I sat on the train ride through the snowy mountains of eastern Switzerland, deeply occupied in my observation of all the curves that the snowfall had left, and how the trees stood so tall even with so much snow on top of them, when I suddenly felt a jarring and a cringing pain in my stomach area. Indigestion you may ask? Thankfully no; plus, rest assured, this piece is not a self-confessed-dear-diary-digestive-issue entry.
The sting occurred straight after I could not help but hear something from another fellow passenger. The conversation was a general small-talk chat between what I am guessing were 3 friends or work colleagues that blended into the background, however one sentence from one of the 30-something year old men stuck out like the sorest of thumbs:
“I will never cheat my goal of sleeping with a spouse.”
By way of a prelude: I’m 21 years old and I have experienced night club outings, getting drunk and the many twisted thoughts and activities that generally go with those environments and substances, so I have a pretty good understanding for how someone would find themselves in a position where they are just about to, or just have, slept with someone’s spouse. We know it happens, we have either seen cases, have heard of or have experienced scenarios where this sort of thing happens and deep down know that it should have not occurred.
The reason this statement jarred me so much was the calculated nature of it. The fact that this particular young man was not alluding to a possibility of a just one-night regret: no, by his own confirmation he has made sleeping with someone’s wife his life aim. Equally disturbing was that his female companion laughed out loud as if it were the sweetest and most amusing thing she had heard. This was an icing on the already spoilt cake.
I am a man. Like most men, I have grown into one from a boy, and I remember clearly being a boy with all my little friends too. Our life’s grandest ambitions were to be firemen or policemen or train conductors. We played together, both girls and boys, and we played very tenderly. I/we were not unique – visit any nursery around the world and you’d generally experience the same sight – little sweet, tender, caring, light and deeply loving angels.
So the question that was flashing in my head like a large neon billboard on this train ride was: what has happened to us – what do we experience in life that we go from being a sweet delicate boy with a heart of gold, to someone who makes their life goal to sexually objectify a woman as conquerable land AND potentially rip apart a marriage?
You may say, well if a woman wants to cheat on her husband then it’s obviously not working out so let that be the end of it, and to that my response would be, just because a country is having difficulties internally does not mean it deserves to have a nuclear bomb dropped on it.
Back to the point here though, and that is, what is it about the way we are raised as boys to young men that we end up with this type of mission as an end result? Somewhere on that ‘raising boy to a man’ trajectory something went horribly wrong and a serious derailment must have occurred.
Could it be that as young men we put women down or objectify them so that we can be one step ahead of any potential rejection?
I have experienced rejections during my 22 years here on Earth, all the way from a stranger ignoring a “hello,” to being held at arm’s distance by a crush, and in every instance there was a feeling in my body that is undeniably uncomfortable. In reaction and retaliation, I have done various things to ensure that I would not feel that throb again.
The conclusion I came to after talking with different people about the subject is that the feeling does not necessarily come from the rejection itself, but because there has to be something else at play that precedes the rejection torment. What is it?
From young we are shown what it means to be a man in many different shapes and colours: Strong and Provider, Romantic and Charming, Tough and Powerful, Great Lover and Money Maker etc. etc.
Even to pick just one of these imposed ‘requirements’ and expectations is difficult enough to live up to the idealised images fed back to us through parenting, media and advertising, but to play up to all of those is near impossible.
This need to be in a relationship has been with me for a while, and if I am to exercise honesty, there are still remnants of it today. As I walked home from work one evening I came to a revelation: I realised that I had spent so much time and energy searching for someone to be in a relationship with so that I could give them everything I have – someone to care for, look after, spend money on, treat like the last drop of water on a desert island, and more, all in order to distract myself from the fact that I was not treating myself with the same care and love I deserve. The realisation left me with a clear plan to move forward with: I am to treat myself with the level of care and regard that I have been far too quick to offer to others.
Since then, I have had the amazing opportunity to actually look at my qualities as a man; the fact that I am tender, delicate, loving, super patient, wise, a great cook, a lover of cleaning, ironing, and on the whole someone who brings a different perspective on situations, all with great ease too. From seeing these qualities in myself I began to notice more and more of the same in others, when being with close friends and family, or even just meeting a stranger in transit or at work.
And so I write these loving words to every man:
We no longer have to perform to the impossible standards we as a society have set.
We no longer need to prove that we are worthy of something through doing and achieving, instead we put focus on absolutely exquisite qualities we innately hold.
We no longer have to look at life through the lens of another person’s views and opinions.
We no longer have to be tough to feel strong.
We no longer have to tailor ourselves to attract women, for the woman that falls in love with our natural tender ways is the one that will be a friend for life.
We can show the world that there is space to be outside the confines of its playing ground.
We can be the Man that reflects tremendous power through fragility.
I have been discovering that living from these premises does not come with any pictures. It is not, and in fact cannot, be perfect. We are all here to learn and it is a process I am thoroughly enjoying going through.
The awareness and consideration I have given to this topic has sadly not been taught to me by the education system or any other facet of society. My development in this regard has been encouraged and supported by a very dear friend of mine, Serge Benhayon. His presentations and workshops run by Universal Medicine have provided me with a steady platform to look at these deviant societal constructs, and not only to look at them, but to allow myself to feel the level of corruption we have allowed and rather than entertaining any judgement or frustration, observe the reality of the predicament with a much deeper understanding and compassion and live in a way that I may be the reflection that says: “There IS another way, a truer way to be a man in the world today.”
By Michael Brown, Maths Student and Manager in Retail, UK