from Ordinary Heros, A Future for Men by Michael Hardiman
Most personal development books are written by women, bought by women and read by women. This trend suggests that women are more interested in the nature of emotional development and in the pursuit of mental health. Women, it seems, are also more likely to acknowledge if they have a problem on the one hand and more ready to accept help on the other. Men are far more reluctant to engage in efforts at self-discovery. Many view the need for self-understanding and personal development as a sign of weakness and some perhaps fear what they will find if they take the time to explore their inner world. As a consequence there is an imbalance between the sexes in relation to using the information currently available when it comes to getting the information they need to pursue healthier lives. This reality has serious consequences for men's health as well as for the functioning of society as a whole.
Our postmodern, consumer-oriented social system brings many benefits but also contains many flaws and dangers. It is a society that is largely promoted and executed by men. Kate Millet is eloquent in her assertion that
Our society, like all other historical civilisations, is a patriarchy. The fact is evident at once if one recalls that the military, industry, technology, universities,science, political office and finance - in short, every avenue of power in sociey, including the coercive power of the police - is entirely in male hands. As the essence of politics is power, such realisation cannot fail to carry impact...if one takes partiarchal government to be the institution whereby that half of the populace which is female is controlled by the other half which is male, the principles of partiarchy appear twofold: male shall dominate female, elder male shall dominate younger.
While some changes have occurred since Millet wrote this in 1960 the essence of her description remains true. Men, to a large extent, still rule the world. Men of goodwill who in many cases truly believe that they are doing it right. Men who themselves are beiong eroded,often unconsciously, by their committment to and zeal by what Kenneth Clark calls a 'heroic materialism'.
Most men do not know how they are contributing to the problems of modern society. Rather, most of us cannot see that each of us is a link in a chain, and that each person bears some responsibility, however small, for the structure and behaviour of the group as a whole. I believe that most men are unaware that their way of functioning in the world has been compromised from their earliest days and that their health and safety has always been a disposable commodity. In the battle for human survival up into this century,men have paid with their lives, their souls and their hearts. In general, men have been encouraged and rewarded for developing their minds and their bodies because problem solving and physical labour are useful coinage in the currency of affluent materialism. What they have lost, or never been allowed to develop, is what is often mistakenly called their feminine side. Sensitivity, affection,nurtering and feelings are not feminine qualities. They are human qualities that are often seen as feminine because they are less apparent in men. The inhibition of these aspects of development has created a serious imbalance in the way that men experience their lives and in the way they live and behave.When the effect of this imbalance is seen on a global scale it makes much sense of the way that modern society has evolved.
For many reasons,mothers and fathers have colluded through the ages to prevent men developing as balanced human beings.They have done this often in ignorance, sometimes in good faith and i most cases as a result of cultural taboos and social pressure.And yet it is the task and challenge for modern men who wish to be fully human to reclaim their lost inheritance, and to break the moulds that compromised so many spirtually and emotionally,before they had the choice or the voice to prevent it.
This book is an attempt to address this imbalance by presenting guidance and information related to emotional health for men in a manner that is particularly releant to them as they live their lives in present-day society.I will refer quite a bit to modern films, television,stories and other popular art forms as well as to the insights that I have been privileged to reach through working with men as they have come to terms with the challenges of evolving into more balanced and self-aware people. These areas and my own personal experiences of maturing and coming to terms with understanding masculinity seem to express much that is of relevance to the prediciments that men face. I hope this book will explain some of the more difficult conundrums facing men who want to grow and change,and who know at the deepest level that they are being prostituted to a world which will use them up and then discard them.
from the introduction. Published by Newleaf in 2000
Click here to go home