what does emasculated mean

What Does Emasculated Mean? 12 Behaviors to be Aware of

Today more than ever, we all need a clear answer to the question, “what does emasculated mean?” We so desperately need this answer, and the corresponding awareness of how it shows up in our day-to-day lives because while some would say “men” deserve the rampant judgements they receive, not all men do. As a matter of fact, most don’t.

One of the very reasons we struggle to heal the divide and repair trust between the masculine and feminine, between men and women, is because of the ongoing, usually unconscious and unintentional, behaviors by both parties that diminish the power of the other. 

To live in conscious, healthy, loving relationships both the masculine and the feminine need to be and feel empowered. Yet, today’s society on some level still, if even tacitly, endorses the disempowerment of the other. 

Over the last decades we’ve come to know and talk about more freely the ways that masculine beings diminish the power of the feminine. We’re less apt to recognize the ways that feminine beings take away the power of the masculine beings. It happens all too frequently as well. Enter emasculation. In a nutshell being emasculated means limiting masculine power, but let’s go deeper. 


What does emasculated mean in our daily interactions?

If we want to look at what emasculated means, we have to consider all the ways that feminine beings try to control masculine beings. Unknowingly these emasculating behaviors cause a man, or masculine being, to shift from a feeling of powerfulness, on one end of the spectrum, towards powerlessness on the other end. While emasculation won’t always make the masculine feel completely powerless, when it does happen he will feel less powerful, less himself. If you’re one that might unknowingly emasculate, is this the impact you desire? Especially on a man or masculine being you are close to, and maybe even in love with? 

Being emasculated means to strip away the very things that make someone feel masculine. The person typically feels judged and made wrong for exhibiting conscious masculine qualities such as assertiveness, self assuredness, self trust, focus, independence, decisiveness, and directionality. Someone who is emasculated will frequently be criticized, often subtly, “parentally” in the form of “I know how to do this better” or “You didn’t do it right. Let me do it.” 

Feminine beings who misunderstand the gift of masculinity judge those who exhibit it, and often want to limit its expression, usually without recognizing this unconscious desire. Others who may feel wounded by the unconscious masculine frequently do the same. In an interesting contrast, many of these same people, often women, have a disembodied relationship to their own inner masculine. They tend to lack boundaries and the healthy self-centeredness that masculine energy brings with it. In truth, we all need a good dose of self-centeredness, a conscious masculine trait, to thrive in the world. This is why they tell us to put our own oxygen mask on first. Yet, still “we,” collectively, judge masculinity and want to take away its power. 

This misunderstanding of masculine energy and its essential contribution to society and relationships, combined often with its perceived superiority over femininity, means masculine beings and men get unfairly and inappropriately emasculated. Regularly. 


Why do feminine beings emasculate masculine beings?

Even when masculinity is consciously expressed, with positive intent, a feminine being who doesn’t trust herself, who doesn’t know her own innate power, can feel threatened by these well meaning expressions of the masculine. In her fear, the feminine will say and do things that serve to “take him down a notch,” to reduce his personal power, in hopes of feeling more of her own. It may surprise you, and in most cases, she does this unknowingly and with true positive intent. 

In some cases her positive intent arises from her desire to love and care for her partner. Yet that caring often comes out too “motherly” and as we’ll see below “mothering” is one of the most common (and passion destroying) emasculating behaviors in romantic relationships. In other scenarios when emasculating patterns show up, the feminine, who may be feeling insecure, might attempt to find a sense of safety by judging or trying to control her partner. Unfortunately her emasculating tendencies never actually make her feel safe. In fact, they start a vicious cycle that leads her to feel less and less safe, while despite his best efforts, he feels less and less capable of supporting her.

This whole unconscious and damaging emasculation pattern rests on the lack of awareness of conscious masculine and feminine energy dynamics and the ways in which they innately support and uplift one another. This unconscious power dynamic weakens both people and their relational connection. The feminine doesn’t realize that her need and desire to feel in control, in power, means she needs to control her masculine counterpart and his behaviors, by reducing his power. This approach will always leave him feeling undermined, and in the worst cases impotent, in his life. And, less attracted to her. 

While not necessarily affecting him sexually, one who has been emasculated will lose his “mojo.” After his attempts to contribute to the feminine are thwarted enough times, the emasculated person will stop showing up, stop doing things for her – the her who is often his life partner, and, at one time, might have been the love of his life. Yes, to be clear, emaculation directly impacts attraction, no matter how long you’ve been together.  

As we wind up our consideration of why people, often women, emasculate, let’s point out again how, through her unconscious behaviors, the feminine creates the very circumstances she dreads most in romantic connections. The masculine’s innate reaction to shutdown and withdraw from interactions where he felt criticized, inadequate, and never enough, only serves to exacerbate the emasculating behaviors of his feminine partner. 

