Masculinity-Movies blog

The worrying state of modern boys, revisited

posted by Eivind on September 9, 2009, at 4:42 pm

In my latest blog post, I expressed concern that many young boys these days are relating with each other in extremely aggressive and often destructive ways. I have observed their antisocial behaviour on public transport and in open public spaces. Of course, upon throwing my concern out there, I was given ample opportunity for deeper reflection – that is the benefit of publicizing an opinion. I realize now that it is a complicated issue and that the aggression itself is not necessarily a problem, precisely because this red expression of dominance-behaviour is an integral part to masculine evolution.

It was thanks to Robert Bly (as it often is these days) that I gleaned some insights into the many facets of this issue. He speaks in his stunning book Iron John about three knights of three different colours.He presents these knights as a metaphor for masculine evolution, wherein the red signifies the most primitive step – power, aggression, ego, dominance. The red knight then moves on to the white knight, who is a do-gooder, a man who desires to banish evil from the lands. But then he makes the observation that our culture has no tolerance for the red knights, preferring to chuck them into prisons or institutions. Accordingly, young boys are prematurely rushed into the white knight stage (and they never reach black because it requires access to red). The result is cowards who are internally arrogant, judgmental and passive aggressive. Men who consider themselves noble and forces of good, but who don't act on it, preferring instead comfort and security.

This is what made me realize the error of my ways, or at least the inaccuracies of them. In myself, I feel the distinct absence of a fully integrated red knight. And I see it in practically all men I meet. What these boys are acting out, then, is a force that I am not used to seeing, and that I am not used to channeling. Little wonder I felt the tension.

Now, I have been aware of my challenge in this regard for some time, which is why I have picked up martial arts, why I'm more willing to confront people, why I will stand up for what is right and why I am becoming edgier in my style of communication. Still, the red knight is but a shadow of what he could be.

The tragedy here, then, is not so much that these boys are being evil with each other. The true tragedy, rather, is that there are no men around them who are comfortable with their level of aggression, and who can comfortably and with authority help them work through the red energy skilfully. Many cultures, Robert Bly points out, have a deep understanding of this red phase of our personal evolution as men, but Western culture has none.

So we suffer.

I have written an article about this issue that I believe is potentially life-changing, and I invite you to sign up for my newsletter, as that is the only way you can get it (it comes as a thank you gift for your interest).

The worrying state of modern boys

posted by Eivind on August 3, 2009, at 10:20 pm

It is with a certain level of sadness, worry and tension that I observe the behaviour of young boys around me where I live. So many appear to have no anchor in themselves. They appear completely at the mercy of peer pressure, playing into what they believe their friends think is cool. What this looks like, when they gather up in groups, is a lot of screaming, hitting each other, telling each other what useless shits they are. With many, there seems to be a competition going in which the winner is the one who can dish out the worst insults.

This dynamic isn't completely unfamiliar to me, as this behaviour was prevalent when I was their age. But it's getting worse. Guys who are supposed to be friends tear each other down, conducting psychological warfare as a way of bonding.

What happened? Why are so many young boys extremely cruel to each other? They seem to be adopting the teenage girl drama and, perhaps to compensate for their resulting feminization, pack it into boastful macho behaviour. I can only imagine how confusing life must be for them.

Did we forget about these boys when we decided on who needed help (generally girls and women)? Have we demonized the male gender so much so that boys now use the heritage of "men are scum"-feminism to make friends? Whatever the reason may be, these boys are lost and stripped of control of their body, speech and mind. I worry about them.

The latest movie I looked at was Buddha's Lost Children and I believe it holds some answers. Abbot Phra Khru Bah teaches us that the key to unlocking boys' potentials is to expect things from them, to treat them with respect, to love them while holding them responsible for their actions, to not shy away from punishing them if they have done wrong. When fathers stop to lovingly punish their sons for fear of abuse or of being reported to the authorities, love has disappeared. They are not taught the laws of karma and are left to fend for themselves, with noone to tell them right or wrong. This is the dramatic result of reframing love the willingness to let others to do themselves whatever they want. For young boys, love without toughness is cruel.

So if you have a boy who shows signs of this behaviour, don't be a soft, anxious sap who lets him get away with it. Treat him like a man. That's what he wants. He wants to feel as if he belongs to a true brotherhood.

For that to happen, however, you have to be a man, which, hopefully, is why you're here.

Gadgets are a man’s worst friend?

posted by Eivind on August 1, 2009, at 3:33 pm

iphone

The iPhone, a handy tool or the source of untold misery?

When my friend Staale Nataas pointed out that fitness guru Shawn Phillips had outlined what he thought the main differences between boys and men are, I took them straight to heart. I think it is an extremely accurate and brilliant list.

