What is masculinity?

leonardoWhat is masculinity? What does it look like? What does it speak like? What does it feel like? Let's go through this in an orderly fashion:

Masculinity is...

  • Not synonymous with "man". Just like men can be feminine, women can be masculine. The quality of masculinity is what makes someone masculine, not their gender.
  • Represented by the ability to "detach" from the situation, to evaluate it with an outside perspective. This gives masculine people the ability to act strategically, be great planners, and to not be swept away by emotions when some composure is required.
  • Grounded in emptiness. Emptiness is that state that transcends the temporal realm of manifestation. It is the capacity of the Masculine to tap into the Void, that which is beyond.
  • Dedicating yourself to a life of service. The Masculine person lives to give himself as a living sacrifice, knowing that it is the only way he can protect himself from Death (the person who is fully given can meet death with peace).
  • Dancing with Death. Death is to the Masculine its archenemy and its best friend. To the masculine man, it is precisely the quality of knowing death that enables him to live his life fully. At the same time, there is nothing he fears more. Death comes in many forms, not just as mortal recoil from our dimension, but as change. It can manifest in the simplest things, such as staying in the shower longer because we don't want to feel the cold air outside it. When a man learns to conquer death in the small ways that show up during the day, he becomes truly powerful
  • The desire to "fix" things, to put an end to them. This is related to the above point about death. In conversation, a masculine man will try and reach a solution, whereas a feminine woman will just want to dance with words.
  • The ability to proactively penetrate any challenges that present themselves. The man who is mature in his masculinity accepts total responsibility for his actions, their consequences, and also those of others.
  • The ability to direct (particularly the Feminine). The Masculine always has a direction. For the man with a masculine essence, it is crucial that he maintains a clear direction in life and relationships lest he feel totally disempowered. A man who is not directed will be felt as "spacy" and untrustable. You can gauge your ability to direct by paying attention to whether you always have a clear intention and a desired outcome in your encounters with people. When you speak just to fill the void, you have lost direction, and you will lose yourself.

When you start manifesting these qualities in yourself and in your life, you will start feeling that your vitality increases and that your sexuality deepens. You may find you have a fire in your belly, literally warmth spreading through your body in very pleasurable ways. You will find that you have a strange sense of immovability, that you feel solid and not so vulnerable to the external world. Your mind will start functioning better, and you will not forget things like you used to. You will discover a sense of clarity in communication about WHY you are speaking and where you want dialogues and meetings with people to go. You will feel called to serve others through your growing personal power.

This is just a short introduction to the qualities inherent in the Masculine, but it should put you in good stead to do further research on your own. The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida is always a good place to start.

Discuss the article below:

  • Yin and Yang

    Beautifully defined! Thank you.

    I agree with everything you wrote about masculinity. However, the only part that I don’t necessarily agree is where you said, “there is nothing more than death that he fears.” I am not so sure if it’s “death” that he fears most. I believe masculinity is about turning the intangible into a tangible reality. “Feminine” do this by giving birth (= creating another human within herself). Masculine, on the other hand, have the need to do this by creating something outside (external) of himself.

    By this definition, I believe men fear his inability to create what he is supposed to create. His biggest fear is his existence having no value to the humanity by his lack of potency (ability to turn the intangible into a tangible, which is an act of creation.)

  • Hi there Yin and Yang,

    I agree fully with your first paragraph. And then with your sentence “I believe men fear his inability to create what he is supposed to create,” I would add “before he dies”. I think you are definitely right that men fear not manifesting their life purpose and that they fear dying without having done so. But since the little deaths of change are much more immediate than the big death of the body, the guy withers away in comfort and the illusion that death is still far away.

    My understanding is that many men live with the fear of being insignificant as their constant companion, but that they choose not to feel it. It’s as if they fear the death of their identity that will result from embracing their life’s work.



    I feel like masculinity is a lot simpler than this. I feel like masculinity is the “seeker spirit” in us. It’s the drive to explore, make, acquire, change, build, do. It’s penetrative. It mirrors our sexuality, and why wouldn’t it? We’re talking about a largely sexual construction. Just as masculine sexuality identifies what it wants, prepares to take it, and then goes inside of it, masculine behavior does the same. Objects in the world are gone into and occupied by masculine behavior.

    What we fear then isn’t death, but barriers to entry. We fear seeking that which can’t be attained. We fear the experience of being left outside of the objects of our desire.

  • Hrabba

    Tenkte eg skulle/kunne bruke dette som referanse i en oppgave eg holder på med innenfor kjønnsstudier eg…. ;p

  • Ramon

    With all due respectit seems to me as if the above post describes man as being rather dry and lifeless. As if this and only this, emptyness, killing, logic ect.. While I do Agree this is an apsect of man, what you have described is the warrior archetype pretty much and nothing else, maybe a little king but in the shadows. I am aware that you describe masculinity alone and not the total man. I guess in order to put this in perpective it may help to havehe role of the article that descrbes (in your opinion) the anima/inner feminine in an article. Tis articole in my opinion does a disservice to your all to important cause.

  • Great feedback, Ramon. The article is rather old and when I wrote it, the Warrior archetype was the most important to me personally. Right now, however, the most important one is the Lover. I’m going to think about revising it.


  • Ramon

    Well that explains it 😉 I do understand. I feel like the warrior needs to be there more me aswell but the lover archetype holds a very special place. If not there is no heart, no joy, no “color” pursay,  then life and death even are but an empty shell.

  • I liked a lot of the qualities and traits you listed here but I do wonder if they are uniquely “masculine”. Why is it that if women exhibit some of these traits they aren’t “feminine” as well? It’s almost as if this article is framed as though all positive traits such as these are masculine and “feminine” traits are subservient to all masculine traits. It seems like a lose lose game for women. I really did enjoy a lot of the things this article had to say though. I have read another article about masculinity called “A New Masculinity” and I think the people who read this and enjoyed it might enjoy that as well. It’s here 

  • EivindFS

    Hi Zac!

    Thanks for writing. In my judgment, what you write is a common misconception. See, here’s what I think is going on: We are programmed to value masculine traits more highly than feminine as a consequence of the needs for empire, capitalism, the creation of civilization etc. The world that we live in is very masculine – it has been built by men.

    Then when a person points out that there are qualities that can be deemed “masculine” and others that can be deemed “feminine”, some people feel that is a wrong distinction, because it makes men look good and women bad (from the perspective of our masculine world of course).

    But this judgment can only exist if there is a foundation of dishonoring feminine qualities to begin with. It can only happen if I judge e.g. the quality of proactive action as more important than receptivity and sensitivity. But a world without receptivity and sensitivity is a horrible place, devoid of beauty, intuition, relatedness. It’s a world of brutality, competition and conflict. Not so far from what we’re experiencing is it?

    I could make a similar list for femininity and include qualities such as relatedness, sensitivity, receptivity etc and I would think that was an enormously powerful and beautiful list. I see that a lot of women today are learning that trying to be masculine isn’t serving them. They *can* be, but it doesn’t feel so good in the long run. They are learning to reconnect to their true feminine, like we men are learning to reconnect to our true masculine (remaining in touch with the gender-opposite part of ourselves as we do so). And they are learning that this does NOT disempower them. Rather, in reconnecting to their feminine core, they become true powerhouses in the world. Similarly, men are discovering that by reconnecting to their true masculine, they do NOT become violent thugs, but men of service, love and power.

    Only by truly honoring the feminine traits can we honor the masculine. What I see is that the more radical forms of femininsm absolutely abhor femininity and want women to be like men (because their reading of history forces them to reject their feminine traits, thus becoming exactly like the very thing they are fighting). My invitation is to consider that line of thinking misinformed and to consider that it’s high time that we learn to value the traits of the feminine. I judge that one of the challenges of our future is to find a place for the true Feminine in business and politics.And the rule as always is that there are no rules. These are no absolute truths. They are generalized observations. From me to you as an invitation for further thought.

  • EivindFS

    Just one more distinction – a woman can have these qualities and still be feminine. That’s part of having an integrated psyche. But if she were to have ONLY these qualities, no person would experience her as feminine. And that is perfectly fine if that is her genuine desire.

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