The New Man needs an enlightened community: so I built one




I struggle with boundaries, and I have a ‘Mr Nice Guy bullshit mask’ that I show to the world. So, can you be a ‘nice guy’ and be a man? I guess it depends on the confusing definitions men are getting via social media, or some philosophy of what a real man is that you may have been indoctrinated into. Where is the answer? Where is the truth? What the hell does a 21st century man look like?

Well, here is my most recent learning on what a real man is. I watched a recent video called The real reason 90% of men are lost in life by Scott Galloway on ‘The diary of a CEO’ on Facebook (watch the full video here).

He lists the three qualities men need to have in order to qualify as men.

  • Must be a provider
  • Must be a protector
  • Must be a procreator

Let me illustrate these qualities as they relate to me:

Must be a provider

I had a great Job. I’m retired now and, having made good financial decisions, my wife and I will live comfortably until we die, with money left over for her children. I made more money than she did, but is it OK that she was also a provider?  She has a graduate degree and I only have a lesser educational qualification. Is that important on the provider scale?

Must be a protector

My wife as strong and independent. She has only summoned me to ‘be a man’ on two occasions. The first was to kill a sick rat in our yard; the second to chase a mature 500-pound buck out of the same back yard.

Galloway expands his definition of protector to include protecting the community. Well, I guess I’m OK here as I have led groups and held key roles in groups that sponsored refugee families coming to Canada. And now I’m working hard to build this Whysmen Virtual Pub community, whose purpose is to connect men from around the world in conversations that matter.

Must be a procreator

I score zero here. My first wife had MS, which was diagnosed when she was 23. We divorced long after her childbearing age. Having children was a health risk for her. Should I have left her in order to sew my seed?

So, you can see there are problems with any definition of ‘manhood’ no matter who your ‘guru’ is. Men are searching to latch on to one philosophy amongst many. What is the right way? What if you left the experts behind and just talked to other men, to listen and hear other perspectives on the challenges you are going through?

Finding my manhood – a precarious journey

If you are defining your manhood through some sort of ‘initiation process’, then that definition depends on what process you went through. In my case, my search took me through three North America ‘Men’s Group Weekends’ which were for the most part very similar in content and structure.

Initiation by humiliation – not the best formula

Most of the following experiences have a large north American influence; just one is international. Each of these weekend experiences I enrolled in involved initiation into manhood through personal degradation (like, for instance, sending you into the forest for a week to fend for yourself). This was followed by a ‘rebirth into manhood’ ritual at the end. There was a requirement, in each weekend, to reach back to the old ways of traditional manhood practices – the fire, the struggle and the bonding. The message was that ‘we are failing as men and we need to take back our manhood’.

There was a supposition that what was best in being a man lay in the past, and that one achieved true manhood by returning to old ways. Some experiences invoked native North American traditions which, in some part, were misrepresented (one group was taken to court over this and had to change some of its practices). The weekends were also a reassertion that women are looking for a real men, a ‘New Warrior’ with strong traditional male-associated values of courage, integrity, truth, etc. Our true manhood was portrayed as being ebbed away with the changes in society, and that men were adrift in confusion.  Women, on the other hand, are gaining power and we are giving it to them. So, who are we as men?

The bad piece, in my opinion, was that each of these groups practiced a philosophy of ‘the angry man’, and that we need to fight to regain our masculinity.

Discovering a better way

Could there be a more enlightened way to connect men to their world? Yes, we can employ traditional values that span the male/female spectrum, mixed with a little love, kindness and compassion. How, as a man, can you defend and protect anyone or anything without these traits? We seem to know how to make war. The enlightened New Man knows war but pursues peace; knows strength but combines it with kindness and compassion. He is open with his emotions, expresses his truth, an is an ear and support to other men and women. He knows his biases and prejudices, and strives to live a life without judgement. He is on an ongoing journey to self-discovery and enlightenment.

Before my first men’s weekend I was going through an awful divorce. I had one man, where I lived, who was a true friend. He brought me into his small men’s sharing circle and, after attending three meetings, I had to commit to ‘doing their men’s weekend’, which I did. There were many small, local, in-person groups, structured with a more or less a rigid consequence-based enforcement process, around showing up physically and mentally. I needed the structure and support and was invited back into a small group after I had done the weekend.

This first weekend did not serve me, but it did allow me to continue participating in weekly small group meetings, outdoors, around a fire. I was given support and I asked to be held accountable for my weight regime – I weighed 280 pounds at the time. Once a month, the men on my team (8 to 10 men) brought a scale to the meeting for a weigh-in, and I did lose 110 pounds and became a marathon and ultramarathon runner. It was truly life-changing! I made friends and am still in touch with my original friend who brought me into the group, as well as one or two of the other men.

This was the beginning of my journey of self-discovery. But I did question whether or not I needed to go through all the weekend process, run in some part by armchair psychologists, to connect with men and find what the inner essence of what being a man was. With age comes some wisdom, and what my inner self tells me is that there could have been a better way—a nicer way. 

Why I started the Whysmen Virtual Pub

Each men’s group has its own philosophy and process. In North America retreat weekends seems to involve humiliation through sensory deprivation. There are podcasts and YouTube videos with men who claim to have all the answers to what being a real man is. Men clinging to men’s weekend philosophies following a weekend retreat, often come from the same town, are usually white and middle aged and hold similar opinions. Let’s call them ‘perception reinforcement communities’.

So, what’s different about The Whysmen Virtual Pub? In the Pub, we learn from the past so as not to repeat the parts of it that don’t serve anyone. We are not defending what used to be, but taking a look at what is, what we have we learned, what each individual man needs to be talking about – right now – in this century. For instance, women are gaining in strength, let’s face it. Men need to step up, let’s face that as well. Let’s understand what is truly needed in our relationships with both men and women. Let’s recognize the new and emerging challenges we all face in a rapidly changing world. Let’s simplify and address those challenges through honest, heartfelt communication.

A place for men’s enlightenment

We are creating a space for the enlightened New Man. We are filling a need for open and safe spaces where men can connect in conversations we need to be having. We don’t have a process; we impose no philosophy nor do we preach a definition of what being a man is. We are global, diverse and inclusive. We don’t judge what you believe in or what you think a man should believe in, or how you should express your manhood. In the Pub, we listen to you while we hear your truth and put our judgments on hold. It’s a place for all men to feel accepted – like in a traditional pub – where everybody knows your name, and we are all glad you came. You define your process on your terms – we don’t have a reference manual. If you want advice, you can ask for it. If you have a problem that you need to share, you can rant about it. Looking for feedback on something? Just ask. You want accountability on a challenge you are facing? Just ask.


We are exploring leadership training, so if you want to lead one of our circles that can happen. If you want to run an event to invite men to, on a subject you are passionate about – you can use the Pub as your platform.
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