The first of the points on that list is that while men relate to technology as tools, boys relate to them as gadgets. My iPhone has made me realize how much I still relate to cool technology, at least much of it, as gadgetry. Just earlier today, I found myself downstairs in the basement about to put on my washing, and then realized I had brought my iPhone with me for no reason whatsoever. I was absolutely horrified!

It's just a damned phone with some extras on it, yet much of my time is spent with it, looking for it, making sure I have it with me etc. It has become my main source of distraction. When I use it as a boy, my vitality drops, my integrity dissipates, life force literally leaves my body, and I soon become really unhappy. So why do I do it? Because there's the promise of a short hit of instant gratification, finding that someone has written me with a satisfying e-mail or something cool has happened in the world. The addiction to sensory stimulation. But when I manage to switch my focus to using it as a tool, it becomes the source of vitality, integrity, and life force.

Could it be that our addiction to gadgets are holding as back in the realm of boyhood? Could it be that all those suits out there running around with their Blackberries are not at all that in a hurry to "stay abreast of things", that they're just trying to stay distracted from life and the deeper truths within? Could it be that capitalism by its very nature, and our suckering up to it, holds an entire generation of men back from realizing their potential? I don't know, but it sure doesn't look like I'm the only one with an unhealthy relationship to the technological marvels in my life.

It's the classic question, do we control technology or does technology control us? I personally think that it takes a pretty mature man to not be controlled by it. Which is why it is so essential to take breaks from it all and discover the deeper current within.

Anyway, what do you think - are gadgets a man's worst friend?

Reflections on sexual polarity from the land of the Midnight Sun

posted by Eivind on July 15, 2009, at 9:50 pm

vesteraalenI'm currently on holiday in the North of Norway, staying in the childhood home of my girlfriend's mother. We drove from the Norwegian capital Oslo up along the spine of Norway to the glorious Vesterålen, where I'm currently surrounded with nature's splendour. Spending extended time with her like this, driving for days and now spending time here where the sun never sets, brings on a wide array of opportunities for feeling into and reflecting on the dynamics between man and woman, Masculine and Feminine.

As is the case with many of my friends, I'm in a relationship where she has a driver's license and I don't. This is a natural consequence of the gender roles that are so idealized on the leading edge of Western culture: The independence and direction of women, and the softening, increased flow and emotionality of men. Since much of my life's focus is about creating the best intimate relationship I possibly can, this situation of her driving the car and me sitting idly by has many inherent lessons in it, as the dynamics of Masculine and Feminine are such a huge part of these efforts.

As it is the function of the Masculine – among many other things – to establish the direction where the relationship is going, it becomes subtly depolarizing to have the woman drive the car with the man as passenger. Don't take my word for it, feel into it yourself by riding with your lady (for days). It can de-juice the relationship. There is the ever so slight sense that the man is dependent on his woman to get anywhere, which is a feeling that many people like when it's epitomized in the concept of girl power, but that few like in actual real life terms. It's a challenging place to be when trying to build the sort of relationship that David Deida describes as third stage.

Now, through the way my life is developing, and through my increased sensitivity to the movement of sexual energy (the energy of Masculine and Feminine), I've come to the realization that I must get a driver's license. I understand I cannot make things happen to the same degree that I need to by relying only on public transport (my time is becoming increasingly valuable and scarce). But things being as they are right now, I must find creative ways to polarize her into her Feminine and myself into my Masculine, while in the passenger seat. Some of the things that become vital, I have found, are keeping track of petrol usage and spendage, establishing distance goals as well as the legs of the journey, knowing always where we are etc. If we get to an intersection where it is not entirely clear where we must go, I must be on the ball straight away. When I fail to do these things, she becomes the vehicle of my life in ways that are unhealthy for our relationship. Symbolically she brings me through one decision after another. Eventually, such dynamics evolve into a woman mothering her man in ways that make both puke.

The degree to which I've been successful at maintaining polarity between us comes clear when we step out of the car. The first night, we set up a tent in the rain, and she was so strong in her directional energy that she wouldn't let me take care of it. Consequently, we were fighting over the right to being in authority in the situation, and I got a little pissed, thinking briefly "fuck it, if you don't need me, here you are - do it yourself" (we got it up in the end, and I recovered from being annoyed quickly).

It's something I see often in people around me: The woman has become so independent and capable that she doesn't really need the man anymore. To put it crudely, he becomes to her a provider of sexual services, financial collaboration, and quite pleasant but safe companionship, and he becomes bitter, hurt, impotent, withdrawn. A lot of energy is put into putting up a good front for many modern couples, pretending as if they are happy with their relationship. But really, they are miserable, because they don't understand or master sexual polarity. So much suffering results from not handling the gradual neutralization of sexual polarity skillfully. When we have not trained ourselves to feel the dynamics of sexual energy – that is the Masculine and the Feminine – in the moment we are in, movement will happen, but in unfortunate directions, normally towards sexual neutralization.

