Let’s quickly discuss what masculinity actually is. Let’s try to do this as short and crispy as possible.
Everything begins with the biological purpose of males in terms of sexual reproduction. Males in the animal kingdom have one common purpose: Providing different genes to the genetic pool of their species. Or simply said: Sex. Instinctively driven, men are somehow always seeking sexual satisfaction, if conscious about or not.
The social purpose historically emerged, when groups of females began to emotionally bind groups of males without them being aware of fatherhood. This resulted in groups of men going on hunts and building shelters to provide nourishment and safety for the whole tribe. Caring for families, sexually pleasing women and cultivating social exchange have been the earliest masculine „duties“.
Observable as well historically as sociologically in modern men, something changes, when a man gets conscious of his fertility and his procreation drive. This is what I call the fertility barrier. Focus is now less on collective benefits but more on the survival and success of the own sex drive and potential offspring. Egocentric thinking kicks in, driving the man to put his personal desires and intentions before others. Historically, this resulted since about 10’000 bc. in uprising wars, conquering empires and patriarchal structures.
As male-dominated societies grew bigger, egocentric men had to develop ways to get along and cooperate with each other to provide safety for their individual core-families. Rules, laws and religions got invented to provide behavior guidelines. Out of self-preservation interests, men began to act according the rules to prevent punishment, just as 5 year olds do to avoid parental disapproval.
Once rules are mastered, masculinity can be defined by using the former restricting boundaries to one’s own advantage. Pragmatic approaches are made use of to gain the most benefits out of life and to bring oneself in a position as powerful as possible. This can be traced back to the subconscious instinct to contrast one’s superiority compared to other male competitors to get sexually selected by women. Masculinity defines by status, wealth and popularity.
Nowadays, global values seem to shift slowly to more collective approaches, forcing men to adapt behavior to ethics and social approval as we can observe today in social media. Since egocentric men more and more get shamed and avoided, embracing feminine traits, supporting connective collaboration and acting altruistically and un-egocentrically becomes necessary to be embedded in social networks.
At some age, what kicks in in a lot of men is what I call the wisdom barrier. Once procreation, the sought of enrichment or empowering one’s own status isn’t a topic anymore, masculinity defines about serving humanity in a broader sense. Individual talents can be brought to bloom. Experiences, the masculine tendency to embrace fear and pain and the taking of a spiritual perspective support actions and intentions to leave a better world for future generations.
Recommended reads: Spiral Dynamics and Masculinity: