For years, I’ve delved into the realms of leadership and human consciousness, guiding entrepreneurs and businesses toward a more empathetic and self-aware approach to success.
Rooted in the principles of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the hero’s journey, my work (and content) has always strived to inspire change and cultivate a more equitable and inclusive world, from day-to-day conversations to award-winning global diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. I have worked closely with individuals, companies, and governments and published articles from LinkedIn to guest websites.
But now, it’s time for me to broaden my horizons and embark on a new path for this blog – a deep passion that I have been exploring on the outskirts – masculinity in the modern era.
This shift wasn’t just about a change in focus; it was catalyzed by the return of influential figures in my life (you know who you are). People who, although previously not profoundly involved, re-emerged with shared passions and inspirations. Our conversations often circled back to a critical issue – the absence of strong, positive male role models for young men.
In this vacuum, figures like Andrew Tate have risen, promoting a damaging, outdated version of masculinity, one that equates success with dominance and control. One that promotes exclusion over inclusion. It dictates that to be successful, a ‘man’ must have power over others.
I find this version of masculinity is rooted in fear and insecurity, so it resorts to the outward performative ‘masculinity’ of anger and violence. There is a place for violence; many men are built for it, and Testosterone plays a huge role here. It is understanding when and why.
Masculinity isn’t about power over others; it’s about empowering them. It’s about lifting others up, not putting them down.
There has been a VICE video doing the rounds titled ‘Be A Man’: Modernists and Traditionalists Debate Masculinity. I have embedded it below, I recommend that everyone watch this. The biggest takeaway for me is that there is no one version of masculinity and that many men are unsure and confused about what is expected and how to behave.
A New Direction
So, what is the new direction of this blog? Masculinity and men, quite simply.
It will have three key themes, which I will bring in the experts to discuss and share opinions. As men, we used to learn from our fathers and the community around them – I will bring you the sage advice of many fathers and communities. My goal is to create a community among men to celebrate masculinity in its true form, not all puffed up and performative like others will have you believe it should be.
- Personal Growth and Resilience: This theme merges personal development, philosophy, spirituality, and mental well-being. It encompasses articles on self-improvement, emotional intelligence, mindfulness, resilience building, and spiritual exploration. This theme also includes aspects of health and biohacking, focusing on physical, mental, and spiritual health.
- Lifestyle, Luxury, and Innovation: This theme covers the aspirational aspects of masculinity, including lifestyle and luxury, fashion and style, epic experiences, and technology and innovation. It will show that true success comes from being kind, lifting others up, and creating memories that last lifetimes.
- Social Dynamics and Community Engagement: This theme brings together our relationships, cultural commentary and social issues, and interactive content and community building. It addresses the dynamics of modern relationships, parenting, dating, and societal changes, offering a platform for community interaction, discussion, and support.
I want to settle one thing right from the beginning. Being a man is a state of mind, not what is in your pants for who you f*^k. Your version of masculinity is valid, the social construct be damned. Welcome!
The Personal Road: Self-Discovery in Masculinity
Unraveling Identity: Navigating Masculinity as a Gay Man
My journey in understanding masculinity has been deeply intertwined with my own identity as a gay man. The conventional narratives of masculinity often left me at a crossroads, questioning where and how I fit in. It took over three decades to start peeling back the layers of my preconceptions and biases to begin understanding my place in the spectrum of masculinity.
I recall a particularly eye-opening incident with a young man I was mentoring. One day, he arrived for lunch donning makeup, women’s clothing, and earrings. My initial reaction was discomfort, urging him to change for fear of how we (I) might be perceived.
It took a heated twenty-minute discussion before I realized the issue lay with my own conditioned ideas of masculinity. His courage to express his true self and challenge societal norms was, in fact, a powerful display of the very courage and authenticity I had struggled to embrace. I was concerned about what other men would think and my own male identity. It was a form of social pressure, and it had a huge negative impact.
The mentee became the mentor – from that moment, I started to unravel an entire narrative of toxic masculinity. As gay men, we often struggle with internalized shame; we have struggled with our masculine identities due to the specific cultural and social structures that have been around us in media, school, and home.
This realization has been echoed in my interactions with a diverse range of friends – from battle-hardened soldiers to ultra-feminine drag queens and trans men. Each of them, in their way, embodies aspects of strength and bravery that defy traditional masculine stereotypes.
Their expressions of identity, whether through combat gear or a pair of high heels, have nothing to do with diminishing or defining my masculinity. Instead, they highlight the courage and resilience inherent in being true to oneself. Plus, I have witnessed a 6-foot drag queen in 6-inch heels take on a group of puffed-up men and win easily.
This is the kind of masculinity I now strive to understand and promote – one that values authenticity, bravery, and empathy above all else.
Rethinking Masculinity: Beyond Traditional Paradigms
In my quest to redefine masculinity, there is a growing trend of men pushing back against the Adnrew Tate’s of the world.
Scott Galloway, a noted public speaker, professor, and podcaster, delves into the complexities of masculinity in modern society. He sheds light on the economic and social challenges that men face, particularly in the realms of relationships and mental health.
Galloway’s discourse goes beyond the surface, probing the impact of contemporary societal dynamics, such as online dating and the changing nature of male friendships. He advocates for a new vision of masculinity, one that embraces empathy and care, steering away from the traditional, often toxic stereotypes. This redefined masculinity is about nurturing relationships, fostering emotional intelligence, and cultivating a sense of community and belonging.
Complementing Galloway’s insights is David H Wagner’s book “Backbone,” a profound exploration of masculinity that challenges the conventional ‘tough guy’ image. I love this book and have recommended it to many others.
Wagner presents a compelling dichotomy between ‘spine’ and ‘heart’ qualities, advocating for balanced masculinity that intertwines strength with sensitivity. This framework suggests that true masculine strength is not just about firmness and assertiveness but also about compassion, empathy, and emotional openness.
What I found fascinating was that David was about to have a child, a boy. This petrified him as he knew how to raise a girl; society had a construct for that. He did not know how to raise a boy.
The Unseen Battle: Mental Health Struggles and the Modern Man
The conversation around modern masculinity must acknowledge the critical role of mental health. Traditional notions of masculinity often put extreme pressure on men to conform to outdated ideals of toughness and stoicism, which can lead to significant mental health challenges.
This is seen in the suicide rate among men; gender role stress and culturally defined behaviors can exact a toll. Over 69% of all suicides are men, with the majority of them being middle-class men (generally white men). This is not taking into account the much greater suicide rate among homosexual men.
The Impact of Traditional Masculine Traits
Traditional masculinity, characterized by toughness, aggression, and the suppression of emotions, continues to exert a strong influence on society. This “Atlas Complex,” where men feel they must carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, can lead to a host of mental health issues.
The Need for a New Masculine Narrative
Modern discussions about masculinity are increasingly focusing on individual experiences rather than rigid, gender-based norms. The consensus is growing that masculinity and femininity transcend traditional gender roles and should be defined by each individual.
This perspective allows for a more inclusive understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation, recognizing the diverse experiences of individuals, including those in the LGBTQ+ community.
I have a very conservative friend who was trying to sell me on the bathroom bills that were going through some state legislatures a few years ago (and still today). He had never met a trans man or woman, yet had fallen victim to some news headlines that heterosexual males were dressing up as women to use the women’s bathroom.
I showed him two photos – one the quintessential masculine identity, a muscled bearded man (below), the other a gorgeous, tall, blond woman. I asked him which of these people he would want in the bathroom with his wife and which should use the men’s bathroom with his military friends. Both were trans.
Encouraging Emotional Vulnerability and Connection
There’s a deep-seated need among men for brotherhood and emotional connection, which has often been neglected due to traditional masculine ideals. The ability to be vulnerable and openly discuss emotional struggles is vital for mental well-being. Creating spaces where men can share their experiences and feelings is crucial in fostering a healthier, more inclusive understanding of masculinity.
The social circles and friendships men have are shrinking. It has become increasingly difficult for men and young men to create friendships on an emotional level. Less than 20% of men receive emotional support on a regular basis.
Redefining masculinity to include emotional openness and vulnerability is essential for addressing the mental health crisis among men. By challenging outdated norms and encouraging men to seek help and connect with others, we can pave the way for a more empathetic and inclusive society. This shift is beneficial for men; it positively impacts everyone by fostering a more emotionally aware and supportive community.
I participated in a small men’s group that lasted for several months. We would go away for weekends, and it was facilitated by an incredible coach, Scott Cody. As a gay man, I expected to be more emotionally available; this was not the case. Traditional masculine norms and expectations and a fear of straight men developed over a lifetime made me struggle to open up in the beginning.
Redefining Success: A New Vision for the Aspirational Man
In the modern era, redefining success for men extends beyond traditional metrics of wealth, power, and status. It’s about recognizing the profound transformation in the concept of masculinity and its impact on what we perceive as actual achievement and fulfillment.
Embracing Emotional Depth and Authentic Connections
Today’s aspirational man understands that true strength lies not in physical prowess or the ability to suppress emotions but in vulnerability, emotional intelligence, and the courage to embrace one’s authentic self.
He values self-care and acknowledges the importance of mental and emotional health for his well-being, his family, and those around him. This modern man nurtures his inner world through mindfulness, therapy, and engaging in activities that bring joy.
He understands the significance of building authentic connections with others, prioritizing open and honest communication, active listening, and supporting those around him.
Challenging Gender Stereotypes and Traditional Roles
The modern man breaks free from rigid masculine stereotypes and social norms. He embraces his individuality and understands that interests, passions, and pursuits are not bound by gender.
