Friday, July 30, 2010

Integral Masculinity Panel: Are Deida & Farrell Integral? Mark Forman, Bert Parlee, Diane Hamilton, Pelle Billing, Gilles Herrada & Me #itc2010

Wow, that was fun. And that comes from someone with social anxiety who watched the room fill up and became increasingly terrified.

I had no idea so many people would attend, but then Diane Hamilton and Bert Parlee fall into the category of integral rock stars, so I should have guessed that might happen. And, Luke Fullager was missed - as he was unable to make the trip from Australia.

We really didn't talk that much about Deida and Farrell, aside from using them as touchstones for various issues. The general consensus is that they are not AQAL-integral, but that they are perhaps working from an integral perspective. In fact, Diane called David before the conference and asked him - his response was, "Of course I am not integral, integral is a map." He basically went on to say that he helps people untie spiritual and sexual knots in their lives - that is his mission.

OK now, time to be brutally honest.

When I am in situation such as that (feeling anxious and a bit overwhelmed), I try to be as present in the moment as humanly possible, which means I end up with very little recall of what happened. There is a way that I have learned to get out of the way and let whatever is going to come out, to come out . . . which maybe takes my short-term memory offline or something.

So, in reality, Sean and Mark should have asked someone else to do this session.

We began with a question from Mark on "Do we need an integral masculinity, and if so, what does that look like?" From there we were off - as I said, I have very little memory for what happened or what was said. But I'll take a stab at it.

Diane made a good point in observing that we had a woman on the panel (her), but that the women's panel felt no need to have a man on theirs. That says a lot about where men are in our development of masculine identity - it's almost like we feel we need a woman's perspective so that we don't piss anyone off, especially feminists.

We talked a little about mentoring - this is a topic I like. Pelle and I agreed that mentoring is good and often important, in that boys do not learn to be men in a vacuum. My perspective is that we do not need to TEACH boys how to be men, but rather, we need to create a safe space for them to discover their own sense of what it means to be a man.

We also talked about how to respond to the feminist attacks on men as dominaters and oppressors. Bert used some humor and an audience poll (I think it was on this question) to suggest that there is a little more openness to talk about the feminine shadow than their used to be, and that it may part of our community. I suggested that we not take a stand on this issue, but that we take a stance, that we remain open and fluid to the criticisms rather than become defensive or go on the offensive,

Gilles - whom I had never met before, or even heard of, but is someone I quite like and feel a kindred sense with - brought a gay man's perspective to the panel, which was excellent - he also brought humor. He talked about being ostracized by the "boy's club" for not being a good athlete and all of that when he was young, so that he learned a great deal about masculinity and agency from powerful women. It turned out that many of the guys in the room, mostly younger, had also had the influence of a strong woman in their lives. As someone who through his teen years in a household of women, with a weak mother, that's interesting to me.

One of Farrell's ideas that we did touch on was the "expendable male," with both Bert (I believe) and Pelle making good points. This is one area where a lot of men resonate with Farrell. We are seen historically as oppressors of women, which is only partly true (there was no choice in gender roles and actions until about the 1,600s or so), but we were dying in wars, in the fields, or whatever to support families, or to pay taxes, or whatever.

We made the income, women made the home and the babies. Women were freed from making babies with birth control (a point Gilles made very well), and from there they had many more options to explore their roles, while men still made the income. This is a main point of Farrell, as well.

In the audience Q&A portion, a young man asked about integral role models, and where we should look. Pelle made the excellent point that working with peers to tease out what our ideal might look like is a good way to go about it. My sense is that we do not one or two role models - what we need is a willingness to figure out how it works best for each of us to manifest our unique masculinity in an "integral" way, whatever that means. We might want to try on traits of various people we admire and assemble an integrated perspective that is our own.

All in all, that was a blast - I hope the attendees had a good time as well.


Anonymous said...

Hi William.

Any excellent summary.

A brief thought that I was going to say but the moment didn't arrive.

I wonder about Diane's framing of asking a woman to come on the panel. Is it really a sign of masculinity in the integral community being less developed than the feminine or more insecure?

