Posts Tagged “feminism”
Jun 15, 2021
It was mostly white women with class privilege that pushed the idea that all men were powerful in the first place. These were the women for whom feminist liberation was more about getting their piece of the power pie and less about freeing masses of women or less powerful men from sexist oppression. They were not mad at their powerful daddies and husbands who kept poor men exploited and oppressed; they were mad that they were not being giving equal access to power.
There is little done from a feminist standpoint concentrating on boyhood. No significant body of feminist writing addresses boys directly, letting them know how they can construct an identity that is not rooted in sexism. Teachers of children see gender equality mostly in terms of ensuring that girls get to have the same privileges and rights as boys within the existing social structure; they do not see it in terms of granting boys the same rights as girls (right to not engage in aggressive/violent play, to play with dolls or dress up, to wear costumes of any gender).
Men were expected to hold on to the ideas about strength and providing for others that were a part of patriarchal thought, while dropping their investment in domination and adding an investment in emotional growth. This vision of feminist masculinity was so fraught with contradictions, it was impossible to realise. No wonder that men who cared and were open to change often just gave up.
Many of the New Age models created by men reconfigure old sexist paradigms while making it seem as though they are offering a different script for gender relations. They often resisted macho patriarchal models while upholding a vision of a benevolent patriarchy, one in which the father rules with tenderness and kindness, but he is still in control. Clearly, men need new models for self-assertion that do not require the construction of an enemy “other”, be it a women or the symbolic feminine, for them to define themselves against.
Patriarchal culture continues to control the hearts of men precisely because it socialises males to believe that without their role as patriarchs they will have no reason for being.
Power struggles are not an effective model for human relations. In The Heart of the soul, Gary Zukav and Linda Francis make it clear that while humans may have needed to create external power to keep the species alive at one time, this is no longer the case.
Patriarchal masculinity teaches men that their selfhood has meaning only in relation to the pursuit of external power, and to be narcissistic, infantile, and psychologically dependent for self-definition on the privileges that they receive from being male. Hence many males feel that their very existence is threatened if these privileges are taken away.
Feminist masculinity presupposes that it is enough for males to be to have value, that they do not have to “do”, to “perform”, to be affirmed and loved. Rather than defining strength as “power over”, feminist masculinity defines strength as one’s capacity to be responsible for self and others.
Norms and stereotypes for patriarchal masculinity identified by Robert Levant: avoiding femininity, restrictive emotionality, seeking achievement and status, self-reliance, aggression, homophobia, and nonrelational attitudes toward sexuality. In contrast, feminist masculinity would be integrity, self-love, emotional awareness, assertiveness, and relational skill, including the capacity to be empathic, autonomous, and connected.
Patriarchy makes maleness feared, and convinces men that it is better to be feared than loved. This fear estranges men from every female in their lives to greater or less degrees, and men feel the loss. Ultimately, one of the emotional costs of allegiance to patriarchy is to be seen as unworthy of trust.
Patriarchal masculinity insists that real men must prove their manhood by idealising aloneness and disconnection. Feminist masculinity tells men that they become more real through the act of connecting with others, through building community.
Love cannot exist in any relationship that is based on domination and coercion. Males cannot love themselves in patriarchal culture if their very self-definition relies on submission to patriarchal rules.
Healing from manhood by John Stoltenberg says “loving justice more than manhood, is not only a worthy pursuit, it is the future”.
Popular culture: media masculinity
The hero of The Incredible Hulk is the perfect candidate for inclusion in Barbara Ehrenreich’s book The hearts of men: American dreams and the flight from commitment. He is a man always on the run, unable to develop lasting ties or intimacy. A scientist by training (the ultimate personification of rational man), when he experiences anger, he turns into a creature of colour and commits violent acts. After committing violence, he changes back to his normal white-male rational self. He has no memory of his actions and therefore cannot assume responsibility for them.
One of the ways patriarchal while males used mass media to wage war against feminism was to consistently portray the violent woman-hating man as aberrant and abnormal.
Contemporary books and movies offer clear portraits of the evils of patriarchy without offering any direction for change. Ultimately they send the message that male survival demands holding on to some vestige of patriarchy.
The vast majority of contemporary films send the message that males cannot escape the beast within. They can pretend. They can dissimulate, but they can never break patriarchy’s hold on their consciousness.
