July 31, 2010

Men as Kings, Warriors, Lovers, and Magicians

My Scandinavian friend Eivind Figenschau Skjellum, is the host of masculinity-movies.com/. On his home page it says, "Masculinity. Movies. Men. Growth." That pretty much sums up the nature of the films he is reviewing on the site. The "Suggest movie" tab has fifty-seven responses with movie ideas from his readers, and to date, Eivind has reviewed almost thirty films. Probably some of your favorite "guy" movies on the list.

But this post is more about Eivind's blog where he has posted some of his writing. I especially liked his article, "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover - archetypes of the mature masculine." The article is Eivind's take on what is described in the book by Douglas Gillette and Robert Moore titled, King, Warrior, Magician, Lover – Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine.

In his article, Eivind does a good job of introducing you to each of the archetypes and divides them into, "immature archetypes – boy psychology – and mature archetypes – man psychology." Eivind suggests, according to this view of masculinity, "healing and integration happens when we recognize that one archetype dominates too strongly in our psyche, and must be balanced by another, or when we recognize that the archetypes we animate are sourced in the active or passive shadow poles, as opposed to the integrated and mature aspect."

I know a number of Boys to Men groups using a simplified model of KWML archetypes to introduce and hold up a positive vision of mature masculinity for young males. The boys seem to resonate with each of the quadrants and have no trouble finding parallels in contemporary media.

If you've never been exposed to the idea of masculine archetypes, Eivind's article is a great short course on the topic.

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July 26, 2010

Why Would Men Volunteer for Boys?

Below is a wonderful video by Daniel Pink, a successful author and writer for the likes of the New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Wired, where he is a contributing editor. He is also a business analyst for CNN, CNBC, ABC, and NPR. He's one smart man, and the presentation is both eye-opening and accompanied by extremely creative animation.

His talk discusses the power of tapping into people's intrinsic motivations. It's a very counter-intuitive take on "the hidden truths behind what really motivates us." As he says in the clip, the science behind what movitates us is a little freaky! Very simply put, he says that if people have enough time and money, and are given a chance to do something they really love, many like-minded people will (and do) use the opportunity to band together to change the world, or a company, or maybe a community.

For a guy interested in Man-Making, Mr. Pink's talk brings up the question how we might use these principles to call men into service to young males. Could we invite community service oriented business to give men PAID time away from work to participate in group mentoring activities for boys? Can we then put out a compelling call to service that men can hear?

Invest 11 minutes of your time to learn a little about yourself, motivational research, and a fresh seed thought about finding man-makers. If this video spurs ideas on the topic for you, please comment. The boys are waiting.

Go to this link if the video isn't visible.

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July 19, 2010

Is it really The End of Men?

In the July/August issue of the Atlantic Magazine, a very interesting article asks if we are approaching The End of Men, a time in history where men are simply becoming less relevant than women. The opening paragraph of the article by Hanna Rosin lays out the premise this way:

Earlier this year, women became the majority of the workforce for the first time in U.S. history. Most managers are now women too. And for every two men who get a college degree this year, three women will do the same. For years, women’s progress has been cast as a struggle for equality. But what if equality isn’t the end point? What if modern, postindustrial society is simply better suited to women?

While men aren't likely to go away, the author believes evidence of the cultural devaluing of men is indicated by the following:

  • Since the 90's, some fertility clinics are reporting a 2 to 1 parental preference for girls, decisions largely being driven by women. Quoting a demographer, in Asia preference for a male child is also over.
  • Globally, the growing number of women in positions of power. Rosin quotes the work of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and their Gender, Institutions and Development Database. It claims to measure the economic and political power of women in 162 countries. With few exceptions, OECD says the greater the power of women, the greater the country’s economic success.

  • Women are graduating from college and professional schools in greater numbers than men—for every two men who will receive a B.A. this year, three women will do the same.

  • The rate at which the number of women are showing up in professional roles. Rosin quotes Bureau of Labor Statistics data saying,  . . . women now hold 51.4 percent of managerial and professional jobs—up from 26.1 percent in 1980. They make up 54 percent of all accountants and hold about half of all banking and insurance jobs. About a third of America’s physicians are now women, as are 45 percent of associates in law firms—and both those percentages are rising fast.

  • Today's leadership styles no longer emphasize a militaristic, command and control approach, but now favor, sensitive leadership and social intelligence, including better reading of facial expressions and body language. The author suggests perhaps this shift increasingly favors feminine relational/leadership styles.
  • The decline of industrial and finance industries which traditionally employed more men, and the growth of the types of business that favor women. Rosin states, Of the 15 job categories projected to grow the most in the next decade in the U.S., all but two are occupied primarily by women.

  •  The problem of men absent in droves as fathers and role models for young boys.

