For many thousands of years, human societies nurtured groups separated by gender. Women gathered to share their lives and what concerned them; men did likewise. Until, that is, the last hundred or so years in American society. Here, gender-specific groups have all but disappeared. Much of this has been a healthy development. The gender integration of “old boys’ clubs” like Rotary, for example, now offers women equal access to the business networking that such clubs provide.
But there has been a downside. Men aren’t getting together like they used to. Oh, they may gather down at the tavern to watch a game or converse at the barber shop over the buzz of clippers. But meaningful relationships between men are going the way of the dinosaurs. And this is a huge loss. What Sam Keen wrote about men more than twenty years ago still holds true:
We need same-sex friends because there are types of validation and acceptance that we receive only from our gender-mates. There is much about our experiences as men that can only be shared with, and understood by, other men. There are stories we can tell only to those who have wrestled in the dark with the same demons and been wounded by the same angels. Only men understand the secret fears that go with the territory of masculinity. 1
1Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man (New York: Bantam Books, 1991), p. 174-175.
Free from the domination of limiting and often oppressive social expectations, men committed to each other in a group can provide the support and challenge unavailable elsewhere.
Developing relationships with other men doesn’t just happen; it takes intention and commitment. Clyde Henry has put his decades of experience into The Men’s Group Manual, an invaluable resource with everything to get a group started and to keep it going. Are you up to the challenge?