By Adam J. Pearson
Tonight, I discovered a fierceness within me that I didn’t know was there. I’m going to get very raw and real for a moment. What I have to say may offend some people. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. It’s time for me to speak what I’ve secretly been thinking for a long, long time. My tone here may sound harsh, but that’s simply because the chains of conditioning from which I’m breaking free were fastened so securely that it took a force even greater than their own to break them. My targets here are not people, but false ideas, the kinds of ideas that imprison us, the kinds of ideas that infect our minds like viruses and leave nothing but suffering and self-imposed limitations in their wake.
Here’s the truth: I’m tired, I’ve had enough of buying into other people’s beliefs about who I as a man should be, about what is masculine and what is not. Their stories and narratives are falsifying me. They are lies and when I believe them, I become a performer on the stage. I’ve had enough. From now on, I will cast out all the lies about how “men should be” from my system like the worthless parasites and destructive viruses they are. I will trust my inner truth. It knows. It knows how to be a man and how to most authentically relate to women. It doesn’t need a twisted and oppressive script to tell it what to do. I utterly reject any message about who I “have to be” as a male that doesn’t ring true with my deepest core. It’s not welcome here. I’m done with buying into and living lies.
Here’s the truth: I’m a living, breathing, human man. No one can tell me that some of my feelings are not “okay” to feel, that men shouldn’t feel sad or have moments of weakness. I hereby reclaim all of my human emotions, the full spectrum. I invite them all in and give myself permission to feel them all. Emotions have their own wisdom; they don’t care about cultural limitations. Evolution ensured that they were passed on because they were useful and natural and served our survival and fulfillment. I welcome them all.
No one can tell me vulnerability is weakness anymore. I know beyond all doubt that it’s courage and strength. Men and women who feel brave enough to let their vulnerability show have my utmost respect. They are champions and I will always cheer them on. Their commitment to the truth of their experience, even when it feels like risk, uncertainty, and emotional exposure, runs deep. Such men are fierce enough to be free and true, much like the women who are brave enough to do the same. Vulnerability is courage in all of us.
This next part may inspire some of my more cynical male readers call me a “white knight,” but frankly, I don’t care. I’m not saying this stuff to get in anyone’s pants so shut up and listen. No one can tell me that women are just “bitches” whose only value is to increase a man’s notches in his belt so he can feel like he’s manly enough. We need to drop that lie and cast it out of our system utterly. It’s not serving us at all, neither men, nor women.
Sex is a beautiful and potentially wild and powerful and exciting and transforming thing. But if we use another person to make us feel manly enough, we have insulted them and disgraced ourselves. I reject that utterly. Women have a right to be as sexually empowered as men and both of us can use some healing in the ways we have been taught to think about our sexuality. We’ve both bought into a lot of utter lies around the subject that we can actively cast out of our systems for the falsehood that it is. There’s a burning fire of truth within us that knows when we’re buying into lies. It will burn up all the stories that are falsifying us if we let it. From now on, I’m going to trust that fierceness. It knows better than a blind oppressive culture ever will.
Moreover, no one can tell me that men have a right to tell women who to be, how to think, how to feel, to interrupt them when they try to speak, to shut them up when they try to express their perspectives, or to try to control the way they honour their deepest truths. No. We need to shut up and listen for once. We need to be willing to really hear what the feminine is trying to tell us because it has the power to heal all the oppressive lies we have internalized, the war-driven mentalities we have been taught to adopt, and the environment-destroying practices that have wreaked havoc on our planet. When the masculine tunes into the wisdom of the feminine, it always emerges transformed, deepened, and more integrated than it was before. To fail to listen to the feminine is to stunt our own growth as men and squander the vastness of our potential.
No one can tell me that I need to neg, manipulate, play mind games, or control and trick women “to be successful” with them. I don’t need to and I won’t. Any “success” gained in this way is nothing but a testament to our failure to be brave enough to be authentic. My way is vulnerability and authenticity and respect and inquiry and I will stick to that fiercely. That’s my truth and I will honour it. I will honour the truth in the women I’m interested in and I will speak my own truth to them too. Women aren’t stupid. We don’t need to treat them as such. We can share our boldest, deepest truths with them and welcome them to do the same. I don’t want to trick anyone into loving me or sleeping with me. I want to be with a woman who is as enthusiastic about being with me as I am about being with her and just as excited to explore and grow and feel and soar together.
Furthermore, no one can tell me that femininity is weak. Anyone who says that has no idea what they’re talking about. The feminine is incredibly strong. Its way is the wisdom of deep connection, of primal expressiveness, of the dazzling dance of form, of the profound ability to trust and surrender and open up from which we men have much to learn. We, as boys, are taught to shut down and close up and control our emotions into total numbness. The stories that say we “should” do this are utterly worthless and oppressive nonsense that we’ve had crammed down our throats by other men who’d also had these lies force-fed to them in turn. This vicious circle of oppressive conditioning hurts and falsifies us and women can show us how to free ourselves from its stranglehold, if we let them.