With that, let’s also acknowledge that masculine beings and men can be emasculated by anyone, not just their feminine partners. They can be emasculated by their mothers and co-workers as well. Masculine people who express their masculinity in unconscious and dominating ways can also emasculate other masculine beings. This could happen between a father and son when the father hasn’t found his capacity and strength to embody the conscious masculine. 

Because these patterns can be so insidious, and often unconsciously accepted, it’s important that you are able to clearly recognize the dynamics when they play out in your life. We’ll explore several specific examples of emasculating behavior in a moment, but first let’s look at the basic misunderstandings that lie at the heart of the problem. 


The basic misunderstanding and mistake

Feminine beings most often emasculate unconsciously. Feminine beings believe they’re being helpful and supportive, yet the impact on their masculine partners is often exactly the opposite. That’s what can make understanding what emasculated really means much more difficult. As we’ve said elsewhere, predominantly masculine beings see, feel, and experience the world very differently in contrast to how feminine beings see, feel and experience life. These differing views and experiences lead to unintentionally hurting each other. That in turn creates distance, and heartache, in the relationships they share. 

One such example happens because feminine beings try to empower each other. Unfortunately the way in which a feminine being empowers and supports another feminine being can actually disempower and emasculate a masculine being. We’ll get more specific with an example. Feminine beings constantly show up to help each other and offer advice, helping each other improve their lives and themselves. If their feminine friends aren’t checking in on them, if they’re not asking about each other’s feelings, and not sharing their best advice with each other, something might be awry in that friendship. 

In contrast masculine beings thrive on their independence and their ability to figure things out on their own. Solving challenges typically invigorates a masculine being. So when the feminine steps in and offers her “helpful” advice, as she would with her feminine friends, the masculine is taken aback. He’s confronted with the ideas that “She doesn’t think I can do it,” “She doesn’t believe in me,” “She doesn’t trust me,” “She doesn’t respect me,” “She thinks I’m a kid,” and other various thoughts about his competency.  

Now, let’s be honest, this can be a catch 22 situation where her emasculating tendencies lead him to stop doing things, which again means she trusts him less, and becomes more critical and “mothering”. He becomes less interested in attempting to show up and the cycle continues. Until… until one of them recognizes the damage being done and says, “Stop. Let’s do this differently.” Then there is not only hope but true possibility for a much more empowered experience and relationship. 

Let’s see how to best identify emasculating patterns in our relationships.  


Emasculating behaviors: How to know if you’re emasculating? 

Let’s consider some of the most common ways we emasculate. As you explore these, remember that between two feminine beings some of these behaviors would be absolute signs of love and care. Other patterns and behaviors wouldn’t be supportive or loving to anyone. But, in all cases, the unconscious actions or words can “seem” to make a feminine being feel safer, stronger, or more empowered, while they actually hurt their partner and their relationship. 

  1. Telling him how to do something. Remember, the masculine prides itself on figuring things out and solving problems on his own. If you tell him how to do it, he hears “You must think I’m dumb.” He’ll feel like you don’t trust him. 
  1. Telling him the “right way” to do something.  When he does something and you then proceed to tell him how it “should” have been done. He thinks “Why did I bother?” and will quickly decide he doesn’t need the criticism and won’t bother next time. 
  1. Doing something for him that he said he would do. This doesn’t mean you can’t offer kind, loving gestures or favors. Yet, be conscious of the times you do things because you don’t trust he will do it or that he won’t do it “right.” If he says he’s going to do something – no matter whether it’s taking out the trash, paying a bill, cutting the grass, reading to the kids, calling the dentist, planning a night out, anything really – don’t do it for him just because you’re afraid he’ll forget, or not do it on your timeline. Doing it for him says, “I don’t trust you or believe in you.”  
  1. Constantly reminding him of things he’s supposed to do. We could also call this nagging.  Unless he has asked you to remind him, the masculine wants you to trust him. Your constant reminders, which usually arise from fears, simply say again, “I don’t trust you.” This “inspires” the masculine to be less responsible, which is certainly not the impact the feminine is trying to create.  
  1. Pointing out his inadequacies or the ways he let you down.  We all let each other down in relationships. It’s simply a part of being imperfectly human. When we keep bringing up his “faults” or “failures” the masculine will eventually quit trying. Masculine beings are not motivated by “self-improvement” in the way feminine beings are. The feminine’s attempts to help him “be a better person” will almost always backfire, unless he has, specifically of his own accord, asked for help. 
  1. Complaining about your relationship / your life together. This has a similar effect to the previous point. Of course, this is not to say you can’t share feelings and desires with a masculine partner. That’s important in a relationship. But complaining implies, “You’re never giving me what I want.” That’s like kryptonite to a masculine being who loves you and wants nothing more than your happiness. 
  1. Offering advice. Anytime you offer advice, or suggest he get advice, such as telling him to ask for directions or to read the manual, he, once again, hears “You don’t believe in me.” Remember feminine beings love each other by giving advice, and “helping” them out. Masculine beings do not feel loved when given unsolicited advice. They feel criticized. 
  1. Criticizing or belittling. If we question, doubt, or criticize his abilities, capacities, competence or intelligence, the masculine will shut down. Their confidence will shrink. The Masculine-Feminine Needs Model shows us that if we don’t respect who a masculine being is, it will be impossible to sustain a healthy romantic relationship with him. If you don’t respect him, find a way to regain that respect, without asking him to change anything, or shift the form of the relationship. He never deserves criticism or judgment. 
  1. “Correcting” him. Correcting him, especially in front of anyone else, even the kids, will diminish the masculine’s presence. While we might want to point out a truly “life threatening” “mistake”, in general, telling him did something wrong feels like parental energy. And nothing zaps masculine mojo more than being “parented” by a partner. That says nothing about the impact it will have on his sexual desire. 
  1. Asking for advice and then consistently ignoring it. The masculine often feels admired when you solicit his input and advice. However, if you ask and yet rarely, if ever, heed his advice, eventually he will feel emasculated and untrusted. 
  1. Not recognizing or ignoring his commitment, and often his sacrifices, for his relationship and family. Although many feminine beings don’t realize it, masculine beings pride themselves on the contributions they make to their families. If this goes unnoticed and unacknowledged for long periods of time, he can feel deflated, discouraged, and emasculated. 
  1. Mothering. One of the ways feminine beings express love is by offering her caring, even mothering nature. Yet to a masculine being, saying “don’t forget to take your umbrella” feels like he is being treated like a child. Her intention is to be loving, but his experience is to be made small. 

