Patriarchy’s Failure to Offer a Healthy Masculinity and Virility

One of the dangers in the Patriarchal mindset and bubble in which we all find ourselves is that it sentimentalizes violence at the same time that it renders many men gutless, afraid, cowardly, liars and narcissistic. 

Insurrectionists invoking Jesus and the “thin blue line” of police law and order, 1/6/21. Photo by Tyler Merbler on Flickr.

The common good gets ignored along with the call to care about values and to fine tune one’s values and test them against wise thinkers and doers of the past.

We must ask the question: Does Patriarchy make cowards of men like Speaker-in-waiting McCarthy and others?  People afraid to address death threats in their workplace; climate change; an unjust economic system; dismantling of the right to vote; teaching about racism and its history in schools; women’s rights and much more are cowards. 

Such gutless and unmasculine men invest all their ‘power’ to the use of the uber-powerful and the pseudo powerful weak men.  No manliness there.  No healthy masculine.  No model of masculinity for the younger generation.  Little wonder that many young men are confused and bewildered today.  Consider Kyle Rittenhouse.

Alt-right members preparing for the “Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, VA, 8/12/2017. Photo by Anthony Crider on Wikimedia Commons

Such men cover up their cowardice with projections onto autocrats and autocrat wannabes.  They become Yes men to men committed to power-over dynamics and are themselves of small hearts and minds and committed to one thing: Power for power’s sake. 

Such “strong men” are in fact weak men who lack that inner power called virtue that cares for truth and justice and supporting the less fortunate.  For compassion therefore. 

Virtue, inner strength, is authentic virility.  Such men lack it.

While we witness the devastation of the covid virus wrecking its havoc around the world, there is another virus, that of a toxic masculinity, that is also spreading.  It is taking place in American politics and is spread by a sick and enabling media and social media.  Also so often wrapped in toxic masculinity.


See Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine. 

To read the transcript for Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: March to Stop Trans Mountain Oil Pipeline at the Kwekwexnewtxw Watch House and the Kinder Morgan Tank Farm in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, August 25, 2018. Photo by Sally T. Buck on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you recognize that virtue and virility are closely related?  What follows from that?


Recommended Reading

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God


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9 thoughts on “Patriarchy’s Failure to Offer a Healthy Masculinity and Virility”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you for being a voice of virtue Mathew. I think many have forgotten what it is to walk with Love and what an entirely different daily experience it is which is rich, nourishing, and ever filling rather than standing in hatred which is emptying and place of never ending craving.

  2. Avatar

    Interesting connections made today regarding virtues and virility. As I was listening to Mathew describe some of the virtues, things like love, compassion, kindness ext… it dawned on me, that the unbalanced masculine actually perceives these virtues as a weakness, rather than as a pathway to virility… therefore they resist, reject and deny such virtues… in exchange for their own illusion of virility or power. There also seems to me, that in and through this, there is a disconnect between the head and the heart.

    Within the Indigenious teachings, they speak of the unbalanced two leggeds, whom are souls which need to transition from their animalistic nature, into the sacredness of their humanity. Brothers whom have already made this transition, need to mentor other brothers whom are struggling through this process. The best place to start, would be with the young adult brothers, as they will undoubtedly be more receptive… as often these brothers are searching and longing to discover pathways and mentors that can assist them in identifying what it is to be a man. Many young adult men, have also grown up fatherless, or they have suffered abuses through misuse of power and authority over. Many are not only lost and confused, but also angry and wounded.

    The return to Rites of Passage ceremonies and rituals is much needed at this time. That being said however, it’s the brothers that must reach out to other brothers, to one another to establish these mentoring relationships. Performing these Rites of Passage ceremonies and rituals in nature, will also play a key part within this.

    The two books that Mathew has written, “The Hidden Spirituality of Men”, and the “AWE Project”, are excellent resources to access. Imagine if each brother reached out even to just one other brother, what a difference this could make. Never underestimate small beginnings!

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, speaking of virtues I have just watched Hildegard’s “Play of the Virtues” and have been thinking a lot about what is called “Virtue Ethics.” Virility which is a related word has more to do with male testosterone than anything else. I prefer Hildegard’s “viriditas or “greening power” which is just the kind of power we need today, not masculine virility but the earth’s viriditas–green power that will renew and refresh the earth. You also point out the need for “rites of passages” for young men; and we do have them in the community I belong to. Thank you for your comment.

      1. Avatar

        We must during these challenging times, as Hildegard has revealed in her play, INVOKE the essence, the presence, the spirit of the virtues, kindling this light from within, for these are the true garments of the daughters and sons of God.

        We invoke these virtues by decreeing ” I Am ” and we kindle the light of this essence, this presence through the mantra of prayer.

  3. Avatar

    Thank you again for putting the craziness of this time into a larger context. These meditations sustain me in this sea of misinformation. There are things that are true, and good, and virtuous. May God turn us to the Good.

  4. Avatar

    Matthew, Each morning as I read your meditations, I experience again and again, your prophetic voice, your hard-earned wisdom, and fidelity to truth, compassion, justice and Love. I’ve been reading your work since the 1980’s. Your words have often helped
    work the earth of my soul. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now, in the final years of your life on earth, while Mother Earth and all who live in her are suffering and in a most horrifying danger, I sense that you are desperately reaching out, calling all of us home to take care of Mother and of each other. Thank you.
    Sometimes, when I wonder about the mystery of death, I imagine that your dear ancestors, particularly the ones you have deeply appreciated, have often called by name and received support and inspiration from, must be so proud of you. I imagine their voices Will be part of a resounding chorus from the Great Cloud of Witnesses welcoming you home, singing “Well done, good and faithful servant!”
    Happy Thanksgiving, Matthew!
    Thank you for showing us the way

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Catherine, I like how you refer to Matthew’s “dear ancestors” especially his Dominican brothers: Thomas Aquinas and Meister Eckhart, and his Religious sisters: Hildegard, Mechtild, and Julian. And you are right, they are his “Great Cloud of Witnesses.”

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