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Questionable Manhood

Masculinity must be redefined. In a sense, the masculine has never had an identity or a program of its own, consciously forged, but has always consisted of unconscious acting out, either of genetically-determined impulses or of unconscious rebellion against the feminine. This is highly ironic, given the masculine identification with consciousness, initiative, and self-generation; the very essence of the solar, yang energy is proactive. Surely a new type of advocate and protector is needed and possible, with a new vision of masculinity to embody. Men must cease to define themselves as the opposite of women. The culture they create must cease to be a denial of mortality, finitude, and embodiment. They must refuse the conventional attractions of money, power, sex, and violence, to become more original in their definitions of masculinity and success. Because men have assumed power in the world, they have established for themselves the right to disregard the feminine and women’s points of view. Their hubris or success has made them spiritually lazy. The world’s imbalances can be described as an effect of male domination and an eclipse of feminine values, in which women have played their tacit part. It could equally well be described as a failure of masculinity to bring forth an inspired vision for the future, a crisis in masculinity itself and in the leadership that men have taken upon themselves. Far from collapsing, or being moderated by feminists, patriarchy is rapidly expanding and ever refining itself as a power system. It has rendered gender nearly irrelevant, since so many women in developed societies have been co-opted within it. It is ironic that men have inadvertently followed the dictates of their genes even in rebelling against them. The drives toward idealism, objectivity, transcendence, and transformation—and against nature, the body, and woman—have coincided too readily with the genetically driven role of the male as aggressive, competitive, controlling, hard, emotionally steeled and distant, sexually impersonal, and so forth. While the women’s movement set their goal too low (mere parity in a male world), the men’s movement wallowed in grief for their lost fathers and the lost vitality of “wildness,” failing to meaningfully articulate what men need to be liberated from or vital for or wild about. None defined a profound vision for society, nor an ethical and dignified role for men in a post-patriarchal world. While each of these movements may have been fun and exciting, none dared to rock society to its foundations. Instead, the men’s and women’s movements colluded in trivializing both masculinity and femininity, in a society retreating ever further into materialistic cynicism, born-again corporate patriarchy, or New Age mumbo-jumbo.

RELATED TAGS: [redefine/failure of masculinity, male domination, triumph of patriarchy, male genetic/evolutionary role, post-patriarchy, corporate patriarchy, masculine identity, new masculinity, culture of denial, definitions of masculinity/success]

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