Talk about explosive words. These terms pack a lot of powder and conjure many images of heroes and heroines, dominant and submissive behavior, wild and domestic natures, deep thoughts and deep feelings, and, of course, sexuality.
Last night, I had a discussion with two other male friends about faith. During the conversation, one said about men that failure to recognize and develop our masculinity was a prominent problem in today's society. We need to remember that we are men and that means being masculine. In addition, women continually test us and frequently destroy that characteristic in us. It isn't that they want to destroy it. Rather, they want to be sure we're sturdy and dependable in our masculinity. Most men fail the test.
Consider this analogy. Have you heard of the 'terrible twos'? A child will only feel secure when a parent responds firmly, yet calmly, to his or her first attempts at expressing independence using highly emotional and erratic behavior. If the parent maintains gentle control and the child feels loved and that authority has been properly maintained, both of them benefit.
To make matters worse, these characteristics, masculinity and femininity, are represented as outward appearances by mass media. We seem to glorify and hold in high esteem those few individuals who qualify as genuine heroes and heroines. They have matured in their masculinity or femininity. What's more, maturity itself seems to be completely optional for most people and probably more relevant for college professors. In general, it seems too difficult to bother endeavoring to be mature. "I have enough to do."
I looked on my bookshelf and discovered I had accumulated a mass of books that at least touched on the subject of masculinity, especially from a spiritual perspective, if they didn't address it directly. (Part of my motivation to buying and reading such material was to clear the confusion created by my upbringing. I didn't have a very well-developed sense of identity. See Sweeping Dust Bunnies for some insight into my past.) I've gained a lot of insight from these books. But I'd like to hear, and share, the insights of those who read this blog.
What are your thoughts about these terms? Are men not masculine? Which ones are? Do women test men? (Is this a well-kept secret that should remain so?) When are women feminine? Should these characteristics be understood and sought? Or, should we seek a balance with some of both? Deep in your heart, what characteristics do you desire for yourself and your partner (whether or not there is a partner)?