“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado, or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing and facing consequences whether it is in matters social, political, or other. It consists in deeds not words.” ― Mahatma Gandhi. This quote alone perfectly encapsulates the idea and spirit of modern masculinity, doesn’t it?
- Men need a shift from going it alone—the Atlas-like mentality needs to go.
- A shift to a modern masculinity is underway, whether we want it or not. If we open a conversation about it we can influence the direction.
- Solutions to hard questions emerge a level above the one where we’re stuck. We are stuck on politics, political correctness, and stereotypes.
- Answers are found when we enter with a beginner’s mind and question our programming so that we each find our unique path.
As longstanding cultural structures and stereotypes are being reevaluated, masculinity and manhood are in crisis. The old masculine stereotypes of being aggressive, privileged, and tough, while also being hypersexual and unemotional, are being dismantled. At the same time, we are also seeing these old stereotypes being re-embraced around the world.
In previous blog posts, we have discussed a softer form of the traditional masculinity concept of being the tough protector and sole provider in a family or a relationship.
This notion puts extreme pressure on men, isolates them, and often leads to mental health struggles while also affecting relationships at work, at home, and amongst friends. This is what we call “The Atlas Complex of Men,” in which men carry the weight of the world on their shoulders alone and believe it will collapse unless they continue to do so.
With the aim of starting a constructive discussion about modern manhood and modern masculinity, the MANTORSHIFT Institute conducted a qualitative research project in the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany, Austria, Jordan, and Iran.
There were over 200 men interviewed of various age groups and backgrounds. In two previous posts, I have summarized why we conducted this research and what were some of the first findings. In this final blog about this work, we report some of the remaining findings and provide some foundational ideas about what we call the Playbook for Modern Masculinity.
We have found that the five defining characteristics of a modern man are empathetic, inclusive, authentic, self-aware, and emotionally intelligent. The below diagram shows the top 17 characteristics that were named in the interviews.
It is widely agreed that an individual needs to find their own models, and no commonly agreed on or shared models are available. Most respondents can’t name someone who embodies modern masculinity or models the modern man for them.
Some politicians were mentioned as positive and negative examples. There was a very strong tendency, though, for citizens of a country to not highlight a politician from their own country.
For example, several non-French respondents mentioned Emmanuel Macron as a good example of modern masculinity, while French respondents disagreed and, in fact, named him as someone who models the opposite. Others mentioned Nelson Mandela and Barack Obama as positive examples. Donald Trump was mentioned by many respondents as the antithesis of a modern man.
One question that inevitably comes up is, if we know what modern masculinity is, why don’t we do it? One important barrier is that men still experience high expectations from society and, increasingly, a negative bias. There are still high expectations for men to provide financially and protect physically; vulnerability is often met with confusion and disapproval from women.