We will follow the previous chapter’s discussion of the Warrior archetype with a discussion of the principle of masculinity. I connect these two because, according to all my observations, Warrior is the archetype that most directly creates a felt sense of masculinity. This is not because Warrior is the masculine archetype—all of the archetypes are aspects of whole masculinity. Rather, this is true because the Warrior archetype is the energy that feels most distinct from the feminine. And as the renowned psychiatrist Robert Stoller humorously observed in his book, Presentations of Gender, “The first order of business in being a man is: don’t be a woman.”
But being a man is not just about not being female. There is a Tao of maleness—a way in which maleness happens and is expressed. Masculinity is the expression of that way. Masculinity is a very diverse way—so diverse that it defies description except in the broadest terms. I defined it in the introduction of this book as “that which is spontaneously manifested by men when they are connected to their manhood.”
So in this chapter we’re going to review some core principles of masculinity—or the Tao of maleness. We’ll use the model I’ve come to call gender wholeness to lay out the foundation of what seems—from my twenty years of carefully considering this—to allow men to experience themselves as masculine within a gendered world—a world of two sexes. Reduced to its most basic concepts, gender wholeness is about experiencing sufficient masculinity while also comprehending the feminine. Put differently, gender wholeness implies feeling complete with regard to our own gender and experiencing a healthy sense of completion through the opposite sex.
As I mentioned in Chapter One, wholeness underlies most of what we’ll discuss in this book. In this chapter we’ve arrived at one of the most important aspects of wholeness—that is, wholeness related to our sense of gender. But what does that mean? What does it mean to feel sufficient masculinity; to feel complete with regard to your own gender? What does it mean to comprehend the feminine; to experience completion through the opposite sex? Let’s open these concepts and consider them carefully.
First, let’s consider what it means to feel complete with our own gender. Much of the power behind same–sex attraction, for most of us who have experienced it, seems to be related to two unmet core needs. The first need is to feel deeply connected with our own masculinity. The second core need is to feel connected to other men. When these needs for connection are met, men experience what I call masculine sufficiency.
The word “sufficiency” has two meanings: one, to be qualified or competent, and two, to have enough. Likewise, masculine sufficiency also has two meanings. First, it means that we see ourselves as qualified and competent as men. I refer to this internal state of masculinity as gender congruity. And second, masculine sufficiency means that we feel like we have enough connection with other men. I refer to this interpersonal state of masculinity as same–sex affiliation, or put more simply, having community with other men.
If we boil this all down, masculine sufficiency involves experiencing masculinity both internally and interpersonally. It’s about feeling like a man and living among men. For most of us with unwanted same–sex attraction, this combination tends to decrease our sexual feelings toward other men and to increase feelings of personal masculinity and brotherhood with other men. This is why understanding and developing masculine sufficiency is so essential to the process of shifting our sexual attractions.
Now let’s consider the second component of gender wholeness, which is having a healthy sense of connection with the opposite sex. Same–sex attraction is not the only gender–related issue most men who deal with it are experiencing. Many of us are also dealing with problems in our ability to relate with the opposite sex—with females and femininity. Men need a healthy comprehension of the feminine. So now, you guessed it, I’m going to define “comprehension.” It also has two definitions. First, it can be defined as seeing the nature, significance, or meaning of something—in other words understanding or grasping a principle or concept. And the second definition of comprehension is to include something—as in to be comprehensive or to involve or embrace something in a way that makes things complete.
So comprehension of the feminine means that we, as men, see the nature and significance of the feminine, and grasp its meaning to us. And it means that we include, involve, and embrace the feminine in ways that make us complete. Like masculine sufficiency, comprehension of the feminine may be experienced in both internal and interpersonal ways. Interpersonally, we may experience the significance and meaning of the opposite sex in our lives and enjoy the completeness of the two genders together. This is what I described in Chapter Three as complementarity of the feminine with the masculine. I’ll add some perspective to this concept later. Internally, we may experience elements of the feminine within ourselves. This feminine within the masculine is referred to as Anima and I’ll introduce that later as well. The diagram below shows the relationships among the topics we’ll be discussing.
Now, let’s begin closest to home with a man’s inner sense of masculinity.