There is much more in the article, but you are getting the idea. In the same issue of Atlantic there is another article titled, Are Fathers Necessary?. In that article the author, Pamela Paul focuses research from the February issue of the Journal of Marriage and Family, by  Judith Stacey, a professor of sociology at New York University, and Timothy Biblarz, a demographer from the University of Southern California. The point of their research is that successful parenting is not at all about the gender of the parents, but the quality of parenting. As a result, Ms. Paul indicates in spite of cherished notions of two-parent families, it just may be possible that fathers aren't necessary.
    While I do think these authors have stretched the data some to make their points, it does feel a bit to me like the old story of the miner's canary. I can't argue that in the world of men, the bird is a little frail. Men have some work to do . . . and from where I sit, it's underway. But the goal, I believe, is not to fight our way back into authority, rather to help build a world where it's not about gender ups and downs at all. To co-create a world where equality of all kinds is the norm, and everyone is celebrated for their gifts and given opportunities to express their unique talents.

    I recommend you read these two articles and then use the comment feature at the end of the post to tell us what you think? 

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    July 13, 2010


    The men in my MN men's group were talking about a fall get-away for some play and extended time together. During the year we meet twice a month on weeknights for two hours of mutual support and to stay current on each other's lives. Yet there is nothing like a relaxing weekend in a beautiful place for enjoying each other's company, deepening friendships, and further cementing our 20 plus year bond.

    The day after our getaway discussion, into my in-box pops a suggested post from blog subscriber Charlie M. on the topic of Mancations. It appears not only is there a name for our guy's retreat, but interest in guys heading out on men-only vacations is growing rapidly.

    According to a recent Wall Street Journal article titled, Guys Just Want to Have Fun, "The travel site TripAdvisor.com has seen a 7% increase in trip reviews posted by men traveling with men friends for the first five months of 2010, compared with a year earlier. Reviews by men traveling with a spouse or partner are down 3%." Now these statistics may not be a huge change in men's behavior, but to me, more men going away with men-friends sounds like a very good thing.

    I can hear the backlash already. This is really just another example of the drink, kill animals, go fast and womanize kind of bachelor party adventure appealing to the bad-boy stereotype. Indeed, the Spike website is one example of those sites promoting more macho versions of guys trips in their article, The 9 Best Ways to Take a Mancation. You can shoot a wild boar, ocean fish for the really big ones, or even fly a Russian MiG fighter if your crew wants adrenaline. For those guys whose interest lean toward the strange there is always a trip to the Redneck Summer Games (featuring internationally celebrated sports such as dumpster diving, hubcap hurl, and everyone's favorite the mud pit belly flop).

    The WSJ article points out there is some tendency for mancations to include extreme sports, from off-road racing to machine-gun training . . . "activities that their families prefer to sit out." If your group of guys wants something less aggressive, you can find lots of interesting and macho stereotype-challenging options. For example, the website mantripping.com, which specializes in helping men plan mancations, suggests volunteer experiences for a group of men in Africa, or hiking in Taos or Lake Tahoe. Duderanch.org lists over a hundred ranches where you and your homeboys can "wear chaps and hats for a week."

    I firmly believe men spending time away together, having fun, enjoying life and each other is a good thing. It strengthens friendships and increases the possibility your buds will be there for you when time are tough. Because the young dudes are always watching, seeing men enjoying the company of other men is also good role modeling. Could you use a mancation this summer?

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    July 9, 2010

    Another Rite of Passage Adventure Weekend

    A Rite of Passage Adventure Weekend for adolescent males is always fun, full of energy, a little chaotic, heart stirring, exhausting, and worth every minute. I always go to bed late, sleep poorly, eat like a teen, and surprise myself with energy reserves. The joy of the playful times always calls to me. Those are the activities I call the Men to Boys weekend elements. Racing around with the young dudes, giving my "inner teen" a taste of the fun he missed growing up. There are competitive games, always objects flying through the air, lots of good-natured teasing, sometimes some mud, and plenty of laughter. All so good for my older man's soul.

    While the play with a male pack in a natural environment is great, it's the more serious times that keep me coming back. Those moments when young males, supported by men, take off the masks they are already learning to wear over the anger, grief, and shame in their lives. Seeing how teen boys have their joy and pain so close to the top is always a little unexpected, even after so many of these weekends. There are tears, lots of tears which, if not for this weekend, would accumulate and be carried well into adulthood . . . maybe forever. It's in these moments, often with my own eyeballs wet, as an elder in the tribe I am called to honor a young man's courage to speak his truth or to hold a sobbing boy or man in my arms. Those times too are good for an older man's soul.

    I have had the very same experiences on Rite of Passage Weekends in many different locations. The content of the passage experience may vary, but the result is always men and boys growing into better males because of their time together.

    If you have had a similar experience, please share them with us in the comment section of this post. If you feel a called to participate in a Boys to Men Weekend or want to create that experience for your organization, send me an email and I'll get you pointed in the right direction. You'll be creating durable memories for sure.

    The group putting on the weekend I staffed in Minnesota is the Boys to Men Mentoring Network of Minnesota. They are an affiliate of Boys to Men International. On the BTMI website you can find a listing of all their affiliates. There may even be one near you!

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