Background: Norah Vincent is a female lesbian writer who spends a year-and-a-half as a man, Ned, experiencing an all-male bowling league, strip clubs, dating women, a monastery, aggressive direct sales work, and a men’s group. As an experiment in learning as much as she could about how men are treated by each other and by women, and recounting those experience back to us for our own reflection, Self-Made Man: One Woman’s Journey Into Manhood and Back Again is a worthwhile read. This is not a review of the book as much as wanting to point out the energetic experience s/he had, from my perspective as an emotional freedom coach.
Surviving As a Man
Norah Vincent isn’t a man; s/he was an imposter, and she felt like one even as she became more and more adept at interacting with males as “one of them.” What is interesting to me energetically is that “Ned’s” experiences were all in the realm of survival.
In the bowling league, she fretted about fitting in, being accepted, being treated as one of the guys. Even as a “loser” bowling around 100 (pretty miserable after a full season) yet still being accepted, s/he was spending enormous psychic energy on the sense that she would lose everything, and certainly their friendship, if they “found out.” In that respect, even though her experience was unique (gay woman literally pretending to be something she is not), at the survival level many men can relate to the feeling of being an “imposter,” of faking it. It is deeply unsettling, and Norah suffers from this living a lie, despite her research objectives and knowing that she would eventually return to being herself.
One interesting aspect in the bowling experience is how little she expected to be accepted, yet how quickly she was—from the first handshakes. And when she was “found out” (meaning when the mask was laid down and she became more authentic to the members of her team), the relationship deepened with all of them. She attributes most of this to her perceived differences in how men relate to other men and how much more easily they can talk to women. Perhaps that is generally true. Yet, how different a vibe we give off when we are being authentic and feeling safer and honest in our own skin vs. when we are faking it.
It’s interesting, too, her observations about how generally accepting these men were, much to her surprise. I wonder how often we as individuals have expectations that we have to “be” a certain way in order to fit in when in fact all we really have to be is authentic, and we’ll attract people into our lives who like and appreciate Who We Really Are. Norah demonstrated that even as a total imposter, s/he was never subject to the kind of emotional OR physical abuse she most feared. These men had moved beyond the kinds of base survival issues that on a gut level she feared were still at play. I consider that comforting, especially for men who have never felt like they “fit in” or that they had to morph themselves just as much (or more) than Norah did in order to be acceptable.
Man As a Sexual Animal
Norah’s visits to the strip clubs captured Man and Woman as coarse sexual animals, the lowest vibrations of sexual energy. The words, jokes, and visuals here feel dirty, shameful, and unsettling. And she vividly captures the way that for all concerned, the experience over time depletes vitality. It lowers sexuality to bathroom level (as even her friend Jimmy notes from his nightmare).
Sexual energy is a powerful force. It is the core of creating life continuation. It also can be expressed through ALL energy centers, from the most root need to possess and interpenetrate to the bliss of spiritual and heart-centered union and co-creation. Norah’s overall experiences in the strip clubs and even in dating and the workplace were “down scale” so to speak. Base sexual survival energies. These exist, and they are often labelled as a volatile and untrustworthy aspect of a man’s core energy.
To ignore these energies is impossible for most healthy men. As Jimmy put it in the book, although I will paraphrase, having not had sex for two months left him ready to lift up the corner of the house. Sure, Jimmy uses a more raw set of words to describe his growing inner need to “do something,” but we shouldn’t miss the point that this man, whose wife is dying of cancer, has powerful energy moving in him. Some men will sublimate this energy into guilt and shame (and die of prostate cancer). Others will express it as a simmering and sometimes explosive rage (and die of heart disease). One client of mine described it as a huge volcano building inside him… and it terrified him to imagine the destruction if he allowed it to be unleashed.
If we are going to acknowledge (and often condemn) the potential destructiveness of this energy, there is also a call for all of us to honor and respect its creative power as it moves “up scale” to INCLUDE and INTEGRATE with the energy centers of heart, throat, mind, inner vision, and greater consciousness. While some cultures recognize this energy progression and the tell-tale signs of whether a man feels whole and complete or fragmented and frustrated, our awareness and comfort with these issues is still stunted.
Right now, there exists NO cultural pathway from boyhood to manhood, other than losing one’s virginity (which kids are told not to do) and getting an unlimited drivers license (which is being deferred to older ages, just as drinking alcohol has been, another weak but still acknowledged “rite of passage.”) Indeed, our schools seem to be oblivious to the fact that by the age of 14 in some not-so-ancient tribes, a boy became a man through acts of courage… say, by killing a lion with nothing but a spear. Yet, the same genetic person is sitting in a classroom all day and expected to study all night, with physical education classes now emphasizing the study of health more than the experiencing of physical vitality.
Many Ways of Moving Energy
From the bowlers dissatisfied with their jobs and yearning for the release offered by lap dances in strip clubs, to the actively sexually supressed energies of the monastery she visited, to the sales processes turned into sexualized conquests for near minimum wage, Norah does take us on a tour of certain areas of male experience where unbalanced energies are prevalent and true emotional freedom is rarely seen. I don’t pretend to have easy solutions; these are cultural tides that will change over time, as they have considerably in my lifetime.
Indeed, my son and daughter have played co-ed sports up to high school age. They know how to team with, work with, compete with, and WIN with members of the opposite sex. It is natural and comfortable for them. In the workplaces I’ve been in, while there is certainly an awareness of sexuality, there is predominantly powerful collaboration and mutual respect earned based on individual talents rather than chromosonal make-up. I have both male and female clients, and I find that the best way to describe our evolution of thought is as “fellow humans” rather than in any way stereotypically male or female, especially when we factor in the broad range of ways humans are sexually attracted to one another across and between genders.
It diminishes all of us not to do more to help balance out the masculine and feminine within EACH person. Wholeness respects the unique mix of energies within the individual, just as Norah is a highly unique mix of sexuality, intellect, and creativity herself. Some need powerful physical experiences individually or as a part of a team. Some need reflection, solitude, and meditation. All of us are served well by a strong connection to our inner Source of well-being and intuition.
I see the core path of balancing disrupted energies in the EFT set-up statement:
“Even though I feel ___(truth about how you feel in the moment)___, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
EFT works by acknowledging the pain (sexual, emotional, physical, and even spiritual) and transforming that pain into a healthier place. Combined with tapping on the acupoints, it powerfully connects Thought with Action and Intention. For men, for women, for boys, and for girls… it is one powerful way to help all of us move fully and confidently into our co-creative power, while honoring and directing the passion that our sexuality brings to our lives.