What does 'being a man' mean to you?


What parts of manhood or masculinity are rewarding for you? What parts are limiting? Are there ways in which being a survivor has changed your view of manhood or masculinity?


Staff member
Rewarding? Honestly, the first word that comes to mind is camaraderie - being able to be together with other guys, to be part of something, to have that even small (even if just a couple or a few) group of friends.
Limiting? In all seriousness: also camaraderie. Why? because it's hard. What to say? How to even just "be"?

I don't really think that being a survivor has changed my view of manhood or masculinity. Rather, it seems to me that becoming conscious of the fact that I am a survivor, dealing with this monstrosity of hell and healing from the trauma, becoming conscious of all that and actively seeking to heal and being at least somewhat successful, being a survivor has confirmed a counter-cultural view of masculinity that I always seem to have had.
Great question. My counselor recently shared a medical paper with me about gender-role conflicts. It is a scientific discussion of when men's understanding of gender roles trip them up. The paper listed six specific ways that men's understanding of gender roles create maladaptive behaviors:
1) Being Emotionally Restricted- in other words refusing to feel the full range of emotions available to us
2) Homophobia - I was alarmed but not surprised that this made the topic six
3) Obsession with Control, Power, & Competition
4) Being limited in our ability to express ourselves sexually and affectionately
5) Obsession with achievement and success
6) Having problems maintaining good health

To answer your question the parts of masculinity that are rewarding are:
Camaraderie - Men have a certain way of being with each other that I enjoy. My best friend and I are brutal ripping on each other...because we are best friends. I like that back and forth. I like the Camaraderie of chopping firewood, hanging out in a hot tub, or grabbing bears with guys.

Intimacy - I have come to believe that I am unusual in the fact that I have 4 men who are like brothers to me. My best friend knows my deepest darkest secrets and I his. Two of my friends spent two hours praying for me and over me when I was in crisis. The three of us are also unusual because when we part we say "I love you" and hug. Not a big deal for me, but surprising for heterosexual men comfortable doing that (see item 2 listed above)

Crying - This one may surprise you. The two men I mention above who I have prayed with are quite comfortable crying. The three of us have seen the others each sobbing at some point in our relationship. I had not cried for years and asked my counselor to help me learn. I figured two manly guys I know cry so I wanted to be able to also.

Communication - My experience is that men tend to be to the point. I like the efficiency of that. If my best friend is being an idiot I come out and say it. Observing my wife with her friends, woman seem to be much more circumspect in how they communicate.

Those are a few thoughts.

Jeremy Doe

Hi @Logan_WWIB ,

What a great question. My whole idea of masculinity and manhood has recently shifted. It's been shifting pretty much since my teens, but after some new readings and such It's changed even more.

To answer your question though, I enjoy being able to stand to pee, and I enjoy male clothing. I also like that we have more musculature and that it's easier for us to put on mass with weight training.

@BelovedSon called out 6 maladaptive aspects of gender roles and I couldn't agree more. I think the societal pressures and the definition of what is masculine is not healthy. It's so limiting. I was raised to not cry, to not complain, to not express emotion. Be a man I would be told. And I took all that guidance and hid my abuse. That was very damaging to me and it cost me decades of my life. The hierarchies and the bullying and policing we do to organize the hierarchy is also very damaging. Bifurcating gender roles causes us to see the other gender as the Other and though that separation we can justify all manner of atrocities. That's damaging.

Comradery, communication, compassion, intimacy, love, happiness, emotionality, and so much more are things I enjoy most. And those are human traits and shouldn't be restricted to masculinity or femininity.

As for being a survivor, it impacted me a great deal. My abuse caused a great deal of confusion and that confusion would perpetuate through childhood and adolescence. That I knew aspects of physiology so young was disorienting. That someone could abuse and violate me in the way they did was frightening and painful. And because of what was expected of me being a boy, I never told, and it nearly destroyed me. I couldn't cry, I could ask for help, I was supposed to be in control. I was suppose to have all the answers. And at the end of the day, no one has all the answers and that veil of masculinity, in my mind was to blame.

Anyways, this was a really good post and a really good question. Thanks for asking and providing the prompt for us to explore the topic.



Staff member
Maybe a small update.
We just had a “men’s weekend”. First of its kind. It was incredible to see how quickly it came together. The response was so great, that not all could be accepted due to various limitations. I was nervous and uneasy. My first visit to the camp when everyone was settled in (a tent village, 35ish guys), it was Friday night. And I was actually very uncomfortable. Didn’t know what to say, think, etc. And there wasn’t a lot of outgoing-ness happening from them towards me either. I found this a bit odd, and added to being uncomfortable. They were, after all, on our property. But that feeling changed. It’s almost as if they and I warmed up to each other, without actually doing anything. This was just a random gathering of random guys. Some knew each other. But not many. And most were at the monastery for the first time. As was planned in the program, I talked about my CSA Saturday evening. It was beyond well-received. In fact, it was very touching. I’m quite grateful for the occasion.

Now, almost a week after the weekend, I’m still on cloud 9 about it. It was a fantastic sense of camaraderie. Much about being a man, a normal guy, was just ratified, confirmed. And nothing was explicit. It really was a fantastic experience.


What parts of manhood or masculinity are rewarding for you?
That's a very good question. At this time in my life I would not consider myself very masculine but I do consider things like being there for my family and my church and volunteering helping people as very rewarding. I do know that years ago and maybe still it was difficult for me to know how to be a man when I began to reach adulthood. I was sexually molested at nine years old by an adult male cousin for a few years and it did screw me up pretty bad. There were times in my teen years that maybe I thought I was gay and it was very difficult, once I realized I was not gay, to talk to girls and all of my adult life all the relationships I've had with women have all fell apart, even the love of my life. I don't have a spouse to grow old with and I blame it on what happened to me when I was a boy even though I should have tried harder. I just try to be the best man that I possibly can be. Thanks for your post