Joy to the Boy

Bird Cage


I started my career back in the 90s writing about the way social change was tearing women apart. Twenty years later, I think women have made huge strides toward an altogether new way of viewing themselves and moving through the world. Our wonderful tribe of coaches is made up almost entirely of women who have found ways to be true to themselves no matter what society tells them.
Now, it’s time for our boys.
Even when I was researching the crisis of role stress for women, I could see what was coming for men: while women were ripped to pieces by conflicting social demands, men were being compressed into tinier and tinier role definitions that I call The Man Cage.
Here’s the best way I can describe it: when I tell a woman she needs to quit her horrible job, she must deal with her own fears and uncertainties. When I tell a man that he has to quit his horrible job, he has to go home and have a fight with his wife. We women may be fragmented, but we are relatively free. We can wear a skirt or a pair of pants without raising anyone’s eyebrows. Men must show up in a very limited array of colors and patterns—primarily the bleak colored suit with the colorful noose around the neck—or their masculinity will be called into question. In many minds, a man without a job is not a real man.
So, men, whose minds and bodies were made to run and climb and build and sweat and love, compete for soul-destroying occupations where they must sit, complete with noosed neck, in a fluorescently-lighted box taking orders to do things so boring that they make computers want to kill themselves.
Now here’s the kicker: the jobs for which men give up their happiness, usually in service of their families, are disappearing. It’s not a political issue, it’s a technological one. Robots and silicon chips can do the vast majority of things that once gave humans jobs.
So, that’s the situation. Men are being socialized to relinquish their joy for horrible pastimes that are no longer even available. So many of my beautiful male friends feel trapped, desperate, afraid, and separated from everything that gives them true happiness.
Guys, listen up: we women who love you want you to be happy. There is a new way rising in the world; a way to raise a family without extinguishing your inner light, a way to make your heart’s desires attract abundance. A way for it all to make sense. Joy to the Boy is my current obsession. It’s the title of the book I’m writing and the foundation of the workshop you’ll see offered in this newsletter. Start now. Set yourself free. You can do it. All good women are on your side.

14 replies
  1. Enrique
    Enrique says:

    Thank you for your eloquent description of what is happening to men in this society. Not only Im I a male but also a “mender”. None of which belong in the stereotypical male rolls. It’s difficult and often confusing to know where we fit anymore. So thanks for clearly defining the situation.
    Enrique Astorga

  2. Pat
    Pat says:

    An affirmation of how I feel. I don’t enjoy my job, and I have passions that I could work in but not pay the bills. So in asking my wife to get back to the workforce, she laments having to “do something that she doesn’t enjoy” to help pay the bills. Uh…hello? I’ve been doing that for decades and will continue for 20+ more years (unless A: I win the lottery or B: we take our kids out of private schools and we move into a less-desireable home). I certainly don’t feel I have the luxury of finding the dream job. I am captive due to financial obligation.

    Anyway, was nice to vent….

  3. joanne nistico
    joanne nistico says:

    Right on. Fortunately my husband saw this a number of years ago and made a huge step. He used for his talisman the silver dollar with Walking Liberty. This symbol helped him move on to a freer more fulfilling life. It was not easy. He took the great leap of faith. We both did. We now live on a 70 acre horse farm with a beautiful view of the blue ridge mountains and a lovely river to swim in. Walking Liberty. THanks

  4. Mary Boulton-Haling
    Mary Boulton-Haling says:

    Please read Richard Whitmire’s book “Why Boys Fail”. It begins in 1st grade with our sons, brothers, husbands and man friends.

    Bravo to your new book, looking forward to reading it. We all need to work and support each other, not leave anyone out a this point in human history.

  5. Kari
    Kari says:

    Thank you for recognizing this issue. I see how girls and women struggle around the world for equality and safety and education. I appreciate their hard work and the people who help them. Girl Rising was one of the best films I have seen in a long time. All of that is amazing. However, in this country (US), I see my boys and other boys really struggling as the girls around them soar. The education system is strengthened by female energy and I believe boys are being forgotten. In elementary, recess is being taken away, PE is being taken away, free movement and play are gone. In high school, emphasis is on multi-tasking & academics and there is a giant lack of hands-on classes such as wood shop or horticulture. To me, this creates an atmosphere that plays to girls’ natural abilities. Boys are being left aside unless they can manage to fit into this new matrix. In the larger scheme, this most surely ties into the men who are confused and feel trapped. Thanks again for writing about this topic, Martha!