Mass media are a powerful vehicle for teaching the art of the possible. Enlightened men must claim it as the space of their public voice and create a progressive popular culture that will teach men how to connect with others, how to communicate, how to love.
Healing male spirit
Men cannot speak their pain in patriarchal culture. Boys learn this in early childhood.
Psychologist David Winter found that women living in countries or periods of extreme male dominance tend to be very controlling of their sons. Many mothers in patriarchal culture fear their sons will be weak.
To always wear a mask as a way of asserting masculine presence is to always live the lie, to be perpetually deprived of an authentic sense of identity and well-being. This falseness causes males to experience intense emotional pain. Rituals of domination help mediate the pain.
When feminist women insist that all men are powerful oppressors who victimise from the location of power, they obscure the reality that many victimise from the location of victimisation. Failure to examine the victimisation of men keeps us from understanding maleness.
I am always disturbed when male students request references to literature that will serve as a guide as they struggle to interrogate patriarchy and create progressive identities, because there is so little literature to offer them.
As advocates of feminism who seek to end sexism and sexist oppression, we must be willing to hear men speak their pain. Only when we courageously face male pain without turning away will we model for men the emotional awareness healing requires.
Men of all ages who want to talk about feelings usually learn not to go to other men. And if they are heterosexual, they are far more likely to try sharing with women they have been sexually intimate with. Women talk about the fact that intimate conversation with males often takes place in the brief moments before and after sex. And of course our mass media provide the image again and again of the man who goes to a sex workers to share his feelings because there is no intimacy in that relationship and therefore no real emotional risk.
The Dalai Lama said that compassion is one of the principal things that make our lives meaningful. It is the source of all lasting happiness and joy. And it is the foundation of a good heart. There is no denying that our happiness is inextricably bound up with the happiness of others. There is no denying that if our society suffers, we ourselves suffer. When the hearts of men are full of compassion and open to love, then, as the Dalai Lama states, “there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma, for our own heart, our own mind, is the temple and the doctrine is compassion.
Separate patriarchal ideology from the powerful images of nurturing and loving kindness embodied in male religious figures. This image of loving fatherhood embodies feminist masculinity in its most divine form.
Reclaiming male integrity
Sexist roles restrict the identity formation of male and female children, but the process is far more damaging to boys because not only are the roles required of them more rigid and confining, but they are much more likely to receive severe punishment when they deviate from these roles.
Contemporary feminist movement created a socially sanctioned space where girls can create a sense of self that is distinct from sexist definitions; the same freedom has not been extended to boys.
As victims of child abuse via socialization in the direction of the patriarchal ideal, boys learn that they are unlovable. According to Bradshaw they learn that “relationships are based on power, control, secrecy, fear, shame, isolation, and distance”. These are the traits often admired in the patriarchal adult man.
Emotionally wounding boys is socially acceptable and even demanded in patriarchal culture. Denying them their right to be whole, to have integrity, is not only encouraged, it is seen as the right way to do things. Terrence Real says that we encourage boys to bury their deepest selves, to stop speaking, or attending to the truth, to hold in mistrust, or even in disdain, the state of closeness. We live in an antirelational, vulnerability-despising culture, one that not only fails to nurture the skills of connection but actively fears them. Teaching boys to despise their vulnerability is one way to socialise them to engage in self-inflicted soul murder.
Patriarchy encourages men to surrender their integrity and to live lives of denial. By learning the arts of compartmentalisation, dissimulation, and dissociation, men are able to see themselves as acting with integrity in cases where they are not.
M. Scott Peck argues in Further along the road less traveled that compartmentalisation is a way to avoid feeling pain: “We’re all familiar with the man who goes to church on Sunday morning […], but who, on Monday morning, has no trouble with his company’s policy of dumping toxic wastes in the local stream. He can do this because he has religion in one compartment and his business in another.” Since most men have been socialised to believe that compartmentalisation is a positive practice, it feels right, it feels comfortable. “Integrity is painful. But without it there can be no wholeness.”
Integrity is needed for healthy self-esteem. Most males have low self-esteem because they are constantly lying and dissimulating in order to perform the sexist male role.
One dimension of feminist movement that did have a profound impact on men was its insistence that women had the right to critique men both collectively and individually.
