Arts and Entertainment

Hey man: Author offers new look at what’s manly

Bainbridge Island author David Franklin. - Courtesy of David Franklin
Bainbridge Island author David Franklin.
— image credit: Courtesy of David Franklin

“Be a man.”

It’s not an uncommon mantra to hear in our modern world. But one Bainbridge Island author is asking what “being a man” really means.

“Radical Men” is David Franklin’s first book. In it, he addresses the myths of masculinity and further suggests practices to discover a more authentic sense of being a man.

“The book is about addressing a lot of the cultural norms around what it means to be a man,” Franklin said.

“It acknowledges that a lot of these ideas are culturally constructed. ‘Radical Men’ is about going around cultural constructs of what it means to be a man.”

Franklin has spent years pondering the topic, both in his personal and professional life.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Evergreen State College in “Natural History from an Indigenous Perspective,” and then master’s degree in leadership and organizational development from the LIOS Graduate College of Saybrook University, Franklin has built a career wearing many hats.

He has more than 20 years experience coaching, facilitating and training.

Coaching can be likened to life coaching, Franklin said, while facilitating involves working with groups of people, conflict resolution or envisioning and goal setting.

His work has brought him close to the conundrum of “man,” and the problem of how modern cultures perceive men.

“I think the problem is that we essentially keep men in a box, and to act in any other way than what cultural standards are, there is a risk of being ridiculed and shamed,” Franklin said.

This can lead to things like homophobia, he said.

On the other hand, and perhaps more subtly, if a man merely acts a certain way or takes up a hobby that is not perceived as “manly enough,” men then can feel as if they have to sacrifice parts of themselves in order to fit the standard.

The results of such cultural standards can take a toll on society.

“I think that a lot of times the impact of the code of masculinity can be acts of violence,” Franklin said. “It’s interesting, looking statistically at the amount of crimes committed by men, and the amount of men who are incarcerated. It’s significantly higher than women. It’s a cultural issue and it’s not highly addressed.”

His book attempts to combat this issue.

“There are 50 practices,” Franklin said about his book. “They are very simple micro practices that can be done throughout the day.”

Franklin noted that many people on a path of personal growth think they have to meditate for a weekend or do something major.

His approach, however, is to take micro practices and apply them in daily life.

“From these practices look at what arises for you, in your life and choose what’s best for you,” he said. “Hopefully some will become habit.”

Practices range from simple breathing exercises to decision making, and even exploring eroticism and sexuality.

At his Eagle Harbor Book Company appearance at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 17, Franklin will summarize his book and also introduce some of its practices with the crowd.

More information about Franklin, his work and “Radical Men” can be found on his website, www.davidfranklin.net.

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