Accordingly to Merriam-Webster dictionary Masculinity is defined as “having qualities appropriate to or usually associated with a man”. But what are these qualities? Is it strength? Is it a deep voice or confidence? What if you lack one or all of these things, are you not a man? In order to explore masculinity, we spoke with best-selling author, relationship expert and world-renowned speaker, Dr. Dain Heer who warns against conforming to the expectation to be the ‘ideal’ man. Check out his thoughts on masculinity and the return of the gentleman below.
How do you define masculinity?
I define it a little differently than other people. My sense is it’s about embracing everything that we are and I think we create a difficulty in our lives and our relationships when we separate masculinity from all the other aspects of being. For me, it’s more about being a gentleman and the masculinity part is sometimes the standard we try to achieve with the standards often created by other people, and yet it doesn’t have anything to do with us being us.
One statistic says that 42% of men in the United States define themselves as masculine, why do you think the number is so low?
There are so many standards for what is masculine, what a man is supposed to be but as far as I can tell about 50% of the population don’t fit that standard and they don’t fit that mold. We have a lot of sensitive aware men out there who have no role models for how to be a true man. From my point of view, we can be it all. We can be strong, we can have somebody’s back, we can desire sex and still desire women’s right, we can have our friends back in a fight, and we can also be the one who somebody can cry on our shoulders. The difficulty is the separation we have between what is supposedly a man and what supposedly isn’t. There is a discrepancy between what a man supposedly is and what we are shown in movies and what women supposedly want.
How did we get here? How has society shaped this particular ideal man?
That’s a long answer to a long question (chuckles). It’s the evolution of society. If you look earlier in our culture, we had primarily agricultural society and the man’s job was to go out and take care of the land, take care of the family. Then with industrial society, there also came take care of you know, go to work and take care of the family. So we had this defined roles in the sense of men and women and in a sense that worked because a man got the chance to be completely part of the strength of him, but what wasn’t available was what is called an emotional depth. As the desire for that started growing it took the stereotype but nobody ever replaced it with something that was different. So we have these old standards of a man who goes out and provides and kills animals and brings them home and no one has ever really replaced it with a man can do all that, and be great in bed and love and adore women, and care for them and fight for women’s right, or maybe not fight at all. We have never been given a replacement for that.
You speak about the return of the gentleman. Give our readers a little description of what that would look like.
From my point of view, it’s where a man gets to be everything that he is. Where he actually get to look in the mirror in the morning and like the person looking back at him. Where he is honoring of himself and everything that he is but he is also honoring of everyone around him, including the people he is in relationships with. That man always looks for possibilities and is willing to have every aspect of himself available to be able to create those possibilities.
Where does changing this idea of what a masculine man is start? Does it start with the man or does it start with women embracing it?
It’s definitely going to start with the men. The reason I say that is because it’s got to be a choice that we make to be something different than most of what we have seen in the world and to finally get in touch with what is actually true for us not what we have been told we are supposed to be and not what is true for everybody else.