Like many women, [mom] has wanted him to be interested in personal growth. For years patriarchal culture has taught men that their selfhood, their manhood, is affirmed by a lack of interest in personal growth.
Wounded men are not often able to say anything positive. They are the grump-and-groan guys; cloaked in cynicism, they stand at an emotional distance from themselves and others.
If we are to create a culture in which all males can learn to love, we must first reimagine family in all its diverse forms as a place of resistance. We must be willing to see boyhood differently, as a time when boys learn to glory in the connection with others, in the revelry and joy of intimacy that is the essential human longing.
In such a world boys may think of games that do not centre around the causing of pain, the creation of death, but will indeed be forms of play that celebrate life and wholeness. And the individual differences that arise between boys, and between boys and girls, will become occasions for exploration, for the sharing of knowledge and the invention of new ways of being.
Steve Bearman, in Why men are so obsessed with sex, makes the point that after being taught to be obsessed with sex via patriarchal conditioning, males are “then subjected to continuous conditioning to repress sensuality, numb feelings, ignore our bodies, and separate from our natural closeness with human beings”.
There is a war between the sexes, between those who believe they are destined to be predators and those they deem prey. More than ever before, females are encouraged to assume the patriarchal mask and bury their emotional selves as deeply as their male counterparts do. Females embrace this paradigm because they feel it is better to be a dominator than to be dominated. However, this is a perverse vision of gender equality that offers women equal access to the house of the dead. In that house there will be no love.
Jun 14, 2021
EDIT: You can now also read the second half of my notes.
Wanted: Men who love
In the country of Men by Jan Waldron: Mother love is plenty and apparent: we complain because we have too much of it. The love of a father is an uncommon gem, to be hunted, burnished, and hoarded. The value goes up because of its scarcity.
We learn to love men more because they will not love us. If they dared to love us, in patriarchal culture they would cease to be real “men”.
Reformist feminist focus on male power reinforced the notion that somehow males were powerful and had it all. Feminist writing did not tell us about the deep inner misery of men. It did not tell us the terrible terror that gnaws at the soul when one cannot love. The truth we do not tell is that men are longing for love. This is the longing feminist thinkers must dare to examine, explore, and talk about.
The unhappiness of men in relationships, the grief men feel about the failure of love, often goes unnoticed in our society precisely because the patriarchal culture really does not care if men are unhappy.
Patriarchy teaches a form of emotional stoicism to men that says they are more mainly if they do not feel, but if by chance they should feel and the feelings hurt, the mainly response is to stuff them down, to forget about them, to hope they go away. George Weiberg explains in Why Men Won’t Commit: “Most men are on quest for the ready-made perfect woman because they basically feel that problems in a relationship can’t be worked out. When the slightest thing goes wrong, it seems easier to bolt than talk.”
The reality is that men are hurting and that the whole culture responds to them by saying, “Please do not tell us what you feel.” My partner would explain how I asked him to talk about his feelings and when he did, I would freak out. He was right. It was hard for me to face that I did not want to hear about his feelings when they were painful or negative, that I did not want my image of the strong man truly challenged by learning of his weaknesses and vulnerabilities. Many women cannot hear male pain about love because it sounds like an indictment of female failure. Since sexist norms have taught us that loving is our task whether in our role as mothers or lovers or friends, if men say they are not loved, then we are at fault; we are to blame.
Patriarchal notions of manhood teach boys that it is their nature to kill, then teaches them that they can do nothing to change this nature–nothing, that is, that will leave their masculinity intact. We need a revolution of values to end male violence, and that revolution will necessarily be based on a love ethic. To create loving men, we must love males. Loving maleness is different from praising and rewarding males for living up to sexist-defined notions of male identity. In patriarchal culture males are not allowed simply to be who they are and to glory in their unique identity. Their value is always determined by what they do. In an antipatriarchal culture males do not have to prove their value and worth. They know from birth that simply being gives them value, the right to be cherished and loved.
Much of my thinking about maleness began in childhood when I witnessed the differences in the ways my brother and I were treated. The standards used to judge his behaviour were much harsher. No male successfully measures up to patriarchal standards without engaging in an ongoing practice of self-betrayal. In his boyhood my brother, like so many boys, just longed to express himself. He did not want to conform to a rigid script of appropriate maleness. As a consequence he was scorned and ridiculed. In his younger years our brother was a loving presence in our household. As patriarchal thinking and action claimed him in adolescence, he learned to mask his loving feelings.
