Earning Our Place as Men
Some say the world is stripping men of their authority or power. But maybe we’ve stopped doing what it takes to earn it.
I often think about what it means to “be a man.” Not just the biological randomness that we’re born as a male human, but what it really means to be a man worthy of the title.
A good man. A man worthy of respect. A man of dignity and honor.
This is not a default setting. We must step up and earn these accolades, and then we must maintain them.
I understand that many men feel lost and cast aside in modern society. They feel as though masculinity is under attack (it isn’t) or that they’re being restricted from “being a man” (they’re not).
What’s happening is evolution. Men are being called to undergo a renovation of sorts. An overhaul, an improvement, an elevation.
Some are resistant because it threatens generations of social norms which are perpetuated throughout the years by passive acceptance.
Now, though, society is rebuking the harm that can be done, and it calling for retribution.
There are two approaches to this reality:
- Men who angrily rally against the assertion and fiercely defend their own ways.
- Men who recognize the shortcomings of “the way things have always been” and work to evolve along with the world around them.
Being a better man should not be a controversial undertaking. Self-improvement does not conflict with masculinity — it enhances it.
Our masculinity is not under attack. The toxic and harmful ways some men use masculinity is under attack.
There is a big difference.
It is not that men “can’t be men” anymore. It is that women have elevated their station in society to (nearing) equality, which by default will change the roles of men in their relationships and in their careers.
This means that we no longer simply get handed a seat at the table because of our gender. We must earn it.
This challenges us, and we all respond to challenges differently. How we choose to respond will reveal whether or not we are worthy of the seat in the first place.
Bemoaning the shifting reality of the world is reactive and reeks of self-pity. It tells those around you that you are unwilling or unable to do the work to actually earn what you’ve expected to be given.
Otherwise known as being entitled, or lazy.
Here’s the kicker: As half of the human population, men play a massive role in society.
Male vs female CEO statistics in 2019 stated that only 22% of all available CEO positions are refilled by women. That’s compared to 78% of CEO replacements that are male. It is based on the theory that most companies’ board of directors are also male-dominated.
Additionally, roughly 80% of armed forces in the United States are still comprised of men.
Guys, we’re still very much in control.
But, do we deserve to be?
Control often breeds complacency. We tacitly accept our place in the food chain and stop working to improve, to grow, to develop ourselves.
To care for others and help to elevate them, as well. Which — in fairness — is only something a man of character and integrity is able to do.
The rest will use oppression and force to keep their competition at bay because they know if people rise up and start making noise, they’ll be knocked off the mountaintop.
Here’s the thing: Maybe they should be.
This type of passive complacency causes a slew of issues in all areas of life.
Negative work environments, unhealthy relationships, toxic parenting, abuse of power, lack of communication.
Like an animal backed into a corner, harsh retaliation seems to be the only option.
But, it’s not.
This is a time to earn the place we want to have in society. Our careers and relationships are demanding more from us and therefore we must BECOME more in order to DESERVE them.
We may get out-earned by our female spouse. Men have been conditioned for GENERATIONS to feel that their identity and value is tied to the amount of money they make or how well they can provide for their families.
Let me say, I do hold traditional views in a few areas of life. I DO believe a man should be able to provide for his family (even if he doesn’t have to). I DO believe he should be able to protect them by all means necessary. I DO believe the masculine and feminine have a natural harmony that forms in a relationship and we are best served if we embrace whatever this means for our individual disposition in a relationship.
As society evolves, though, these concepts take on new life and meaning.
“Protecting” our family also means from emotional hurt and trauma, not just physical. This means we, as men, must work to become multi-dimensional, empathetic, and compassionate.
Same mission → Different approach.
“Providing” can shift to a supportive role rather than only a financial role, depending on how things shift in the new world of work.
This IS NOT about taking a backseat and allowing ourselves to be “taken care of.”
This IS about stepping up and doing whatever it takes to become a further evolved version of ourselves so we are capable of taking on new and more diverse roles in life and love.
It’s about earning our seat at the table.
Earning our relationships.
Earning our career elevation.
Earning the respect of our peers and loved ones.
Holding ourselves and each other accountable in order to create a progressive shift in societal norms.
Redefining what it means to “be a man.”
Embracing the full human experience in ways that awaken us to a deeper level of connection with loved ones.
Letting go of past narratives that were started by people who are no longer alive.
We must stop accepting peer pressure from people we will never meet.
Defining YOURSELF as a man, no matter what that means for YOU, is the path forward.
It is the path to a more conscious and connected culture.
It is how we embrace equality and support those different from us on their journey to reaching it.
It is how we stop being threatened by other people’s progress and start cheering them on.
The alternative is that we refuse to adapt, cling to old ways, and watch the world move on without us.
The alternative is becoming obsolete. Irrelevant. Insignificant.
And nothing is less masculine than that.
James Michael Sama is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and personal development coach. Having spent over a decade in unhappy corporate cultures where employees felt undervalued and unmotivated, James branched out to pursue his passion for helping people live more fulfilling lives.
Finding success in creating hundreds of viral articles and videos on the topic, James has accumulated over 38 million visitors to his website and a collective social media following of over 400,000.
James speaks at live events and in the media across the U.S. and has become a go-to expert with outlets such as CNN, Bravo, The New York Post, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, CNBC, The Boston Globe, CBS, and more.