What it Means to be a Man

Written by Sian Johnson

I’m passionate about helping men and their partners navigate the beautiful complexities of intimacy, desire, and relationships. As a Bodyworker and Sex Coach, I blend innovation with a holistic approach, considering not just the physical body but also the mind, heart, and soul. My goal is to create a safe space where genuine connections and transformations can happen.

May 22, 2024

I work with men to help them reclaim their power and unravel unhelpful ideas around manhood and masculinity. But I’ve never prescribed how clients ‘should’ be. I invite men to move beyond the myths to explore their own autonomy and authentic expression of who they are as a man, and who they want to be in the world. And so I never had a definition of masculinity. But for a recent panel discussion that I hosted called “Is all Masculinity Toxic? Finding Meaning and Purpose in Manhood” I thought I better do my research!

Understanding masculinity

I discovered that many disciplines, from philosophy, sociology and psychology, through to anthropology and history, are exploring and unpacking this complex terrain of masculinity. There’s certainly no fixed definition of masculinity. Definitions are fluid and are evolving across cultures and social contexts.

Many people argue that masculinity is a social construct, shaped by centuries of social and cultural influences rather than inherent traits. According to this thinking, our gender norms and socialisation begins with the shape of our genitals at birth, and dictates everything from our names, right through to the traits we’re expected to embody.

Toxic masculinity

Healthy masculinity

So what does healthy or mature masculinity look like and how men embody this? Healthy masculinity embraces vulnerability as strength, authenticity, purpose and walking one’s own path, men supporting men, emotional intelligence, empathy and respect. The mature man chooses to show up and “do the work” in the face of shame or challenges. There are lots of resources out there to support men, including therapy, sex coaching, men’s work, tantra, conscious kink, and rites of passage for boys and men.
If you’re as fascinated by this topic as me, then make sure you watch the recording of the full panel discussion where we explore:

  • Definitions of healthy, mature and toxic masculinity
  • Masculinity and femininity as social constructs
  • The privilege and responsibility of manhood
  • MASK-ulinity. How boys and men mask their true selves in order to fit prevailing models of masculinity
  • Toxicity versus balance
  • Compassion and witnessing
  • The relationship between phrases like ‘man up’ and ‘boys don’t cry’ and shame
  • Patriarchy as trauma
  • Patriarchy and how it harms us all
  • The role of feminism and how this can impact all genders
  • Finding meaning, purpose and self authenticity
  • Shifting from the phrase ‘man up’ to ‘man up and talk about it’
  • Shifting from the phrase ‘boys don’t cry’ to ‘boys don’t cry but men do’
  • Power over, power under and power with
  • Power and privilege in men’s groups
  • Safe and responsible use of sexual power
  • Feeling and revelling in sexual energy without shame

Are you ready to start your journey to healthy masculinity?