My mother’s father, Daddy Gus, found it easier to be disloyal to patriarchy in old age. H e was the man in my childhood who practiced the art of loving. He was emotionally aware and emotionally present, and yet he also was trapped by a patriarchal bond. Our grandmother was always deeply invested in the dominator model of relationships. To macho men Daddy Gus, Mama’s father, appeared to be less than masculine. Back then Mama did not know how lucky she was to have a loving father. She had been seduced by myths of romantic love to dream of a strong, domineering, take-control, dashing, and daring man as a suitable mate. She married her ideal only to find herself trapped in a bond with a punishing, cruel, unloving patriarchal man. She may wake up and recognise that she is wedded to abuse, that she is not loved. That moment of awakening is the moment of heartbreak. Heartbroken women in longtime marriages or partnerships rarely leave their men. They learn to make an identity out of their suffering, their complaint, their bitterness.
Throughout our childhood Mama was the great defender of Dad. And even when she began to see him, she still taught us to admire him and be grateful for his presence. She was willing to cling to the fantasy of the patriarchal ideal even as the confronted the brutal reality of patriarchal domination daily. After 50 years of marriage she would not be leaving him, but she would no longer believe in love. Only her bitterness found a voice; she now speaks the absence of love, a lifetime of heartache. She is not alone.
“Something missing within” was a self-description I heard from many men. Again and again a man would tell me about early childhood feelings of emotional exuberance, and then a rupture happened, a disconnect, and that feeling of being loved, of being embraced, was gone. Somehow the test of manhood, men told me, was the willingness to accept this loss, to not speak it even in private grief.
To indoctrinate boys into the rules of patriarchy, we force them to feel pain and to deny their feelings. Despite the contemporary visionary feminist thinking that makes clear that a patriarchy thinker need not be a male, most folks continue to see men as the problem with patriarchy. This is simply not the case. Women can be as wedded to patriarchal thinking and action as men.
Creating love by John Bradshaw: “Patriarchal rules still govern most of the world’s religious, school systems, and family systems.” Describing the most damaging of these rules, Bradshaw lists “blind obedience–the foundation upon which patriarchy stands; the repression of all emotions except fear; the destruction of individual willpower; and the repression of thinking whenever it departs from the authority figure’s way of thinking.”
Many female-headed households endorse and promote patriarchal thinking with far greater passion than two-parent households. Because they do not have an experiential reality to challenge false fantasies of gender roles, women in such households are far more likely to idealise the patriarchal male role and patriarchal men that are women who live with patriarchal men every day.
Patriarchy demands of men that they become and remain emotional cripples. Boys brutalised and victimised by patriarchy more often than not become patriarchal. They want to be accepted and affirmed in a patriarchal world so they are pushed towards that. If we were to go door-to-door asking if we should end male violence against women, most people would give their unequivocal support. Then if you told them we can only stop male violence against women by ending male domination, by eradicating patriarchy, they would begin to hesitate, to change their position.
Stiffed: The betrayal of the American Man by Susan Faludi: Ask feminists to diagnose men’s problems and you will often get a very clear explanation: men are in crisis because women are properly challenging male dominance. […] Ask antifeminists and you will get a diagnosis that is, in one respect, similar. […] The underlying message: men cannot be men, only eunuchs, if they are not in control.
Faludi never interrogates the notion of control. She never considers that the notion that men were somehow in control, in power, and satisfied with their lives before contemporary feminist movement is false.
Patriarchy as a system has denied males access to full emotional well-being, which is not the same as feeling rewarded, successful, or powerful because of one’s capacity to assert control over others. If patriarchy were truly rewarding to men, the violence and addiction in family life that is so all-pervasive would not exist. The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, it is the crisis of patriarchal masculinity. Until we make this distinction clear, men will continue to fear that any critique of patriarchy represents a threat.
Being a boy
Boys are not seen as lovable in patriarchal culture. Even though sexism has always decreed that boy children have more status than girls, status and even the rewards of privilege are not the same as being loved. Research on the emotional life of boys draws the connection between notions of male dominance and the shutting down of emotions in boyhood even as the researchers act as though patriarchal values can remain intact.