My thought--in retrospect--is that we might have been comfortable inviting her on the panel precisely because we're okay with her speaking her mind and taking what she says as a valid part of discussion. That is very much how it seemed during the discussion--the panel wasn't threatened by her. So, if I might put it this way, a kind of positive masculine attitude of "come and play with the boys."

I am going to mention this to her when I get a chance.


PiALOGUE (Pi Dialogue) said...

My question is William, how did you get on the panel in the first place? Was it because the Australian guy did not make it? Did you have a specific area of interest or was it because you are one of the more "macho" kinds of guys in the Integral world?

I do appreciate your humility and total dedication to being in-the-moment though. :o)

Which begs the further question, if you had zero recall, how did you manage to talk about the panel discussion at all? Did you go back to a recording of it?

Relative to why Diane was there, if you think about it, how can you define masculinity without a woman, or, without a woman's perspective? Do you rely on an allegedly Integral man? (which actually kind of makes sense now that I think about it).

Regarding mentoring, if a man is truly integral then it would appear that the concept of masculinity is a moot point. If a young man observes an Integral man then it would appear to me that he would end up emulating the Integral man's "Integrality" rather than his masculinity. Masculinity in this sense would appear to be a dysfunction. So, might the "Integral Masculinity" topic actually be an oxymoron? That question led me to inquire into the masculine or "male" dynamic of sex which, for me personally, is the only real definition of masculinity, i.e. the erection of the male penis. Outside of that I do not see any real purpose in the word masculine.

Regarding feminist attacks on men as dominaters and oppressors, I agree with you. "Any" comment by a woman is simply the offering of her "opinion." Once the man has offered empathy for the emotional status of the woman, then, the actual "facts" of the complaint or observation can be inquired into. Obviously it helps if the man can breathe through the initial Red reactivity in order to "allow" an integrated recontextualization of his perspective on the situation...if the female is open to it. The Integral community's general propensity to being or having more "Openness to Shadow" is relevant as long as it is not "expected" since it appears that everyone responds to shadow revelation or expression differently.

The learning of strength or assertive tactics from a mother or woman was an interesting concept, except that pretending or acting like that is a "male" trait seems dubious to me.

"Who are our Integral role models?" is a good question. Perhaps the issue is more about "How can we find the Integral-ness in ourselves?" If we evolve an ability to "dialogue" with each other, as opposed to argue or play with aggressive dramatization, then it is my opinion that this simple dialogic process will lead us to Integration.

William, thank you for giving us a view into the Integral Theory Conference.

- pi -

PiALOGUE (Pi Dialogue) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
PiALOGUE (Pi Dialogue) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
william harryman said...


I didn't have zero recall, just limited - in my head it's all a blur. I'm sure it got recorded in memory, but in the period during and after the event, it was pretty foggy. Still is.

I was on the panel because Mark Forman, one of the conference organizers and the moderator of the panel, invited me. I have no idea about being macho, and I certainly was not presented in that way.

I wonder about your comments regarding "the masculine or "male" dynamic of sex which, for me personally, is the only real definition of masculinity, i.e. the erection of the male penis" - I would disagree. There is now a HUGE amount of research showing that the (1) the differences in brain structure and chemistry (while greater within sex than between the sexes, but still significant in general) has a serious impact on how men express themselves; (2) the mere fact of our embodiment as male shapes in very large ways how we relate to the world, (3) the presence of testosterone, while not the evil the feminists have made it out to be, does shape our experience.

My sense is that as long as we are embodied, being male shapes our experience at every stage of development.

PiALOGUE (Pi Dialogue) said...

First, it appears that the longer message that I submitted, which I had received an error on, made it so I deleted the two smaller versions of that message.

It appears to me that the idea of what is masculine is contrived or artificial even though it can obviously be noticed by a LOT of people. It appears to me that a group of superior psychological adepts are "creating" what it means to be human rather than "observing" the "natural" result of a particular person's response to their specific environmental and social conditions.

1st Tier people tend to "replicate" or mimic the actions of their admired authority figures. If such people are not 2nd Tier then you end up with an exponential progression of dysfunctional behavior (i.e. 1st Tier memes). I say dysfunctional rather than "characteristic" because if we do not start identifying the behaviors that we would rather NOT see in society as a whole then we will go the way of the alleged neanderthal.

Here is a non-SDi explanation of what I am talking about...

- pi -