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Marty Friedman
Men have worked hard in the last thirty or forty years to become more sensitive in the ways that women want, e.g. learning to listen better, open up more, and become more vulnerable and aware. For the most part, these have been positive changes and men and women alike have benefited from them.

On the other hand, too many men have tried so hard to be sensitive and more "feminine" that they have lost their masculine fire. Those wimpy men miss out on a lot, and women may end up missing some of what the men have thrown aside.

I frequently hear women say that men need to get more in touch with their feminine side. The implication is that until men utilize their own feminine energy they are forever broken and eternally doomed to a life of being factory seconds. I'd be the first to say that blocked-up, macho men have caused a huge percentage of the world's troubles (wars, conflicts, persecutions, swindles, abuse, you name it), and that men must get past old models of masculinity and embrace their softer, gentler sides if they want to succeed in the new world of relationships. If you read my book, "Straight Talk for Men About Marriage -- What Men Need to Know About Marriage (And What Women Need to Know About Men)" you'll see that much of the book shows men a path to intimacy and openness. So, I'm with the program: men need to change.

However, this is only part of the story. If men must get in touch with their feminine sides, shouldn't women get in touch with their masculine sides? If learning about one's opposite side is so important, why shouldn't women be pushed the same way to learn about their masculine side? Is it because they have already done the work so well? Or is it because women hold men to a different standard because men have been in positions of power so long and have caused so much damage in the world?

Honestly, getting in touch with feminine energy isn't the whole challenge for men, and for many men it isn't even the primary challenge. The bigger challenge for most men I know is getting in touch with their own masculine energy. These men have struggled with the challenge of becoming more sensitive and are progressing on that path (maybe very slowly, but still moving forward). We men's understanding of our predominant masculine energy is so twisted and confused that we have trouble even knowing what it means to be male. We equate "masculine" with macho, closed off and violent. In the confusion, we try so hard to be sensitive and "feeling" people that we forget about our innate masculine nature. We lose touch with our own inner fire and power as men. The sad irony is that soft, sensitive men often find themselves scorned by their own women as too wimpy and weak.

So, in the campaign to change men I hope women also appreciate and encourage men's dominant masculine side. Masculine energy is what puts the spark in men-women relationships. If it is dampened too much, relationships suffer. From my viewpoint, men need to become masters of both their primary masculine and secondary feminine energy.

Here's the message for women: By all means help your man become more sensitive and friendly with his feminine side. I also encourage you to look deeper at your own issues of feminine and masculine power. It's easy to blame and criticize men; it's more of a challenge to understand and respect masculine power, and understand and enjoy your own feminine and masculine energy.

Marty Friedman

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