Many antipatriarchal parents find that the alternative masculinities they support for their boy children are shattered not by grown-ups but by sexist male peers. Progressive parents who strive to be vigilant about the mass media their boys have access to must constantly intervene and offer teachings to counter the patriarchal pedagogy that is deemed “normal”. A national survey of adolescent males revealed their passive acceptance of patriarchal masculinity. Researchers found that boys agreed that to be truly manly, they must command respect, be tough, not talk about problems, and dominate females. Recent studies indicate that it is actually emotionally damaging to young males to be isolated and without emotional care or nurturance. All over the world terrorist regimes use isolation to break people’s spirit. This weapon of psychological terrorism is daily deployed in our nation against teenage boys. Most patriarchal father in our nation do not use physical violence to keep their sons in check; they use various techniques of psychological terrorism, the primary one being the practice of shaming. Patriarchal fathers cannot love their sons because the rules of patriarchy dictate that they stand in competition with their sons, ready to prove that they are the real man, the one in charge.
Stopping male violence
Every day in American men are violent. Their violence is deemed “natural” by the psychology of patriarchy. This thinking continues despite the fact that there are cultures in the world where men are not violent in everyday life. As women have gained the right to be “patriarchal men in drag”, women are engaging in acts of violence similar to those of men. This reminds us that the will to use violence is more connected to a dominator culture than to biology.
Emotional Abuse by Marti Tamm Loring explains that emotional abuse is “an ongoing process in which one individual systematically diminishes and destroys the inner self of another. The essential ideas, feelings, perception, and personality characteristics of the victim are constantly belittled.”
No man who does not actively chose to work to change and challenge patriarchy escapes its impact. The most passive, kind, quiet man can come to violence if the needs of patriarchal thinking have been embedded in the psyche.
Many people refuse to acknowledge that masses of boys and men have been programmed from birth on to believe that tat some point they must be violent to prove that they are men.
How can I get through to you? by Terrence Real says that violence is boyhood socialization. We “turn boys into men” through injury: we sever them from their mothers too early and we pull them away from their expressiveness, their feelings, and their sensitivity to others. The phrase “be a man” means suck it up and keep going.
Many teenage boys have violent contempt and rage for a patriarchal mom because they understand that in the world outside the home, sexism renders her powerless; he is pissed that she has power over him at home. In patriarchal culture women are as violent as men toward the groups that they have power over. Much female violence takes the form of emotional abuse, especially verbal abuse and shaming.
Mother violence confirms for many men that they cannot put their trust in love. They instead put their faith in being powerful and dominant.
Terrence Real says that the qualities that many wives want from their husbands in family therapy (sensitivity to others, capacity to identify and share feelings, willingness to put his needs aside in the service of the family) are the same qualities that are stamped out of boys.
Patriarchy rewards men for being out of touch with their feelings. Men of feeling often find themselves isolated from other men. This fear of isolation often acts as the mechanism to prevent males from becoming more emotionally aware. Men who win on patriarchal terms end up losing in terms of their substantive quality of life.
Male sexual being
We have heard that men look for sex in relationships, and not love, and that women look for love and not sex. Actually, men come to sex hoping that it will provide them with all the emotional satisfaction that would come from love. Most men think that sex will provide them with a sense of being alive, connected, that sex will offer closeness, intimacy, pleasure. And more often than not sex simply does not deliver. This does not lead men to cease obsessing about sex; it intensifies their lust and their longing.
People believe that sex is something men have to have. Underlying this assumption is the belief that if men are not sexually active, they will act out or go crazy. Little boys learn early in life that sexuality is the ultimate proving ground where their patriarchal masculinity will be tested.
Fuel for fantasy: The ideological construction of male lust by Michael S. Kimmel says that “Sexual pleasure is rarely the goal in a sexual encounter, something far more important than mere pleasure is on the line, our sense of ourselves as men. Men’s sense of sexual scarcity and an almost compulsive need for sex to confirm manhood feed each other, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of sexual deprivation and despair. And it makes men furious at women for doing what women are taught to do in our society: saying no.”