  6. kd
    kd says:

    Yay Martha! I look forward to this particular work of yours because so many of us soulful women want soulful men to work, love, and play with in this journey of spirit & heart.

    Who knows, a book like this could spark the creation of a Tribal Menders’ Dating Service — “Where Miracles Always Happen” … (and two bent spoons cuddling as the advertising logo)…:-)

  7. Michele Marie
    Michele Marie says:

    Dear Martha & Friends,
    Hello. I’m glad that you’re taking on the issue of men.
    However, I still feel that the Empowerment of Women is
    still a real issue that needs to be addressed. It’s not
    over yet by any means.

    • Editor
      Editor says:

      Hi Michele – Of course we’ll continue to empower women! They make up 99% of our coaching community and we continue to work with women to help them create their right lives. Now we want to put some extra focus and attention on the men so they can grow along with us! xo

  8. Jackie
    Jackie says:

    Hi Martha,

    It’s really crazy that I just read this article because it chimes exactly with the book I literally finished reading five minutes ago. It’s by Elizabeth Gilbert (famous author of Eat Pray Love) about Eustace Conway, who ran away from his surburban life at 17 to live in the woods. Well, you’ve probably heard of him. Anyway, he is obsessed with nature and preserving it and wants nothing more than to teach boys, girls, men (and women) about how to live outdoors, at one with nature. Especially, he is a kind of father figure for boys and men who really struggle with their roles. As soon as I read it, I thought he sounded like the sort of person that you are always calling a Team Member. And I wondered if you two had ever met, and if so, what happened? Because it seems you would have a lot in common! I didn’t expect you would be writing a book now that would be right up his street! Thanks as always for the article. I always come to your blog for guidance and help. I one day would like to come to your coaching course if I can get the money but money is a massive struggle for me.

    Love, luck, and lollipops,


  9. Andrew Cohn
    Andrew Cohn says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful post, Martha. In my experience in a variety of settings, men do feel confined by their perceived choices. What I find helpful is reminding men (myself included) that freedom can be subtle and is often internal. Being “free” need not involve skipping work and meditating in a cave- we have many small but powerful choices that free up our heads and our hearts.

  10. Mary
    Mary says:

    Yay to this post! I have an eight-year old boy who is still full of curiousity, laughter, and goodwill. I attribute this to his awesome, happy dad, who is providing him with a great role model of how to live a meaningful life.

    Having both a son and a daughter, I see how the current culture presents so amny challenges for both of them. But they both have strong imaginations and ebullient spirits, so I am pretty sure they will be ok.

  11. Richard
    Richard says:

    One of the best books I’ve ever read on what it’s like to be a man is Terry Real’s “I Don’t Want to Talk About It.”

    Another really interesting read is the section entitled “Men and Shame” in the last chapter of Brene’ Brown’s “I Thought It Was Just Me.” Here’s a brief edited excerpt. In it, a man in his sixties talks with her after she has given a speech. He asks her, “What about men and shame?” After replying that she hasn’t done any significant research with men, he says, “We have shame. Deep shame. But when we reach out and share our stories, we get the emotional shit beat out of us.” He continues, “And it’s not just by other guys. Of course, they beat it out of us. But so do the women. you say you want us to be vulnerable and real, but c’mon. You can’t stand it. It makes you sick to see us like that.”

  12. jules
    jules says:

    Wow. I almost cried just reading the post.

    I am a woman, but every word resonated with me personally (except the necktie parts). I have held a good job for a long time, but there is no joy in it for me. And while I’m grateful for the financial security, I wonder how long I can keep it up? I think many working people could relate to this and would benefit from any teaching that would help us escape the soul-destroying ‘cage’.

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