As mentioned recently, I attended many interesting workshops and discussions at Confest over the holiday break, one of which was entitled Understanding Men, run by a scientist by the name of Thomas Starke. I think the idea of understanding men is wildly fascinating, and as it turned out so did many men, since two thirds of the people attending were male. It appears that men also want to understand themselves.
Although I actually missed the first half of the workshop, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Tom was actually articulating how important it is for men to become empowered. I understand this to mean another way of expressing the journey to self-realisation. Empowered in the sense of becoming self-actualised as Maslow would call it. :: a powerful individual within their own right. Tom also expressed how important it is for women to become empowered. For a better world. For a happier life. And for healthy relationships.
Some of the golden nuggets that I pick up on from Tom’s discussion on understanding men were:
- Most men stop developing beyond the age of 14 unless they consciously make a choice towards self-awareness. This appears to be a more recent predicament because in our human history tribes and societies traditionally had some form of rite of passage in which elders shared their knowledge and wisdom with younger ones and boys became men. Nowadays these opportunities rarely exist in our western culture and men have to figure all these things out on their own.
- We currently live in a very masculine society in which even women have learnt to take on masculine behaviours, are more aggressive, have become hunters and generally have taken on the roles of men ~ leaving men quite perturbed on where they stand and what their roles as men are. As you may well know by my articles on gender roles here and here and here this is a fascinating topic for me. Tom emphasised how important it is for women to become empowered within their feminine realms. “You can be strong and very feminine at the same time.” He argues that women need to be women and men need to be men. Or basically that we have to be who we are, rather than try to be different. An example Tom gave was that women have to learn to be comfortable with receiving again, without feeling obligated to reciprocate. “It’s a woman’s right to receive.”
- Tom reiterated that everyone’s journey to empowerment is different ~ and that we all need to figure out what works for us and what doesn’t to reach that sense of empowerment.
- He also outlined that when you are empowered you don’t need to be with someone to feel fulfilled. Relationships then simply bring more male and female balance into your life.
- A point that I personally really resonated with was “staying in the space of allowing emotions”. Tom illustrated that an empowered man has the inner strength to stay with both his own and his partners emotions. Allowing them the space to just be…and then to pass. Without judgement or reaction. It’s about providing a space of safety and comfort despite emotional ups and downs with the knowledge and realisations that these upheavals are not meaningful and will pass.
- It was also emphasised how important it is for both men and women not to give their power away. Own it, relish it, stay in your power. At the same time remain aware, flexible and gentle. Constantly moving with the winds of change.
- Finally, a very interesting perspective that one of the men in the worksop brought up was how he, and many other men felt about the expectations from women. The example he gave was that women expect men to be everything all rolled into one…”Brad Pitt, Bill Gates, Tarzan and so on….” I personally had no idea that men felt under so much pressure from women to live up to certain standards and expectations. I do see his point in the way that I often see women enter into relationships with the intention to change the man in order to create their “ideal image”. Which is totally wrong. And ridiculous. For one, you can’t change people and for two, if you don’t like who they are in the first place, why on earth would you be with them?!! For their potential?! No!