Males in a patriarchal society must adjust to a world where they can rarely get it, or never get it as much as they want, or where they can get it only by coercing and manipulating someone who does not want it. For the patriarchal male, addictive sexuality is fundamentally about the need to constantly affirm one’s selfhood. The heart of the soul by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis: “The more intense the pain of fear, unworthiness, and feeling unlovable becomes, the more obsessive becomes the need to have a sexual interaction”. Again from Kimmel: “men are in power, controlling virtual all […] institutions. Yet individual men do not feel powerful–far from it. Most men feel powerless and are often angry at women, who they perceive as having sexual power over them: the power to arouse them and to give or withhold sex.”
Work: what’s love got to do with it?
Masses of men may believe that their ability to provide for themselves and families is a measure of their manhood, yet they often do not actually use their resources to provide for others: men who make money but refuse to pay alimony or child support, or those who squander their paycheck on individual pleasures, challenge the patriarchal insistence that men are eager to be caretakers and providers. The very idea of “playboy” is rooted in the longing to escape this model.
Jun 13, 2021
Characteristics of the patriarchy
- Men’s value is always determined by what they do. They don’t have intrinsic value. Boys are not seen as lovable.
- Sexist roles restrictions on identity formation are more damaging to boys because the roles are more rigid and because they are much more likely to receive severe punishment when they deviate.
- Emotionally wounding boys is socially acceptable and even demanded. We encourage boys to bury their deepest selves and to mistrust closeness.
- Boys learn in early childhood that they cannot speak their pain. Men usually learn not to go to other men to talk about feelings.
- Boys agreed that to be truly manly, they must command respect, be tough, not talk about problems, and dominate females.
- Most people would agree we should end male violence against women. But if you told them it can only be done by ending male domination, by eradicating patriarchy, they would begin to hesitate.
How patriarchy breaks men emotionally
- It rewards men for being out of touch with their feelings. Men of feeling often find themselves isolated from other men.
- Women living in countries or periods of extreme male dominance tend to be very controlling of their sons. Many mothers in patriarchal culture fear their sons will be weak.
- Patriarchy convinces men that it is better to be feared than loved. This fear of maleness makes men be seen as unworthy of trust and estranges them from others.
- Many males have low self-esteem because they are constantly performing the sexist male role.
Invisibility of male pain
- Feminism’s focus on male power reinforced the notion that males had it all. It did not tell us about the deep inner misery of men, who are longing for love.
- Patriarchy teaches a form of emotional stoicism that says it is more mainly not to feel, or stuff down negative feelings and forget about them.
- The unhappiness of men in relationships often goes unnoticed precisely because patriarchal culture really does not care if men are unhappy.
Feminism and men
- When feminism insists that men are powerful oppressors who victimise from the location of power, they forget that many victimise from the location of victimisation. Failure to examine the victimisation of men keeps us from understanding maleness.
- Contemporary feminism created a space where girls can create a sense of self that is distinct from sexist definitions; the same freedom has not been extended to boys.
- Even though boy children have more status than girls, status and even the rewards of privilege are not the same as being loved.
- Teachers see gender equality mostly in terms of ensuring that girls get to have the same privileges and rights as boys; they do not see it in terms of granting boys the same rights as girls (eg. right to not engage in aggressive/violent play, to play with dolls or dress up, to wear costumes of any gender).
- It was mostly white women with class privilege that pushed the idea that all men were powerful in the first place. These were the women for whom feminist liberation was more about getting their piece of the power pie. They were not mad at exploitation and oppression; they were mad that they were not being giving equal access to power.
- Most contemporary films send the message that males cannot escape the beast within. Only pretend.
- Boys are taught that it is their nature to kill, then teaches them that they can do nothing to change this nature—nothing, that is, that will leave their masculinity intact.
- Mass media usually portrays the violent woman-hating man as aberrant and abnormal.
Separating maleness from patriarchy
- The crisis facing men is not the crisis of masculinity, but of patriarchal masculinity. Until we make this distinction clear, men will continue to fear that any critique of patriarchy represents a threat.
- Many males feel that their very existence is threatened if their privileges are taken away because they are taught to be dependent for self-definition on those very privileges.
- Loving maleness is different from praising and rewarding males for living up to sexist-defined notions of male identity.
