As a man, most people would say that my nephew and I ”beat the odds”, being able to express our natural masculinity despite being raised in a household filled with strong women (my mother singlehandedly raised me, my three nieces, and my nephew). There seems to be a common conception that men who are raised in households similar to my own tend to be more feminine. While I’m not a licensed therapist, I believe that there are too many factors present in each situation to pass judgement. In my experience, however, I managed to emerge the total opposite: a big, buff, bearded “manly man” that enjoys the outdoors and tackling all challenges that may rear their head. I never thought about whether or not my upbringing forced me into a state of internalized dominance, nor had I heard the term until recently. Once having heard it, I immediately thought that it something to do with men.
I started to look back at my recent interactions with women and found myself wondering if I had been too aggressive, ”too” manly.
When I think of the term Internalized Dominance in regards to men, I have to think about what aspects of the individual man are being repressed/internalized. For starters, in our culture, it seems to me that the naturally high testosterone levels of men and consequently, naturally higher aggressions levels (generally speaking) are not repressed from the outside, but from cultural programming (both explicit and implied) from inside one’s own self. With the repression of the expression of healthy aggression comes a dip in energy levels.
On the spiritual level, in the contexts of male and female interactions, internalized dominance can manifest as excessive tension and extreme caution when speaking, for fear of saying something that could be even slightly construed as sexist or sexual and experiencing the negative consequences thereof. In terms of day to day interactions, we have to look at the natural “dominance levels” of each individual partaking thereof. The less dominance a person projects, the more inferior they’ll feel.
Most importantly, I feel that internalized dominance can manifest in the form of a sort of spiritual grudge “monkey on the back”, with men harboring levels of animosity toward the opposite sex.
Couldn’t the term Internalized Dominance be transmuted into something positive? For instance, think about the phenomenon of internal combustion; powerful tiny explosions occur one after the other to generate energy to get things done. If we think of internal dominance in terms of energy that can be directed towards the building of something positive, then it becomes a force that one can bend to his will for the betterment of society at large.
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