The Paxman and Brand debate has been viewed over 5 million times, and for me, amongst other things, it very succinctly describes the tension between science and spirituality within masculinity. Paxman, like a school yard bully, slowly circles Brand chanting 'prove it, prove it, prove it.' Brand can't prove it. He is just voicing his discontent, happy not to be able to prove it, which perplexes Paxman.
Through our DNA and our cultural heritage we are closely linked to the last generations who have been left brained, logical thinkers. They are the stability which comes with masculinity, and Paxman benevolently represents this. Characterised as slow moving, resistant to change or challenge. In many ways it is also a very restrictive view of masculinity.
For generations we have focused on this type of masculinity and it has dominated our culture. Due to this overemphasis it has turned negative, creating stagnation, smugness, inflexibility. The present invasive turmoil and uncertainty which pervades every fabric of our culture is a direct result of this dependency.
The crisis has provoked a stirring of a different type of masculinity, to which Brand so capably gives a voice. A spiritually aware man coming from the heart, intuitive, connected to feelings, in his words 'linked to revolution'. Some would say he has feminised his masculinity, but I think he is just accessing a different part of his masculinity, which all men have (even Paxman).
Through patriarchy and our cultural inclinations we have become overly familiar with scientific masculinity for far too long. It is time to open out a debate about what additional diversity and breadth there is in masculinity. For me, this is not a new debate, it is science versus spirituality. An age old drama, made urgent and pertinent by the very real threat we now represent to the planet.
Both types of masculinity have worthwhile attributes. Paxman represents the scientific and slow moving left brained man. Brand represents a spiritual man who is emerging, as yet uncertain about where he is going. He is as pertinent and representative as the old solid and reliable model, he is also not simple to dismiss as Paxman found out.
In the past it was easy to define this kind of conflict as between men and women. Men the sensible, logical ones, women the emotional and feelings led ones. This is much deeper now, it is not simply women on one side and men on the other. The crisis is challenging the very nature of being a human.
I think we are all conscious that the next twenty or so years represent the forming of a new paradigm. These years may well require us all to take a real leap of faith. The scientific side of us doesn't want to make that leap until it can see the next step clearly, have it defined, quantified, given a Latin name. The spiritual side of us observes that if we spend too much time assessing, defining and measuring when we finally decide to jump it may be too late. It encourages us to jump without knowing where we are going, and makes no promises of an easy ride.
These responses represent opposing forces within modern masculinity and humanity. Each of us has both of them within us, one is not right and the other wrong. We need to learn to listen to both. What exciting times we live in!