In the Quest of the Man, about males, men and gentlemen
Out from his value for each gender, their different strengths and qualities,
Roland Böhringer explores some of the ingredients that make a man a richer
the last 30 years, and increasingly so, women have been entering the domains
that were traditionally reserved solely for men. In many professions they are
now established on equal footing to men, and in some, especially when teamwork
is required, they surpass them. This has been both impressive for men to witness,
and yet can also tend to stir an innate insecurity. Man has witnessed the feminine
strengths of persistence and tenacity, communication skills, diplomacy, intelligence
and common sense and, of course, charm.
So what does this mean for the men? Will this stir us to further
development in our inherent strengths and qualities, updating our view on what
it means to be a man in the twenty-first century? Without this, it is unlikely
that the best of both genders can begin to co-operate in making a better future
for all. In strength the genders can work together, in weakness they battle.
The contemporary man: a short look at the media
can see some of these developments appearing in films and in the media. One
of these is the film ‘What Women Want’ in which Helen Hunt plays
a part where she gets the job of art director in competition with Mel Gibson’s
character. Although Mel Gibson determines to take revenge for his defeat, he
becomes reflective about his behaviour and comes clean - leading, of course,
into a new romance.
The film ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ gives a humorous insight into
the decision-making process between a Greek restaurant-owner and his energetic
wife - clearly the real boss. She wants their daughter to be allowed to work
in a travel-agency, and in a very humorous scene, she creates the circumstances
where her husband believes that he has come up with the idea that the daughter
should take the job. Afterwards he is pleased with himself and feels confirmed
that he has solved a family issue that was brought to him. The wife wins too
as she manages to get her way.
These two films humorously reflect many of today’s realities and scenarios
within the exchange of the genders.
What could be the focus of a man’s inner development?
Let us start with a thesis: As long as human-ness and ongoing personal
growth are not the joint endeavour of both genders, then neither of them will
be able to realise and actualise their full spiritual potential.
mutual intention could be respect, shared support and true, lived humanity.
This aspect of a declared, mutual endeavour is often curiously overlooked in
the debate between the genders. Such an approach could lead to a softening of
barriers that exist and into a greater joint understanding, as both genders
in partnership set themselves a common purpose, each to then freely express
their distinct way and style in this greater endeavour.
It is clear that this is easier said than done. However when one manages, by
actual common sense, to agree on a common intention that has an overriding importance
to both, it becomes a sanctuary to return to when the going gets tough. Returning
to respect, mutual support, humanity can lead us further forward, for otherwise
we can only come back to ways governed by our past – whether governed
by genetic, cultural, moral or other determination.
The idea of being a man
it is said that a real man should beget a child, plant a tree and write a book.
I find this an interesting consideration. The first speaks of a physical ability
to fertilise life and continue the genetic line, the second speaks of an ability
to care for and protect life and nature and the third of gathering knowledge
and wisdom that is worthy to be passed on. Together they indicate three levels
in a man, similar to the idea of body, soul and mind, and to which perhaps we
can ascribe the names, male, man and gentleman.
Sometimes when we talk in a descriptive way about men, we hear ourselves use
words like ‘a good bloke’ or, ‘a real man’ or ‘a
man of honour’. Looking at these expressions, what kind of qualities come
to mind? Well, here is my attempt to indicate some of the qualities that we
can perhaps attribute in the distinction of the male, the man and the gentleman
aspect of a person.
- Physical power, vitality and good stamina.
- Robust, prompt and handy.
- Healthy curiosity, discovery and pragmatic.
- There when needed.
- An adventurer.
- A strong interest in broadening horizons.
- Patient, polite, respectful and protective.
- A good teamworker.
- Aware of his strengths and weaknesses.
- The ability to laugh at self.
- An ability to admit to mistakes made.
- Courage and steadfastness.
- His life stands for definite ideas and principles.
- The ability to handle and live with responsibilities.
- Reliable and with integrity.
- Generous, helpful with a humane disposition.
- Exchanges from accrued wisdom out from his actual experience.
Perhaps one might also say that the male works to develop self-control, the
man works to understand himself and the gentleman works to learn how to best
apply his self-awareness in a wise manner.
appreciate that these distinctions[note
1] set out in this way may appear a touch too simplistic and cut
and dried, for all three mix and permeate in us as men in everyday life. However
I have found this a useful means of understanding the trend of my own life in
relation to my own development as a man.
conclude, here is a philosophical contemplation on the nature of both genders:
Might it be...
... that a woman carries all that she is within her, but needs to unlock it,
whilst the man needs to discover and unlock what he can become?
... that a woman needs to free her future from within, whilst a man needs to
win his future every day anew?
... that both man and lady can discover and find the higher nature of their
own spiritual being in the other gender?
To me there is so much yet to be discovered about the future and the development
of both genders. This is a small contribution into a great issue and debate.
In the article 'The Honour of Men' you can find interesting
video recommendations about this subject.
Note 1: inspired by workshops
with Mary Noble, co-founder of the international Feminenza
network (see interview on page 13) and the book, ‘A Feminenza Trace of
Essences and Elements’, ISBN 0 952 1674 68.