Through a Jungian Lens

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Mondays, Men and the Masculine – Part 2

with 2 comments

In search of something, hunting for a better image.

In search of something, hunting for a better image.

In looking for a new way to be masculine in our modern world, I guess one would have to first ask the question: “Is it necessary?” Men effectively rule the world, but so far that isn’t playing out well for most men, almost all women and their children. It isn’t playing out well for the planet either. Men continue to demonstrate that they have no qualms about raping the planet, women, other men, and yes, even children. Of course not all men are rapists. The fact is most men are as much a victim of the patriarchal power juggernaut. Many men have opened their eyes, that is have become conscious of the negative effects of unconscious male behaviours, the immature and instinctual behaviours that continue to blindfold many who hold the reins of power. These men are ashamed of what has been done in the name of men and the masculine.

I watch my son and my two sons-in-law acting conscientiously to be good fathers, good husbands and good caretakers of the world. I see them wrestling and trying to balance the “world of men” within which they work and the alter world of family. At times they become too guided by their female partners, seeking to be gentler in atonement for their gender.



It is as if the only way to be sensitive enough of their world and the people within it is through denying their masculinity, or at least disguising it so that it isn’t so “in your face.” There is no guide map on how to leave behind the destructive patriarchal model and move into a new relationship with the world and the feminine. David Tacey says it well in his book, Remaking Men:

We must unpack and disassemble patriarchy, while at the same time, developing new meanings and metaphors for masculinity, which must never be constructed as the ‘enemy’ of men or women. I believe that we need to find a ‘third way,’ or a ‘middle path’ between the extremes of patriarchal nostalgia (Iron John) and matriarchal identification (Oedipus). The zeitgeist urges us to defend the feminine, but the development of masculinity forces us to differentiate ourselves from the mother. The answer to this dilemma can be found, I think, in the masculine commitment to the feminine soul, or anima.” (p. 7)

The middle way, a middle path. That sounds about right and it fits with my following a middle path in terms of spirituality. The middle way where one doesn’t fall into the mind trap of macho or effeminate, the path of Iron John or Oedipus.


2 Responses

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  1. My experience with Iron John is it is neither macho nor feminine. IT is quite a slandered book, curiously from women who think it masculine-nasty and from men who think it wimpy. yikes.


    January 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    • Robert Bly originally intended for it to be about reawakening the authentic masculine in response to anima. However, the book soon led to all manner of men’s groups heading to the woods and thumping chests and somehow avoiding the real work, the real intent of Bly’s book.


      January 18, 2013 at 4:13 pm

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