Masculinity

 

For years, I have strongly resisted the idea of significant social/psychological differences between men and women. I still do resist the thought of inherent/necessary differences, but also realize that I want to take into account culturally created differences more than I have in the past.

In Norway, it seems that it is easy and expected for men to express traditionally feminine characteristics, such as caring, nurturing, staying home with the kids, etc. Traditional masculine qualities, some more than others, are often seen as more suspect. I do think it is mostly a healthy approach, although it sometimes seems that there may be a lack of (public) exploration of healthy expressions of masculine qualities.

In the US, the situation quite different. While men in Norway typically are comfortable with feminine qualities, men here are often not encouraged to express and explore these. American men are often expected to express masculine qualities, and often in a quite unhealthy way (sports, violence, war etc). This is of course a caricature, and not true for everyone, but seems to capture some of the spirit here.

In both cultures, it seems that there is not so much public exploration of the differences between healthy and unhealthy expressions of masculine and feminine qualities.

I am now at a point where I am ready to explore these more in depth, and how they play themselves out in my own life. I am especially interested in healthy expressions of masculinity.

It seems that two current world leaders are exemplifying the healthy and unhealthy expressions. Bush is expressing profoundly unhealthy masculinity, with his insistence of vengefulness and violence – strength w/o caring. Kofi Anan is at the other end of the spectrum, with his integration of strength (clear/direct talk and action) and deep caring.

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