Created By: Web Server on 04/14/1997 at 04:20 AM
| Conditioning, Men And A Changing Culture|
We cannot see what a man's place is in terms of his emotions until we take a step back and look at society historically. Until modern times the human condition has been focused on survival. Men's role has been to provide that material survival. Most of human history has been hard and mean. Humans are the first species on the planet to have invented and organised societies which have enormously increased our ability to survive but we have not yet learned how to organize societies in a way that respects free choice, support to humans and protection of the environment. In particular we have not learned how to care about men at a social level. The hard, mean tone of human societies still focuses particularly on men. This state of things is at the heart of how we grew up thinking about about ourselves as men. Much of what we feel is a result of what fell on us because we were male. Most current societies have been built upon and reflect the damage men carry, not our deep inherent masculinity. For the first time in human history we are able to look at men with generosity towards the past, and care about them. Considering everything that has happened, every man has done the very best that he possibly could and does not deserve any blame or criticism from anyone, including himself.
The best way to look at inherent masculinity that I know of is to spend time with a new born baby boy. As any new parent will tell you it is an inspiring experience! The expanse of fresh, wide open maleness is central to who we are as men. Inherent masculinity is a male's way of being human. Anyone will be able to notice that the only real way to tell the difference between a baby boy or girl is to have a "peek" or trust those who have. We share a common humanness. Most of the males in the population while coming from their inherent nature are struggling from the effects of the oppression of institutions. Adult males who are well liked and are leading a good life heading towards their dreams are moving closer to their inherent masculinity.
Men's Conditioning as Men
An easy way to look at men's conditioning is to ask any group of people what they love and hate about men. A list emerges that portrays the stereotypical man . What they love (and also sometimes what they hate) about men are qualities of being strong, powerful, in charge, courageous, intelligent. What they hate are men who are: violent, addicted to sex, dominating, uncaring, craving power, crude, untrustworthy. Not every man displays every type of negative stereotyped behaviour but every man displays some of it. What is interesting is that the list generated by men is about the same as the one by women. Nobody likes the effects that the conditioning has on men. However if you look at the list you also see that the qualities listed are what society holds up to men as how men are really "supposed" to be. Men get a double message that they are to be these ways to be a man, and at the same time nobody really likes it or wants it. Everybody seems desperate that men change and hopeless that they ever will.
It must be emphasized that these negative traits are just men's conditioning, certainly not men's real nature as humans. These behaviours are not inherent at all - not hormonal or genetic or natural - but are the effects of socialization.
Conditioning makes people "rigid". As the things that go wrong in a life mount up that effect is to have us behave a little more rigidly.
It is illuminating to remember that the first question that is asked about any new baby is "what is it, a boy or a girl?". People who have investigated this in hospitals have found that people just don't know how to be with a baby if they don't know its sex.
There are three main parts to our inherent nature. They are: an ability to be conditioned, an ability to heal this conditioning and an underlying general human nature common to all humans. These human qualities can be covered over by conditioning but are none-the-less permanent and always reachable.
The worse we feel about ourselves as a man or woman, the more we tend to act from our role conditioning in order to feel better. Society (the conditioning) tells men what "real men" are supposed to do. However when we act as society tells us, we are not behaving in accord with our nature as humans and we lose ourselves more, which has us feeling even worse about ourselves. The way out of the bind is to act according to one's innate humanness.
The key to this is being able to listen to another and be listened to by another. When enough safety and time is spent using this exchange of listening with someone who likes you, the inherent tension release process let's our humanness be recovered and flexible thinking re-emerge.