Episode 70: How to be a Man in the modern world

In times past, the role of a Man and the pathway of becoming a man would have been clearly defined. Hunter, warrior, provider, protector — these roles and responsibilities would have been bestowed through initiation and also would have been non-negotiable.  In this day and age, however, with the infinite range of individual choice and identity, and the blurring of gender roles, how to be a man has become less clear. This has freed men to redefine their identities, but has also led to feelings of confusion about what constitutes manhood and masculinity.

This week, Clay and Sarah discuss what is Manhood in the modern world, and how we might raise our sons to become good men.


In this episode:

* the dilemma of Manhood and difficulties of discussing gender differences in the age of gender ‘sameness’

* Communication – how men do things differently

* biological gender differences – hormones and the brain

* stages of boyhood

* the role of the mother and the father in the raising of boys into men

* the importance of initiation rituals

* Man as defined by his work — the role of action and the consequences of this narrow social definition/expectation of manhood

* Clay’s theory of ‘the amoeba man’ 🙂


“The man controlling his environment is today the prevailing American image of masculinity.  A man is expected to prove himself not by being part of society but by being untouched by it, soaring above it.  He is to travel unfettered, beyond society’s clutches, alone…He’s a man because he won’t be stopped.”  This quote from Stiffed by Susan Faludi gives us one common picture of manhood.

But of course there are also different images of manhood that show man instead as the steady, reliable protector and provider.

These days much is being made of the crisis of boys, the lack of initiation processes for boys in the pathway to manhood, and the conflicting images of what the ‘good man’ is supposed to be in modern society.
Robert Twigger has a different perspective in his book Being A Man. “Let’s face it, in the lousy modern world there is no such thing as manliness.  There is no such thing as virtuous behaviour that only applies to men… There are human virtues but there are no exclusively male virtues.  Notions such as manliness are old hat now, best forgotten.”

So, yes there may not be any qualities of Manhood that are exclusive to men alone.  But there continues to be a yearning in society at large for Men to ‘be men’, and for a recognition amidst all the recognitions of gender equality, that men and women are often fundamentally different in both their tendencies and inner natures.

It’s slippery ground to tread.

We had a great discussion this week while drinking our coffee at the Havana Cafe. And we both spent time reflecting on our experiences parenting boys, and the differing roles mothers and fathers play in their son’s journey to manhood.

Hope you enjoyed the conversation as well. And don’t forget to jump into the conversation by commenting belong or visiting the facebook page.