The Delicate Balance of Emerging Men's Movements



That's half a joke.

Males -- particularly lighter-skinned ones -- have predominated in overt social status and control positions for several thousand years.  However, the same statement is also half-serious.  The unruly social, spiritual, economic, and civilization problems that we collectively face are not going to be solved gracefully unless we find ways to heal, deepen, mature, empower & transform the hearts of all kinds of men.

So when we hear that the exclusive 2023 European Men's Leadership Summit is being held this summer in conjunction with Mann Sein 2023 (supported by many of our friends at Parallax, Intellectual Deep Web, etc.) perhaps we should be cautiously intrigued. 

Our mental image of many shaven-headed European males gathering openly could be triggering.  However, this is not some crude Man-a-palooza in which sexism, toxic amounts of testosterone & inchoate patriarchal mobs are unleashed.  These earnest emerging events are part of a new sensibility that takes the social, material and emotional situation of men seriously both for their own development and as part of the greater transmutation of society.  (Check out this MANiphesto.)

Of course, it is inherently slippery to think in terms of simple genderized categories.  Binary concepts like masculine/feminine have their limits in sensemaking.  Yet most human beings still identify with the ancient cultural history, anatomy & deep genetics that produce "men" and "women."  These imperfect dualisms are likely to remain important tools for the future. 

And while many of us share the definite sense that Yin qualities are still significantly underappreciated within the structural assumptions of our social and cognitive systems, it seems like that problem cannot be thoroughly addressed without also developing a richer and more nuanced embodiment of Yang qualities.  Which, in turn, requires that we get waaaaaaay better at taking it seriously on its own terms -- and allowing its unique leading edge to emerge.

All of this takes place against the backdrop of a well-described (but often difficult-to-comprehend) crisis of men and boys in terms of loneliness, suicide, abuse, imprisonment, despair, disease, education, etc. 

While men are obviously not the only ones suffering, they are suffering.  And much of that comes from the absence of healthy social contexts that recognize, appreciate, anticipate & understand how to mature the many appropriate and diverse masculine feelings and needs.  So while notions like toxic masculinity (critiqued here by Richard Reeves) have some utility they may ultimately risk treating natural and useful masculine traits as inherently problematic -- therefore depriving us of options for appreciating, deepening and maturing those traits. 

While much mystery lurks around the meaning of ancient images of phallic worship, we certainly get the sense that our tribal ancestors evolved some robust practices for embracing, disciplining and transforming masculinity within a shared sacred culture.  It is possible that we may need to resurrect some of that old magic to help us solve the challenges of an often fatherless (or pathologically pseudo-fathered) culture. 

Perhaps we must begin to explore how many traditional and some novel qualities of masculinity will play their part in the rich pantheon of male, female, transformative & non-binary bio-electric, integrative, meta-descriptive and info-spiritual civilization?

Our boys and men will need some mixture of challenges traditionally associated with their gender, some opposed to traditional gender description & a deeper, more complex appreciation of their particular sensitivities

And while this cannot happen in isolation from movements that aim at empowering the feminine, and those focused on transcending gender binaries, it also must happen on its own terms.

So there is good reason for all of us to keep an eye on the plight of males and on any sane, emerging attempts to embrace, challenge and transmute the current situation.


In a sense, men's work is always happening when people who identify as masculine gather in physically, emotionally and linguistically secure spaces.  Doing it overtly has certain benefits in terms of bringing people together but the risk is that it can become an enforced, one-size-fits-all solution that doesn't adapt adequately to the organic spontaneity of the event shared between these particular individuals.  So we must be judicious when it comes to creating themed events around any particular demographic...


Check out these other events themed on deeper masculinity at the Malevolution Calendar and this interesting American survey of public views on the situation of men & boys.  
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emerge is convening a field of metamodern praxis