The handbook for a new kind of man.
Why it's time for a new kind of man
According to Steve Biddulph, "Most men today live behind masks. They put them on in the morning and keep them on until they fall asleep at night, adopting the clichés of what they perceive a real man to be. The problem is, it's all pretend."
In The New Manhood: A handbook for a new kind of man, Steve Biddulph explores how deep down, men don't know who they are or why others can't find a true connection with them.
Even when they appear to be successful, they can be lost, unhappy and lonely.
The reason, according to Steve, is that "the river of healthy masculinity has dried up. Boys grow up without meeting enough real men and so, they adopt an incomplete idea of manhood. The consequence is that they put on a mask - Tough Guy, Hard Worker, Cool Dude, Good Bloke and, later of course, Caring Dad. They choose the mask, and then they wear it for the rest of their lives".
Created anew after sixteen years of international success with the original Manhood, Steve says, "The New Manhood contains everything I have learned about being male, from working as a family therapist and educator with men, and living for almost sixty years, struggling, reflecting, and researching about how a man's life either works, or does not. The book invites men to escape from the 'prison of self' and bravely attempts to define the heart and soul of being a man in comparison to a boy. You see, a boy lives for himself, while a man should live for others. "
Steve has spent thirty years sharing his message about Manhood and Raising Boys with the world. The New Manhood represents his ultimate message - Grow up. Get connected. Grieve for what you have lost. Then get it back.
Can men really change?
Everyone can see the problem. Mothers hear on the daily news of stabbings and road deaths, and pray their sons will come home safe at night. Wives see the confusion and unhappiness in their husbands, and wish they could find their direction. Young women search for a good man to love, and find only shambling boys. And millions of men sit hunched at computer screens and wonder - is this all there is?
To most people, though, the idea of large-scale masculine change seems an impossible dream. Yet even the most cynical must admit that something is happening with the male of the species. (Just think of the world of difference between George Bush and Barack Obama, and tell me there is not a generational change in men.)
There is one outstanding piece of evidence for a massive change being possible - women have already done it. In just four decades from the early 1970s to the present, and against fierce opposition, an entire gender has redefined itself. The Women's Movement overturned thousands of years of oppression and restriction, an unprecedented and historic shift. When the human race needs to change, it can do so very fast.
Women are still not where they want to be, and that may be for one important reason - men have not changed too. At home and in the workplace, wherever men and women mix, you will notice a very odd thing: men and women seem unevenly matched. You see it everywhere, from bedroom to boardroom - the vibrant and articulate woman with the self-conscious, stiff and angry man. The men seem unequal, struggling, and it makes everyone unhappy. To transform our society into a truly free one needs both genders to be fully alive. The world is waiting for men - it needs the activated and fully awakened male to confront everything from the fossil-fuel industry that is baking our planet to our children's needs to play happily with Dad in the backyard after work.
So, it's time to get started. A huge amount has happened since the first release of Manhood, the shift in men's lives has gathered speed, just as it did for women 40 years sooner. But it's early days. Perhaps, for you, 'male liberation' is a new idea, and perhaps you will be part of the generation that makes it all come true. I hope you will.
Please be warned (and this is written with a smile) that reading this book has consequences. Men reading it are prone to spontaneous weeping. They may drop everything to go and seek out estranged parents or siblings. They may walk away from soul-destroying jobs, even well-paid ones. They start taking their wives gently by the hand. They begin to sing in the shower. Their kids start to like them.
On a larger scale, who can say it isn't time for a new kind of man? That with the planet in ecological collapse, greed and rapaciousness everywhere, it isn't time for good men to find their feet? To stand at their full height and do what's needed to put the world to rights?
The premise of this book is that we are made to be unified and whole, happy and full of life. What is good for your soul is also what is best for your loved ones, and your world. So let's begin.
A parenting activist for 30 years, Steve Biddulph is a leading authority on children and families - and one of the world's best-known psychologists.
His books, including Raising Boys, The Secret of Happy Children and Manhood, have become bestsellers around the world where they are in four million homes and read in as many as 27 languages. He has influenced the way we understand children, especially the raising of boys.
More than 130,000 people have heard Steve's powerful and entertaining talks around the globe. Through his stories, jokes, challenging ideas and mind-stretching possibilities, Steve affects everyone he meets. As a teenager, he suffered from Asperger's Syndrome, and studied
The New Manhood
Author: Steve Biddulph
What originally inspired you to write The New Manhood?
Steve Biddulph: After 30 years working with families, and in recent years mostly with large audiences of 500 or 600 at a time, all over the world, I am convinced that men are the key. If we can create happier and better men, then families, and society as a whole, will be able to survive the tough times that are coming. In a nutshell we need more good men.
I think the "river of healthy masculinity", while it still runs, has slowed to a trickle, because we forgot that it needed to be passed on from generation to generation. You aren't born with healthy maleness, and it doesn't just arrive when you are 18 or 21. Being a good man has to be carefully and deliberately taught. Mothers do it, and dads do it, and other good men help it along, and all three are essential.
Why do men pretend to be what is perceived as a real man?
Steve Biddulph: Most boys by mid teens start to realize -"I have to start becoming a man" but they don't know how, they haven't got the software. They haven't had those thousands of hours around good men to know how to be one in a deep way. So they grab at external images - from peers or the media - masks really. There are five or six standard masks. Tough Guy, Hard Worker, Cool Dude, Good Bloke. And these days, I guess Sensitive Man. The problem is, they are just masks, and they start to fail when you become a partner and especially a parent.
You say that deep down most men don't know who they are; what evidence do you have to prove this?
Steve Biddulph: There are four groups of people telling me this, worried deeply about this problem. Women who see their husbands are unhappy and unfulfilled and frustrated with their lives, and don't know how to help. Parents who see their sons drifting and lacking direction.Young women, who cannot seem to find a man who has his act together. And finally men themselves, who are often deeply unhappy, and very prone to suicide, alcoholism (as many as 20% of young men have an alcohol problem), depression, violence, road trauma,all the traditional male hazards.
How can men change and be truthful to themselves?
Steve Biddulph: What I have done in The New Manhood is share stories, about men breaking through to a better life. I write about healing the rift with the older generation of fathers, who are often very distant. About being a better dad. Having real male friends, not just superficial "mates". About pushing through marriage and sexuality problems so that you become truly close, partners. Often men need a crisis to change, so there are some very powerful "back from the brink" stories. There is a real, tender, and often very good human being inside the shell of some of the toughest men.
We do have to actively intervene though with boys and young men, as left alone they can be very harmful to themselves and others. It can't be left to chance.
Interview by Brooke Hunter