Are males disposable?

About a year ago, I listened to a very well done series called the Evolutionary Man Summit.  Michael Dowd, a former Unitarian Universalist preacher, that I had the pleasure of hearing in person a few years ago, comments in the series that men are raised to be disposable.

I grew up with movies portraying men storming the beach in Normandy, read The Red Badge of Courage, and was generally encouraged to play football and sacrifice my body for the good of the team.  This year marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and I can still remember the movie with the orchestra men playing as the ship sunk. These men, along with the rest of us, were conditioned to be disposable. Not a single man I know would question the concept of “women and children first”. It is simply a given that men must “man up,” play the role of provider, and if need be, sacrifice themselves for the “weaker” members of society.

For generations men have gone off to war, stuffed our feelings deep inside of us, work long hours to provide for our families, and then at the age of 55, 60, or 65 we are told by the people we long served that we are no longer required. Our children are grown; our wives have gone on spiritual, economic, or educational journeys and are now independent and much better suited for a softer, kinder, gentler, more cooperative world than we are. We have spent our lives driven by purpose and industry, yet now there are no roadmaps, no markers upon which to define our next steps, no way to claim our progress. In short, we are left drifting in a society that seems to suddenly have no place for us.

At the exact time in history when collaboration and cooperation are becoming the requirement, male baby boomers are now able to embody those tenants thanks to lower hormone levels and reduced strength caused by the natural aging process.  Yet most of us have no idea of how to change, becoming bitter and lamenting what we used to be able to do.

At this time what are the choices? Do we become more feminine, more care giving?  Do we become bitter, resentful, “curmudgeony” and say *&(^ off to the world? Do we bore people with stories of how life used to be?  Do we become brain dead with alcohol and escape?  Or do we re-invent ourselves because in our hearts we know that we are not disposable?

I believe that the generation of men who first became supportive of equal rights for minorities and equal rights for women must now embrace the concept of equal rights for men.  We must acknowledge that we have the right to do what we want to do for ourselves.  The self-limiting problem with this idea is that we feel guilty. We have internalized concepts such as the glass ceiling and the exploitation of women. We have come to believe that our gender was responsible for the creation of the patriarchal society in which we now live.

But man alone did not create the patriarchy. Men and women co-created it. As Michael Dowd teaches “no group of men got together and said lets create monogamy!” It is time for men to “man up” and create a world in which men and women are both responsible for and to one another in partnership. This must include a man’s right to do what he feels is right for himself. The right to identify and follow his purpose, the right to live on core with his true being, and not as society tells him he must live. I believe that the only thing stopping men from doing just that – is other men.  Men do not like confronting other men and admitting that they like the ballet, or find “chick flicks” entertaining, or enjoy a trip to the art museum.  Bring up that subject here in Pittsburgh and the conversation will shift to “how ‘bout those Steelers” faster than Madonna can change her identity.

Life 3.0 for men is all about owning the shift in values that has occurred and accepting that life is different now than how it used to be. It’s about saying “I am now finally going to own and enjoy my life.” The key is to have the courage to find a new path, a different way of being, and not being afraid or embarrassed to find and then to own it.  I used to be a senior executive and that was very rewarding, both financially and for my ego. Now I am a certified professional coach, which is a lot less financially lucrative but much more personally gratifying.

As a coach working with men and women looking to find their core beliefs and build an authentic life that can be enjoyed well into their eighties and nineties, I first had to become willing to say to other men that yes, I am a coach. I had to be okay saying that I work with spiritual beings in a human existence working to have a gratifying and fulfilling life.  Why was this difficult for me?  Quite simply, because I was conditioned by my family and friends to believe that only sissies go to church and spirituality is a fairy tale. Because of this mentality, I started to focus only on the business ventures that we can create and not the adventures that we can live in all of our ventures; be they business, volunteer efforts or our personal lives. It has been a process for me to move past this and realize that I am a spiritual being. It’s a process I ask my clients to go through now as well to truly get in touch with who they really are, and to find out what they really want.

So to people like me that have been disposable for fifty or sixty years, it is now time to claim your special place in the universe. It is time to discover exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life and then go do it. My guess is that your true identity is not as being your wife’s personal shopping partner or playing golf with friends who talk incessantly about how great they used to be. It is time to do something bodaciously interesting and enjoyable for only one person – YOU.  Find a way of finding it – it is time to stop “keep on keeping on” and start leading the life you were born to live.