Mark Greene’s new book Remaking Manhood is a must-read for all dads. A collection of Greene’s most powerful essays from The Good Men Project website, where he is executive editor, this book is a glimpse into the consequences of our American culture’s false image of what it means to be a man and a father.
The prevalent theme throughout the book is that fathers — and all men for that matter — are not just there to provide the genetic material and teach their sons sports. The true nature of manhood is more complex. Men are sensitive. Male sensitivity is not a flaw. And we, as men, have paid a price for these misconceptions.
I loved his story of pretending to be tough in school for fear of exposing his sensitive side. He even recalls not being ready for a girlfriend but dating one girl because it was expected. Many of us have done the same and what we learn is that having to conform to the school crowd’s paradigm of manhood has a negative impact on his interpersonal relationships growing up:
“The degree to which men are ready to suppress the intimate sides of ourselves as automatically warranting disapproval is a staggering testament to the power of shame in our lives. Our culture’s voracious appetite for condemning difference leaves men little flexibility in how they live their lives,” Greene writes.
I also enjoyed reading Greene’s opinions on marriage, divorce and child custody. He pleads that divorce courts need to recognize that men are fully capable of loving and nurturing their children. He says fathers are unfairly deprived of active involvement because of the prevalent male stereotypes. Consequently, the entire family is left broken rather than simply changed.
“We can choose to show our children that their families have not ended, just changed and that truth will be central to their sense of security and safety. A central part of encouraging vital co-parenting agreements includes giving men equal legal rights to remain engaged parents,” Greene writes in one essay.
But of all the issues discussed in this book, I am most glad Greene gave attention to women’s unfair complaint that a sensitive man is hard to find. As he put it: “As much as these sensitive guys are being promoted as better husband material, there is still the ongoing subtext that women want a sensitive guy at home while they go party with the bad boys.”
Read this book, but don’t mistake it as a defense of men. Remaking Manhood is going to be considered a go-to piece of literature on the new “Male Revolution.”