of distinctions to try and get at more nuances of identity and expression.
But none of that’s real. It’s convenient maybe, has meaning to some, but it’s not real.
Are these distinctions useful to people? Sure. I like telling women I’m a gay man. It relieves them of the social labor of having to guard themselves against me hitting on them with a sexual motive, when I’m merely trying to have a pleasant conversation. But how many gay men have actually had sex with a woman? I personally know many gay
men who have not only children, but also grandchildren. So clearly they’ve had sex with women.
So the distinction, while convenient and maybe even meaningful, is not real.
Clearly being “gay” doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone.
Are you gay because you are male and have had a sexual experience with another man? Isn’t that what a bisexual male does? How many straight men have experimented sexually with other men? Does one gay experience make you gay? Or is there a minimum number, like 5 times, and then you’re officially gay.
Are you only gay if you march in parades and proudly display your homosexuality? Does eschewing that behavior mean we ‘take your Gay card away?’
As you all know, only you can define this identity for yourself. No one can tell you whether you’re gay, bi, whatever. I don’t care what you are, if it serves you, go for it. But if I and no one else can tell by looking at you or your behavior and make that distinction accurately most of the time, it isn’t a real distinction.
It’s convenient and maybe even meaningful, but it’s not real.
Here’s another example: We know that the experience of a black trans man is not the same as a white trans woman. Just because they’re both trans doesn’t mean they have the same experience.
Their race brings a very different dimension to their identity and experience in our culture. This is due to the effect of intersectionality on identity.
So when I tell you they are both trans, does that communicate anything meaningful to you about their experience? Does the term distinguish something or tell you something that helps you understand their experience holistically? It may, but also, it may not.
So the distinction, while convenient and maybe even meaningful, is not real.
Misunderstanding what’s objectively real versus what’s subjectively real, meaning what’s real for me and maybe not real for you, is the source of endless confusion in our society.
When we replace reality with subjectivity, we are damaging our own ability to understand who we really are, to find our place in the world, and most importantly: to navigate and adapt to change.
Throughout the ages, humans have learned to live in increasingly complex environments. Charles Darwin, father of the theory of evolution said, “It’s not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive, the future belongs to those who can best manage change.”
Because we have forgotten who we are, I believe we now live in a world where humans have forgotten how to be human.
The core work of being human is learning to ask the right questions. The only source of ‘capital T’ Truth is you!
Truth resonates with the wisdom of the heart. So, let your answers come from your heart. Your mind is polluted with all sorts of confusing thoughts and ideas programmed into you by society, or ingrained from prior traumas and dramas that aren’t who you truly are.
Our methods to distinguish what’s right from wrong, such as labeling behaviors as ‘toxic masculinity’ are actually creating more separation and hate, when what we really need is unity and love.
I say this, because our kids today are confused. By not pointing out which way is objectively north, they have no true orientation, no way to navigate the complexities of modern living.
For the sake of their psychological health, at least be clear that there’s a real, true difference between a man and woman. Stop pretending like there’s not.
Gender is real.
It’s embedded into reality in a way that will persist ever after we, and our opinions, die.
But “Toxic Masculinity” is not real. It’s a subjective opinion masquerading as objective reality. This is dangerous.
I’m just asking you to stop believing your subjective reality is objectively real. It’s not!
Trust me, you don’t need other people to validate your subjective reality in order to thrive. Gay men do it all the time. We learn to thrive in environments where other people disagree with our reality. Every day. 24/7. That’s life.
I’m going to expound on the notion of ‘Toxic Masculinity’ in this 3-part blog series. The first is from the perspective of Culture and the second is from the perspective of Hermetics, and the last is Gender. We’ll start from the perspective of culture.
To be clear, I’m not saying your rape didn’t happen or your sexual assault didn’t happen. This is not what I’m saying. In no way am I attempting to silence survivors of abuse, discredit them, or resist their experience in any way. I acknowledge that rape happens, sexual harassment and assault happens, and that these are simply unacceptable behaviors that need to be addressed in our communities and in our society.
I hope we’re clear on that before continuing on together.
When I say, in my opinion, that “toxic masculinity” is not real, I’m canceling an ironically toxic IDEA or TERM that is causing untold damage to our community. It is violence to use the term, and this violence is the very problem we are trying to eliminate.
The following is an excerpt from “The Classroom Origins of Toxic Masculinity”: One of the first appearances of toxic masculinity in the mainstream press was in a 1990 New Republic article by Daniel Gross.
