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3. Direct Communication
Our collaboration is built on clear and direct communication with complete integrity. Agreements are honoured and personal disagreements are dealt with directly and immediately. This enables the building of friendships based on trust, honesty and loyalty.
Men need to spend time away from their mothers, wives, or lovers—to develop their masculine qualities and communication style; they learn direct communication best with other men. In men’s groups, men can speak unpretentiously and from the heart, due to the lack of sexual tension and performance anxiety that a man feels around a woman.
Men and women have different styles of communication. Men are, on average, less agreeable than women for instance, which often means that they are more direct. To generalize, men prefer action to words; they don’t like beating around the bush; they dislike excessive drama. (Of course, it goes without saying that women have their own gifts and styles of communication and that we need to honor both.)
The Clint Easton archetype, however old-fashioned, is still a powerful model. His type is the practical tough guy, the man of few words who communicates through brevity and example rather than emotional manipulation; he is strong and unsentimental—direct communication is one of his greatest gifts.
Of course there are other types of men but today in a postmodern culture that shuns positive male role models, men often play another game. They learn to imitate women, become flirtatious and seductive—they become ‘sneaky fuckers’ and begin to lose this beautiful stoic masculinity. On the other extreme they become lone wolves, gang members, or in the worst case scenario terrorists or incels—as we know, the isolated man is a danger to a community. To avoid becoming hysterical or antisocial, men need community and to foster direct communication.
In hunter/gatherer culture, men would spend much time in the wilderness, in silent attention, watching for game. Even today men tend to sit facing outwards and look at the horizon together, whereas women tend to talk face to face. That is because, as Alexander Bard has pointed out, men once inhabited the ‘outer circle’ and women the ‘inner circle’. That is: men look to the horizon and women to the hearth.
The modern landscape has been deadly for body and action oriented men trapped in small offices and bachelor apartments. Men suffer in our hypersocial and dense urban landscape, where they are supposed to be ‘connected’ at all times and yet they are strangely alone in front of a screen, even when working out at the gym. Men do need to be connected to each other, but not always through endless talking. Direct communication comes about in a state of embodied presence rather than seductive talk.
Why is there such a high rate of suicide among men, not to mention a wide variety of physical and mental health issues related to isolation and anti-social behavior (men make up most of the prison population, for example)? Perhaps one reason is that many men are made for open spaces and dangerous physical adventure but not necessarily for relentless intimate communication.
However, men do need to learn to be social. The modern word asks us to take on all roles simultaneously—and the inner and the outer circle no longer officially exists. In this genderless androgynous state, women suffer because the adventurous man is absent, and men suffer without the male friendships necessary to cultivate an adventurous and free spirit.
Therefore we have to create intentional spaces where men can be men and women can be women. (Of course, it should also be mentioned that there have always been androgynous men who are capable and happy fluidly inhabiting both masculine and feminine roles, but such men are the exception and not the rule. )
In men’s groups, direct communication helps men to avoid resentment. Unexpressed or unacknowledged resentment, as Jordan Peterson has pointed out many times, leads us down a very dark road. We have to watch our resentment, and confess it when it arises; to see what makes us feel bitter and undervalued, and not to let resentment fester inside.
Resentment often manifests as a form of passive-aggression, or the ‘Mr. Nice Guy syndrome’. When we fear judgement, when we do not risk saying what needs to be said, the result is a kind of inwardness and psychological castration. The castrated man learns to create a nice-guy persona and plays a relentless parlour game even when he knows that the game is killing his soul.
To conclude, in the context of supportive men, we can risk direct communication, even if it is uncomfortable. A group of supportive men are not a group of yes-men, following lock-step the good opinion of the group—good men challenge each other. Outside of a hypersocial and flirtatious work and online environment, men can support and uplift each other, without intrigue, without gossip, sometimes just through physical presence. This is such a relief and restoration for many men, tired of playing the feminine role.
Note: This is part 3/10 of a commentary on the 10 principles of Maniphesto