lot of focus on men these days, much of it negative. Many are concerned about
the harm men cause to women, children, and other men. Others are concerned
about the problems men cause to themselves. My work over the years has been to
help men answer three questions that we all need to address before we die:
Did I live a
fully authentic life?
Did I love
deeply and well?
Did I make a
positive difference in the world?
In order to
answer “yes” to these questions, I believe we have to understand why men are
the way they are. We have to understand the roots of our maleness. I believe
this will not only help men, but also will help women better understand men and
also better understand themselves.
the biological and evolutionary basis of our maleness in no way discounts the
fact that there are also psychological, social, and cultural differences that
are important as well. Nature and nurture can never be separated. They
are now, and forever, united.
introduction to men’s work began when I was four years old. I announced that I
was tired of my white baby shoes and I wanted “big boy shoes.” My mother
dutifully took me to a shoe store and I was entranced by the colors and variety
available. It was like going from a world of black and white and discovering
technicolor. I wandered past all the shoes looking at each pair until my eyes
mommy, I want those.” I was jumping up and down and pointing to the most
beautiful shoes I had ever seen. They were red Keds. I waited for the salesman
to bring out my shoes from the back, but when he opened the box, they were
blue, not red.
“Red is for
girls,” he told me and smiled at my mother. “Blue is for boys.” That seemed to
settle things in his mind. I thought about that for a second and a half. I had
never heard of colors being assigned by sex. I had thought all shoes were white
until recently. But even as a small child, I knew what I liked.
In my first
act of gender rebellion, I insisted on the red Keds and my mother backed me up.
Ever since that time I’ve been interested in issues of sex and gender and what
it means to be male.
A manifesto, according to the
dictionary, is a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or
motives. As I approach my 76th birthday in December, 2019, I realize that I’m
in the 4th quarter of my productive life and if I’m going to make a public
declaration, the time is now.
endnotes so you can see where my assertions come from. You may agree or
disagree with my perspective, but I want you to know where I have gotten the
information. You may want to consult these sources as well. This is a 6-Part
series, which I’ll share one at a time. If you’d like a copy of the full
Manifesto, drop me a note to Jed@MenAlive.com (be
sure and respond to my spamarrest filter so your email comes to my in-box. Put
“full Manifesto” in the subject line.
Let me be
clear. What I will share about males and
females are generalizations. A generalization, by
definition, applies to the majority within a population, allowing plenty of
room for individual exceptions. If I told you that men are taller than women, you would recognize that this is not
true of all men. As a 5’5’’ guy, I’m very aware that this is a
generalization–though I still wish I could magically become an undersized 6’5” basketball player.
generalizations can tell us a lot about who we are and why we evolved the
thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make us who we are. Because men tend to
be a certain way does not mean that men are better than women or that these
qualities are fixed and can’t change. They just tell the truth about the nature
of male and female.
learn, some generalizations apply to a larger segment of the population than
others. The generalization that males have an XY pair of chromosomes while
females have an XX pair applies to more of the population than the
generalization that males are taller than females. This manifesto won’t offer absolutes, but will offer helpful
guidance to better understand who we are.
The Promise I Made to My Son
It was a cold
night in November. My wife and I were expecting our first child and we were in
Kaiser hospital in Vallejo, California. After coaching my wife through the
breathing techniques, we had learned in our Lamaze childbirth classes, the time
was close. “Mrs. Diamond, it’s time to take you into the delivery room,” the
nurse said to my wife who was definitely relieved after 12 hours of labor. “Mr.
Diamond, it’s time for you to wait in the waiting room. We’ll let you know when
the baby arrives.
I knew the
rules and talked towards the waiting room doors. But something stopped me. I
felt I was hearing the sound of my unborn son whispering in my ear. “I don’t
want a waiting-room father. Your place is here with us.” I turned around and
marched into the delivery room. There was no question of being asked to leave.
My son had called and I was there.
Jemal was born. He was handed to me and amid tears of relief and joy, I made a
promise that I would be a different kind of father than my father was able to
be for me and I would do everything I could to bring about a world where
fathers were fully involved with their families throughout their lives.
My Wife’s Challenge to Write a Book About The Gift of Maleness
1983 with the publication of Inside Out:
Becoming My Own Man, writing has been my way of making sense of my world. When my 15th book, My Distant Dad: Healing the Family Father Wound was published in 2018 I thought I had
completed my writing career. I wanted to do more mentoring, teaching, training,
and travelling. I told my wife, Carlin, and thought she’d be pleased that I
wasn’t going to start working on another book.
response surprised me. “I think you have at least one more book you need to
write,” she said. “You’ve devoted your life to helping men and their families,
but things are so confused and conflicted these days, I think you need to write
a book about the gift of maleness to let men and women know what’s good about
men underneath the armoring society demands that you put on.”
completed writing that book–12 Rules for
Good Men.[i] It brings together the best of what
I’ve learned over the last 50 years. The book will be available on November,
21, 2019, Jemal’s 50th birthday. Here are the Rules:
#1: Join a Men’s Group.
#2: Break Free From the Man Box.
#3: Accept the Gift of Maleness.
#4: Embrace Your Billion-Year History of Maleness.
#5: Understand Your Anger and Fear Towards Women.
#6: Learn The Secrets of Real Lasting Love.
#7: Undergo Meaningful Rites of Passage from Youth to Adulthood and from
Adulthood to Super Adulthood.
#8: Celebrate Your True Warrior Spirit and Learn Why Males Duel and Females
#9: Understand and Heal Your Adverse Childhood Experiences and Male Attachment
#10: Heal Your Father Wound and Become the Father You Were Meant to Be.
#11: Treat the Irritable Male Syndrome and Male-Type Depression.
#12: Find Your Mission in Life and Do Your Part to Save Humanity.
I look forward
to your comments and questions. I hope you’ll read the full Good Men Manifesto.
If you’d like a copy of the whole thing, drop me a note to Jed@MenAlive.com. Put “Full Manifesto” in the subject
line. If you’d like more information about the new book, 12 Rules for Good Men, let me know and I’ll send you the latest information.
[i] Jed Diamond. 12 Rules for Good Men. Waterside Productions, 2019.
This article first appeared on Jed’s blog.