“The Gender Rap: ‘Toxic Masculinity’ and Other Male Troubles” focused on a new-age movement that appeared to resonate with a healthy number of American men. Gross credited Shepherd Bliss—with coining toxic masculinity as a phrase “to describe that part of the male psyche that is abusive.”
Scholars also later point to psychiatrist Dr. Terry A. Kupers as the source of “toxic masculinity” as we now know it, particularly his definition in a 2005 prison study: “Toxic masculinity is the constellation of socially regressive male traits that serve to foster domination, the devaluation of women, homophobia, and wanton violence.”
Kupers had been studying incarcerated masculinity for most of his career, but in the ‘80’s he was involved in the pro-feminist men’s movement and realized he could integrate his knowledge of gender with his knowledge of prisons. Kupers found that Connell’s hegemonic masculinity, when applied to prisons, was in fact toxic masculinity—which is to say prison is toxic masculinity in its “pure form.”
He points specifically to black men who are disproportionately incarcerated by America’s “justice” system. These are men for whom institutionalized racism has shut them off from “positive ways” of expressing masculinity, excelling at school or at work, for instance, causing them to resort to “negative ways” like crime.
In prison the lack of individual agency is complete, so the toxicity is equally complete. “I don’t think it’s a matter of them being inclined to fight with each other and gain dominance; they’re not,” Kupers says. “Rather they’ve been deprived of all the more positive avenues to get ahead so they choose to maintain their manhood in the prison yard.”
Many people now view masculinity and the gender roles it creates as a combination of behaviors shaped by several factors, including age, race, class, culture, sexuality and religion.
As such, what defines masculinity can take many different forms. What one society or even subculture views as masculine, another may reject.
Masculinity, then, becomes a shifting set of ideas rather than a hard, narrow set of rules.
Feminists have highlighted for us how the male dominated hierarchies, like the Patriarchy, have been oppressive, antagonistic, and abusive of both female bodied individuals and the feminine virtues. Some have even concluded that masculinity itself is essentially violent.
While this perspective has its uses, particularly in the liberation of the masculine and feminine energies from the constraints of patriarchal stereotypes, there are still aspects of this view that are problematic.
For example, because of this term, there’s apparently a problem with men being masculine.
Actually, like the patriarchy, ‘toxic masculinity’ is an attack on femininity as well as masculinity. Those who use shame to attack or control are caught up in structures used to dominate not only women but also men. The use of this term is based on FEAR.
“Hegemonic masculinity” from the above prison studies and patriarchy are NOT the expression of pure masculinity, or “Divine Masculinity” as we like to call it in the Mystery School. Masculinity is NOT rooted in abuse.
“Hegemonic masculinity” like “patriarchy” are immature expressions of power control issues, usually based in some sort of stunted developmental phase in a person’s life.
In using the term toxic masculinity, I do not believe we’re talking about something real, we’re talking about a term that was created to describe how men operate in a fabricated (or unreal) environment where they completely lack agency (i.e. prison culture).
The term describes a category of behaviors that we already have words for. I believe what we mean by “toxic masculinity” is already clearly (and accurately) defined by “misogynistic behaviors that lead to emotional and sexual violence”.
The problem with the term toxic masculinity is that it becomes impossible to separate “toxic” from “masculinity.” Shepherd Bliss in the citation above emphasized that the expression he invented is “not meant to condemn all males.” I propose that this term inadvertently shames all things masculine, and thus lacks the nuance necessary to have an honest discussion about what behaviors are desirable and undesirable in our culture and in our collective consciousness.
And ‘toxic’ anything is again, in my opinion, a violent and ultimately non-useful method for addressing the societal issue of immature humans doing violent things.
Words matter and ‘toxic masculinity’ is woefully inadequate for the task of transforming culture.
Being a man in society today comes with many challenges. We are taught that it’s not OK to cry or be vulnerable. Some cultures have a certain ‘machismo’ or ‘macho’ culture that includes social pressure to be self-reliant, and to be the protector and provider for the family unit. The meaning of what it is to be a man has been obscured, ridiculed, labeled as ‘toxic’ or ‘exaggerated’ to criticize or denigrate characteristics of being man related to power, code, responsibility, and honor.
Then, as the ultimate challenge to manhood, men who want to ‘reform’ or ‘do better’ but with nowhere to turn, and with seemingly everything about being a ‘man’ offensive to someone, oftentimes are pressured into becoming more like women.
