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  • AutorenbildDaniel Bernhard


For years I tried all that I could not to be the Bad Guy in this story. To do better - mostly to know better, too. I am a post-patriarchal man, a feminist, I embody the future. I thought. Driven by sincere utopianism, a little arrogance and, as I realize more and more, wounded ambition.

One of the most toxic masculine traits of all might have hijacked my attempts at overcoming the patriarchy in my personal life quite a lot: the wish to prove my worthiness, to win the competition at any cost, to out-compete first my father by being the most sensitive, emotionally aware child, the best listener and caretaker near and far, then to try and win in a sneaky way against every other guy by showing off how feminist I am, how unthreatening, how gentle and sweet.

All this is of course part of me. And I am happy to have many deep friendships with women who cherish the space of care, ease and emotional abundance we are able to create together.

But part of me is always busy to create another situation where I can gain some more approval from mommy, another reason for me to be valued as one of the good guys.

And, yeah, I might be quite a good guy with a pure heart for real - and my desire to be one of the funeral directors for this wasted zombie called "the patriarchy" and to co-create the coming world beyond any -archy is sincere ...and exactly because that is the truth, I want to liberate my life and work from this sleazy undercurrent which tries to turn every situation into another approval game.

For years, my queerness was an amazing shield to avoid any kind of shitstorm, to not step into the continuity of my "toxic" family tree. Being a queer man allowed me to avoid receiving most of the rage about the collective abuse that women had to endure from men throughout patriarchy. "See, I'm on your side. I am not one of them." BS. We all are one of them. Toxic men, toxic women, toxic queers. It's part of us and our upbringing.

So, let's leave that hiding game behind.

I feel ready to stand in this fire, to receive justified as well as unbased reflections and projections. I feel ready to be seen as one of "them" - and to acknowledge that I can be as emotionally unavailable, as aggressive, as numbed down, as territorial, as much the frustrated provider as my father. And all of these traits have as much potential to do harm than to be a gift. Thanks to the no-bullshit gaze of my beloved I can see this now more clearly than ever. She sees through to the core of me and none of my strategies have a chance against her love.

And so I realize: I am a toxic man, too.

From this place of acknowledgement I heal. Not in the hiding place I built for myself, which looks like the official memorial column of The Golden Boy, whose ambition to shine as a beacon of enlightened wokeness is revealing one of the deepest woundings of the masculine: this specific worthiness issue I see at play in most men. While women in the traditional story have to gain male approval by meeting some fucked-up mainstream beauty standards and perform character traits that signal fragility, men are only worth as much as their achievements. Meh.

I am enough. I do not need to prove myself. My value is not measured by my achievements- may they be in managing a gun manufacturing business or in good guy impersonation.

I release the energy that is still stuck in me by holding on to a facade that promised to keep me safe and loved. I allow this energy to flow to where it is needed.

From this place I can show up in my full power for what moves my heart from day one: actual liberation for all genders, for all forms of love and for natural life, starting with myself and those next to me.

From this place I can overflow with natural generosity and the sincere wish to be a helpful presence in the world. I am also much more vulnerable here.

It includes the option to fuck it up, to be blamed, to humble myself and lose the game - and by virtue of all this it includes a sense of brotherhood with other awakening men.

Ten years ago, the men's work I would have been doing would have sounded like this: "You guys are toxic, let me show you how wrong you are and btw here's your path to becoming the man that all feminists desire - well, not really, but it'll sure get you out of the shitstorm. I won't admit it but I actually just wanna be your alpha and my moral superiority might even get me there. See, all the ladies in the house, am I doing it right?!"

I abandon all traces of this superiority I might have longed for in the past.

My Men's Work is about acknowledgement of who we are, accountability for our actions, and most of all about acceptance. I want us to show up in our brokenness and the radiant brilliance of our humanity.

Saviors are not safe to be with, good guys are creepy, as are those running around stuck in the bad guy role in order to prove something.

There is nothing to prove.

So, let's heal this worthiness wound. Let's become generative adults, with no reputation to lose. Courageous creators of a new world and fierce defenders of justice, our hearts much more touched by love and liberation than by moral superiority.

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