The truth is that all men have a dimension of the feminine within us and contrary to the lies we’ve been told, it isn’t weak; it’s a source of power, connection, and vitality. We can honour and embrace it and when we’re brave enough to do that, we can begin to find true wholeness and authentic integration within ourselves perhaps for the first time in our lives.
As we learn to value the feminine within, we can also learn to give women space to be their full selves, to feel and express and grow and find strength without shutting them down. On the contrary, we can cheer them on. And when we do, we’ll begin to see that women’s empowerment is not a threat to men’s empowerment; it’s a key to it. Freedom tends to spread in waves; as we become more inwardly free within ourselves, we also tend to become less inclined to want to keep others imprisoned as well. The fierceness of the will to freedom shines in all of us. And we can all help each other to be bold enough to trust it.
Finally, I reject the idea that we men have to relate to each other always through an attitude of hierarchy, of who’s on top, of who’s winning, of eternal competition, or through a constant insecure yearning to dominant each other out of the fear that we will be dominated if we don’t. That’s another absurd lie we’ve had shoved down our throats and I utterly reject it as well.
Contrary to cultural propaganda, I’m determined to see the men in my life, not as competition and enemies, but as brothers and equals who are struggling to break free from cultural limitations just as I am. I’m done with striving against my fellow men in subtle power games. It’s not true that we have to step on each other to get ahead. We can grow together. We can build each other up. We can learn how to coordinate the giving of our gifts. We can create amazing things and develop innovative projects together. We can cheer each other on. This is the way of seeing my fellow men that I choose to embrace now. I cast the other way out of my system utterly as the worthless parasite of a mind virus that it is.
From now on, I resolve to trust this fierceness. No one can force me to buy into their stories about who we are as men and how we have to treat women. I reject anything that hits my core as false, that clashes with my insides, that feels like it’s falsifying me. I can identify the lies because they make me tense up inside, they generate an inner feeling of repulsion that my psychophysiological system rejects. I can recognize them because they make me feel like I’m acting, performing, pretending, not expressing my authenticity. I’m done with all of that. I cast it out of my system utterly and completely like I’m exorcising demons.
Because that’s what all these nonsensical stories about how “men and women should be” are, demons possessing us, viruses infecting our minds and blocking our emotions, parasites leaching off of us. Anything that wants to run our lives while untrue is an obstacle to freedom. And the fierceness of the will to freedom will not tolerate them. It will not be held down or held back. It will not resign itself to cower before lies. Instead, it will break through, unassailable and without fail.
In truth, I know now that the movement towards inner peace isn’t always smooth sailing or calm and relaxing. Sometimes it has moments of boldness that feel almost violent. Sometimes we have to shake off the chains of inner bondage and internalized lies in a roar of dazzling fierceness. Sometimes peace is fierce. Sometimes it has to shake us free from the inside. If we resist that inner shake up, the dawning of that liberatory roar, then we risk falsifying ourselves and submitting to lies that our psychophysiological system wants to reject because they clash with what it feels and knows to be true. We don’t need to do that. If your body-mind needs to forcibly shake off the lies that other people have put into you or even the lies you used to tell yourself about yourself, I invite you to let it happen.
The floodgates of our inner bondage are guarded by no one but ourselves. Thankfully, however, we also hold the power to release our self-imposed limitations in a torrential flood of authenticity. When we feel the rumble and the roar of truth rising up from our deepest core, we need only let it rise.
And this brings us to the final movement in our grand symphony of awakening, the truth that we don’t have to take the lies in silence or submit ourselves to falsehood. I’m done with that. I refuse to do it. From now on, I’m determined to trust the fierceness of my inner compass, my own living sense of what is real and authentically masculine for me. Dear brothers, I invite you to join me. Together, we can grow and transcend all the lies we have been fed. We can redefine our sense of our own gender identity for ourselves. We can change the way we live and grow and succeed together. We can cheer each other on like champions even while we root for the women in our lives to rise and grow alongside us. Contrary to the lies we have been fed, we can all rise together. We can all be fierce and plough through the fear to freedom. No matter what anyone tries to tell us to the contrary, we can do this.
And we will.
What could a powerful integrative masculinity look like in the post-postmodern era? How can we bring feminists and men’s rights activists together under a common cause? These are some of the exciting questions I tackle in “Empowerism: Reflections on Integrative Masculinity, Feminism, and the Gender Wars.”
Cover image by the great photographer Collin Bogle. Check him out!