Every one of these emasculating patterns, behaviors, and strategies, no matter how well intended, will render your masculine partner “less” than who he was when you met him. He’s not actually “less than”, but his spirit, energy, excitement, passion, and contribution will be diminished, as will your respect for him. Let’s be super clear, rarely does the feminine realize, until it’s almost too late, that her unintentional emasculating behaviors continually sabotage the things she loves and desires most in her masculine partner.

When you see these behaviors in yourself, your partner, your parent, your child, your friend, remember that humans are always trying to do their best. Together talk about what you see and what you feel so you can learn and grow together. In romantic relationships especially, commit to learning the differences between masculine and feminine energy so you can appreciate and honor each other’s uniqueness. This can only serve to grow your love and joy together. 


Self-emasculation

This exploration would remain incomplete if we didn’t acknowledge how masculine beings emasculate themselves. Self-emasculation happens when a masculine being’s internal dialogue, along with his external beliefs about himself and his life, rob him of his power. Yes, masculine beings can, and often do, diminish their own power. It will happen most often when one lacks self-awareness and self trust or  when he doesn’t believe in his own abilities and capacities. 

When a masculine being self-emasculates he typically abdicates both his power and his responsibility within his relationship, and often in his life. He will tend to lean more into the shadow aspects of feminine energy, feeling at the effect of, or a victim to, life.

Unfortunately for his relationship and his feminine partner, turning his power and personal agency over to her simply perpetuates the cycle of emasculation and his withdrawal.

His way out is to find and reclaim the authentic soul within himself and begin to express it in the world.


How to recognize an emasculated man?

To complete our full exploration of what emasculation means, let’s identify the 13 signs a man, or masculine being, has been emasculated by himself, another, or both. 

  1. He lacks self-trust and self-confidence. He won’t follow his own inner knowing. 
  2. He believes in the idea of “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
  3. He people pleases and abandons himself.
  4. He thinks his feminine partner has it all under control (but she’s seething with resentment).
  5. He stops doing many of the little things around the house that he used to enjoy doing.
  6. He’s less decisive and even avoids decision making.
  7. He’s highly self-critical
  8. He’s more resigned and less attuned to his feminine partner’s needs. He eventually gives up on ever making her happy.
  9. He becomes more self centered out of a sense of protection.
  10. He’ll procrastinate because he doesn’t want to let her down or “fail” again. 
  11. His libido and desire takes a nosedive. 
  12. He often “leaves” the relationship energetically, if not physically.
  13. In the worst cases, he’ll carry shame and embarrassment of who he is (and who he believes he isn’t).

If you recognize these signs of being emasculated in yourself, in your relationship, or in someone you love, it may be time to seek support in order to understand the difference between so-called toxic masculinity and the divine masculine. (By the way, masculinity is not toxic.) 

By coming into alignment with his own divine masculine embodiment, a masculine being will automatically begin to transcend the impacts of emasculation. He will take a stand to eliminate it from his life. When he does this everyone benefits.


As we close it feels important to name that in society we’ve been emasculating the masculine individually and collectively. This benefits no one. Conscious, fully embodied, masculine beings are needed to stand for, stand with, and return rightful power to the feminine. We need conscious masculine beings to support the empowerment of the conscious feminine. We therefore also need feminine beings to support the conscious empowerment of masculine beings. 

When we honor and empower each other, our relationships and our world will thrive. The masculine and feminine together, united, become one powerful force.

“The masculine and feminine together, united, become one powerful force.”

~Joanna Shakti

*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.

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