So in the end, society is killing the concept of man.
All is not lost for men, however. A wise man once said:
“Whatever, on its destruction or intellectual analysis, ceases to convey an idea, like a vase of water, is relatively existent; all else is ultimately real.” ~unknown Tibetan Lama
Those who study wisdom traditions know that this effort to destroy manhood lacks skillful inquiry and is doomed to fail. The above quote applies to the war going on about the construct of gender. It implies that anything that is not ultimately real will “cease to convey an idea” upon its destruction.
Hermetic and Universal Law teach us that gender is not a construct, it is ultimately real. Even after academia has completely destroyed the concept of gender through many faulty and baseless arguments, they can never destroy the universal truth that nothing can be created in this world without the masculine energy conjoining with and reacting to the feminine.
Even upon its ‘destruction or intellectual analysis’, the concept of gender still conveys an important idea—that where we come from is gendered and there are ultimate differences between the two which allow for creation and manifestation to happen.
So, not only is ‘being a man’ not going away, masculinity and ‘being a man’ has a meaning distinct from the character and experience of being a woman. It’s up to us to discover a renewed, authentic masculinity that both men and women can rely on to do what it’s uniquely designed to do: initiate, order, force, and connect.
‘Being a man’ is a practice, and it’s perfection arises in the continual effort to be a better man, and thus is an effort never quite complete.
Join the live panel discussion tomorrow evening Jan 12th @7pm ET/4pm PT as we continue to perfect manhood by ‘Unlocking Men’
As humans, it’s easy for us to want to swerve one way or another on any given subject. It could be politics (“I’m Left and you’re Right”) and religion (“You’re either in my camp and going to Heaven, or you’re not and going to Hell.”). It could also be gender (“Men are from Mars…”) and ethnicity (“My culture’s better…”), or even just wanting to be right about something. This is called polarization—clinging strongly to either side of an extreme. One goal of spiritual growth is depolarization, or finding the “Middle Way” of balance.
However, polarization finds its way into spiritual practice and ideology without us even realizing it sometimes. When this happens, we tend to forget a whole aspect of the Divine and limit ourselves to only what we like. This puts us in arrested development. While comfortable at first, it limits us in the long-run.
The key areas often polarized in spiritual practice are the Divine Masculine and Feminine. To be truly balanced is to embrace them both. This involves overcoming our impulse to prefer one and push the other to the side. In modern spirituality and the New Age movement, we can see polarization happening, although there is increasing awareness that harmony between the Masculine and Feminine is important.
THE DIVINE MASCULINE
In the wake of the fantastic improvements of feminist movements, some men have actually lost some sense of what it means to be a man. Masculine concepts, which have been seen to oppress, dominate, and cause violence, are no longer considered viable. Indeed, this awareness has been a step forward. Unfortunately, the positive aspects of masculinity, the Divine Masculine, are hidden somewhere, out of view. Many men (and women) would benefit greatly by fully embracing these aspects. Rather than be a source for shame and corruption, a healthy Masculinity can develop. Here are some practical ways to explore the Divine Masculine.
1. Face Your Fears
Pure masculine energy is almost synonymous with momentum. It moves forward, in a purposeful way, steadfastly working to overcome obstructions. What this comes down to is this: don’t let fear hold you back from following your inner guidance or passion. It is the challenge, itself, that shapes and refines you! How do you face your fears? Reach into the deepest core of your being—find that part of yourself that links directly with Spirit. You can do this through meditation, shamanic journeying, or just knowing there is infinite potential at the root of your being.
2. Stay Focused
Are you a laser? The way to lose power is to diffuse yourself. Concentration is key to piercing obstacles. So learn how to focus your whole being on a goal or decision, and stay on track with it. Meditation is a great method to building focus. Also, channel a strong emotion to support your conscious aim—perhaps enthusiasm.
3. Expand Yourself
Continually build on your mastery of a subject and your personal development. Try to keep growth holistic—physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Keep pushing the boundaries of what you think you can do. Test and challenge yourself. Experiment. Explore. Be a pioneer. Run headfirst into the Unknown!
These three concepts are connected—they’re all forward-moving and dynamic. One can easily see how they can get out of hand: facing fears becomes instilling fear, staying focused becomes having tunnel vision, and expanding yourself becomes dominating others. Like all things in this Universe, with every positive comes a negative. Men, and women, can allow the shadow side of masculinity to be a relic of the past, while integrating the new aspects of masculinity.