This includes challenging traditional career paths, embracing nurturing roles, or pursuing creative endeavors. By doing so, he dismantles stereotypical gender roles and barriers that restrict personal growth and expression, fostering an environment where individuals can thrive and grow together.
The modern man takes care of himself, eats well, exercises, grooms, and dresses authentically. Too often, I see men dress and look after themselves poorly, which reflects a lack of pride in the way they look. It is not about having the perfect male body; it is about loving who you are.
A New Definition of Wealth and Success
Aligning with the shift in masculinity, success is also being redefined. It’s no longer just about accumulating wealth or achieving professional milestones.
For the modern man, the greatest luxury lies in the memories created and the experiences shared. This perspective challenges the notion that a man’s worth is tied to his work and financial achievements. Instead, it highlights the masculine expression of wealth through the quality of relationships and life experiences.
The Modern Man’s Path to Success
The modern man’s path to success involves a holistic approach that balances professional achievements with personal fulfillment and emotional well-being. It’s about redefining traditional notions of masculinity and success, including emotional depth, authenticity, and a focus on relationships and personal growth.
By embracing this new vision, men can create a more compassionate, understanding, and inclusive society.
The Andrew Tate Dilemma: Navigating a Corrupted Version of Masculinity
In recent years, the rise of figures like Andrew Tate has highlighted a concerning trend in the portrayal and understanding of masculinity. Tate’s brand of hyper-toxic masculinity, often espousing attitudes of dominance over women and aggressive, macho behavior, represents a distorted and damaging version of what it means to be a man.
His rhetoric and that of similar influencers feed into a narrative where traditional aspects of masculinity, such as physical strength, sexual prowess, attractiveness, and financial success, are conflated with a harmful ideology that promotes misogyny and a skewed view of men and women.
Andrew Tate’s messaging, which often centers on the idea of men needing to assert dominance over women and social status, is indicative of a broader issue in a society where young men, feeling marginalized or dominated themselves, are drawn to figures who preach a twisted form of empowerment.
This empowerment is rooted not in genuine strength or character development but in the subjugation of others, particularly women. Tate’s infamous quote comparing women to property and his views on sexual relationships reflect this troubling mindset.
The impact of such figures isn’t limited to individual influencers. It ties into a broader cultural issue where young men and boys are often caught in a conflict between their internal, emotional selves and the external pressures of conforming to rigid, traditional masculine ideals.
This conflict can manifest as a facade of being emotionless, cold, and physically dominant, while internally, many young men and other boys are sensitive, thoughtful, and respectful. The gap between these two selves needs support and understanding, which is often lacking in society.
Moreover, the rise of movements like the ‘incel’ subculture, which originally began as a space for discussing sexual inactivity and support but has since morphed into a male-dominated forum of hate towards women and ‘attractive males,’ highlights the dangers of such toxic masculinity. Influencers like Tate often appeal to these groups, exacerbating the problem by endorsing attitudes of resentment and hostility towards women.
To address these issues, it’s crucial to create spaces for open and honest conversations about gender and equality, especially with young males and boys. Listening to their concerns and experiences is essential, even when they are uncomfortable or challenging. By doing so, we can begin to dismantle the harmful social scripts that perpetuate toxic masculinity and move towards a more inclusive and healthy understanding of what it means to be a man.
Conclusion: Charting a Path Towards Authentic Masculinity
As we move forward, my focus at SIMON is clear: to continue fostering a space that challenges outdated stereotypes and celebrates the diverse, multifaceted nature of masculinity. My commitment is to provide content that empowers, enlightens, and engages.
I seek to offer a platform where the modern man can find resonance and inspiration, whether in discussions about masculinity, technology and innovation, financial wisdom, relationships, or cultural commentary and social issues.
In navigating this evolving landscape, I aim to cultivate a community where every man feels empowered to explore and express his individuality. I envision a future where masculinity is not defined by rigid traditional masculinity norms but by a spectrum of attributes encompassing empathy, respect, understanding, and emotional intelligence.
Thank you for joining me on this transformative journey. Together, let’s redefine masculinity in a way that honors authenticity, embraces diversity, and fosters a more empathetic and inclusive society.
What is the real meaning of masculinity?
The term ‘masculinity’ refers to the roles, behaviors, and attributes that are considered appropriate for boys and men in a given society. Masculinity is constructed and defined socially, historically, and politically rather than being biologically driven.
What is healthy masculinity?
Healthy or positive masculinity is the idea that men can be emotionally expressive, have female friends or mentors, and express their emotions without feeling emasculated.
Why is masculinity called toxic?
The phrase emphasizes the worst aspects of stereotypically masculine attributes. Toxic masculinity is represented by qualities such as violence, dominance, emotional illiteracy, sexual entitlement, and hostility to femininity.
What did Andrew Tate do that was so bad?
Andrew Tate is charged with human trafficking, rape, and forming an organized crime group. He uses his platform to promote misogyny, homophobia, and that controlling others is what makes a man masculine.