We Need to Empower Masculine Agency

I'm delighted to invite you into a conversation about empowering masculine agency as a road map to intentional leadership.

We seriously need to be talking about this with one another.

It's the most exciting work I'm doing with clients these days, with men and women alike.

I see this thread echoing in larger cultural conversations– meaning we're in a moment where the need is to active the metaphor of Masculine Agency.

You see, I've been in this dance with the metaphor of masculine agency my whole life.

Intuitively I recognized that for us to become the potential we’re born to be, we need a direct relationship to the metaphor of masculine agency.

You’ve heard me delight in the unpacking of “feminine leadership” in the translation of feminine with the substitution “related.” We can then speak of “related leadership” as an idea, a practice to be inhabited regardless of gender.

Masculine agency unpacks as well, metaphorically.

We’re in the terrain here of Northrup Frye’s “root metaphors.” These are metaphors that are so basic that we can’t deconstruct them further. All we can do is translate them in terms of what they mean for us.

I’ve been working with the metaphor of masculine agency for decades now.

My passion for story work derived from the Men’s Movement of the 80’s, the work driven by Michael Meade, James Hillman, and Robert Bly. They were the first to teach me about the power of social story althought that's not what they called it. They fed a need in me to understand the road I was on as a young person: looking to name my power.

The men’s movement gave me the metaphoric translation. Masculine agency = empowerment = about the power drive.

When I went into the structural frames of my graduate work the metaphors of masculine agency receded, as I developed my own agencies of working with stories with strong method.

But when I went to decode the stories of how we become our highest potential in my doctoral research what I found surprised me.

Inadvertently, I found myself working with Masculine metaphors of becoming.

All of the classical stories from the Bible through to the 19th century novels to the bildungsroman, stories of an artist becoming an Artist, were father/son themed.

At least through the lens of western classical literature- our theme of becoming empowered iterates through masculine metaphors of what I’ve come to call father/son stories.

This was curious, fascinating, and I didn't know what it meant.

It wasn’t until I had an explicitly feminine embodied kind of experience, a miscarriage, and went to heal in that by way of “story work,” that I recognized that father/son stories manifest distinctly from mother/daughter stories.

Post doc, I’ve worked hard at understanding the structures and what they mean to our every day life and storying of our experience.

For the past decade, learning to work with Feminine metaphors of empowerment and Leadership have been my focus.

Until now.

I realize as I work with individuals in their leadership story that they need to be in a direct relationship with masculine metaphors of Leadership and Empowerment. That we can’t work Feminine Leadership without getting into a visceral work with how we experience Agency.

That easiest way into that kind of work is by way of archetypal patterns.

I’ve been using the model of Robert L Moore and Douglas Gillete, of King, Magician, Warrior, and Lover—translating it into contemporary language that professional people can relate to.

When we do this kind of work—we tap into an immediate lived experience of the varieties of both victories and wounds—in the arena of our battlefield over our professional lives.

It’s the most exciting work I’m doing now with leadership coaching, again, for both women and men.

And it reflects this larger cultural conversation we’re seeing around “toxic masculinity” and a real struggle for positive experiences of “masculine empowerment.”

I know the way to work with this is at the site of our stories.

Tell me if this theme resonates with you and share your stories in the comments below.