The more I learn about the masculine, the more I realise I have to un-learn about what I was taught, culturally, about boys.
I grew up with a mum who had a very narrow view of boys. Sister to an idolised older brother; who was a prankster with no boundaries. Daughter to an army-man; who ruled with an iron fist. Born into lower-class England where boys were powerful, intriguing and dangerous. Education was segregated, boys on one side of the fence, girls on the other.
Her identity as a woman was informed by pop-culture of the 50s and 60s. focus of her worthiness was on her attractiveness and desirability to the opposite sex. Her version of sexuality was functional and lewd.
My father was the feminine principle in my life; ironically. He grew up soft and artistic, 2 attributes not welcome in the 50s and 60s for men. He was ‘carved’ or ‘cured’ into who a man was supposed to be, and he spent a lifetime trying to reconcile these differences. A flower-power hippie (who was also an electrician), he brought the softness and awakening aspects to my life; yoga at 5am every morning, a body beyond the physical and one of the first books I remember finding in his bookshelf was one on ‘how to be a better lover’. But he was also finding himself; annoyed by my ‘emotional softness’ and lack of masculine competitive aggression. He couldn’t look at me after the first weekend I spent away with my first serious boyfriend.
His version of identity and sexuality was confused; he withdrew whenever my emerging sexuality showed up and that rejection from the masculine hurts. So you learn to box up and pack away what is naturally arising within you, you learn how to wear a mask and be who you think someone else wants or needs you to be.
I grew up in a family without sport, and with a sister. I attended an all-girls school. My opions of boys were formed by the culture I was soaked in; my own parents story and pop-culture of the 80s, and I was terrified of boys.
It took me until my thirties to work out that boys were not just walking penises….
By this stage I had spent years exploring my own feminine, my own sexuality, my own identity. I was raising a boy, a ‘species’ I felt completely ill-equipped to raise. And I fell in love with his heart.
Through raising my son, exploring the polarities of feminine and masculine and conscious sexuality I found this place where ‘men are just humans’ with a heart that throbs and yearns like mine, and a body that loves sensuality and slowness and feeling, just like mine, and a mind that seeks to know more, just like mine.
It sounds stupid I know, and I’m sure if you grew up with a brother, or knew boys deeply when you were young, this would seem quite foreign, but for me, it was one of my biggest awakenings. To be able to meet a man as ‘just another soul’ and show up with my whole heart, not fragments of myself, plagued by how I was being perceived and how I was performing for his penis-mind.
So when I hear things like:
“being a boy, you wouldn’t have even have considered it, would you?!”
“oh, it’s just so easy for you boys”
I feel a rise of anger so deep, it hurts.
Don’t do this my son, don’t do this to your own.
Don’t cut the masculine off at the knees. Don’t tell a boy who he is, based on your own projections. Be wiling to see all the ways he shows up softly and with a fullness so great, you feel vulnerable.
To love the men around you, see them through the eyes of the young masculine you are raising. For every objectifying view you have about how he ‘is’ or ‘is not’, see how he is the opposite too. For every moment you want to keep him boxed into your projection of men, based on the culture you were raised in, see how this keeps you and your story safe, and limits him to show up fully for you, in the way you are seeking.
Don’t cage an emerging masculine into a box. Don’t objectify them. We know how that feels as women. Think about this boy you are raising and all of his wholeness and then see this in the men around you too. Your sexual story is yours to own, don’t project it outwards.
And for fucks sake, don’t ever say to my son “typical boy”….because there is no such thing.
Julie Tenner is Co-founder of Nourishing The Mother and is The Pleasure Nutritionist. Julie is a Naturopath, specialising in women’s and children's health, with specific focus on awakening women to their full potential – health for the mind, body and soul – creating lasting life change for you and your family by “coming home” to your magnificence.