REVIEW: Reinventing Masculinity: The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection
Ed Frauenheim and Dr. Ed Adams’ book Reinventing Masculinity: The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection is a brief but incisive look at the need to redefine what it means to be a man in both the workplace and our every day lives. The need for a new vision of masculinity has never been greater. We are finishing a Presidency defined by what the co-authors refer to as “confined masculinity” and the negative effects of such behavior has birthed social movements in recent years and affects the world in insidious ways not always readily announcing themselves. The co-writers advocate a different path.
Their thesis is built, for the most part, around an increased willingness in men to demonstrate compassion — for themselves, for others, irrespective of their gender or position, only recognizing their common humanity. The book shares many of Dr. Adams’ experiences treating an assortment of patients throughout his career and contains additional research further buttressing their efforts. There are few things diverting readers’ attention away from the main body of the book and, when those moments come in the form of text blocks, a quiz here and there, and a “Things to Ponder and Do” section concluding each chapter, they bring added depth to the work rather than coming across as gimmicky.
Some readers are going to flee to the hills from this book. There’s no question the authors claim that men across the world are actively rethinking and reimaging what it means to be a man, but it is likewise true a host of men and even many women will view the book as an egregious exercise in political correctness. This is an error in judgment. Adams and Frauenheim go to great pains attempting to avoid any appearance of dogma driving their ambitions. They make a convincing case they are merely looking to aid those interested in help for looking at the world and their relationships in a much different light.
They make an important point that confined masculinity isn’t a phenomenon restricted to a single generation. We often want to regard this sort of behavior as a throwback to an earlier time, but confined masculinity has exerted tremendous influence over each successive male generation of the 20th century. Adams and Frauenheim make no value judgments of its practitioners and the book thankfully avoids transforming into an apologia for the male gender.
The book’s brevity is a strong suit. You will be able to consume the book in a single sitting if you have the time but it provokes so much thought you will want to return it again for another reading. It’s impossible to fully digest with a single pass through. For many, the book asks they reconsider long-held biases and viewpoints, but the very act of willingness to read this book signals the first chip in the wall. Immerse yourself fully in Reinventing Masculinity: The Liberating Power of Compassion and Connection and you may find that wall reduced to rubble It’s a rewarding work from first page to last.