There is a time for "Step aside, woman, this is a man's job." Not because you or I want to regress to old fashioned ways of relating. But because we really communicate "Step aside, woman, this is a man's job. It's a job for a strong and trustable man who sees you are tired, that you need some rest and the feeling of being taken care of. I'm that man and I will provide you with all of these and more, because I love you. Relax, my sweet. I'm here for you. Always."

I have practiced relating through and growing the Masculine skillfully with her for a long time now, and as the stress of a Masculine-oriented work situation that often burdens her gradually fades away in the recovery of holiday, it becomes clear how much has been accomplished. We are in a good place her and I.

So love and passion is strong up here in the land of the midnight sun. We're enjoying ourselves, and I hope you are too.

So I now take care of the tent.

And she's giving me driving lessons.

Ahem... 🙂

Report from the Masculinity Movies launch

posted by Eivind on June 27, 2009, at 10:14 am

It's been three weeks since the official launch of Masculinity Movies at Norsk Taiji Senter (Norwegian Taiji Center). Just prior to arriving at the center, which is tucked in nicely between the spectacular new Opera house and the Oslo stock exchange, I picked up Pelle Billing at the train station. Pelle came all the way from Malmö, Sweden to present his important work, for which I'm honored and grateful.

It was a beautiful day and around thirty people were present. We started a little late with Taiji master Pamela Hiley's introduction. I then presented the background for the tagline and went into some detail about what I see as the primary differences between boys and men. I pulled on some brilliant observations by FIT (Focused Intensity Training) guru Shawn Phillips and some I had jotted down quickly the day before (which I have no illusions of living up to yet). I told those present a little bit about myself and my own personal journey, which always seems to create a nice connection.

Then we went quickly into the five step model  of initiation used by Robert Bly, which looks like this:

  1. Bonding with and separation from mother
  2. Bonding with and separation from father
  3. Apprenticeship to a mentor who reawakens and heals our essence
  4. Apprenticeship to a hurricane energy (a wild man, warrior etc.)
  5. Marriage to the Holy Woman/Queen

This model was a strong and powerful part of the message, as I knew it contained important information for many of those present, including myself. I will write more about this model elsewhere later on.

Staale Nataas gifted us with a funny and dramatic rap about being a man – a man overwhelmed by his woman no less, or was that the Feminine itself. I think many of us could recognize some of his poignant and hilarious images.

Then Pelle revved up his engine and told as about how feminism and masculinity are related.

We ended the first part exploring the King, Warrior, Magician, Lover archetypes with a theoretical investigation and active visualization, one which I will explain later elsewhere.

After the break

In part two, we explored the movies Into the Wild, and the warriors of Patton and The Last Samurai. The latter two movies are part of a series where I'm exploring the Warrior archetype, which is an archetype inherent to the masculine psychoemotional makeup. I feel that we are in dire straits in the world today because mechanized warfare, postmodernism and feminism exorcized this vital archetype from men. An article on the subject will follow later.

Bjarte Hiley gave us a spectacular demonstration of the taiji sword form he was taught in China by a master from the Yang family. I've know Bjarte for many years now, and something has shifted in him after he got clear about passionately pursuing taiji, in the footsteps of his mother. He's much younger than me, but it's amazing to see how big shifts start happening in the life of a guy once he gets clear on where his life is headed.

Txai Fernando, who has worked with the indiginous people of the Amazon for many years, then gifted us with a powerful chant from the Amazon. Fernando told us that this was a chant that is traditionally reserved only for the men in the Amazon tribes from which it originates, because the women go a little crazy when they hear it. He assured us that this was no mere fantasy, yet considered it safe in the container of the launch. I'm glad he did, as I enjoyed this part a lot.

We continued with a tribal dance that was meant to harmonize the forces of the Masculine and Feminine, which was thoroughly enjoyable, and provoked many smiles and giggles.

Finally, I introduced shaman Tom Crockett as a contributor to the site, and I recommend you all go check out his movie review of the Ghost and the Darkness. I'm very proud to have Tom on board, and looking forward to learning more from him.

What stood out about the evening was that this wasn't about my own personal journey, but about the efforts of a group of guys, working together for change. As I've mentioned earlier on in this blog, I'm really starting to tune in to the concept of brotherhood, and it felt like a strong example of just that (as you will see from the pictures). I was very proud to have these brilliant guys with me and felt significant blessing from being there with them. Many others present expressed similar sentiments, which was very humbling and source for great joy and inspiration.

Thanks to everyone who came, to Pelle, Staale, Bjarte and Fernando for standing with me, and to my good friend Pamela Hiley for suggesting that I put together such a launch in the first place, offering her magnificent center and infinite support in the process.

Also thanks to Kjell Tjensvoll for being the evening's photographer.