We believe that the world is ready for a new perspective on gender, sex and being a Man or a Woman, and we hereby declare our position.
We define ourselves as Men, not only in contrast to what we understand as a Woman, but also in contrast to the ideals of our dear fathers and grandfathers -- ideals which have now all but collapsed. The current social identity and spiritual crisis for Men can either be regarded as a tragedy, or viewed as an opportunity for freedom and creativity. We have decided to go for the latter.
Looking at our past, we see how Western civilisation has moved to more and more equity between the sexes, up to the current situation where the respective roles and positions of Men and Women in society are vigorously debated and contested. We believe it’s high time to take the discussion in a direction that explores and emphasises collaboration and mutual benefit, rather than playing a zero-sum game between the sexes. Can patriarchy and matriarchy find mutual benefit and common ground? And what do the ill-defined terms patriarchy and matriarchy signify exactly? Or rather, what do we desire and envision them to signify?
Understanding this past, we see much which is strong and brilliant about male camaraderie and collaboration. We also acknowledge the negative aspects of the patriarchy and the way that Men have ruled over Women. Given both of these realities, we see no value in wallowing in narratives of perpetrators and victims and want to move forward to a new vision of society based on equality and empowerment.
We applaud and appreciate feminism's ambition towards radical equality and equal opportunity between the sexes. At the same time, we stand against the male-bashing that has followed with feminist culture. There is absolutely no reason to bash men for women to rise. Patriarchy has many brilliant qualities and has been instrumental in building the society we enjoy today. Thus, we support women in organising their equal matriarchy within the same society, as was the case in the original nomadic tribe. We believe in equal rights and responsibilities between all adults within the community and thus promote an approach which is egalitarian rather than feminist/masculinist.
We believe that Women give birth to boys, but Men give birth to Men. In order for Men to become Men, they need to be guided and mirrored by other Men who are on the path from boyhood to Manhood. We love spending time with other Men for the sheer enjoyment of it and the opportunities it provides for us to grow together. We are convinced that Men have a natural ability to co-create through collaboration and healthy competition. Healthy competition amongst peers with a strong foundation of mutual admiration of skills and talents can bring out the best in Men.
But competition also has a dark side. When Men feel insecure or "pushed into a corner", they begin to see all Men as competitors... and it brings out the worst in them. A football game illustrates the beauty of both collaboration (within the team, and with 11 members, it's probably just the right size for a hunting team if we look at our evolutionary history) and ferocious competition between the teams, all within the framework of fair play. When we can relax into trusting our brothers, then this playful dynamic fosters growth, expansion and more self awareness. We also learn to admire the positive aspects of other Men,and appreciate their unique contribution to the community, which compliments our own.
Our primary strategy for starting this shift in society is working directly with Men. We believe that the lack of strong male role models in society and popular media/culture has led to a state where many men feel disempowered and without purpose. When you couple this with toxic narratives on male sexuality and aggression, many Men unwittingly find themselves taking extreme positions. These extremes include joining organizations which promote misogyny, racism and hate.
Examples include: joining extreme nationalist and neo-nazi groups; performing symbolic "self castration" by taking up the banners of radical feminism (wallowing in self-loathing and holding fellow brothers responsible for the evils of the world); or turning to a fear-based response of reviling against feminism and women, as in the case with the radical fringes of the Men’s Rights movement.
An even larger group of Men loll in their lack of purpose, wasting away their hours with meaningless pursuits of pleasure such as excessive pornography use and online gambling.
We believe that the right balance of competition and collaboration amongst Men is sorely lacking in today’s society.Many Men withhold true intimacy and connection as something they only have with their intimate partner (while Women often have very strong networks of loving sisterhood outside of their primary relationship). Other Men, particularly in Scandinavia, have become more in touch with their feelings. But while they’re able to share their emotional needs with other Men, they have not always embraced their entire masculinity. We believe in working towards creating an integrated Man, who is able to deeply feel and have empathy for others around him, while also having a direction and purpose which drives him to create positive change in the world.
We believe that the right way to approach these challenges is to bring Men together in a spirit of trust and brotherhood to explore what it means to be Men in the 21st century. We envision that our exploration should be built on a solid foundation of the ideas and concepts of Western philosophy. It should be bridged to Eastern experiential psycho-technologies, such as physical and mental yogas and meditations. And it should all be tied together with know-how about creating modern ritual spaces. We don't believe in creating any 'clear-cut' model of how a Man should be, rather in each man forging the best version of himself with the help of the right tools and with support from his fellow brothers.
With these tools, we believe that we will be prepared to explore being a Brother to other Men. And from that position of connection and strength, we will discover how to become a Man to the Ones we love. We’ll discover how to become a great father to our children. And we’ll discover how to operate as a Man in society - one who can address its needs, projects and opportunities.
With Brotherly Love,
Paul Lloyd Robson
Eivind Figenschau Skjellum
For more information on the first Nordic Men’s Gathering, held in Sweden in October 2017, and future events and updates, visit: https://www.maniphesto.com/