- We need to separate patriarchal ideology from the powerful images of nurturing and loving kindness embodied in male religious figures. This image of loving fatherhood embodies feminist masculinity in its most divine form.
- Men come to sex hoping that it will provide them with all the emotional satisfaction that would come from love (connection, closeness, intimacy), and more often than not sex simply does not deliver. This does not lead men to cease obsessing about sex; it intensifies their lust and their longing.
- Little boys learn early in life that sexuality is the ultimate proving ground where their masculinity will be tested, and the more intense the pain of fear, unworthiness, and feeling unlovable, the more obsessive becomes the need to have a sexual interaction. But those boys must adjust to a world where they can rarely get it, or never get it as much as they want, or where they can get it only by coercing and manipulating someone who does not want it.
- Due to this, many men feel powerless despite being in power and controlling virtually all institutions, and are often angry at women, who they perceive as having sexual power over them: the power to arouse them and to give or withhold sex.
A new masculinity
- Feminist masculinity would be based on integrity, self-love, emotional awareness, assertiveness, and relational skill, including the capacity to be empathetic, autonomous, and connected. This is in opposition to patriarchal masculinity, which is based on avoiding femininity, restrictive emotionality, seeking achievement and status, self-reliance, aggression, homophobia, and nonrelational attitudes toward sexuality.
- To end sexism and sexist oppression we must be willing to hear men speak their pain, to help them get the emotional awareness required to heal.
- To create a culture in which males can love, we must see boyhood as a time when boys learn to glory in intimacy and the connection with others.
- Feminist masculinity defines strength as one’s capacity to be responsible for self and others, rather than defining it as “power over”.
This is my summary for the book. The ideas presented here were either surprising/new to me, or things I knew but I hadn’t put words on, or things that I knew but made me think about them more, especially in the context of the rest.
I liked the book a lot, although I felt sometimes that it was a little repetitive, and I also initially wondered if it was a bit biased due to the author’s lived experiences (something I also felt when reading “Amateur”). However, I later realised that I still could see remnants of some of those things in me or people I know, and it was much easier to see how much these ideas apply when I thought of other countries.
Finally, note that there were a couple of transphobic/bioessentialist passages! I have rewritten them in this summary. I have also removed “in our nation” from many passages to make them shorter and because most of these things apply outside of the US.
Jul 3, 2016
I finally had time to take all my notes for the last scenario I wrote and format them properly in a nice PDF so people can read it and enjoy it.
It’s a horror scenario set in 1914 London, where the protagonists are suffragettes (the radical branch of the suffragist movement). The themes are oppression, feminism and class warfare, but you can play as a random horror/investigation scenario without caring about the underlying themes. In any case, this scenario is for adults, so please don’t play it with younger players without first reworking and adapting it.
I have added a list of resources at the end of the text. It’s obviously not everything I read or took ideas from when I wrote it, but it’s a pretty good starting point that will help narrators retell this story with more context and depth.
Mar 7, 2016
One of the reasons I like role-playing games is that they can be used to train empathy and think about the actions of others, and thus our own. I think imagining what others would do in a given situation is a healthy exercise that can make us understand people, including ourselves, a bit better.
Perhaps my favourite game is Call of Cthulhu, a game normally set in the 1920s. I find that decade fascinating, partly because it so clearly highlights the prejudices normal, well-meaning people had/have. We are tied to our circumstances and all that. One of the things about the 20s that fascinate me so much is the KKK. I read a fair amount of information about them while preparing a scenario about racism and prejudice, and it shocked me how childish they were, and how big they were at some point.
Some time later, thanks to the film Suffragette, I started reading about the suffragettes, the radical, violent branch of the suffragists. The fight for women’s voting rights might sound like a dull topic, but boy was I in for a surprise. I read about the smart stunts they pulled and about how they learned jiu-jitsu to defend themselves from the police, and I was just blown away by how amazing these women were. So much so that I decided to do a little homage, in this case in the shape of a (work in progress) scenario about feminism and oppression set in early 1914. As the one linked above, it’s not completely historical, but it’s close enough that one can learn a thing or two and think a little about how things were then, and how they’re now.
After I’m done with the second one I’m planning to write a third scenario about social change, most likely about mental illnesses, but only time will tell.
EDIT: The scenario is finished. You can read about it and download it in the post “New horror RPG scenario”.