Tenderly Care for the Earth, Bro!

Gardening, bro.  Hmm, why does that seem ironic?  This is a glimpse into the masculine ideal that we are collectively entrenched in.  In that conception of being a man, bro, gangster, boss, or whatever one calls it, tenderly caring for the Earth doesn’t contribute to one’s social status.  Getting your macros, obvi, but ensuring that those calories were harvested in an environmentally conscious way?  Scoff.  Flex.

As men, there are specific factors that cause us to be cut off from the Earth.  One is the lack of a healthy relationship to the inner feminine.  When I am in touch with this dimension of myself, I feel aliveness in my body and a palpable sense of beauty and vitality around me.  I am taken for a ride as I receive the unfolding of the world around me, as opposed to molding it to my will.  When we refuse to be contacted and caressed by the world around us, we remain in exile from life in a way.  In our separation, men can act in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t dream of, such as instrumentalizing nature and women.  Instead of facing the reality of our actions like big boys, we numb ourselves to drown out the pain and fear of our own capacity for destruction.  Through ruthless power and stubborn distance, we maintain a feeling of safety.

Deep down, I’ve been repelled by this conception of masculinity.  This rejection has led me to explore largely feminine areas of interest and activity.  I also admit that this exploration is in part driven by my longing for that sense of being held and nurtured that I, along with what I imagine to be many men in our society, are prevented from experiencing.  (Our inner children are wailing!)

Our collective fear of vulnerability and embracing the inner feminine leads to defensive mechanisms of “bro-y-ness”, male-dominated self-interested institutions (fraternities, governments, corporations), and a willing blindness to the systematic exploitation of the Earth.  My own attempts to connect with my peers here at university mirrors my own implication in this, though.  I tend to speak and act in a “bro” way around other guys to seem strong and worthy of friendship and not be ridiculed for the soft loving parts of myself.  And other guys who may actually be sensitive see that I am not showing that, so they cover their softness up as well.  And we end up having a full-length convo about how to get swole (to feel safe and powerful in our disconnection) rather than connecting on a heart level.

Men, and especially young guys coming up through the university system, must meet each other in our vulnerability in order to feel again and begin to heal the planet.  Otherwise, we will continue to maintain numbing patterns of behavior and blind perspectives that only serve to keep us feeling safe in an artificial, rootless masculine ideal.  And I realize that this begins with me letting down my guards and speaking to this truth.  I’ve never been a real bro.  But really, who has?


7 thoughts on “Tenderly Care for the Earth, Bro!

  1. An interesting post that leaves me curious. When did gardening become a “feminine” thing? This seems to be a modern shift, and I don’t think it’s globally universal. Historically, growing gardens was just something people did, because it was necessary for survival. I’ve seen similar shifts in other things currently viewed as “feminine”, such as embroidery, knitting and other arts.

    As for gardening, we had a massive garden, and it was never viewed as a gendered activity. Sure, my mom did most of the gardening, but that was because my dad was doing other farmwork she couldn’t do, elsewhere. When needed, all 7 of us worked in the garden, just as all 7 of us helped in the fields or milking cows.

    I think the shift must be quite recent.


    1. Now that we can purchase all our food pre-made and even delivered to us, being gentle, patient, and caring in a garden has become more of a dainty hobby than a survival tactic. Therefore, it doesn’t fit with the sped up, productive, and to an extent numb masculine-oriented society we’re in. That’s especially true in Miami and at the university I attend, so it may not resonate as strongly for people in other areas and life phases.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think you’re right. Plus, US big city culture is quite different from Canadian big city culture. I think geography also plays a part. Most of our cities have the luxury of space and can sprawl out. Coastal cities like Vancouver might be an exception, but it’s also a temperate rainforest, with a much milder climate that allows for longer growing seasons.

        I think what I see more of also has historical similarities; commercial gardening tends to be more male dominated, while household gardening tends to be female dominated.


      2. Just finished reading your link. I like what he’s doing. He still has some common misconceptions, but they are pretty mild.

        I know of others who have tried to grow gardens on medians and their own front yards. Sadly, too many town and city by-laws do not allow it. I can understand the need to have some level of oversight, but there have been cases where a town has had people’s front yard gardens torn out, because according to town regulations, food gardens were not allowed on front yards. And that’s on private property, not public!


  2. As a professional arborist, horticulturist and nurseryman, I have never perceived horticulture as feminine. Climbing big trees and cutting them down when necessary is very masculine. I know that is much more extreme than home gardening, but still, gardening in our regions involves dealing with trees, cutting them us and splitting them into firewood. Growing horticultural crops on the farm is likewise very masculine. To me home gardening is just as masculine, but on a much smaller scale. I suppose that it can be feminine if one desires it to be that way, but it is certainly not automatically feminine.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s